Core Learning Poems

21 to 40 of 75 Poems
  • By Thom Gunn
    Poem Guide

    At the time of his death in 2004, Thom Gunn was considered by many to be one of the best poets writing in English. Born in England in 1929, but a resident of San Francisco since the mid-1950s, Gunn was...

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  • By Samuel Taylor Coleridge
    Poem Guide

    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...

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  • By Amy Lowell
    Poem Guide

    When I first began reading the modernists, Amy Lowell had already become little more than a footnote to the work of Ezra Pound. His insistence that she had ruined his early movement, imagism, seemed entirely justified by that one Amy...

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  • By Linda Bierds
    Poem Guide

    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...

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  • By Gertrude Stein
    Poem Guide

    It was Gertrude Stein’s habit to write through the night, while her beloved Alice B. Toklas slept. Stein would leave notes for Toklas to find when she rose in the morning, ready to type the pages Stein had written out...

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  • By George Eliot
    Poem Guide

    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...

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  • By Emily Dickinson
    Poem Guide

    Many poets have written about the sea: Whitman, Baudelaire, Rimbaud . . . a list that goes all the way back to Homer. For some people and poets, the ocean represents adventure and escape. For others, its vastness suggests the...

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  • By Wilfred Owen
    Poem Guide

    From an early age, Wilfred Owen seems to have demanded a lot out of the people around him. His younger brother Harold, as Philip Larkin recounted in a review of Jon Stallworthy’s Owen biography (1975), claimed that: “[Wilfred] as an...

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  • By Emily Dickinson
    Poem Guide

    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”...

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  • By Gwendolyn Brooks
    Poem Guide

    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...

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  • By John Keats
    Poem Guide

    When John Keats was finishing “La Belle Dame sans Merci” in the early spring of 1819, he was just weeks away from composing what would become some of English literature’s most sustained and powerful odes. “La Belle Dame,” a compact...

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  • By George Herbert
    Poem Guide

    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...

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  • By Mina Loy
    Poem Guide


    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...

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  • By Elizabeth Bishop
    Poem Guide

    Elizabeth Bishop claimed that it took her around 20 years to finish her poem “The Moose.” Even for a poet as methodical as Bishop, that seems like an unusually long time to hold on to an idea, to sketch out...

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  • By W. S. Merwin
    Poem Guide

    “The Nails” is one of the best breakup poems ever. It was featured in The Moving Target, W.S. Merwin’s fifth book of poetry, published in 1963 when he, like a number of U.S. poets, jumped out of the mainstream’s narrow...

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  • By Margaret Avison
    Poem Guide

    I have always been drawn to poems that contain, within their meditative movements, a hint of narrative and a textured visual richness. Certainly Margaret Avison’s lovely “New Year’s Poem” holds that triple attraction: deeply meditative, it is a feast for...

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  • By Donald Revell
    Poem Guide

    William Butler Yeats insisted that artists become their own opposites, assimilate what seems most remote. Otherwise, he thought, happiness would escape them: “all happiness,” he wrote, “depends on having the energy to assume the mask of some other self, that...

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  • By Stevie Smith
    Poem Guide

    I’m not that interested in the lives of poets. Lord Byron may have been “mad, bad, and dangerous to know,” but as any product of an MFA program can tell you, a poet’s life is typically short on titillating details....

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  • By Robert Duncan
    Poem Guide

    I first read Robert Duncan’s “Often I Am Permitted to Return to a Meadow” on a beautifully permissive afternoon in the spring shade of leafy deciduous trees on the campus of Reed College in Portland, Oregon. It was 1989. I...

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  • By Geoffrey Hill
    Poem Guide

    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...

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