In the world of poetry there are many poets one should read. Poets have made a made for themselves, and their work. These poets are the epitome of poetry and what it means to be a poet. So often they are overlooked in literature courses and not given as much time as they deserve. There are some poets who should be read more than others, while this author believes all poets deserve to be read. Reading these poets help give people an idea of what it meant to be a poet in certain time periods and what it was like to live in certain time periods.
William Blake: Blake only wrote two small books that go hand in hand: Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience. Songs of Innocence contains poems about the innocence life once has and then Songs of Experience is about how life can take away that innocence. Every poem he wrote has a counter poem: for example, “The Lamb’s” counter poem is “The Tyger.” Both poems contain the same tone and sometimes the same rhyme scheme. Blake also painted pictures to go with his poems to further convey the meaning.
Elizabeth Barrett Browing: She is the more famous of the two Brownings. She mainly wrote about social unrest, but the poem of hers that is mostly taught is “How Do I Love Thee.” Elizabeth was one of the first women authors/poets. She also didn’t follow one set of rhyme scheme like some poets do.
Alfred Lord Tennyson: Many of his poems provoke emotions and make his readers think. His most powerful poem would be “Break, Break, Break” written after the lost of a friend, whom he also dedicates an entire book to. He wrote many story and epic poems, most famous being “Ulysses.” He also didn’t follow one set of rhyme scheme and many of his poems are written in free verse.
Emily Dickinson: She wasn’t recognized until after her death because she kept her poetry hidden. She wrote mainly about life and death. Her literary tool of choice was personification. She gave human qualities to objects and ideas like death. She is considered one of the best woman poets. She never titled her poetry and the titles we use today are the first lines of the poem. Her most famous is “Because I Could Not Stop For Death.”
John Donne: Donne is not as well known or as commonly taught as the other poets. Some of his poetry has sexual images and he used nature images to convey his ideas. He has a unique rhyme scheme that no one else uses as with his formatting. Many of his poems doubt the existence of true love, but he also has some that deal with having faith in God.
Gwendolyn Brooks: Brooks is a more modern poet than the previous poets. She tends to write her poetry in slang to appeal to a different audience. Many of her pieces are short and to the point. She is another woman poet who addresses social issues as she does is “We Real Cool.”And she is another poet that doesn’t stick to the traditionally abab rhyme scheme as some poets do.
Dylan Thomas: Thomas is well known more for his Villanelles. His poem “Don Not Go Gentle Into That Great Night” has been used in pop culture numerous times including the show Family Guy. He is considered one of the greatest modern poets. Some of his poems are written in free verse other rhyme; he doesn’t stick to one style.
Langston Hughes: Hughes is one of the Harlem Renaissance poets, and the most famous. He writes in various different styles and rhyme schemes. He dabbles in different types of poetry as well. His poetry mainly focuses on the struggles of the African American community. His poetry, though seemingly upbeat, provokes emotions and makes his readers think about his poetry.
William Wordsworth: His is one of the oldest poets on this list. His work focused on nature and its effects on a person. Wordsworth followed all the traditional rules. He used nature as his inspiration so much that even his love poems have nature images within them.
Edgar Allen Poe: Poe is known for being the father of the macabre. Many of his stories and poetry have a gruesome effect to them. His poetry are story poems, long and telling a story as he would in short stories. His work is like no other before and after him. His images can haunt dreams.
Every poet on the list is considered among the greatest poets. Some are taught in high school while others aren’t taught until college. Everyone should read at least one of their poems to get the full understanding of who they are as a poet. Through their poems you get a glimpse into their lives and what life was like for them.