My 5 Favorite Poems of All Time

Since this is the last full week of National Poetry (and since I’ve been crazy busy lately), I’ve decided to post my 5 Favorite Poems of All Time. Perhaps you’ll be able to discover some clue as to how I ended up writing a book called Broetry, or perhaps I will become even more of a mystery to you than I already am. ::insertspookynoiseshere:: Either way, I hope you enjoy these as much as I do!

5: You Who Never Arrived—Rainer Maria Rilke

You who never arrived
in my arms, Beloved, who were lost
from the start,
I don’t even know what songs
would please you. I have given up trying
to recognize you in the surging wave of
the next moment. All the immense
images in me — the far-off, deeply-felt
landscape, cities, towers, and bridges, and
unsuspected turns in the path,
and those powerful lands that were once
pulsing with the life of the gods–
all rise within me to mean
you, who forever elude me.

You, Beloved, who are all
the gardens I have ever gazed at,
longing. An open window
in a country house– , and you almost
stepped out, pensive, to meet me.
Streets that I chanced upon,–
you had just walked down them and vanished.
And sometimes, in a shop, the mirrors
were still dizzy with your presence and,
startled, gave back my too-sudden image.
Who knows? Perhaps the same
bird echoed through both of us
yesterday, separate, in the evening…
4: Sonnet XCI—William Shakespeare

Some glory in their birth, some in their skill,
Some in their wealth, some in their bodies’ force,
Some in their garments, though new-fangled ill,
Some in their hawks and hounds, some in their horse;
And every humour hath his adjunct pleasure,
Wherein it finds a joy above the rest:
But these particulars are not my measure;
All these I better in one general best.
Thy love is better than high birth to me,
Richer than wealth, prouder than garments’ cost,
Of more delight than hawks or horses be;
And having thee, of all men’s pride I boast:

Wretched in this alone, that thou mayst take

All this away and me most wretched make.

3: In Michael Robins’s Class Minus One—Bob Hicok

At the desk where the boy sat, he sees the Chicago River.
It raises its hand.
It asks if metaphor should burn.
He says fire is the basis for all forms of the mouth.
He asks, why did you fill the boy with your going?
I didn’t know a boy had been added to me, the river says.
Would you have given him back if you knew?
I think so, the river says, I have so many boys in me,

I’m worn out stroking eyes looking up at the day.

Have you written a poem for us? he asks the river,

and the river reads its poem,

and the other students tell the river

it sounds like a poem the boy would have written,

that they smell the boy’s cigarettes

in the poem, they feel his teeth

biting the page.

And the river asks, did this boy dream of horses?

because I suddenly dream of horses, I suddenly dream.

They’re in a circle and the river says, I’ve never understood

round things, why would leaving come back

to itself?

And a girl makes a kiss with her mouth and leans it

against the river, and the kiss flows away

but the river wants it back, the river makes sounds

to go after the kiss.

And they all make sounds for the river to carry to the boy.
And the river promises to never surrender the boy’s shape

to the ocean.

2: Sonnet LXXV—Edmund Spenser

One day I wrote her name vpon the strand,

but came the waues and washed it away:

agayne I wrote it with a second hand,

but came the tyde, and made my paynes his pray.

Vayne man, sayd she, that doest in vaine assay,

a mortall thing so to immortalize,

for I my selue shall lyke to this decay,

and eek my name bee wyped out lykewize.

Not so, (quod I) let baser things devize,

to dy in dust, but you shall liue by fame:

my verse your vertues rare shall eternize,

and in the heuens wryte your glorious name.

Where whenas death shall all the world subdew,

our loue shall liue, and later life renew.

1: Blank Joy—Rainer Maria Rilke

She who did not come, wasn’t she determined
nonetheless to organize and decorate my heart?
If we had to exist to become the one we love,
what would the heart have to create?

Lovely joy left blank, perhaps you are
the center of all my labors and my loves.
If I’ve wept for you so much, it’s because
I preferred you among so many outlined joys.

4 responses to “My 5 Favorite Poems of All Time

  1. Pingback: 5 Favorite Poems of All Time « Brian McGackin

  2. Thank you for sharing the five amazing poems.

  3. I hope you enjoy them!

  4. Pingback: National Poetry Month Project with Special Guest: Archibald MacLeish! | Brian McGackin

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