100 Best-Loved Poems

100 Best-Loved Poems

by Philip Smith (Editor)

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Overview

Here are some of the most-loved poems in the English language, chosen not merely for their popularity, but for their literary quality as well. Dating from the Middle Ages to the 20th century, these splendid poems remain evergreen in their capacity to engage our minds and refresh our spirits.
Among them are Marlowe: "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love"; Shakespeare: "Sonnet XVIII" ("Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?"); Donne: "Holy Sonnet X" ("Death, be not proud"); Marvell: "To His Coy Mistress"; Wordsworth: "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud"; Shelley: "Ode to the West Wind"; Longfellow: "The Children's Hour"; Poe: "The Raven"; Tennyson: "The Charge of the Light Brigade"; Whitman: "O Captain! My Captain!"; Dickinson: "This Is My Letter to the World"; Yeats: "When You Are Old"; Frost: "The Road Not Taken"; Millay: "First Fig."
Works by many other poets — Milton, Blake, Burns, Coleridge, Byron, Keats, Emerson, the Brownings, Hardy, Housman, Kipling, Pound, and Auden among them — are included in this treasury, a perfect companion for quiet moments of reflection.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780486285535
Publisher: Dover Publications
Publication date: 10/04/1995
Series: Dover Thrift Editions Series
Pages: 112
Sales rank: 41,942
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x (d)
Age Range: 11 Years

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

100 BEST-LOVED POEMS

BALLADS

Ballads are anonymous, frequently tragic, storytelling songs that often developed for centuries before being recorded in writing. The following are two of the most famous English ballads, dating probably from the late Middle Ages.

Lord Randal

"O where hae ye been, Lord Randal, my son?
"Where gat ye your dinner, Lord Randal, my son?
"What gat ye to your dinner, Lord Randal, my son?
"What became of your bloodhounds, Lord Randal, my son?
"O I fear ye are poison'd, Lord Randal, my son!
Sir Patrick Spens

I. The Sailing

The king sits in Dunfermline town Drinking the blude-red wine;
O up and spak an eldern knight,
Our king has written a braid letter,
"To Noroway, to Noroway,
The first word that Sir Patrick read So loud, loud laugh'd he;
"O wha is this has done this deed And tauld the king o' me,
"Be it wind, be it weet, be it hail, be it sleet,
They hoysed their sails on Monenday morn Wi' a' the speed they may;
II. The Return

"Mak ready, mak ready, my merry men a'!
"I saw the new moon late yestreen Wi' the auld moon in her arm;
They hadna sail'd a league, a league,
The ankers brak, and the topmast lap,
"Go fetch a web o' the silken claith,
They fetch'd a web o' the silken claith,
O laith, laith were our gude Scots lords To wet their cork-heel'd shoon;
And mony was the feather bed That flatter'd on the faem;
O lang, lang may the ladies sit,
And lang, lang may the maidens sit Wi' their gowd kames in their hair,
Half-owre, half-owre to Aberdour,
SIR THOMAS WYATT(1503–1542)

A courtier and diplomat active in the court of King Henry VIII, Wyatt is credited with introducing Italian sonnet forms to English literature in the 1530s.

The Lover Showeth How He Is Forsaken of Such as He Sometime Enjoyed

They flee from me that sometime did me seek,
That now are wild, and do not once remember That sometime they have put themselves in danger To take bread at my hand; and now they range,
Thank'd be fortune, it hath been otherwise Twenty times better; but once, in special,
It was no dream; I lay broad waking:
CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE(1564–1593)

Second only to Shakespeare (whom he inspired) as an Elizabethan dramatist, Marlowe penned some of the earliest and greatest English-language tragedies before being killed in a tavern at age 29.

The Passionate Shepherd to His Love

Come live with me and be my Love,
And we will sit upon the rocks,
And I will make thee beds of roses And a thousand fragrant posies;
A gown made of the finest wool Which from our pretty lambs we pull;
A belt of straw and ivy-buds With coral clasps and amber studs:
The shepherd swains shall dance and sing For thy delight each May morning:
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE(1564–1616)

The preeminent English poet and playwright, Shakespeare published a sequence of 154 sonnets in 1609 that continue to be regarded as the highest perfection of the form in English.

Sonnet XVIII

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Sonnet LXXIII

That time of year thou mayst in me behold When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Sonnet XCIV

They that have power to hurt and will do none,
Sonnet CXVI

Let me not to the marriage of true minds Admit impediments. Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds,
THOMAS NASHE(1567–1601)

During a tempestuous and brief career, Nashe produced plays, satire, pamphlets and a novel as well as poetry. The following lyric is taken from his comedy Summers Last Will and Testament (1592).

"Adieu, Farewell Earth's Bliss"

Adieu, farewell earth's bliss;
Rich men, trust not in wealth,
Beauty is but a flower Which wrinkles will devour;
Strength stoops unto the grave,
Wit with his wantonness Tasteth death's bitterness;
Haste, therefore, each degree,
JOHN DONNE(1572–1631)

Born a Catholic, Donne became an Anglican cleric of great influence. He also wrote secular as well as religious poetry that combined brilliant craftsmanship, heartfelt emotion and intellectual rigor while addressing issues of love and faith.

The Good Morrow

I wonder by my troth, what thou, and I Did, till we lov'd? were we not wean'd till then?
And now good morrow to our waking souls,
My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears,
Holy Sonnet X

Death be not proud, though some have called thee Mighty and dreadful, for, thou art not so,
Holy Sonnet XIV

Batter my heart, three-person'd God; for, you As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
BEN JONSON(1572–1637)

At his peak the leading literary figure of his day, Jonson was an associate of Shakespeare, Donne and other distinguished persons, as well as poet laureate. He was an accomplished playwright, translator and critic, and also wrote great lyric poetry.

To Celia

Drink to me, only, with thine eyes,
I sent thee late a rosy wreath,
On My First Son

Farewell, thou child of my right hand, and joy;
ROBERT HERRICK(1591–1674)

One of Ben Jonson's many followers, Herrick did not let his position as an Anglican cleric deter his composing sensual lyrics (of which the following is a mild example) that celebrate the earthly pleasures of human existence.

To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
That age is best which is the first,
Then be not coy, but use your time,
(Continues…)



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Table of Contents

BALLADS
Lord Randal
Sir Patrick Spens
SIR THOMAS WYATT
The Lover Showeth How He Is Forsaken of Such as He Sometime Enjoyed
CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE
The Passionate Shepherd to His Love
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
"Sonnet XVIII ("Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?")"
"Sonnet LXXIII ("That time of year thou mayst in me behold")"
"Sonnet XCIV ("They that have power to hurt and will do none")"
"Sonnet CXVI ("Let me not to the marriage of true minds")"
THOMAS NASHE
"Adieu, Farewell Earth's Bliss"
JOHN DONNE
The Good Morrow
"Holy Sonnet X ("Death be not proud, though some have called thee")"
"Holy Sonnet XIV ("Batter my heart, three-person'd God; for, you")"
BEN JONSON
To Celia
On My First Son
ROBERT HERRICK
"To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time"
Upon Julia's Clothes
GEORGE HERBERT
Love Bade Me Welcome
EDMUND WALLER
"Song ("Go, lovely Rose -")"
JOHN MILTON
On His Blindness
On His Deceased Wife
SIR JOHN SUCKLING
"Why So Pale and Wan, Fond Lover?"
RICHARD LOVELACE
"To Lucasta, Going to the Wars"
ANDREW MARVELL
To His Coy Mistress
HANRY VAUGHAN
The Retreat
THOMAS GRAY
Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard
"Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat, Drowned in a Tub of Gold Fishes"
WILLIAM BLAKE
The Lamb
The Sick Rose
The Tyger
London
ROBERT BURNS
To a Mouse
"A Red, Red Rose"
WILLIAM WORDSWORTH
"Composed upon Westminster Bridge, Sep. 3, 1802"
"I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud"
"The World Is Too Much with Us; Late and Soon"
SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE
Kubla Khan
LEIGH HUNT
Abou Ben Adhem
Jenny Kiss'd Me
"GEORGE GORDON, LORD BYRON"
"She Walks in Beauty"
The Destruction of Sennacherib
"So We'll Go No More a Roving"
PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY
Ozymandias
Ode to the West Wind
To a Skylark
WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT
Thanatopsis
JOHN KEATS
On First Looking into Chapman's Homer
Ode to a Nightingale
Ode on a Grecian Urn
La Belle Dame sans Merci
"When I Have Fears That I May Cease to Be"
RALPH WALDO EMERSON
Hymn: sung at the Completion of the Concord Monument
ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING
"Sonnet XLIII ("How do I love thee? Let me count the ways")"
HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW
The Village Blacksmith
The Children's Hour
JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER
Barbara Frietchie
EDGAR ALLAN POE
To Helen
The Raven
Annabel Lee
"OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES, SR."
Old Ironsides
The Chambered Nautilus
"ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON"
The Charge of the Light Brigade
Crossing the Bar
ROBERT BROWNING
My Last Duchess
WALT WHITMAN
I Hear America Singing
O Captain! My Captain!
A Noiseless Patient Spider
MATTHEW ARNOLD
Dover Beach
GEORGE MEREDITH
Lucifer in Starlight
EMILY DICKINSON
"I'm Nobody! Who Are You?"
"This Is My Letter to the World"
"I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died"
"Because I Could No Stop for Death"
CHRISTINA ROSSETTI
A Birthday
LEWIS CARROLL
Jabberwocky
THOMAS HARDY
The Darkling Thrush
GERARD MANLEY HOPKINS
The Windhover
Pied Beauty
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON
Requiem
A. E. HOUSMAN
To an Athlete Dying Young
RUDYARD KIPLING
Gunga Din
Recessional
If -
WILLIAM BUTLER YEARTS
The Lake Isle of Innisfree
When You Are Old
The Second Coming
EDWIN ARLINGTON ROBINSON
Richard Cory
Miniver Cheevy
ROBERT FROST
The Road Not Taken
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
CARL SANDBURG
Chicago
Fog
WALLACE STEVENS
The Emperor of Ice-Cream
WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS
The Red Wheelbarrow
EZRA POUND
The River-Merchant's Wife: A Letter
MARIANNE MOORE
Poetry
EDNA ST. VINCENT MILLAY
First Fig
WILFRED OWEN
Anthem for Doomed youth
E. E. CUMMINGS
"anyone lived in a pretty how town"
W. H. AUDEN
Musée des Beaux Arts
DYLAN THOMAS
Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night
Alphabetical List of Titles
Alphabetical List of First Lines

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100 Best-Loved Poems 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Always dream When im by myself And i want to dream...... Im a gymnast jumping to the bar Im a athlete running vry far Im a painter painting on a canvas Im a city girl heade to Kansas Im a cheetah sprinting to my prey Im a shark hunting food every day Im a singer performing on broadway Im a kid who is loved in every way Im whatever i want to be And when i open my eys all i care to be is me
StephenBarkley on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
No one in their right mind would argue the worth of the poems in this volume. If you¿re interested in the verse that has shaped our culture, this is a great place to start.I learned something about myself in reading this book, though¿I prefer things in their context.:* I¿d rather listen to a representative album from an artist than a best-of CD.* I prefer Biblical Theology to Systematic Theology because it allows each author to speak in his own voice.* I would much rather have read these poems in their original context than ripped from their homes and forced into a best-of list.This book is great¿for a compilation. My next poetry read, though, will be the collected works of Robert Frost.
Whisper1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I spent a restful rainy Sunday evening savoring the wonderful words, phrases and lyrical joy of reading this marvelous compilation of poetry.Beginning with The Ballad of Lord Randal through Dylan Thomas¿ Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, I was transformed to a world where writing was concise, crisp, clear and every word was laden with meaning.As the rain splashed on the sky light in the living room and the thunder clapped, I sat in an overstuffed chair, cup of tea in hand and delighted in the images that gently rolled through my mind. Finding some of these poems anew was as cleansing as the spring rain.For instance, as I read A.E. Housman¿s To an Athlete Dying Young, I saw Isak Dinesen, portrayed by Meryl Streep, as she stands at the graveside of Dennys Finch Hatton in the movie Out of Africa.The time you won your town the raceWe chaired you through the market-place;Man and boy stood cheering by,And home we brought you shoulder-high.To-day, the road all runners come,Shoulder-high we bring you home,And set you at your threshold down,Townsman of a stiller town.Smart lad, to slip betimes awayFrom fields were glory does not stayAnd early though the laurel growsIt withers quicker than the rose.Eyes the shady night has shutCannot see the record cut,And silence sounds no worse than cheersAfter earth has stopped the ears:Now you will not swell the routOf lads that wore their honours out,Runners whom renown outranAnd the name died before the man.So set, before its echoes fade,The fleet foot on the sill of shade,And hold to the low lintel upThe still-defended challenge-cup.And round that early-laurelled headWill flock to gaze the strengthless dead,And find unwithered on its curlsThe garland briefer than a girl's.
Audacity88 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Excellent small anthology; easily worth spending $1.50 on if one happens to be using Amazon's free Super Saver shipping.
legoretrout on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A collection of well-known poems by well-known authors which works well if you are just looking to acquaint yourself with poetry. However, some of the selections disappointed me and many of them left little to be analyzed. Not great for any Lit. major, but for a Dover Thrift of $1.25 I can't complain TOO much.
littlepiece on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A fair collection of the sort of thing that shows up on every college English syllabus. No longer works; poems are 2 pages or less. A good deal for $1.25.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
for the new poetry reader, a must book
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a wonderful book, it was AWESOME!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
A poetry lovers must!