poem index

poems & poets

Search over 2,500 poet biographies, over 7,000 poems, as well as essays about poetry, and some of the most important books, anthologies, and textbooks about the art form ever written. To search by keyword, use the search bar above.

poems

poem

All yesterday it poured, and all night long
    I could not sleep; the rain unceasing beat
Upon the shingled roof like a weird song,
    Upon the grass like running children’s feet.
And down the mountains by the dark cloud kissed,
    Like a strange shape in filmy

poem

Some bad whiskey
I drink by myself
just like you
when this wind
blows as it does
in the delta
where a lost hearing aid
can be taken
for a grub worm
when the black constellations
make you swim backwards
in circles of blood
stableboys

poem
Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
   Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today
   Tomorrow will be dying.

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun, 
   The higher he's a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
   And nearer he's to setting.

That age is best which is

texts

text
Poetic Terms/Forms
2014

riddle: “A mystifying, misleading, or puzzling question posed as a problem to be solved or guessed often as a game” (Webster’s Third New International Dictionary). Though the dictionary definition focuses on the riddle as a question and describes it as a game, the riddle is more than a puzzle. It is both an interrogative and an expressive form, possibly the earliest form of oral literature—a formulation of thought, a mode of association, a metaphor.

The comparative work of folklorists suggests that riddle-making is virtually a universal activity, a lyric root, a contest of wit, a process of naming. The earliest riddles on record are preserved on a clay tablet from ancient Babylon. They are inscribed in Sumerian along with Assyrian translations. Here is one that Archer Taylor, the premier scholar of riddles, presents in The Literary Riddle before 1600 (1948):

Who becomes pregnant without conceiving,
who becomes fat without eating? The

text
on Teaching Poetry
2000

An Introduction to Langston Hughes

In Langston Hughes’s landmark essay, “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain,” first published in The Nation in 1926, he writes, “An artist must be free to choose what he does, certainly, but he must also never be afraid to do what he must choose.” Freedom of creative expression, whether personal or collective, is one of the many legacies of Hughes, who has been called “the architect” of the black poetic tradition. He is certainly one of the world’s most universally beloved poets, read by children and teachers, scholars and poets, musicians and historians.

Langston Hughes became the voice of black America in the 1920s, when his first published poems brought him more than moderate success. Throughout his lifetime, his work encompassed both popular lyrical poems, and more controversial political work, especially during the thirties. He expressed a direct and sometimes even pessimistic approach to race relations, and he focused his

text
Poetic Terms/Forms
2014

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 also serves as an organizing pattern in long poems (Shake­speare’s “Venus and Adonis,” 1592–1593; Marlowe’s “Hero and Leander,” 1593) or part of a larger stanzaic unit. It stands as the pithy conclusion to the ottava rima stanza (abababcc), the rhyme royal stanza (ababbcc), and the Shakespearean sonnet (ababcdcdefefgg).

The rhyming iambic pentameter or five-stress couplet—later known as the heroic couplet—was introduced into English by Chaucer in “The Prologue to the Legend of Good Women” (

books