Poets: The Greats and Their Works
Have you ever been struck by the beauty of nature? Or felt so overwhelmed by emotions that you had to let them out or you would explode? Maybe you felt compelled to scribe an epic tale of heroes and monsters? Or wanted to document important moments of history? Well, this blog’s poets certainly have.
What is Poetry?
Poetry is a form of literature that uses aesthetic and rhythmic language. Such qualities include: beautiful sounding words, the symbolism of the sound of words, and the rhythm in which these beautiful symbolic words are spoken. A poet is somebody who writes poetry.
This art form has been around since the prehistoric times. It was used to document big events, and every day life and activities. As it evolved, the goal of writing shifted to one that sought to evoke emotional responses. Poetry tries to liken objects in our world to each other through the use of metaphor and simile — uncovering layers of meaning and connections in the process. Great poets were especially gifted at opening our eyes to their world.
Great Poets and Their Work
Here are some established poets throughout history:
Dickinson is on of the most important figures in American poetry. Considered an eccentric, her writing is unconventional with its dashes and capitalisation. She is irregular with her use of meter, line lengths, and line breaks. A transcendentalist, some of Dickinson’s most powerful poems are: “I heard a fly buzz when I died” and “Hope is a thing with feathers”.
Edgar Allan Poe
Another influential American poet, Poe was pioneer of detective fiction and Romanticism. He disliked over-explaining and allegory, and believed that the meaning of a poem should be an undercurrent just below the surface. Thus he declared, works with obvious meanings ceased to be art. Popular poems of Poe’s include: “The Raven” and “Annabel Lee”.
Credited with advancing the genre of confessional poetry, Plath is a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet. Confessional poetry is a style of writing that focuses on extreme moments of individual experience. More so, it tells of events that are occasionally taboo such as mental health. Famous Platt poems include: “Lady Lazarus” and “The Moon and the Yew Tree”.
The National Poet of Scotland, Burns wrote in the Scots language. Like Poe, he was a pioneer of the Romantic movement — taking inspiration from nature and life around him. A lot of his poetry has been set to music, the most famous being: “Scots Wha Hae” and New Year’s Eve classic “Auld Lang Syne”.
A keen documentarian of her own life, Angelou used poetry to aid her civil rights activism. Thus, her poems are called anthems of African Americans. Similar to Plath, Angelou used writing to cope with her own tragedies. Her most influential poems are: “On the Pulse of Morning” (which she recited at Bill Clinton’s inauguration) and “A Brave and Startling Truth”.
While more famous for his plays, Shakespeare also penned a fair few poems. His most famous being his sonnets. In fact, the bard wrote 154 of these poems in his lifetime. Number 18 is “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day” — regarded as the quintessential declaration of love.
Carol Ann Duffy
Poet Laureate for the UK from 2009-2019, Duffy started writing at the age of 15. Her poem topics range from political commentaries to everyday experiences to rich fantasies. However, according to Duffy, every poem is aiming to reveal a truth, so it can’t have a fictional beginning. Notable works include: “Havisham” and “Warming Her Pearls”.
Baldwin’s work focused on personal questions and problems amid social and psychological pressures. He was a first-hand witness to segregation in America and his poetry mirrored the rise of the civil rights movements. Baldwin’s words are immortalised in his poems “Staggerlee Wonders” and “A Lover’s Question”.