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Here are old things:
Fraying edges,
Ravelling threads;
And here are scraps of new goods,
Needles and thread,
An expectant thimble,
A pair of silver-toothed scissors.
Thimble on a finger,
New thread through an eye;
Needle, do not linger,
Hurry as


Old loveliness, set in the country wind,
Or down some vain town road the careless tread,
Like hush of candles lighted for the dead,
That look of yours, half seeing and half blind.
Still do you strain at door, but we come not,
The little maids, the lads, bone of your bone


O Thou bright jewel in my aim I strive
To comprehend thee. Thine own words declare
Wisdom is higher than a fool can reach.
I cease to wonder, and no more attempt
Thine height t’explore, or fathom thy profound.
But, O my soul, sink not into despair,




I write because I would like to live forever. The fact of my future death offends me. Part of this derives from my sense of my own insignificance in the universe. My life and death are a barely momentary flicker. I would like to become more than that. That the people and things I love will die wounds me as well. I seek to immortalize the world I have found and made for myself, even knowing that I won't be there to witness that immortality, mine or my work's, that by definition I will never know whether my endeavor has been successful. But when has impossibility ever deterred anyone from a cherished goal? As the brilliant poet and teacher Alvin Feinman once said to me, "Poetry is always close kin to the impossible, isn't it?"

My aim is to rescue some portion of the drowned and drowning, including always myself. For a long time my poetry emerged from and was fueled by an impulse to rescue my mother from her own death and from the wreckage of her life, out of which I

Poetic Terms/Forms

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

on Teaching Poetry

Of late, and perhaps of long, I’ve been trying more experiential approaches to the hours we spend together in the classroom. What is our goal there? In the thicket of writing programs, I sometimes wonder. What seems important to me, more and more, is establishing a collective, collaborative space in which we can explore some of the edges of our interior conditions (which include the emotional, the intellectual, and the spiritual) as well as engage in documentary (socio-, eco-) experiments, and to test those edges against what previous poets have done. As we all know, there are already too many workshop poems in the world eating up available reality (as Robert Creeley once said of Robert Frost). I want to see what other realities we can explore. At the University of Denver, I have the enviable challenge of working with PhD students who have either read nearly everything or are trying to read nearly everything, so I know they’re in the process of figuring out the lineage. What I want


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