Best Poems for the Dilettante and Philistine Masses

I like poetry.  Even though I cannot tell the difference between iambic pentameter and a centimeter or a Sonnet and Sonogram, I still think there is poetry that can be appreciated by even those of us who do not possess Literature degrees.

The fact that I ever read a line of poetry at all in High School English classes is certainly a argument in favor or diverse and well-rounded school curriculae because it is certainly not something I would have sought on my own.

My favorite poems are ones in which remembering a single line can make you recall the tone, texture, and richness of the entire poem.  Here are a few examples and some of my favorites along with their most memorable lines:

“When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.” – The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner, R. J. Randall

“And miles to go before I sleep.” –  Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening, Robert Frost

“nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands” – somewhere i have never travelled, e.e.cummings

“how do you like your blueeyed boy Mister Death” – Buffalo Bill’s defunct, e.e.cummings

“I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.”
– The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, T.S. Elliot

And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.
Richard Cory, Edwin Arlington Robinson 

And of course no list of memorable poems and poetry lines would be complete without…

“Hope is the thing with feathers” by Emily Dickenson

…Which I can never remember without also remembering Woody Allens comedic retort in the book Getting Even: “How wrong Emily Dickinson was! Hope is not the ‘thing with feathers.’ The thing with feathers has turned out be my nephew. I must take him to a specialist in Zurich.”


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