Core Learning Poems

Gertrude Stein’s “The house was just twinkling in the moon light”
By Joel Brouwer

POEM GUIDE SYNOPSIS
An intimate glimpse into one of the 20th century’s most fascinating marriages.
Robert Hass: “The Nineteenth Century as a Song”
By Joy Katz

POEM GUIDE SYNOPSIS
Robert Hass, Baudelaire, Marx, and a bomb-building anarchist.
John Ashbery: “Paradoxes and Oxymorons”
By Megan Snyder-Camp

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Savoring the movement of the mind.
John Keats: “To Autumn”
By Caitlin Kimball

POEM GUIDE SYNOPSIS
In Keats’s finest season, even the gnats are mourning.
James Tate: “The Cowboy”
By Stuart Krimko

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How to be funny and sad.
George Eliot: “I Grant You Ample Leave”
By Hannah Brooks-Motl

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A poet's poem from a novelist-poet.
Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea: “The Answer”
By Ange Mlinko

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How poetry became the 18th century’s social media network.
Thomas Hardy: “The Shadow on the Stone”
By Jeremy Axelrod

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After the poet lost his wife, he found his voice.
Gary Snyder: “Four Poems for Robin”
By Troy Jollimore

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A turbulent first love recollected in something like tranquility.
Percy Bysshe Shelley: “Ozymandias”
By David Mikics

POEM GUIDE SYNOPSIS
A poem to outlast empires.
Linda Bierds: “The Ghost Trio”
By Averill Curdy

POEM GUIDE SYNOPSIS
An exploration of the human imagination, with memories of a lost world.
W.S. Merwin: “The Nails”
By Jeffrey McDaniel

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A long-lost meditation on heartbreak and pain.
Mina Loy: “Lunar Baedeker”
By Jessica Burstein

POEM GUIDE SYNOPSIS
The poet navigates the unknown world.
Anne Bradstreet: “To My Dear and Loving Husband”
By Emily Warn

POEM GUIDE SYNOPSIS
Anne Bradstreet became a cultural icon for speaking out. Anne Hutchinson was banished.
Philip Larkin: “An Arundel Tomb”
By Jeremy Axelrod

POEM GUIDE SYNOPSIS
Does a notoriously grumpy poet believe in everlasting love?
Alexander Pope: “Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot”
By Stephen Burt

POEM GUIDE SYNOPSIS
Did the poems of this 18th century poet prefigure modern hip-hop rivalries?
James Dickey: “The Sheep Child”
By Maria Hummel

POEM GUIDE SYNOPSIS
Was James Dickey writing about bestiality just for kicks, or was he attempting to revive the pastoral tradition?
Amy Lowell: “The Garden by Moonlight”
By D. A. Powell

POEM GUIDE SYNOPSIS
Ezra Pound thought she ruined imagism, but her erotic lyricism turned it into a style all her own.
Robert Duncan: “Often I Am Permitted to Return to a Meadow”
By Peter O’Leary

POEM GUIDE SYNOPSIS
On Robert Duncan’s incantatory summons.
Hart Crane: “Voyages”
By Brian Reed

POEM GUIDE SYNOPSIS
Hart Crane's tour de force of homosexual love.

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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