Core Learning Poems

41 to 60 of 73 Poems
  • By James L. Dickey
    Poem Guide Synopsis

    If the history of poetry had a red-light district, James Dickey would be found down one of its darker alleys. His poems’ sexual subjects include father-daughter whipping (“May Day Sermon”), wicked Peeping Toms (“The Fiend”), adultery (“Adultery”), a stewardess doing...

  • By Robert Lowell
    Poem Guide Synopsis

    “Skunk Hour” depicts a man at a moment of crisis.

    In the early 1950s, Robert Lowell was a successful, even famous poet, yet was writing few poems. American culture was changing rapidly and dynamically in those postwar years, and...

  • By Wallace Stevens
    Poem Guide Synopsis

    Wallace Stevens’s “Sunday Morning” (1915) is a lofty poetic meditation—almost a philosophical discourse—rooted in a few basic questions: what happens to us when we die? Can we believe seriously in an afterlife? If we can’t, what comfort can we take...

  • By César Vallejo
    Poem Guide Synopsis

    The Peruvian poet César Vallejo was born in Santiago de Chuco in 1892, the last of eleven children. Disapproving of the Catholic orthodoxy of his youth, he became a Marxist and an anti-Fascist, and he actively supported the revolution in...

  • By James Merrill
    Poem Guide Synopsis

    James Merrill wrote “The Victor Dog” in the fall of 1969, in Nambé Pueblo, New Mexico, outside Santa Fe. There he had rented an adobe cottage for some months to be close to a painter-friend, David McIntosh. The romance Merrill...

  • By Lucille Clifton
    Poem Guide Synopsis

    The making of a poem is a lot like the making of a self: it requires awareness, understanding, and a willingness to consider how we’re shaped by our cultural context, our influences, and our language. A poem about the making...

  • By Geoffrey Hill
    Poem Guide Synopsis

    Geoffrey Hill’s 2007 poem “On Reading Crowds and Power” isn’t an easy, one-dimensional poem. It doesn’t ask us to pay attention to its aural patterning or unpack a central metaphor—though those elements contribute to its art. It is a poem...

  • By Linda Pastan
    Poem Guide Synopsis

    Growing up on the grounds of a mental institution in rural western New York (my mother was a psychiatrist there), I did what any insouciant preteen with a penchant for reading would do when told she could not go trick-or-treating...

  • By William Butler Yeats
    Poem Guide Synopsis

    One of the most powerful political poems of the 20th century was written by a man who was ambivalent about politics. William Butler Yeats (1865–1939) began his career under the spell of the late Victorian era. Art in that time...

  • By Alexander Pope
    Poem Guide Synopsis


    Illustration by Marianne Goldin.

    The English poet Alexander Pope (like his favorite Latin poet, Horace) wrote many epistles, verse-letters meant at once for particular friends and for his reading public. One of his best—“Epistles to Several Persons: Epistle...

  • By Yusef Komunyakaa
    Poem Guide Synopsis

    Maya Lin was about as far removed from the Vietnam War as anyone could be, and at just 21, seemed an unlikely candidate to design a prominent national memorial. Lin—a senior undergraduate architecture student at Yale—had studied Scandinavian cemetery design...

  • By Gary Snyder
    Poem Guide Synopsis

    Gary Snyder was one of the first contemporary poets I read seriously, and he helped shape my conception of what a poet ought to be. He seemed to occupy many worlds: an environmentalist long before “environment” was a household word,...

  • By Robert Browning
    Poem Guide Synopsis

    It’s past midnight in Florence’s red-light district in the mid-15th century, and a man dressed as a monk has just been strong-armed by the police and questioned about his presence in such a place. Wait, he says, I can explain...

  • By Samuel Taylor Coleridge
    Poem Guide Synopsis

    Romantic-era poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge famously defined imagination as the human mind’s temporary replication of the divine creation of the world. “The primary Imagination,” he wrote, “I hold to be … a repetition in the finite mind of the eternal...

  • By Linda Bierds
    Poem Guide Synopsis

    A boy’s mother goes out for the evening, and his vision of her as she leaves is otherworldly—elusive, estranged, alluring:
    A little satin like wind at the door.
    My mother slips past in great side hoops,
    arced like the...

  • By George Eliot
    Poem Guide Synopsis

    Is a poet-novelist the same as a novelist-poet? When we think of the writers who have attempted both genres, we are likely to think of them either as a poet first, novelist second (Forrest Gander, Philip Larkin) or as a...

  • By Emily Dickinson
    Poem Guide Synopsis

    Like hair, power ballads were big in my day (the ‘80s), and Emily Dickinson’s were a lot more memorable than Mötley Crüe’s. We thumbed our noses at our English teachers by singing “I heard a fly buzz when I died”...

  • By Gwendolyn Brooks
    Poem Guide Synopsis

    Gwendolyn Brooks grew up on Chicago’s South Side in a house her father bought shortly after the poet and her younger brother were born. Located at 4332 South Champlain, it was a comfortable home with a large front porch and...

  • By George Herbert
    Poem Guide Synopsis

    Should poets have a project? Should books of poetry? It’s a question that generated some heat a few years back, when Dorothea Lasky published her chapbook Poetry Is Not a Project (2010). Lasky objected to the term as not having...

  • By Mina Loy
    Poem Guide Synopsis


    Mina Loy is not Myrna Loy. While the actress Myrna Loy starred in the “The Thin Man” films, the Modernist poet Mina Loy was busying herself with the avant gardes of Italian Futurism, Dada, and to a lesser extent American...

41 to 60 of 73 Poems

Other Information