11 votes

The 32 most iconic poems in the English language.

6 comments

  1. [2]
    Yugioh_Mishima Link
    Elizabeth Barrett Browning's "Sonnet 43" (how do I love thee, let me count the ways) and Tennyson's "Charge of the Light Brigade" (theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do and die) are glaring...

    Elizabeth Barrett Browning's "Sonnet 43" (how do I love thee, let me count the ways) and Tennyson's "Charge of the Light Brigade" (theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do and die) are glaring omissions.

    2 votes
    1. nacho Link Parent
      In general the list has a ton of great poems, but as your two examples here also underline, it's a US-centric list that consequently also strongly underrates the 19th century.

      In general the list has a ton of great poems, but as your two examples here also underline, it's a US-centric list that consequently also strongly underrates the 19th century.

  2. TheJorro Link
    Breaks my heart that there's no Wordsworth there. I'd argue that he's the third pillar of the English language, with Chaucer and Shakespeare, in terms of what they did for the cultural relevancy...

    Breaks my heart that there's no Wordsworth there. I'd argue that he's the third pillar of the English language, with Chaucer and Shakespeare, in terms of what they did for the cultural relevancy of the literature but I suppose he was always one of the most understated poets, even during his time (though he was the only one of original Romantics to become Poet Laureate).

    Really surprised about Kublai Khan though... that poem sucks. TS Eliot infamously hated it. There's good reason for it, you can tell exactly when Coleridge stopped writing it to go get high on opium, and then came back and forgot what he was writing. The beginning of it is marvelously imaginative, describing a fantastical dream world with vivid images and gorgeous wordplay...and then it turns into a Godzilla story?

    There's so much better Coleridge out there, not least of which is the Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

    1 vote
  3. [3]
    aphoenix (edited ) Link
    This is a great list of great poems. One is hard pressed to add more, though I've always enjoyed The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes, and The Cremation of Sam Mcgee by Robert Service, both for the...

    This is a great list of great poems. One is hard pressed to add more, though I've always enjoyed The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes, and The Cremation of Sam Mcgee by Robert Service, both for the sheer delight of experiencing them... but I wouldn't kick anything off this list to make room for them. And, as per the note in the article, this would add more oldness and whiteness and maleness to the list.

    Edit: Maybe I'd get rid of Howl.

    1. [2]
      Yugioh_Mishima Link Parent
      You'd get rid of Ginsberg before Kevin Young or Lucie Brock-Broido? Young is very good and Brock-Broido is brilliant, but neither is what I would call iconic. (I found out about Brock-Broido from...

      You'd get rid of Ginsberg before Kevin Young or Lucie Brock-Broido? Young is very good and Brock-Broido is brilliant, but neither is what I would call iconic. (I found out about Brock-Broido from a blog called Writers No One Reads ffs.) Certainly not in comparison to "Howl", which even the author points out everyone knows the opening lines of.

      1 vote
      1. aphoenix Link Parent
        That's a great point - Howl is certainly Iconic. I was letting personal taste in - while I might not think Howl should be iconic, that's beside the point, because it certainly is.

        That's a great point - Howl is certainly Iconic. I was letting personal taste in - while I might not think Howl should be iconic, that's beside the point, because it certainly is.