Every week on Poesie, we feature a curated poetry collection showcasing top picks from a theme or era in history. I thought it would be nice to share some lists publicly for anyone searching for poetry. Each selection includes some info about the author, a link to read or purchase the poem, and a reading if the poem is in the public domain. Enjoy!
Quick List of Featured Poems:
- Spring on the Plains, by Dorothea Mackellar
- Spring, by Gerard Manley Hopkins
- Song, by William Carlos Williams
- The Call of Spring, by Sarojini Naidu
- Primaveral, by Ruben Dario
- Waking from Drunkenness on a Spring Day, by Li Bai
- The Dogwoods, by Linda Pastan
- Spring, Coast Range, by Kenneth Rexroth
- The Sleeping Flowers, by Emily Dickinson
- Sonnet, by Alice Dunbar-Nelson
Spring on the Plains, by Dorothea Mackellar (Australia)
Read here: Spring on the Plains.
Dorothea Mackellar (1885–1968) is one of the most famous Australian poets. Much of her poetry is a love letter to her homeland, describing the flora, fauna, and natural features in lyrical odes like this one. The poem “Spring on the Plains” presents a pastoral scene in the Australian countryside, painting a portrait of grazing animals on a peaceful plain. Reading this poem, we can almost smell the faint dew in the air.
Spring, by Gerard Manley Hopkins (England)
Read here: Spring.
Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–1889) was an English poet and Jesuit priest. His poetry combines spirituality with an exuberant love for nature, and he is well-known for his vivid imagery and unique rhythmic style. The poem “Spring” writes of the wakening Earth in a vivid language, almost as if watching the rebirth of nature in fast-forward.
Song, by William Carlos Williams (United States)
Purchase here: Pictures from Brueghel (New Directions).
William Carlos Williams (1883–1963) was one of the most famous American modernists of the early 20th century. He is most famous for his sparse, Imagist-style poems — including the famous “Red Wheelbarrow”. The poem “Song,” published in the Pulitzer-winning collection Pictures from Brueghel, recalls fond memories of a long-ago love associated with the spring-time.
The Call of Spring, by Sarojini Naidu (India)
Read here: The Call of Spring.
Sarojini Naidu (1879–1949), known as the “Songbird of India,” was an Indian poet and political activist. Along with writing multiple collections of poetry, she played a major role in the independence of India and served as the 1st Governor of the United Provinces in 1947. Some of Naidu’s poetry can be melancholy and lonely, but this selection celebrates all the beautiful sights and smells of the season.
Primaveral, by Rubén Darío (Nicaragua)
Read here: Primaveral (translated by Thomas Walsh)
Rubén Darío (1867–1916) was one of the most famous Central American poets of the late 19th century, and is known for having helped initiate the poetic style known as modernismo. He spent much of his life writing and traveling across the Americas and Europe. The poem “Primaveral” invites the poet’s love to dance with him among the forests of springtime, where all the world is celebrating beauty and life.
Waking from Drunkenness on a Spring Day, by Li Bai (China)
Read here: Waking from Drunkenness on a Spring Day (translated by Arthur Waley)
Li Bai (701–762) was one of the great masters of Classical Chinese poetry. Writing during the Tang dynasty, he is well-known for pursuing and writing about a life of leisure. Much of his poetry writes of the joy he found from of drinking. As the ancient story goes, he died by drowning after drunkenly reaching for moon’s reflection in a river.
The Dogwoods, by Linda Pastan (United States)
Purchase here: The Imperfect Paradise (W. W. Norton).
Linda Pastan (b. 1932) is an American poet living in Maryland — where she served as the Poet Laureate during the early 1990’s. Pastan’s poem “The Dogwoods” appears in her 1988 book The Imperfect Paradise, and tells of the pure, life-affirming joy that comes from seeing the first flowers of spring — a joy that can, at least for a moment, wipe away the troubles of a difficult winter.
Spring, Coast Range, by Kenneth Rexroth (United States)
Purchase here: The Collected Poems (New Directions).
Kenneth Rexroth (1905–1982) was an American poet who lived in San Francisco and is regarded as major figure in the San Francisco Renaissance, which later gave birth to the famous Beat poetry of mid-1900’s San Francisco. Much of his poetry is a love letter to the natural beauty of California. “Spring, Coast Range” captures the quiet peacefulness of an April night under the California stars.
The Sleeping Flowers, by Emily Dickinson (United States)
Read here: The Sleeping Flowers.
Emily Dickinson (1830–1865) is one of the most famous American writers of all time. She lived in Massachusetts during the time of the American Civil War, and is said to have spent most of her days in solitude writing poetry from her room. Hundreds of her poems were published in the years after her death, and have lasted as some of the most beloved poetry ever written — emotional, thoughtful, and incredibly personal. This cute poem takes the form of a dialogue between the poet and Nature, as they observe flowers in a valley slowly waking up for spring.
Sonnet, by Alice Dunbar-Nelson (United States)
Read here: Sonnet.
Alice Dunbar-Nelson (1875–1935) was a poet and political activist who lived in the generation following the American Civil War. She was a prominent figure in the Harlem Renaissance along with her husband Paul Laurence Dunbar. She published a book of lyrical poems in 1895, from which our selection is picked. “Sonnet” is a heartwarming love poem, comparing the soul’s awakening in love to the flowering of violets during April months.
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