I decided to include several of my favorite poems here and comments on why I like them. Some of them I have included the full text here on the page, other because of their length had to be linked to. I hope that you enjoy them and that they touch you in some way.

Afton Waters
By: Robert Burns

Flow gently, sweet Afton, among thy green braes!
Flow gently, I'll sing thee a song in thy praise!
My Mary's asleep by thy murmuring stream, -
Flow gently, sweet Afton, disturb not her dream!

Thou stock-dove whose echo resounds through the glen,
Ye wild whistling blackbirds in yon thorny den,
Thou green-crested lapwing, thy screaming forbear, -
I charge you, disturb not my slumbering fair!

How lofty, sweet Afton, thy neighbouring hills,
Far-marked with the courses of clear-winding rills!
There daily I wander, as noon rises high,
My flocks and my Mary's sweet cot in my eye.

How pleasant thy banks and green valleys below,
Where wild in the woodlands the primroses blow!
There oft, as mild evening weeps over the lea,
The sweet-scented birk shades my Mary and me.

Thy crystal stream, Afton, how lovely it glides,
And winds by the cot where my Mary resides!
How wanton thy waters her snowy feet lave,
As gath'ring sweet flowerets she stems thy clear wave!

Flow gently, sweet Afton, among thy green braes!
Flow gently, sweet river, the theme of my lays!
My Mary's asleep by thy murmuring stream, -
Flow gently, sweet Afton, disturb not her dream!

This is one of the most beautiful pieces of poetry that I have ever heard. I first came across it via the bluegrass band Nickel Creek on their self titled CD. The poem is about a man and the woman that he loves as they are by the shore of the river. Whenever I read this poem or listen to the song, I can imagine a beautiful Scottish glen next to a river. Burn's wonderful use of imagery transports the reader/listener to another place.

The Devil and Billy Markham
By: Shel Silverstein

Unfortunately, due to the length, I can only link to this great piece of work. Most people will only be acquainted with Mr. Silverstein's children's work, such as "A Light in the Attic" and "Where the Sidewalk Ends". This poem, as is suggested by the title, takes a wholly different approach to Silverstein's poems. This is a lengthy poem about a down on his luck country singer in Nashville who gambles with the devil and loses. The poem follows him and all his dealings with the Devil and eventually with his redemption and his family. To say any more would be to give away the best part, but I highly recommend that everyone read this poem.

The Naked and the Nude
By: Robert Graves

For me, the naked and the nude
(By lexicographers construed
As synonyms that should express
The same deficiency of dress
Or shelter) stand as wide apart
As love from lies, or truth from art.

Lovers without reproach will gaze
On bodies naked and ablaze;
The Hippocratic eye will see
In nakedness, anatomy;
And naked shines the Goddess when
She mounts her lion among men.

The nude are bold, the nude are sly
To hold each treasonable eye.
While draping by a showman's trick
Their dishabille in rhetoric,
They grin a mock-religious grin
Of scorn at those of naked skin.

The naked, therefore, who compete
Against the nude may know defeat;
Yet when they both together tread
The briary pastures of the dead,
By Gorgons with long whips pursued,
How naked go the sometime nude!

I first encountered this poem in my senior English book. The poem describes the subtle differences between what is beautiful and what is vulgar. Mostly, intentions are the backbone of the differences. If one's intentions are love or scientific, then the disrobed body is a thing of beauty. If one's intentions are lewd, then the body is merely a plaything.

The Tygre
By: William Blake

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And water'd heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

This poem manages to superbly capture the majesty and ferocity of the tiger. As a person who loves large cats, especially tigers, this poem is one of my favorites. I like it so much that I am actually at a loss for words to describe it.

The Iliad and The Odyssey
By: Homer

These two epic poems are required reading for almost anyone receiving a high school education in America. These Greek tales of heroics are classics and should be part of any personal library. "The Iliad" is the story of the Greek siege of the city of Troy. Recently, this poem has enjoyed a popular revival in the movie "Troy". "The Odyssey" also has also been made into a made-for-TV movie. Also, it was loosely the storyline for the popular movie "O Brother, Where Art Thou?".

The Aeneid
By: Virgil

If I include Homer's two epic poems, then I must also include Virgil's work, "The Aeneid". This poem is by a Roman author and traces the journey of Aeneus and the eventual founding of Rome. This was one of my required readings for college and is another must have for any personal library.

Memory Pain
By: J. R. Guinness
June 08, 2003

Yesterday I took a trip.
It was down a lane.
Instead of houses on either side,
Were memories that filled me with pain.

I looked.
And everywhere I could see,
Were visions of us,
And we were happy.

Yesterday I opened a book
It was filled with memories
And on all the pages
Were notes you had written to me.

I read the book
From cover to cover
And a lump formed in my throat
Remembering how I pushed you away, lover.

Now I sit
All alone
You’re with him
Because my heart was a stone.

Today I take a trip
Down memory pain.

This poem is one that I wrote when I was feeling particularly sad, as you can probably tell. I won't relate the events that led to me writing this, becuase those are personal. I find it amuzing that most of the poetry written is either because the author is feeling incredibly sad or incredibly happy. You don't seem to see much in the way of "I had an ordinary day" poetry. I do hope that you will read this and enjoy it.

Playful Wind
By: J. R. Guinness

Playful wind
blowing through the grass
flowing through the leaves
dancing your invisible dance

Playful wind
rustling the young girls hair
not her nor there
but everywhere.

Playful wind
Here one moment
Gone the next
Where are you, playful wind?

This is a poem that I wrote on the way home from work. The phrase "playful wind" had been bouncing around in my head all day and this is what came out. Not particularly original, but very cathartic in terms of emptying my head of that phrase.

These are merely a few of the poems that I enjoy. I will make sure to add more as they come up.

Posted byJ. R. Guinness at 11:23 AM  


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