I’ve been having some trouble streamlining my new essay, so while I work out the kinks, i thought I’d pass on a few classical poetry recommendations. If you’ve never read Auden, do it now. He’s the most brilliant poet ever. I have a busy week, but hopefully I’ll be able to finish that essay and present it here next week. Enjoy!
Samuel Taylor Coleridge: With feral longing and melancholy (The Nightingale) ST Coleridge paints beautiful dark poems. They range from esoteric (Kublai Khan) to the downright epic (The Rime of the Ancient Mariner). His surprising rymes make him a joy to read and his bipolar views that range from perverse to quintessential love make him a perfect read for any occason.
W. H. Auden: Probably the best poet to ever live (much better than the poet laureates who don the stage now [no offense to those who like Billy Collins or Charles Simic]) he has a way with language which stays with you long after the poem is finished. His verse is so layered you can re-read many times and come out with something new each time. Notables are The Shield of Achilles; At the Grave of Henry James; who stands, the crux left of the watershed; Under which Lyre; and In memory of W.B. Yeats.
William Blake: If you’re interested in dark literature, with a hint iof redemption read Blake. The nice thing about him is he was also an artist so you can view the horrors he depicted in words and through his own eyes. If you’ve ever heard of Hannibal Lecter, you’ve serripticiously heard of William Blake. Does the poem and paiting Red Dragon ring a bell?
John Keats: The Most read in high school and also the least appreciated. Everyone knows the classic Ode to a Grecian Urn but what about Ode to a Nightingale, or On the Sea or even On sitting down to read King Lear Once Again? He has a beautiful and resonant flow, ebbing with emotion and description. There is a reason high schoolers have to read him, he is one of the best poets at extracting emotion.
Edgar Allan Poe: Poe has beautifully dark and resonant poems, but with an almost juvenile rhyming scheme and whereas everyone knows The Raven, try out others such as the melancholic (and probably his best) Tamerlane, or such melodic gems as Annabel Lee and The Bells. If you long for the nostalgia of reading The Raven try out the poem (which is actually much better, though little known) which inspired its creation, Lenore.
Langston Hughes: You will never find a more melodic human being. He infuses jazz in everything he writes. Think slam poetry, but good (you know those annoying people who get up and read at open mike nights and make a bunch of hand gestures and say absolutely nothing.). Even when his writing is depressing, there is nothing more hopeful or empowering than Hughes. If you’ve never read him, you’re missing out.