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Once, I knew a fine song,
—It is true, believe me,—
It was all of birds,
And I held them in a basket;
When I opened the wicket,
Heavens! They all flew away.
I cried, “Come back, little thoughts!”
But they only laughed.
They flew on
Until they were as


circle of Giovanni Bellini circa 1505 oil on wood, is what
he fits between his third and fourth weekly pill boxes,

to remind himself to reorder. His routine about the anti-
virals is of greater magnitude, maybe, than the one in which

Mrs. Gardner used to place a vase of


Dark hills at evening in the west,
Where sunset hovers like a sound
Of golden horns that sang to rest
Old bones of warriors under ground,
Far now from all the bannered ways
Where flash the legions of the sun,
You fade—as if the last of days
Were fading, and all


on Teaching Poetry

Superstition continues to flourish around the earth even in the face of the most technologically advanced societies. Some may regard it as a curious relic dating from less scientifically advanced times when people sought explanations for the apparently random workings and spinnings of nature. To others, superstition is an integral and constantly shifting part of the richness of culture in an increasingly secular world. New technologies and new relationships to nature often breed new superstitions as we grapple with changes and advancements.

We now know that some superstitions originate from scientific fact, such as some that are related to animals, food, and weather, and yet—on other occasions, there seems to be no reason or rationale behind a notion at all. People still cross their fingers in a promise or become leery when a black cat crosses their path. Why do you think superstitions have such a hold on people? Imagine the spark (and sparkle) of incorporating superstition 

Schools & Movements

The Dark Room Collective was founded in Boston in 1988 by a group of African American poets led by Thomas Sayers Ellis and Sharan Strange. The mission of the Collective was to form a community of established and emerging African American writers. Major Jackson, Natasha Trethewey, and Kevin Young were also members of this group.

Originally conceived as a reading series, the Collective became a small community of poets. Strange wrote, "It was the sustaining practice of writing in community just as much as the activism of building a community-based reading series for writers of color that kept us engaged in collectivity" (Painted Bride Quarterly 60).

read about poets from the dark room collective

Archival Images

In 1955, Sylvia Plath, who was then a student at Smith College, typed up a group of poems on onion skin paper and mailed them to the Academy of American Poets in New York City to be considered for one of its College Poetry Prizes. Founded in 1934, the Academy has recognized young poets for much of its history, and today awards more than 200 prizes to poets in undergraduate programs across the U.S.

Plath's poems won. Uplifted and inspired by the recognition, she wrote a letter to thank the donor, Mr. Harrison Eudy, who had endowed the prize in memory of his mother, an aspiring poet herself. "After this fruitful year," Plath wrote to Eudy, "I know that writing poetry will always be the richest, most rewarding part of a full maturing life."

During the next seven years staff at the Academy of American Poets and Plath remained in contact as her poetry life quickly blossomed. In 1961, Elizabeth Kray, the Director of the Academy at the time, invited Plath