Poetry Month

Happy Poetry Month! – one of my favorite calendar events of the year. Last year, I must have been feeling poetic because I talked about poetry throughout April. This year, I’ll just hit the topic this once. And I’m bringing in an expert – The Internet – to tell us the most popular American poems based, as best I can tell, on the opinion of the click-bait writer who put the list together. But it’s still poetry so we can enjoy it whether the list is authoritative or not.

Next week I will visit Ms. Taylor’s kindergarten class at Patricksburg Elementary and read some of my favorite poems for children. James Whitcomb Riley’s “Raggedy Man” and “Little Orphant Annie” along with “Up in a Swing” by Robert Louis Stevenson and “Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out” by Shel Silverstein.

Poetry is such a wonderful way for students to learn about the beauty of our language. Please enjoy these excerpts from some great American poetry. Look them up and read the entire poem.

“Howl,” by Allen Ginsberg, 1956

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


“Because I Could Not Stop for Death,” by Emily Dickenson, 1890

Because I could not stop for Death –

He kindly stopped for me –

The Carriage held but just Ourselves –

And Immortality.


“O Captain! My Captain!,” by Walt Whitman, 1867

O Captain! My Captain! our fearful trip is done;

The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;

The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,

While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring


“i carry your heart with me,” by E.E. Cummings, 1952

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in

my heart)i am never without it (anywhere

i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done

by only me is your doing,my darling)

i fear

no fate(for you are my fate, my sweet)i want

no world(for beautiful you are my world, my true)

and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant

and whatever a sun will always sing is you


here is the deepest secret nobody knows

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud

and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows

higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)

and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)


“Hope is the Thing with Feathers, by Emily Dickenson, 1891

”Hope” is the thing with feathers –

That perches in the soul –

And sings the tune without the words –

And never stops – at all –


And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –

And sore must be the storm –

That could abash the little Bird

That kept so many warm –


I’ve heard it in the chillest land –

And on the strangest Sea –

Yet – never – in Extremity,

It asked a crumb – of me.


“Stopping By the Woods on a Snowy Evening,” by Robert Frost, 1923

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.


“Song of Myself,” by Walt Whitman, 1855

I celebrate myself, and sing myself,

And what I assume you shall assume,

For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.


“Still I Rise,” by Maya Angelou, 1978

You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may tread me in the very dirt

But still, like dust, I’ll rise.


“The Raven,” by Edgar Allan Poe, 1845

“Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting—

“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!

Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!

Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door!

Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”

Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”


“The Road Not Taken,” by Robert Frost, 1916

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.


Thank you for taking a few minutes with some beautiful words arranged in beautiful ways. That’s poetry. I wish you more of it. And as always, I’ll leave you with my standard poetry advice – Memorize your favorites and you’ll always have them with you.

Your Owen County Community Foundation is committed to helping our Owen County communities become better places to live, grow, and work. We value our children and want to help them succeed and keep them safe – and teach them good poetry.

If you would like to know more about how you can work with this local charity to promote educational achievement, give me a call at 812-829-1725, email me at mark@owencountycf.org, visit us online at www.owencountycf.org, or stop by and visit us in person at our new office on the south side of the Courthouse Square in Spencer at 60 E. Market Street.