‘There’s no money in poetry,’ Robert Frost once observed, ‘but then there’s no poetry in money, either.’ But was Frost right? Are there any great poems about money? Has money ever inspired a good poem? Here are some of the best poems about money in some way, whether they merely mention money as a crucial element or even, in some cases, take cash, money, pounds, pence, and dollars as their central subject.
Anon, ‘Sing a Song of Sixpence’. Given the monetary mention in its title, this traditional nursery rhyme had to feature in this pick of the best poems about money! The rhyme has attracted some fanciful theories concerning its lyrics, including the idea that the twenty-four blackbirds represent the hours in the day, with the king representing the sun and the queen the moon. Another places the rhyme in the time of King Henry VIII and the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 1530s, with the blackbirds symbolising the choirs of the monasteries, baking a pie in order to try to curry favour with Henry.
Robert Herrick, ‘Money Makes the Mirth’. This rhyming couplet pithily praises money’s value: ‘When all birds else do of their music fail, / Money’s the still-sweet-singing nightingale!’ Read the rest of this entry
Alfred Edward Housman (1859-1936) was not a prolific poet – he published just two collections in his lifetime – but he was, and is, a popular one. ‘Spring Morning’, which was published in Housman’s less well-known second volume, Last Poems (1922), the long-awaited follow-up to his 1896 collection A Shropshire Lad, is a spring poem with a bittersweet twist.
Star and coronal and bell
April underfoot renews,
And the hope of man as well
Flowers among the morning dews.
Now the old come out to look,
Winter past and winter’s pains,
How the sky in pool and brook
Glitters on the grassy plains. Read the rest of this entry
The best poems by John Clare
John Clare (1793-1864) has been called the greatest nature poet in the English language (by, for instance, his biographer Jonathan Bate), and yet his life – particularly his madness and time inside an asylum later in his life – tends to overshadow his poetry. So here we’ve picked ten of John Clare’s best poems which offer an introduction to his idiosyncratic style and wonderful eye for detail, especially concerning the natural world.
‘First Love’. First love is powerful and stays with us, but it can be painful as well as joyous or liberating. This poem, one of John Clare’s most widely anthologised, captures this dual nature of first love and the way in which it is a loss of something – namely, innocence – as well as a gaining of something new and special. Read the rest of this entry