Favorite Poems

Margo Roby has invited us to share one of our favorite poems. I unabashedly fall into the “Can it be more than one?” group. I have favorite haiku which you can find here.  I have favorite poems and quotes by others writers (yes, there are haiku there too), which you can find here.  So what else?  You’ll find them below.

Surely at least one other person had to memorize this first poem.  I did in the 8th grade.  It has stayed with me all these years.
 

If—BY RUDYARD KIPLING

If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
 
Source: A Choice of Kipling’s Verse (1943)

—————————————

A new favorite, which will last longer in my heart than Kipling’s:
 

Phenomenal Woman  BY MAYA ANGELOU

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
 
Maya Angelou, “Phenomenal Woman” from And Still I Rise. Copyright © 1978 by Maya Angelou. Used by permission of Random House, Inc.

Source: The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou (Random House Inc., 1994)

—————————————

I confess, there are too many.  So I will close with this:
 

When You Are Old BY WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.
 
Source: The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats (1989)
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About T A Smith

Just one of the literacy scholars on this site who wants to explore writing in all its complexities.
This entry was posted in Favorites By Others, Poetry, Prompts and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Favorite Poems

  1. Three terrific choices – all so different. Kipling’s If wins the poll for Britain’s favourite poem, year after year, with reason. The Yeats is too true to be comfortable, but I love the poem anyway. And as for the phenomenally phenomenal woman – lucky woman!

    • Yousei Hime says:

      Viv,
      I love them all and am pleased you liked them too. I am a pushover for melancholy, and the Yeats tugs firmly on that string. Thank you for letting me share these with you.

  2. margo roby says:

    Well, hello there! I love the Yeats, but then few things beat a good sonnet [good haiku fall in the same realm]. I like anything that has Kipling’s name on it, but the only thing I remember memorising is Chaucer’s Prologue… in Middle English.

    • Yousei Hime says:

      Margo,
      🙂 I had to memorize the Prologue as well. Also a bit of Shakespeare. I was tempted to include one of Shakespeare’s in the list, but then it became, “Crap! Which one do I choose?” Yeats casts spells. I really enjoy listening to him (whether read or set to music). The one I chose is so gentle. Enjoyed participating and your sharing even more.

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