to top

The most famous poems in the world

famous poems

Poetry. It’s like whiskey. Sharp, a bit complex, and not everyone’s first drink of choice. But for those who’ve acquired the taste, each poem packs a punch. Let’s sift through the musty pages of our favorite poets—those dead and those breathing—whose words have stuck to our brains like that annoying song on the radio. From Frost’s frosty roads to Plath’s overbearing jars, poetry often leaves us more bewildered than enlightened. Yet here we are, masochists at heart, ready to dive back into the chaos of verse that promises to unsettle even the sturdiest of souls.

Here’s a quick list of some of the most famous poems in the world, with a short excerpt you can memorize to impress people at parties.

  1. “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost
    • Excerpt: “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, / And sorry I could not travel both / And be one traveler, long I stood / And looked down one as far as I could / To where it bent in the undergrowth;”
  2. “If—” by Rudyard Kipling
    • Excerpt: “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;”
  3. “Sonnet 18” by William Shakespeare
    • Excerpt: “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? / Thou art more lovely and more temperate: / Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, / And summer’s lease hath all too short a date;”
  4. “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe
    • Excerpt: “Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, / Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore— / While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, / As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.”
  5. “Ode to a Nightingale” by John Keats
    • Excerpt: “My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains / My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk, / Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains / One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:”
  6. “Daffodils” by William Wordsworth
    • Excerpt: “I wandered lonely as a cloud / That floats on high o’er vales and hills, / When all at once I saw a crowd, / A host, of golden daffodils; / Beside the lake, beneath the trees, / Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.”
  7. “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” by Dylan Thomas
    • Excerpt: “Do not go gentle into that good night, / Old age should burn and rave at close of day; / Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
  8. “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot
    • Excerpt: “Let us go then, you and I, / When the evening is spread out against the sky / Like a patient etherized upon a table; / Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,”
  9. “Annabel Lee” by Edgar Allan Poe
    • Excerpt: “It was many and many a year ago, / In a kingdom by the sea, / That a maiden there lived whom you may know / By the name of Annabel Lee; / And this maiden she lived with no other thought / Than to love and be loved by me.”
  10. “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley
    • Excerpt: “Out of the night that covers me, / Black as the pit from pole to pole, / I thank whatever gods may be / For my unconquerable soul.”
  11. “The Waste Land” by T.S. Eliot
  • Excerpt: “April is the cruellest month, breeding / Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing / Memory and desire, stirring / Dull roots with spring rain.”
  1. “A Psalm of Life” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  • Excerpt: “Tell me not, in mournful numbers, / Life is but an empty dream! / For the soul is dead that slumbers, / And things are not what they seem.”
  1. “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost
  • Excerpt: “Whose woods these are I think I know. / His house is in the village though; / He will not see me stopping here / To watch his woods fill up with snow.”
  1. “Phenomenal Woman” by Maya Angelou
  • Excerpt: “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.”
  1. “Kubla Khan” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  • Excerpt: “In Xanadu did Kubla Khan / A stately pleasure-dome decree: / Where Alph, the sacred river, ran / Through caverns measureless to man / Down to a sunless sea.”
  1. “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus
  • Excerpt: “Give me your tired, your poor, / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, / The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. / Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, / I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
  1. “Song of Myself” by Walt Whitman
  • Excerpt: “I celebrate myself, and sing myself, / And what I assume you shall assume, / For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.”
  1. “Hope is the Thing with Feathers” by Emily Dickinson
  • Excerpt: “‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers – / That perches in the soul – / And sings the tune without the words – / And never stops – at all -“
  1. “The Second Coming” by William Butler Yeats
  • Excerpt: “Turning and turning in the widening gyre / The falcon cannot hear the falconer; / Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; / Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,”
  1. “O Captain! My Captain!” by Walt Whitman
  • Excerpt: “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,”

These poems stretch across various themes—from personal introspection and philosophical musings to societal commentary and celebrations of nature—demonstrating the rich depth of human experience captured through poetry.

Leave a Comment