Saturday, June 25, 2011

Fav 5 - Classic Poems

Poetry can inspire or depress your feelings almost instantly.  In a dozen or so lines, some poems pack a wallop that most novelists spend several hundred pages chasing.

Poetry can also stir the creative juices by forcing you to think about your writing differently.  "Writing poetically" is never a criticism but often a piece of praise.

My favourite poems are those I grew up with, even those I studied in school.  In fact, one of my prized possessions is a book of narrative verse that my father and grandfather both owned.

So, I thought I would share some of my favourite classic poems with you, in the hopes that you can be inspired as much as I have been.

The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes

"Then look for me by moonlight,
   Watch for me by moonlight,
I'll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way

Young love and adventure, what more can you want as a teenaged girl?  Even though the poem ends tragically, it's the kind of tragedy you can hug to your heart and sigh over.  And seeing Anne Shirley recite this poem in the Anne of Green Gables movie just makes it even better.

She walks in beauty by Lord Byron

"She walks in beauty, like the night
   Of cloudless climes and starry skies

Lovely, romantic stuff -- the kind that makes you want to believe in love forever.  It doesn't matter that the woman he wrote it about is long gone, Byron has made her live forever in this famous piece.

Kubla Khan by Samuel Coleridge Taylor

"By woman wailing for her demon lover".  That line gives me shivers every time.  And tell me that that's not great inspiration for an urban fantasy or supernatural romance.  These old school guys knew what they were writing about and their poems remind us of how immortal these themes can be.

The Tyger by William Blake

"What the hand, dare seize the fire?"  Fear, courage, evil, good.  All of the themes seem thrown into relief in this poem.  It has all the hallmarks of the "classic" poem that anyone can use as a starter into poetry in general - it's short, it rhymes and it encompasses these huge themes.  It also repays greater study and deeper questioning.  Truly, a wonderful poem.

To His Coy Mistress by Andrew Marvell

"But at my back I always hear
Time's wingèd chariot hurrying near

Brave and defiant, this poem reminds me always of youth and love and time passing.  Though the humour in it makes me smile, the final sentiment -- that time is fleeting for love and life -- always makes me tear up.  Beautiful.

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