Poets: The Greats and Their Works

poets

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:

Emily Dickinson

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”.

Sylvia Plath

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”.

Robert Burns

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”.

Maya Angelou

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”.

William Shakespeare

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”.

James Baldwin

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”.

About the Author

Lydia B.

Lydia B.

Lydia is a Gooroo Courses Tutor at Gooroo, a tutoring membership and online learning platform that matches students to tutors perfect for them based on their unique learning needs. Gooroo offers math, English, ESL, Spanish tutoring, and more.