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poems

poem

Thy brow is girt, thy robe with gems inwove;
    And palaces of frost-work, on the eye,
    Flash out, and gleam in every gorgeous dye,
The pencil, dipped in glorious things above,
    Can bring to earth. Oh, thou art passing fair!
But cold and cheerless as the heart of

poem

It is. And needles don’t fall;
cones don’t fall. The soil keeps

holding the grass seed and the dune
sand beneath is still torn by thirsty,

wooden hands. By bedrock
is where will be my tenoned pine.

And the grass seeds don’t split,
their shoots don’t spill.

poem
President Roosevelt, touring Ellis Island
in 1906, watched the people from steerage
line up for their six-second physical.

Might not, he wondered aloud, the ungloved handling 
of aliens who were ill infect the healthy?
Yet for years more it was done. I imagine

my grandmother, a girl in that

poets

texts

text
Poetic Terms/Forms
2004

Invented by the Italian poet Dante Alighieri in the late thirteenth century to structure his three-part epic poem, The Divine Comedy, terza rima is composed of tercets woven into a rhyme scheme that requires the end-word of the second line in one tercet to supply the rhyme for the first and third lines in the following tercet. Thus, the rhyme scheme (aba, bcb, cdc, ded) continues through to the final stanza or line. Dante chose to end each canto of the The Divine Comedy with a single line that completes the rhyme scheme with the end-word of the second line of the preceding tercet.

Terza rima is typically written in an iambic line, and in English, most often in iambic pentameter. If another line length is chosen, such as tetrameter, the lines should be of the same length. There are no limits to the number of lines a poem composed in terza rima may have.

Possibly developed from the tercets found in the verses of Provencal troubadours, who were greatly admired by Dante,

text
Poetic Terms/Forms
2014

In April 2014 A Poet’s Glossary by Academy Chancellor Edward Hirsch was published. As Hirsch writes in the preface, “this book—one person’s work, a poet’s glossary—has grown, as if naturally, out of my lifelong interest in poetry, my curiosity about its vocabulary, its forms and genres, its histories and traditions, its classical, romantic, and modern movements, its various outlying groups, its small devices and large mysteries—how it works.” Each week we will feature a term and its definition from Hirsch’s new book. 

couplet The couplet, two successive lines of poetry, usually rhymed (aa), has been an elemental stanzaic unit—a couple, a pairing—as long as there has been written rhyming poetry in English. It can stand as an epigram­matic poem on its own, a weapon for aphoristic wit, as in Pope’s “Epigram Engraved on the Collar of a Dog which I gave to his Royal Highness” (1734):

I am his Highness’ Dog at Kew;
Pray tell me Sir, whose Dog are you?

The couplet

text
Essays
2015

Banishment is everyone’s story. And while the words we conjure to tell that story perhaps console and sustain us, they also cast us further from the very worlds we are trying to revisit, recreate, resurrect.

In the closing sentences of “Eden and My Generation,” reprinted in his posthumous collection of essays and interviews, The Gazer Within (University of Michigan Press, 2001), Larry Levis writes about his departure from the San Joaquin Valley, where he’d grown up working in his father’s vineyards: “After I left for good,” he tells us, “all I really needed to do was to describe the place exactly as it had been. That I could not do, for that was impossible. And that is where poetry might begin.”

When I was asked recently to speak about the work of a poet I admire, my thoughts turned quickly to Levis, whose sudden death in 1996 deprived the poets of my generation of the opportunity to meet or study with him, though the proliferation of essays about him and his work by

books

book
Poetry Book
2012
Writers Writing Dying by C.K. Williams
book
Anthology
2014
Singing School:  Learning to Write (and Read) Poetry by Studying with the Masters by Robert Pinksy
book
Anthology
2003
Teaching with Fire