15 Poems To Remind You Why National Poetry Month Is Worth Celebrating

The love of poetry in America is dying, if not dead already.

In 2009, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) released a study excitedly announcing that American readership was up from previous years, but an interest in poetry was at a 16-year low.

Lyuba Burakova

Down from 17 percent in 1992 to 8.3 percent in 2009, then to an even more diminished 6.7 percent in 2015 (according to the national Survey of Public Participation in the Arts), it seems all attempts to revive the American psyche with the power of prose have failed.

Poetry matters.

Surely in high school you had a teacher who was overly enthusiastic about Walt Whitman or Virginia Woolf. They probably forced you to over analyze everything, and subsequently snatched away all possible enjoyment with essays and BS assignments.

And as rightfully placed your hatred may be, give poetry a second chance.

We cannot be the generation that kills poetry.

Get back into the flow of the written word with these 15 poems to revive your love of poetry:

1. "O Captain! My Captain!" by Walt Whitman

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,

My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,

The ship is anchor'd safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,

From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won.

2. "As I Walked Out One Evening" by W. H Auden

But all the clocks in the city Began to whirr and chime:

'O let not Time deceive you, You cannot conquer Time.

'In the burrows of the Nightmare Where Justice naked is,

Time watches from the shadow And coughs when you would kiss.

O let not Time deceive you, You cannot conquer Time.

3. "Mad Girl's Love Song" by Sylvia Plath

The stars go waltzing out in blue and red, and arbitrary blackness gallops in:

I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed and sung me moon-struck,

kissed me quite insane. (I think I made you up inside my head.)

I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed and sung me moon-struck,kissed me quite insane.

4. "Fire and Ice" by Robert Frost

Some say the world will end in fire,

Some say in ice.

From what I've tasted of desire

I hold with those who favor fire.

5. "The Charge of the Light Brigade" by Alfred Lord Tennyson

Theirs not to make reply,

Theirs not to reason why,

Theirs but to do and die.

Into the valley of Death

Rode the six hundred.

Eduard Bonnin
Theirs not to make reply,Theirs not to reason why,Theirs but to do and die.

6. "If" by Rudyard Kipling

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;

7. "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night" by Dylan Thomas

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight

And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Do not go gentle into that good night.

8. "Alone" by Edgar Allan Poe

From the same source I have not taken

My sorrow--I could not awaken

My heart to joy at the same tone--

And all I lov'd--I lov'd alone--

9. "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage" by Lord Byron

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,

There is a rapture on the lonely shore,

There is society where none intrudes, by the deep Sea, and music in its roar:

I love not Man the less, but Nature more

I love not Man the less, but Nature more

10. "Invictus" by William Earnest Henley

In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Susana Ramirez
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

11. "Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep" by Mary Elizabeth Frye

When you awaken in the morning's hush

I am the swift uplifting rush

Of quiet birds in circled flight.

I am the soft stars that shine at night.

12. "I, Too" by Langston Hughes


They'll see how beautiful I am

And be ashamed—

13. "Alone" by Maya Angelou

Storm clouds are gathering

The wind is gonna blow

The race of man is suffering

And I can hear the moan,

'Cause nobody, but nobody can make it out here alone.


14. "Body Of A Woman, White Hills, White Thighs" by Pablo Neruda

Body of a woman, white hills, white thighs,

when you surrender, you stretch out like the world.

My body, savage and peasant, undermines you

and makes a son leap in the bottom of the earth.

15. "A Psalm of Life" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,

And our hearts, though stout and brave,

Still, like muffled drums, are beating

Funeral marches to the grave.