19 votes

Tildistas, what is your favorite poem?

there have been quite a few discussions on poetry on here and more than a few people post it from time to time, but i don't think anybody's asked this question recently if at all on this site, so let me be the first to do that.

alternative/bonus question for those of you who can't pick a singular poem: who is your favorite poet in general?

(also just to be clear, non-anglophone poetry/poets are of course welcome for the answer here. don't feel limited or obligated to confine yourself just to english poetry because most of the people here are anglophones)

52 comments

  1. [4]
    CALICO
    Link
    I met a traveller from an antique land Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone Stand in the desert... near them, on the sand, Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown, And wrinkled...

    I met a traveller from an antique land
    Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
    Stand in the desert... near them, on the sand,
    Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
    And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
    Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
    Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
    The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed;
    And on the pedestal these words appear:
    'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings;
    Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
    Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
    Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
    The lone and level sands stretch far away.

    Percy Shelley, Ozymandias

    16 votes
    1. spit-evil-olive-tips
      Link Parent
      Saw this topic and knew I had to post Ozymandias...glad you beat me to it. I love the double meaning, and how well-expressed it is in such a short poem. When Ozymandias built his statue, the...

      Saw this topic and knew I had to post Ozymandias...glad you beat me to it.

      I love the double meaning, and how well-expressed it is in such a short poem.

      'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings;
      Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'

      When Ozymandias built his statue, the meaning of that inscription was "look how awesome I am, and despair that no matter how mighty you are, you'll never be as mighty as I am".

      Later, when the statue is abandoned and forgotten in the desert, the same inscription can be read as "no matter how mighty you are, I was even mightier, and you should despair because your fate will be the same as mine".

      7 votes
    2. hungariantoast
      Link Parent
      In Egypt's sandy silence, all alone, Stands a gigantic Leg, which far off throws The only shadow that the Desert knows:— "I am great OZYMANDIAS," saith the stone, "The King of Kings; this mighty...

      In Egypt's sandy silence, all alone,
      Stands a gigantic Leg, which far off throws
      The only shadow that the Desert knows:—
      "I am great OZYMANDIAS," saith the stone,
      "The King of Kings; this mighty City shows
      "The wonders of my hand."— The City's gone,—
      Naught but the Leg remaining to disclose
      The site of this forgotten Babylon.

      We wonder,—and some Hunter may express
      Wonder like ours, when thro' the wilderness
      Where London stood, holding the Wolf in chace,
      He meets some fragment huge, and stops to guess
      What powerful but unrecorded race
      Once dwelt in that annihilated place.

      Horace Smith, Ozymandias


      Thanks to Wikipedia, I discovered that there are actually two "Ozymandias" poems, both published in 1818 as part of a friendly competition. There is the one you have posted, by Percy Shelley, then there is the other, by Horace Smith.

      7 votes
    3. zaarn
      Link Parent
      'My name is Homo Sapiens, king of apes; Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!' That's the variant I've heard from some youtuber... and I prefer it myself.

      'My name is Homo Sapiens, king of apes;
      Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'

      That's the variant I've heard from some youtuber... and I prefer it myself.

  2. [3]
    s-sea
    Link
    "There Will Come Soft Rains" by Sara Teasdale always gets me. There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground, And swallows circling with their shimmering sound; And frogs in the pools...

    "There Will Come Soft Rains" by Sara Teasdale always gets me.


    There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
    And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

    And frogs in the pools singing at night,
    And wild plum-trees in tremulous white;

    Robins will wear their feathery fire
    Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

    And not one will know of the war, not one
    Will care at last when it is done.

    Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree
    If mankind perished utterly;

    And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,
    Would scarcely know that we were gone.


    I don't particularly know why - it's honestly kind of depressing in my opinion, but it really speaks to a nihilist streak that I guess I have, despite my being a rather optimistic person. Just the kind of sense that ultimately whatever actions I have, whatever actions we have, earth and life and all the things around us will be happy to continue on and sing their own songs.

    12 votes
    1. [2]
      gpl
      Link Parent
      If you have not, check out the short story by the same name and similar in theme, written by Ray Bradbury.

      There Will Come Soft Rains

      If you have not, check out the short story by the same name and similar in theme, written by Ray Bradbury.

      4 votes
      1. The_Fad
        Link Parent
        Ahhhh you beat me to it! Bradbury is one of my literary heroes.

        Ahhhh you beat me to it! Bradbury is one of my literary heroes.

        2 votes
  3. [2]
    themadfarmer
    Link
    I knew that poetry served a purpose in the world, but I never appreciated it until I read Wendell Berry. Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front by Wendell Berry Love the quick profit, the...

    I knew that poetry served a purpose in the world, but I never appreciated it until I read Wendell Berry.

    Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front
    by Wendell Berry

    Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
    vacation with pay. Want more
    of everything ready-made. Be afraid
    to know your neighbors and to die.
    And you will have a window in your head.
    Not even your future will be a mystery
    any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
    and shut away in a little drawer.
    When they want you to buy something
    they will call you. When they want you
    to die for profit they will let you know.
    So, friends, every day do something
    that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
    Love the world. Work for nothing.
    Take all that you have and be poor.
    Love someone who does not deserve it.
    Denounce the government and embrace
    the flag. Hope to live in that free
    republic for which it stands.
    Give your approval to all you cannot
    understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
    has not encountered he has not destroyed.
    Ask the questions that have no answers.
    Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
    Say that your main crop is the forest
    that you did not plant,
    that you will not live to harvest.
    Say that the leaves are harvested
    when they have rotted into the mold.
    Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
    Put your faith in the two inches of humus
    that will build under the trees
    every thousand years.
    Listen to carrion — put your ear
    close, and hear the faint chattering
    of the songs that are to come.
    Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
    Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
    though you have considered all the facts.
    So long as women do not go cheap
    for power, please women more than men.
    Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
    a woman satisfied to bear a child?
    Will this disturb the sleep
    of a woman near to giving birth?
    Go with your love to the fields.
    Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head
    in her lap. Swear allegiance
    to what is nighest your thoughts.
    As soon as the generals and the politicos
    can predict the motions of your mind,
    lose it. Leave it as a sign
    to mark the false trail, the way
    you didn’t go. Be like the fox
    who makes more tracks than necessary,
    some in the wrong direction.
    Practice resurrection.

    9 votes
  4. Staross
    Link
    Not sure if it's my favorite but I was quite fascinated by this reading of Three Songs of Shattering by Edna St. Vincent Millay for a while, I think it's a combination of the reader's voice and...

    Not sure if it's my favorite but I was quite fascinated by this reading of Three Songs of Shattering by Edna St. Vincent Millay for a while, I think it's a combination of the reader's voice and the poem that got me:

    https://ia800203.us.archive.org/11/items/renascence_millay_ll_librivox/renascence_11_millay.mp3

    I have to say I don't quite understand what it's about.

    I

    The first rose on my rose-tree
    Budded, bloomed, and shattered,
    During sad days when to me
    Nothing mattered.

    Grief of grief has drained me clean;
    Still it seems a pity
    No one saw,—it must have been
    Very pretty.

    II

    Let the little birds sing;
    Let the little lambs play;
    Spring is here; and so ’tis spring;—
    But not in the old way!

    I recall a place
    Where a plum-tree grew;
    There you lifted up your face,
    And blossoms covered you.

    If the little birds sing,
    And the little lambs play,
    Spring is here; and so ’tis spring—
    But not in the old way!

    III

    All the dog-wood blossoms are underneath the tree!
    Ere spring was going—ah, spring is gone!
    And there comes no summer to the like of you and me,—
    Blossom time is early, but no fruit sets on.

    All the dog-wood blossoms are underneath the tree,
    Browned at the edges, turned in a day;
    And I would with all my heart they trimmed a mound for me,
    And weeds were tall on all the paths that led that way!

    7 votes
  5. [3]
    nacho
    Link
    Jan Erik Vold's poem Kulturuke The poem is just rearanging the Norwegian word kulturuke (culture week) to make absolute nonsense. Kulturuke ulturkuke tulkuruke ultkuruke ukturulke tlukuruke...

    Jan Erik Vold's poem Kulturuke

    The poem is just rearanging the Norwegian word kulturuke (culture week) to make absolute nonsense.

    Kulturuke

    ulturkuke
    tulkuruke
    ultkuruke
    ukturulke
    tlukuruke
    ukturkule
    urtukulke
    turlukuke
    kulrukute
    ultrukuke
    kuleturuk
    rulekukur
    tulekukur
    luretukuk
    kukutelur
    ruktukule
    lurekuktu
    luekuktur
    kuktulure
    rukletuku
    tuklekuru
    urukekult
    kuruketul

    Listen to his declaration in the link above. You won't regret that minute of your life.

    How does someone think of doing this? How do they make the result so incredibly good? Why does it capture the feeling of these horrid events during Culture weeks so well?

    7 votes
    1. [2]
      Birb
      Link Parent
      Could you explain what you mean by this? I'm not terribly familiar with the subject.

      Why does it capture the feeling of these horrid events during Culture weeks so well?

      Could you explain what you mean by this? I'm not terribly familiar with the subject.

      1 vote
      1. EightRoundsRapid
        Link Parent
        I assume he's referring to the Utøya massacre committed by Anders Breivik in the poem.

        I assume he's referring to the Utøya massacre committed by Anders Breivik in the poem.

        2 votes
  6. [2]
    TheJorro
    Link
    Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening By Robert Frost Whose woods these are I think I know. His house is in the village though; He will not see me stopping here To watch his woods fill up with...

    Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
    By Robert Frost

    Whose woods these are I think I know.
    His house is in the village though;
    He will not see me stopping here
    To watch his woods fill up with snow.

    My little horse must think it queer
    To stop without a farmhouse near
    Between the woods and frozen lake
    The darkest evening of the year.

    He gives his harness bells a shake
    To ask if there is some mistake.
    The only other sound’s the sweep
    Of easy wind and downy flake.

    The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep.

    5 votes
    1. Eric_the_Cerise
      Link Parent
      Interesting I've known the last stanza by heart for decades, kind of even knew it was Frost, but I've never seen the whole poem.

      Interesting I've known the last stanza by heart for decades, kind of even knew it was Frost, but I've never seen the whole poem.

  7. kfwyre
    Link
    A Dog on His Master by Billy Collins It's short, sweet, and makes me tear up almost every time I come back to it.

    A Dog on His Master
    by Billy Collins

    As young as I look,
    I am growing older faster than he,
    seven to one
    is the ratio they tend to say.

    Whatever the number,
    I will pass him one day
    and take the lead
    the way I do on our walks in the woods.

    And if this ever manages
    to cross his mind,
    it would be the sweetest
    shadow I have ever cast on snow or grass.

    It's short, sweet, and makes me tear up almost every time I come back to it.

    5 votes
  8. clr
    (edited )
    Link
    The last love letter from an entomologist is a pretty awesome spoken word piece by Jared Singer. His performance has stuck with me for all these years. “A Screw Fell to the Ground” by Xu Lizhi is...

    The last love letter from an entomologist is a pretty awesome spoken word piece by Jared Singer. His performance has stuck with me for all these years.

    “A Screw Fell to the Ground” by Xu Lizhi is also profound. He was a Foxconn worker who jumped to his death.

    《一颗螺丝掉在地上》
    "A Screw Fell to the Ground"

    一颗螺丝掉在地上
    A screw fell to the ground

    在这个加班的夜晚
    In this dark night of overtime

    垂直降落,轻轻一响
    Plunging vertically, lightly clinking

    不会引起任何人的注意
    It won’t attract anyone’s attention

    就像在此之前
    Just like last time

    某个相同的夜晚
    On a night like this

    有个人掉在地上
    When someone plunged to the ground

    5 votes
  9. [3]
    synergy-unsterile
    Link
    Be not Defeated by the Rain (雨ニモマケズ) by Kenji Miyazawa. Translation by David Sulz: Original: Bonus Song version, performed by Artistes 311 Love Beyond Borders to fundraise after the 2011 Tohoku...

    Be not Defeated by the Rain (雨ニモマケズ) by Kenji Miyazawa.

    Translation by David Sulz:

    Be not defeated by the rain, Nor let the wind prove your better.
    Succumb not to the snows of winter. Nor be bested by the heat of summer.

    Be strong in body. Unfettered by desire. Not enticed to anger. Cultivate a quiet joy.
    Count yourself last in everything. Put others before you.
    Watch well and listen closely. Hold the learned lessons dear.

    A thatch-roof house, in a meadow, nestled in a pine grove's shade.

    A handful of rice, some miso, and a few vegetables to suffice for the day.

    If, to the East, a child lies sick: Go forth and nurse him to health.
    If, to the West, an old lady stands exhausted: Go forth, and relieve her of burden.
    If, to the South, a man lies dying: Go forth with words of courage to dispel his fear.
    If, to the North, an argument or fight ensues:
    Go forth and beg them stop such a waste of effort and of spirit.

    In times of drought, shed tears of sympathy.
    In summers cold, walk in concern and empathy.

    Stand aloof of the unknowing masses:
    Better dismissed as useless than flattered as a "Great Man".

    This is my goal, the person I strive to become.

    Original:

    雨ニモマケズ
    風ニモマケズ
    雪ニモ夏ノ暑サニモマケヌ
    丈夫ナカラダヲモチ
    慾ハナク
    決シテ瞋ラズ
    イツモシヅカニワラッテヰル
    一日ニ玄米四合ト
    味噌ト少シノ野菜ヲタベ
    アラユルコトヲ
    ジブンヲカンジョウニ入レズニ
    ヨクミキキシワカリ
    ソシテワスレズ
    野原ノ松ノ林ノ蔭ノ
    小サナ萓ブキノ小屋ニヰテ
    東ニ病氣ノコドモアレバ
    行ッテ看病シテヤリ
    西ニツカレタ母アレバ
    行ッテソノ稻ノ朿ヲ負ヒ
    南ニ死ニサウナ人アレバ
    行ッテコハガラナクテモイヽトイヒ
    北ニケンクヮヤソショウガアレバ
    ツマラナイカラヤメロトイヒ
    ヒデリノトキハナミダヲナガシ
    サムサノナツハオロオロアルキ
    ミンナニデクノボートヨバレ
    ホメラレモセズ
    クニモサレズ
    サウイフモノニ
    ワタシハナリタイ

    Bonus Song version, performed by Artistes 311 Love Beyond Borders to fundraise after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.

    5 votes
    1. Deimos
      Link Parent
      Completely tangential, but I was wondering why the original was written almost entirely in katakana, since that's a very weird thing to do (katakana is almost exclusively used to write...

      Completely tangential, but I was wondering why the original was written almost entirely in katakana, since that's a very weird thing to do (katakana is almost exclusively used to write non-Japanese words).

      The Wikipedia page you linked to says this:

      Miyazawa chose to write the poem using katakana. This could seem to be stylistically odd from a modern perspective, as katakana is nowadays (usually) only used in Japanese writing to denote foreign words. However, at the time, katakana rather than hiragana was the preferred syllabary.

      That's really interesting, I had no idea that it had switched over at some point like that. Thanks for the random new knowledge (and an excellent poem too)!

      5 votes
    2. etc
      Link Parent
      If— If you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs and blaming it on you, If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, But make allowance for their doubting too. If you can...

      If—

      If you can keep your head when all about you
      Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
      If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
      But make allowance for their doubting too.
      If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
      Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
      Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
      And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

      If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
      If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
      If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster,
      And treat those two impostors just the same;
      If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
      Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
      Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
      And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

      If you can make a heap of all your winnings
      And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
      And lose, and start again at your beginnings
      And never breathe a word about your loss;
      If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
      To serve your turn long after they are gone,
      And so hold on when there is nothing in you
      Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

      If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
      Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
      If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
      If all men count with you, but none too much;
      If you can fill the unforgiving minute
      With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
      Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
      And—which is more—you'll be a Man, my son!

      — Rudyard Kipling

      1 vote
  10. Pilgrim
    Link
    Hard to pick a favorite but this one has stuck with me: Annabel Lee by Edgar Allen Poe It was many and many a year ago, In a kingdom by the sea, That a maiden there lived whom you may know By the...

    Hard to pick a favorite but this one has stuck with me:

    Annabel Lee by Edgar Allen Poe

    It was many and many a year ago,
    In a kingdom by the sea,
    That a maiden there lived whom you may know
    By the name of Annabel Lee;
    And this maiden she lived with no other thought
    Than to love and be loved by me.

    I was a child and she was a child,
    In this kingdom by the sea,
    But we loved with a love that was more than love—
    I and my Annabel Lee—
    With a love that the wingèd seraphs of Heaven
    Coveted her and me.

    And this was the reason that, long ago,
    In this kingdom by the sea,
    A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
    My beautiful Annabel Lee;
    So that her highborn kinsmen came
    And bore her away from me,
    To shut her up in a sepulchre
    In this kingdom by the sea.

    The angels, not half so happy in Heaven,
    Went envying her and me—
    Yes!—that was the reason (as all men know,
    In this kingdom by the sea)
    That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
    Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

    But our love it was stronger by far than the love
    Of those who were older than we—
    Of many far wiser than we—
    And neither the angels in Heaven above
    Nor the demons down under the sea
    Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
    Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;

    For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams
    Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
    And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes
    Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
    And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
    Of my darling—my darling—my life and my bride,
    In her sepulchre there by the sea—
    In her tomb by the sounding sea.

    4 votes
  11. EditingAndLayout
    Link
    The Rose of the World by William Butler Yeats

    The Rose of the World
    by William Butler Yeats

    Who dreamed that beauty passes like a dream?
    For these red lips with all their mournful pride,
    Mournful that no new wonder may betide,
    Troy passed away in one high funeral gleam,
    And Usna’s children died.
    We and the laboring world are passing by:—
    Amid men’s souls that day by day gives place,
    More fleeting than the sea’s foam-fickle face,
    Under the passing stars, foam of the sky,
    Lives on this lonely face.
    Bow down, archangels, in your dim abode:
    Before ye were or any hearts to beat,
    Weary and kind one stood beside His seat;
    He made the world, to be a grassy road
    Before her wandering feet.

    4 votes
  12. Amarok
    Link
    Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and...

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

    Surely some revelation is at hand;
    Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
    The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
    When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
    Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
    A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
    A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
    Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
    Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
    The darkness drops again; but now I know
    That twenty centuries of stony sleep
    Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?


    William Butler Yeats, 1919 - proving eternal september has been around forever. :L

    4 votes
  13. Dovey
    Link
    Edna St. Vincent Millay has been my favourite poet for decades (shoutout to @Staross). This is one of her many sonnets and was the poem that made me sit up and take notice of her for the first...

    Edna St. Vincent Millay has been my favourite poet for decades (shoutout to @Staross). This is one of her many sonnets and was the poem that made me sit up and take notice of her for the first time:

    Oh, oh, you will be sorry for that word!
    Give back my book and take my kiss instead.
    Was it my enemy or my friend I heard,
    “What a big book for such a little head!”
    Come, I will show you now my newest hat,
    And you may watch me purse my mouth and prink!
    Oh, I shall love you still, and all of that.
    I never again shall tell you what I think.
    I shall be sweet and crafty, soft and sly;
    You will not catch me reading any more:
    I shall be called a wife to pattern by;
    And some day when you knock and push the door,
    Some sane day, not too bright and not too stormy,
    I shall be gone, and you may whistle for me.

    4 votes
  14. DonQuixote
    Link
    Duration, by Octavio Paz "Thunder and wind: duration. " ~ I Ching I Sky black Yellow earth The rooster tears the night apart The water wakes and asks what time it is The wind wakes and asks for...

    Duration, by Octavio Paz

    "Thunder and wind: duration. " ~ I Ching

    I

    Sky black
    Yellow earth
    The rooster tears the night apart
    The water wakes and asks what time it is
    The wind wakes and asks for you
    A white horse goes by

    II

    As the forest in its bed of leaves
    you sleep in your bed of rain
    you sing in your bed of wind
    you kiss in your bed of sparks

    III

    Multiple vehement odor
    many-handed body
    On an invisible stem a single
    whiteness

    IV

    Speak listen answer me
    what the thunder-clap
    says, the woods
    understand

    V

    I enter by your eyes
    you come forth by my mouth
    You sleep in my blood
    I waken in your head

    VI

    I will speak to you in stone-language
    (answer with a green syllable)
    I will speak to you in snow-language
    (answer with a fan of bees)
    I will speak to you in water-language
    (answer with a canoe of lightning)
    I will speak to you in blood-language
    (answer with a tower of birds)

    3 votes
  15. unknown user
    Link
    Fernando Pessoa, Cemal Süreya, Asaf Halet Çelebi, Orhan Veli Kanık and Cesare Pavese are among my favourites. I realise now that most poetry I read is in Turkish, which is sad. I really should...

    Fernando Pessoa, Cemal Süreya, Asaf Halet Çelebi, Orhan Veli Kanık and Cesare Pavese are among my favourites. I realise now that most poetry I read is in Turkish, which is sad. I really should read more in English, because to this day I've mostly taken it as a technical language, but there is beautiful original literature written in it.

    Süreya has such a unique style, so much power in building images with incredibly smart ways of bending Turkish grammar and juxtaposing words and concepts so smartly in such a surreal way. I translated one of his poems here (Turkish original), which is one of my favourites, but there are many more shockingly wonderful ones, translating which to any language would be a truly monumental task for any translator.

    From Pessoa, well, I love everything by him, but these couple of verses are among my favourites:

    Na vespera de não partir nunca
    Ao menos não ha que arrumar malas

    which I first read in a book by Tabucchi where it was included as an epigram. I couldn't find a translation, so here is my attempt:

    On the eve of not departing ever
    At least there is no packing to be done

    This piece is rather melancholic and negative, but for myself I take it more as a warning than advice: staying put is so bad that all there is to it that is good is not having to prepare to act.

    Pavese is so clear and beautiful. He has a certain overal rhythm to laying out his poem which I really love. Here are some translations. Cats will know is one of my favourites.

    Orhan Veli is synonymous with poetry in Turkish; in fact if you force someone unwilling to write poetry here you can be told "I'm not Orhan Veli, am I?", meaning "hey, I'm not a poet, don't expect much". He has a way of portraying reality---and he's generally interested in mundane reality---that is really expressive. I like his three epitaphs, Bird and Cloud, and many others. Quantitatif is one of my favourites, but this translation misses the double entendre that is at the heart of the poem:

    Güzel kadınları severim,
    İşçi kadınları da severim;
    Güzel işçi kadınları
    Daha çok severim.

    The penultimate verse can be interpreted "beautiful working women" as well as "women doing beautiful/good work". Which I take as a laconic celebration of women's empowerment as well as self-realisation.

    Asaf Halet is more on the mystic side, but he has a beautiful style, and his essays on poetry have been really formative for my appreciation of the art form. I don't have time to translate, and can't find any online, so I'll just copy-paste one of his works:

    İbrahîm

    ibrâhim
    içimdeki putları devir
    elindeki baltayla
    kırılan putların yerine
    yenilerini koyan kim

    güneş buzdan evimi yıktı
    koca buzlar düştü
    putların boyunları kırıldı
    ibrâhim
    güneşi evime sokan kim

    asma bahçelerinde dolaşan güzelleri
    buhtunnasır put yaptı
    ben ki zamansız bahçeleri kucakladım
    güzeller bende kaldı
    ibrâhim
    gönlümü put sanıp da kıran kim

    3 votes
  16. aphoenix
    Link
    There are many that I enjoy, most too long to include here, and at least two that have already been mentioned (Ozymandias and Stopping By Woods). Here are some others: The Cremation of Sam McGee...

    There are many that I enjoy, most too long to include here, and at least two that have already been mentioned (Ozymandias and Stopping By Woods). Here are some others:

    I've always had a soft spot, though, for this poem:

    Dust of Snow
    by Robert Frost

    The way a crow
    Shook down on me
    The dust of snow
    From a hemlock tree

    Has given my heart
    A change of mood
    And saved some part
    Of a day I had rued.

    It's not a deep poem, but I have always particularly enjoyed the rather light and obvious interpretation: as all the things listed are doomy and gloomy (dusty snow, hemlock tree, crow, getting snowed on are all clearly negative) but the tone is positive ("saved some part" of a crappy day) then the only real possibility was "the way" that this negative thing happened was somehow positive, ie. the crow did something noteworthy, interesting or funny. Alternately, he's so edgy that through suffering he found solace, or the sheer overwhelming melodrama was humourous, but I like the first interpretation better.

    3 votes
  17. [3]
    EightRoundsRapid
    Link
    Well this is an almost impossible thing to decide, so here's a couple of them. If I Woz a Tap-Natch Poet by Linton Kwesi Johnson. I've linked to a reading because you need to hear it to truly...

    Well this is an almost impossible thing to decide, so here's a couple of them.

    If I Woz a Tap-Natch Poet by Linton Kwesi Johnson. I've linked to a reading because you need to hear it to truly appreciate it.

    Rong Radio Station by Benjamin Zephaniah. Again, a link to a reading by the poet himself.

    Beasley Street by John Cooper Clark. This one is recited over music, and works well.

    3 votes
    1. [2]
      Amarok
      Link Parent
      Rong Radio has been a favorite of mine since that same poem showed up as a black cab session during the earliest days of listentothis. I actually prefer the more frantic/panicked delivery in this...

      Rong Radio has been a favorite of mine since that same poem showed up as a black cab session during the earliest days of listentothis. I actually prefer the more frantic/panicked delivery in this one to the video you linked. ;)

      3 votes
      1. EightRoundsRapid
        Link Parent
        This is a particularly frenetic version And another good one. Short, and direct.

        This is a particularly frenetic version

        And another good one. Short, and direct.

        you don't riot if you are well fed, and unemployment doesn't pressure you head;
        you don't riot if you live in a city, but you have your country cottage and the view is so pretty'

        1 vote
  18. moriarty
    Link
    A few months after I met my girlfriend, she revealed to me that she was suffering from pretty crippling depression. It wasn't hard to guess - the eager, adventure-loving person that she was was...

    A few months after I met my girlfriend, she revealed to me that she was suffering from pretty crippling depression. It wasn't hard to guess - the eager, adventure-loving person that she was was replaced by someone entirely different. There followed some of the worst, most agonizing months of our lives, as she tried and failed and tried to fight it. One of the few things that gave her brain some respite was being read to. And of those things, what got her to calm down and fall asleep were the nonsensical, carefree, and juvenile poetry of Lewis Carroll:

    She's fought this monster for many years, though truly terrible times, and it seems like she's slowly clawing her way out now. But I will forever cherish those poems that managed to engage and distract her from her nightmares enough to give her some rest.

    3 votes
  19. [5]
    ruspaceni
    Link
    I'm not really into poems and I also don't know if Haikus count or not, but I felt like sharing this one I saw somewhere One hundred and ten. One hundred and eleven. One hundred and twelve.

    I'm not really into poems and I also don't know if Haikus count or not, but I felt like sharing this one I saw somewhere

    One hundred and ten.
    One hundred and eleven.
    One hundred and twelve.
    
    3 votes
    1. Elronnd
      Link Parent
      Hippopotamus; Hippopotamus is a Hippopotamus.

      Hippopotamus;
      Hippopotamus is a
      Hippopotamus.

      2 votes
    2. [3]
      vakieh
      Link Parent
      It takes more than 5-7-5 to make a haiku.

      It takes more than 5-7-5 to make a haiku.

      1. [2]
        ruspaceni
        Link Parent
        Oh yeah, i think I heard about that. Isn't it like, you have to reference a season in the final line or something like that? I guess that haiku rule is like some of rules in the Monopoly handbook...

        Oh yeah, i think I heard about that. Isn't it like, you have to reference a season in the final line or something like that?

        I guess that haiku rule is like some of rules in the Monopoly handbook since I barely ever see 'valid' ones. Tehcnically true but 99% of people seem to ignore it.

        1. vakieh
          Link Parent
          It's honestly a little annoying how people latch on to the 5-7-5 bit, (which is only common for haikus, not required), and maybe know a little about the seasonal component (again common), but miss...

          It's honestly a little annoying how people latch on to the 5-7-5 bit, (which is only common for haikus, not required), and maybe know a little about the seasonal component (again common), but miss the most important part of what a haiku is - and what makes them really cool to read/hear when done well.

          Wikipedia's entry for it has this covered pretty well:

          The essence of haiku is "cutting" (kiru).[1] This is often represented by the juxtaposition of two images or ideas and a kireji ("cutting word") between them,[2] a kind of verbal punctuation mark which signals the moment of separation and colours the manner in which the juxtaposed elements are related.

          Now I get why that is, when you read literally translated Japanese haikus they usually change the order around since it wouldn't work in English otherwise (though for some reason they feel compelled to contort them back into 5-7-5 so that haikus sound goofy when they don't really need to). But it's still annoying.

          2 votes
  20. spit-evil-olive-tips
    Link
    Bani Adam (Children of Adam), by the Persian Poet Saadi, in the 13th century. The original, copied & pasted from Wikipedia: There's several translations, but this one is my favorite:

    Bani Adam (Children of Adam), by the Persian Poet Saadi, in the 13th century.

    The original, copied & pasted from Wikipedia:

    بنى آدم اعضای یک پیکرند
    که در آفرینش ز یک گوهرند
    چو عضوى بدرد آورَد روزگار
    دگر عضوها را نمانَد قرار
    تو کز محنت دیگران بی غمی
    نشاید که نامت نهند آدمی

    There's several translations, but this one is my favorite:

    All human beings are members of one frame,
    Since all, at first, from the same essence came.
    When time afflicts a limb with pain
    The other limbs at rest cannot remain.
    If thou feel not for other’s misery
    A human being is no name for thee

    3 votes
  21. gwg
    Link
    Poetry has never been a great love of mine, but a friend posted this poem during national poetry month back when LJ was used by people other than GRRM. It's stuck with me since. The Waking By...

    Poetry has never been a great love of mine, but a friend posted this poem during national poetry month back when LJ was used by people other than GRRM. It's stuck with me since.


    The Waking
    By Theodore Roethke

    I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
    I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
    I learn by going where I have to go.

    We think by feeling. What is there to know?
    I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
    I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

    Of those so close beside me, which are you?
    God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
    And learn by going where I have to go.

    Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?
    The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
    I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

    Great Nature has another thing to do
    To you and me; so take the lively air,
    And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

    This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
    What falls away is always. And is near.
    I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
    I learn by going where I have to go.

    3 votes
  22. Eric_the_Cerise
    Link
    Design, by Robert Frost Not sure I'd call it my favorite, but it has haunted me for most of my life, unlike any other. Also, honorable mention to La Belle Dame sans Merci, by John Keats, for much...

    Design, by Robert Frost

    Not sure I'd call it my favorite, but it has haunted me for most of my life, unlike any other.

    I found a dimpled spider, fat and white,
    On a white heal-all, holding up a moth
    Like a white piece of rigid satin cloth--
    Assorted characters of death and blight
    Mixed ready to begin the morning right,
    Like the ingredients of a witches' broth--
    A snow-drop spider, a flower like a froth,
    And dead wings carried like a paper kite.

    What had that flower to do with being white,
    The wayside blue and innocent heal-all?
    What brought the kindred spider to that height,
    Then steered the white moth thither in the night?
    What but design of darkness to appall?--
    If design govern in a thing so small.

    Also, honorable mention to La Belle Dame sans Merci, by John Keats, for much the same reason. Both will feature prominently in my autobiography.

    More generally, I'm a fan of the Keats/Byron/Shelley Romantic poetry. I'm fascinated by the sequence of events that have followed their "wet, ungenial" summer holiday in Switzerland in 1816, which gave us - among other things - both Frankenstein and Dracula.

    3 votes
  23. [2]
    Chopincakes
    Link
    Oh man, how to just pick one! I have no idea, so I'm going to list many that I love, then I'll put in my favorite. Invictus -- William Ernest Henley Wild Geese -- Mary Oliver Those Winter Sundays...

    Oh man, how to just pick one! I have no idea, so I'm going to list many that I love, then I'll put in my favorite.

    Invictus -- William Ernest Henley
    Wild Geese -- Mary Oliver
    Those Winter Sundays -- Robert Hayden
    The Laughing Heart -- Charles Bukowski
    Another Reason Why I Don't Keep a Gun in the House -- Billy Collins

    And, as a personal reminder of my mother's love for me (she passed away a year ago):
    The Paper Nautilus by Marianne Moore

    2 votes
    1. rogue_cricket
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I love Wild Geese. Probably my favourite poem. Happy to see it spoke to someone else enough that they thought of it.

      I love Wild Geese. Probably my favourite poem. Happy to see it spoke to someone else enough that they thought of it.

      1 vote
  24. [2]
    Bishop
    Link
    Almost missed this one! “Haiku Ambulance” x Richard Brautigan

    Almost missed this one!

    “Haiku Ambulance” x Richard Brautigan

    A piece of green pepper

    fell

    off the wooden salad bowl:

    so what?

    2 votes
    1. Bishop
      Link Parent
      Alternatively; “Love Poem” from the very same.

      Alternatively; “Love Poem” from the very same.

      It's so nice

      to wake up in the morning

      all alone

      and not have to tell somebody

      you love them

      when you don't love them

      any more.

      1 vote
  25. eutrimonia
    Link
    In a Station of the Metro The apparition of these faces in the crowd: Petals on a wet, black bough. ~ Ezra Pound More info here

    In a Station of the Metro

    The apparition of these faces in the crowd:
    Petals on a wet, black bough.

    ~ Ezra Pound

    More info here

    1 vote
  26. rogue_cricket
    Link
    I have three that come to mind, but I'll just post the text of the one, I think. Good Bones by Maggie Smith is a nice one. A bit sad, but also hopeful. I also like A Work Of Artifice by Marge...

    I have three that come to mind, but I'll just post the text of the one, I think.

    Good Bones by Maggie Smith is a nice one. A bit sad, but also hopeful.

    I also like A Work Of Artifice by Marge Piercy. It is a very angry poem, and at the time I first read it, it definitely stirred that anger in me.

    My current favourite though is probably Wild Geese by Mary Oliver. I see someone else linked it above, but here is the full text:

    You do not have to be good.
    You do not have to walk on your knees
    For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
    You only have to let the soft animal of your body
    love what it loves.
    Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
    Meanwhile the world goes on.
    Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
    are moving across the landscapes,
    over the prairies and the deep trees,
    the mountains and the rivers.
    Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
    are heading home again.
    Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
    the world offers itself to your imagination,
    calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
    over and over announcing your place
    in the family of things.

    1 vote
  27. JoylessAubergine
    Link
    Stillness by Mansur al Hallaj Stillness, then silence, then random speech, Then knowledge, intoxication, annihilation; Earth, then fire, then light. Coldness, then shade, then sunlight. Thorny...

    Stillness by Mansur al Hallaj

    Stillness, then silence, then random speech,
    Then knowledge, intoxication, annihilation;

    Earth, then fire, then light.
    Coldness, then shade, then sunlight.

    Thorny road, then a path, then the wilderness.
    River, then ocean, then the shore;

    Contentment, desire, then Love.
    Closeness, union, intimacy;

    Closing, then opening, then obliteration,
    Separation, togetherness, then longing;

    Signs for those of real understanding
    Who find this world of little value.

    1 vote
  28. mrbig
    Link
    I suppose this answer is rather boring in an English speaking environment, but The Raven, by Edgar Allan Poe, is to me perfect both in the original and in its most famous Portuguese translation....

    I suppose this answer is rather boring in an English speaking environment, but The Raven, by Edgar Allan Poe, is to me perfect both in the original and in its most famous Portuguese translation. Poe’s essay about the writing process is delightful as well.

    1 vote
  29. [4]
    Pilgrim
    Link
    And I think as OP you "owe" us your own favorite @alyaza. Care to share?

    And I think as OP you "owe" us your own favorite @alyaza. Care to share?

    1. [3]
      alyaza
      Link Parent
      dunno. probably the raven, but that's long. there's also Invocation/"Smoot Smites Smut" by Ogden Nash which uses a bunch of novel rhyming:

      dunno. probably the raven, but that's long. there's also Invocation/"Smoot Smites Smut" by Ogden Nash which uses a bunch of novel rhyming:

      Senator Smoot (Republican, Ut.)
      Is planning a ban on smut.
      Oh rooti-ti-toot for Smoot of Ut.
      And his reverend occiput.
      Smite, Smoot, smite for Ut.,
      Grit your molars and do your dut.,
      Gird up your l__ns,
      Smite h_p and th_gh,
      We’ll all be Kansas
      By and by.
      Smite, Smoot, for the Watch and Ward,
      For Hiram Johnson and Henry Ford,
      For Bishop Cannon and John D., Junior,
      For ex-Gov. Pinchot of Pennsylvunia,
      For John S. Sumner and Elder Hays
      And possibly Edward L. Bernays,
      For Orville Poland and Ella Boole,
      For Mother Machree and the Shelton pool.
      When smut’s to be smitten
      Smoot will smite
      For G-d, for country,
      And Fahrenheit.
      Senator Smoot is an institute
      Not to be bribed with pelf;
      He guards our homes from erotic tomes
      By reading them all himself.
      Smite, Smoot, smite for Ut.,
      They’re smuggling smut from Balt. to Butte!
      Strongest and sternest
      Of your s_x
      Scatter the scoundrels
      From Can. to Mex!
      Smite, Smoot, for Smedley Butler,
      For any good man by the name of Cutler,
      Smite for the W.C.T.U,
      For Rockne’s team and for Leader’s crew,
      For Florence Coolidge and Admiral Byrd,
      For Billy Sunday and John D., Third,
      For Grantland Rice and for Albie Booth,
      For the Woman’s Auxiliary of Duluth,
      Smite, Smoot,
      Be rugged and rough,
      Smut if smitten
      Is front-page stuff.

      4 votes
      1. Pilgrim
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        Oh that's fun and much lighter than some of the other entries (including my own). My favorite reading of the Raven is still when the Simpsons did it in a Tree House of Horror episode.

        Oh that's fun and much lighter than some of the other entries (including my own). My favorite reading of the Raven is still when the Simpsons did it in a Tree House of Horror episode.

        3 votes
      2. alyaza
        Link Parent
        oh, there's also one i forgot which i use in my biography, half of which i'll toss here. the ballade du concours de blois by françois villon. the gonzo translation that was popularized by hunter...

        oh, there's also one i forgot which i use in my biography, half of which i'll toss here. the ballade du concours de blois by françois villon.

        Je meurs de seuf auprés de la fontaine,
        Chault comme feu et tremble dent a dent,
        En mon pays suis en terre loingtaine,
        Lez ung brasier frisonne tout ardent,
        Nu comme ung ver, vestu en president,
        Je riz en pleurs et attens sans espoir,
        Confort reprens en triste desespoir,
        Je m’esjoys et n’ay plasir aucun,
        Puissant je suis sans force et sans pouoir,
        Bien recueully, debouté de chascun.
        Riens ne m’est seur que la chose incertaine,
        Obsucur fors ce qui est tout evident,
        Doubte ne fais fors en chose certaine,
        Scïence tiens a soudain accident,
        Je gaigne tout et demeure perdent,
        Au point du jour diz «Dieu vous doint bon soir ! »,
        Gisant envers j’ay grand paeur de chëoir,
        J’ay bien de quoy et si n’en ay pas ung,
        Eschoicte actens et d’omme ne suis hoir,
        Bien recueully, debouté de chascun.


        I die of thirst beside the fountain
        I’m hot as fire, I’m shaking tooth on tooth
        In my own country I’m in a distant land
        Beside the blaze I’m shivering in flames
        Naked as a worm, dressed like a president
        I laugh in tears and hope in despair
        I cheer up in sad hopelessness
        I’m joyful and no pleasure’s anywhere
        I’m powerful and lack all force and strength
        Warmly welcomed, always turned away.
        I’m sure of nothing but what is uncertain
        Find nothing obscure but the obvious
        Doubt nothing but the certainties
        Knowledge to me is mere accident
        I keep winning and remain the loser
        At dawn I say “I bid you good night”
        Lying down I’m afraid of falling
        I’m so rich I haven’t a penny
        I await an inheritance and am no one’s heir
        Warmly welcomed, always turned away.

        the gonzo translation that was popularized by hunter s. thompson as a result of his book on the hell's angels is:

        In my own country I am in a far-off land
        I am strong but have no force or power
        I win all yet remain a loser
        At break of day I say goodnight
        When I lie down I have a great fear
        Of falling.

  30. vakieh
    Link
    Roses are red, Sugar is sweet, He boot too big For he gotdamn feet.

    Roses are red,
    Sugar is sweet,
    He boot too big
    For he gotdamn feet.

    3 votes