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National Poetry Day: 28 of the most powerful poetry lines ever written | The Independent

National Poetry Day: 28 of the most powerful poetry lines ever written | The Independent

National Poetry Day: 28 of the most powerful poetry lines ever written | The Independent

To celebrate National Poetry Day, here are a small collection of singular lines, stanzas, and notions possessing the power to spring the most moving of thoughts and feelings into the humming imagination of the reader.

Other much-celebrated authors to feature include Margaret Atwood, Dylan Thomas, Sylvia Plath and Maya Angelou.

Read on to see the 28 poetry lines The Independent has selected.

‘Because I could not stop for Death’, Emily Dickinson

Because I could not stop for Death, / He kindly stopped for me; / The carriage held but just ourselves / And Immortality

‘To My Wife’, Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde

And when wind and winter harden / All the loveless land, / It will whisper of the garden, / You will understand

‘Variation on the Word Sleep’, Margaret Atwood

I would like to be the air / that inhabits you for a moment / only. I would like to be that unnoticed / & that necessary

‘The Hollow Men’, TS Eliot

This is the way the world ends / not with a bang but a whimper

‘Dulce et Decorum est’, Wilfred Owen

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks, /Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge, / Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs / And towards our distant rest began to trudge.

‘Sonnet XVII’, Pablo Neruda

I love you as certain dark things are to be loved / in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

‘the boys i mean are not refined’, ee cummings

they speak whatever’s on their mind / they do whatever’s in their pants / the boys i mean are not refined / they shake the mountains when they dance

‘Dark Pines Under Water’, Gwendolyn MacEwen

But the dark pines of your mind dip deeper / And you are sinking, sinking, sleeper / In an elementary world; There is something down there and you want it told

‘O Captain! My Captain!’, Walt Whitman

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done; / The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won

‘Cuz He’s Black’, Javon Johnson

Don’t like the / fact that he learned to hide from the cops before he knew / how to read. Angrier that his survival depends more on his ability / to deal with the “authorities” than it does his own literacy

The weight of the world / is love / Under the burden / of solitude, / under the burden / of dissatisfaction / the weight, / the weight we carry / is love

‘I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings’, Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou

The caged bird sings with a fearful trill/ Of things unknown but longed for still/ And his tune is heard on the distant hill/ For the caged bird sings of freedom

The Second Coming’, WB Yeats

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere / The ceremony of innocence is drowned; / The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity 

‘Lady Lazarus’, Sylvia Plath

Out of the ash I rise / With my red hair / And I eat men like air

‘Dirge Without Music’, Edna St Vincent Millay

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave / Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind; / Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave. / I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned

‘Leaves of Grass’, Walt Whitman

I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love / If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles

‘Eloisa to Abelard’, Alexander Pope

How happy is the blameless vestal’s lot! / The world forgetting, by the world forgot. / Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind! / Each pray’r accepted, and each wish resign’d

‘Sonnet 116’, William Shakespeare

Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds, / Or bends with the remover to remove: / O no; it is an ever-fixed mark, / That looks on tempests, and is never shake

Tree you are, / Moss you are, / You are violets with wind above them. / A child – so high – you are, / And all this is folly to the world

‘Still I Rise’, Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history / With your bitter, twisted lies, / You may trod me in the very dirt / But still, like dust, I’ll rise

‘The Unblinking Grief’, Charles Bukowski

you are much more than simply dead/ I am a dish for your ashes / I am a fist for your vanished air / the most terrible thing about life/ is finding it gone

At twenty I tried to die / And get back, back, back to you. / I thought even the bones would do./ But they pulled me out of the sack, / And they stuck me together with glue

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, / dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix / angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night

‘Masks’, Shel Silverstein

She had blue skin,/ and so did he./ He kept it hid/ and so did she./ They looked for blue/ their whole life through./ Then passed right by–/ and never knew

‘Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night’, Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night, / Old age should burn and rave at close of day; / Rage, rage against the dying of the light

‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’, Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Water, water, every where, / And all the boards did shrink; / Water, water, every where / Nor any drop to drink

‘Let America Be America Again’, Langston Hughes

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart / I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars / I am the red man driven from the land, / I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek – / And finding only the same old stupid plan / Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak

‘Suicide in the Trenches’, Siegfried Sassoon

You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye / Who cheer when soldier lads march by, / Sneak home and pray you’ll never know / The hell where youth and laughter go


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