The best poems about the act of writing
Writing poetry can be intensely rewarding, but unfortunately, the words don’t always come. And at some point or another, most poets have found themselves in the grip of writer’s block (something we’ve termed colygraphia, because let’s face it, it’s never going to be taken seriously until it has a Greek name). The following five poems are all about the struggle to write a poem; they are among the best poems about the actual act of writing poetry.
Sir Philip Sidney, ‘Loving in Truth’. This poem, which opens Sidney’s 1580s sonnet sequence Astrophil and Stella – the first substantial sonnet sequence written in English – sets up the cycle of poems which follows. Read the rest of this entry
The finest poems of the Cavalier poet
Algernon Charles Swinburne called Robert Herrick (1591-1674) the ‘greatest songwriter ever born of English race’. In this post, we’ve chosen ten of Robert Herrick’s best poems, most of which are beautifully short lyrics about a number of themes, from religion to love to untidy clothes. We hope you enjoy this pick of the finest Herrick poems.
‘To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time’. The poem’s message is straightforward: Herrick is addressing ‘the virgins’. This provides another clue as to what he is driving at. Herrick tells the young to enjoy themselves before their youth and beauty fade. And yet encouraging a load of young people who haven’t had sex yet has never been couched in such delightful verse as Herrick deploys here. This is one of the best ‘seize the day’ poems in English – and probably the most famous. Read the rest of this entry
Ten of the best from the masterly comic poet
Wendy Cope is one of the most acclaimed living comic poets writing in English. Since her first collection appeared in 1986, she has published a handful of popular volumes of comic verse, though she can also write ‘straight’ poetry very successfully too (as the last poem in this list testifies). Below are ten of Wendy Cope’s finest poems.
‘Engineers’ Corner’. Inspired by an advertisement that was placed in The Times by the Engineering Council, ‘Engineers’ Corner’ is the first poem in Cope’s first collection of poems, the 1986 volume Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis. The advert snottily asked why Britain has ‘always made more fuss of a ballad than a blueprint’, and sniffily suggested there should be an ‘Engineers’ Corner’ to complement Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey. Cope’s brilliantly witty retort is a tour de force. Read the rest of this entry