10 Best Poetry Books of All Time According to The Write Life

10 Best Poetry Books of All Time According to The Write Life

Poetry is a timeless art that captures the beauty of language, incorporates the art of storytelling, and impacts us on an emotional level. But with so much poetry out there in the world, where do you start? This post explores some of the best poetry books and poems—both fiction and non-fiction. 

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and-poems-according-to-the-write-life”>Best Poetry Books and Poems (According to The Write Life)

In times of loss, love, and everything in between, turning to the world of carefully poetic words to help make sense of emotions can be powerful. To this day, we can reflect on the experiences of these great poets and learn from them to understand our own personal thoughts. 

Choosing favorites is always subjective, but in our search for the best poetry books and poems we tried to find something to suit most every occasion.

Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass is a celebration of life, democracy, and the beauty of the natural world. Originally published in 1855, the collection underwent several revisions throughout Whitman’s life.  With its free verse and unapologetic embrace of individualism, Leaves of Grass broke away from traditional poetic conventions and set a new standard for American poetry.

and-still-i-rise-by-maya-angelou”>and Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

Published in 1978, and Still I Rise is a collection of 32 short poems that are divided into three main sections. Speaking on concepts from love and dreams, to longing and living in the American South, Angelou uses this poetry book to invite readers into her trials growing up while acknowledging the many oppressions faced by Black people throughout time.  The poems are in first-person lyrics, which helps to make the poems intimate and engaging. The variation in line lengths also gives the poems unpredictability as they reflect the events of Angelou’s life. 

and-the-odyssey-by-homer”>The Iliad and The Odyssey by Homer

Dating back to ancient Greece, Homer’s epics The Iliad and The Odyssey stand as monumental works of poetry. These epic poems are filled with heroic tales, gripping narratives, and complex characters. The Iliad portrays the Trojan War, while The Odyssey follows the arduous journey of Odysseus. These classics remain fundamental in shaping Western literature and continue to inspire countless works to this day.

Selected Poems by John Keats

John Keats’ most celebrated pieces of work can be found in his book, Selected Poems, including “Ode on a Grecian Urn.” The book was first published in 1947 and contains poems published during Keats’ lifetime. With themes of beauty, hardships, grief, and love being explored in this book, the collection covers a range of emotions, engaging the reader in many ways and making it a top favorite for us. 

Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri

As a long narrative poem, Dante’s Divine Comedy takes readers on a guided tour through Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise. This epic poem, written in the 14th century, explores themes of sin, redemption, and the complexities of human existence. Through vivid imagery, profound symbolism, and remarkable storytelling, Dante’s masterpiece remains an unparalleled exploration of the human soul while blending both reason and faith to explain social chaos. The series of illustrations and diagrams made the book engaging while playing a part in explaining some of the classic literature. 

The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot

T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land stands as a landmark in modernist poetry. Published in 1922, this influential work captures the disillusionment and despair felt by many after World War I. Through its fragmented structure, intertextual references, and multilingual lines, Eliot skillfully depicts a post-war landscape plagued by spiritual emptiness and societal decay.

Here is a snippet of one of the poems from his book: 

After the torchlight red on sweaty faces
After the frosty silence in the gardens
After the agony in stony places
The shouting and the crying
Prison and palace and reverberation
Of thunder of spring over distant mountains
He who was living is now dead
We who were living are now dying
With a little patience

The Waste Land Part V – What the Thunder said

The Collected Poems by Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath’s The Collected Poems offers a poignant glimpse into the troubled yet brilliant mind of the poet. Published posthumously in 1981, Plath’s poems explore themes of identity, feminism, and mental anguish. Her raw and confessional style, as showcased in works like “Daddy” and “Lady Lazarus,” continues to captivate readers and inspire generations of poets.

and-the-essential-rumi-by-rumi”>The Love Poems of Rumi and The Essential Rumi by Rumi

Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, the 13th-century Persian poet, wrote verses that transcend time and cultural boundaries. In The Love Poems of Rumi, readers are transported to a world of mystical love, spirituality, and divine union. Rumi’s poetry speaks to the depths of the human soul, offering profound insights and a profound connection to religion. 

Another poetry book we highly recommend reading by Rumi is The Essential Rumi. Exploring themes of silence, separation, emptiness and loss, the book has been known to help readers understand and heal through some of the most difficult emotions to encounter. 

and-other-poems-by-edgar-allan-poe”>The Raven and Other Poems by Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe, a pioneer in the modern detective story, crafts his dark and haunting tales through poetry. The Raven and Other Poems showcases Poe’s mastery of rhythm, rhyme, and imagery.  With works like “The Raven,” “Annabel Lee,” and “The Bells,” Poe delves into themes of grief, madness, and the fragility of the mind, making this book known for its very spooky and chilling verses. 

Set Me on Fire: A Poem for Every Feeling by Ella Risbridger

Published in 2019, Set Me On Fire is a contemporary take on classic poems, which introduces refreshing perspectives, voices from around the world, and themes that were dared to be explored in earlier centuries.  Discussing concepts of trauma, rage, and happiness, this poetry book anthology is ideal for anyone looking to understand any emotion they may be going through.

Summary | The Best Poetry Books

We’ve unveiled the best poetry books (in our opinion), but there are many other wonderful poets and poems out there to discover.

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