poems & poets

Search our curated collection of over 7,500 poems, over 2,500 poet biographies, as well as essays about poetry, and some of the most important books, anthologies, and textbooks about the art form ever written. To search by keyword, use the search bar above.



Since when did keeping things to ourselves
help us to better remember them?

We need tutorials from predecessors.

To restore what’s missing makes a science
of equating like with like, or touching
small pebbles on a larger mental abacus.

We hitch a memory of order

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive

Leisure, thou goddess of a bygone age,
   When hours were long and days sufficed to hold
    Wide-eyed delights and pleasures uncontrolled
By shortening moments, when no gaunt presage
Of undone duties, modern heritage,
    Haunted our happy minds; must thou withhold


from American Poets

"Linearity is overrated," writes Airea D. Matthews, a poet who seldom takes the direct path. But didn't Dante stray from the straight path in order to discover new worlds? Conversant with all manner of compact soliloquy, from Bible verse to text message, Matthews inhabits worlds within worlds, small moments of clarity and composure that push against the chaos of a busy existence. A mother of four who worked for eight years in the corporate world while pursuing degrees in public policy and in poetry (and why are those separate realms?), Matthews has grown used to firing on multiple burners. "I've known some degree of chaos my entire life," she says. "There were never any zones in my childhood and adolescence that were free of perturbations, turbulence, or risk." As a consequence, "perhaps, this type of environment becomes embedded in the memory and marrow." 

In her poem "Dead of Winter Non-Sequitur" Matthews takes us through a marvelously non-linear meditation on the line and

Poetic Terms/Forms

elegy: A poem of mortal loss and consolation. The word elegy derives from the Greek élegos, "funeral lament.” It was among the first forms of the ancients, though in Greek literature it refers to a specific verse form as well as the emotions conveyed by it. Any poem using the particular meter of the elegiac couplet or elegiac distich was termed an elegy. It was composed of a heroic or dactylic hexameter followed by a pentameter. Here are two lines from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “Elegiac Verse” (1882):

     So the Hexameter, rising and singing, with cadence sonorous,
          Falls; and in refluent rhythms back the Pentameter flows.

There were elegies, chanted aloud and traditionally accompanied by the flute, on love (amatory complaints) and war (exhortatory martial epigrams) as well as death. But, as Peter Sacks puts it, “Behind this array of topics there may have lain an earlier, more exclusive association of the flute song’s elegiacs with the expression of

Poetic Terms/Forms

repetition: Repetition—the use of the same term several times—is one of the crucial elements in poetry. “Repetition in word and phrase and in idea is the very essence of poetry,” Theodore Roethke writes in “Some Remarks on Rhythm” (1960). It is one of the most marked features of all poetry, oral and written, one of the primary ways we distinguish poetry itself. Repetition, as in rhyme, is a strong mnemonic device. Oral poets especially use it for remembering structures. The incantatory magic of poetry—think of spells and chants, of children’s rhymes and lullabies—has something to do with recurrence, with things coming back to us in time, sometimes in the same way, sometimes differently. Repetition is the primary way of creating a pattern through rhythm. Meaning accrues through repetition. One of the deep fundamentals of poetry is the recurrence of sounds, syllables, words, phrases, lines, and stanzas. Repetition can be one of the most intoxicating features of poetry. It creates


Isn't It Romantic: 100 Love Poems by Younger American Poets
Children's Book
Things to Do
Poetry Book
Selected Poems by Keith Waldrop