I have to admit that I am not a big poetry reader. I prefer the meatiness of a novel. But I do harbor fond feelings for particular poets who have really moved me.
For me, a poem has to ultimately be about an emotion, and a good poem stirs emotion in the reader. The poem is such a condensed form that it really needs to be precise, to evoke an image fully, and then connect that image to an emotion, but not in an obvious way. A good poem is truly “in the moment.”
I recently read an interesting article about ranking the best poets ever. I can’t see how a list of top 10 poets can be anything but subjective. It’s all about who moves you.
Here is my personal list of my favorite poets (I’m not numbering them because I can’t put them in hierarchical order–they are all great):
- William Butler Yeats
- William Shakespeare
- William Carlos Williams
- Walt Whitman
- T.S. Eliot
- e.e. cummings
- Emily Dickinson
- Langston Hughes
- Bob Dylan
- Fred Chappell
I’m sure I’m missing many great poets because I haven’t been exposed to them. Who are your favorite poets?
Let me leave you with this wonderful poem by William Carlos Williams:
Spring and All By the road to the contagious hospital under the surge of the blue mottled clouds driven from the northeast-a cold wind. Beyond, the waste of broad, muddy fields brown with dried weeds, standing and fallen patches of standing water the scattering of tall trees All along the road the reddish purplish, forked, upstanding, twiggy stuff of bushes and small trees with dead, brown leaves under them leafless vines- Lifeless in appearance, sluggish dazed spring approaches- They enter the new world naked, cold, uncertain of all save that they enter. All about them the cold, familiar wind- Now the grass, tomorrow the stiff curl of wildcarrot leaf One by one objects are defined- It quickens: clarity, outline of leaf But now the stark dignity of entrance-Still, the profound change has come upon them: rooted, they grip down and begin to awaken
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