After Amanda Gorman captivated America last month with her poetry during the inauguration of President Joe Biden, we asked Boston.com readers to share with us their favorite poems or poets.
Dozens of readers wrote in to share the poets, poems, and lines of verse they hold close. Some said Gorman’s poem “The Hill We Climb” is cemented as their new favorite work in verse. More than a few called out New England poet Robert Frost’s work as being long-cherished, but the recommended works ranged from well-known literary classics to contemporary poetry collections.
Readers also called out in particular by name the following poets, without naming a specific work:
Below, see the poems Boston.com readers shared as being works they have turned to frequently through the years and recommend to others:
“So Much Happiness” by Naomi Shihab Nye
The reader who submitted this poem shared that it was in a poetry collection she was given for her 40th birthday. “I was no fan of poetry until I read her poem,” the reader wrote. “It stunned me that happiness could be described in a way that I could envision it beyond my feelings. Then years later I had the privilege to introduce her for an event at my workplace. She so much embodied her art as a poet and I was so fortunate to have met her and it all started with ‘Happiness.’”
“To the Thawing Wind” by Robert Frost
The reader who submitted the poem wrote: “This New England native despises winter. Each spring I delight in posting Robert Frost’s ‘To The Thawing Wind’ on social media. It is my way of proclaiming that winter is banished, usually just in the nick of time.”
“Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost
Jimmy from Chelmsford described this Frost poem as the best he’s ever read. “Chills every time I read it,” he shared, adding that the work is the “quintessential New England poem.” The poem was also submitted as a favorite by Jeff from Royalston.
“The Tuft of Flowers” by Robert Frost
Ben from Roxbury shared this poem was commonly featured in bedtime readings during his childhood. “It is about a worker turning hay in a field who notices that the mower before him had spared a tuft of flowers for a butterfly to enjoy,” he wrote. “The narrator takes a moment to enjoy as well and imagines communing with the mower later … I’ve always thought it a lovely sentiment (albeit unnecessarily gendered).”
“Last Night the Rain Spoke to Me” by Mary Oliver
Marianne, from Somerset, wrote that she turns to the poem “for hope and motivation.”
“Let America Be America Again” by Langston Hughes
The reader who shared this work wrote: “The work of Langston Hughes has been one powerful voice I’ve admired for decades, and re-read during this past few years of social unrest. Read this excerpt … and try to be unmoved by the spirit of this great Black poet:
O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.
“The Lamplighter” by Robert Louis Stevenson
Jane from West Bridgewater wrote: “My dad read poetry to my brother, my sister and me before bed each night when we were little. This was one of my favorite poems.” She shared the last stanza:
For we are very lucky, with a lamp before the door,
And Leerie stops to light it as he lights so many more;
And O! before you hurry by with ladder and with light,
O Leerie, see a little child and nod to him tonight!
“A Noiseless Patient Spider” by Walt Whitman
Michelle from Boston wrote the poem “is a beautiful message and reminder that connection to people, spirit, or self will come — and we should not give up!”
“To A Contemporary Bunkshooter” by Carl Sandburg
Paul from Windsor wrote the poem is “even more pertinent today. He eviscerates a religious con man.”
“If—” by Rudyard Kipling
Ola from Atlanta, Ga., wrote that she memorized this poem in high school and still loves to read it. “Beautiful words of encouragement about life without resentment,” she wrote.
“The Lake Isle of Innisfree” by William Butler Yeats
Both Ben in Cambridge and Marilynn from Topeka, Kan., shared this poem as a favorite. Marilynn wrote that she has the poem committed to memory for how Yeats expresses a yearning for “soothing, solitary Nature.” “The rhythm of these lines, his alliteration, his descriptive phrases conclude with powerful longing for the sounds of peaceful Nature: ‘I hear it in my deep heart’s core,’” wrote Marilynn. “Not a wonder that our citizenry values outdoor time, maintains city parks, and preserves National Parks. My appreciation of this poem heightened when visiting Ireland some time ago, standing on the bank of a shore opposite this Isle!”
“Family History” by Sarah Giragosian
“Birches” by Robert Frost
“The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost
“Mending Wall” by Robert Frost
“Richard Cory” by Edwin Arlington Robinson
“What Kind of Woman” by Kate Baer
“Homie” by Danez Smith
“Look Out” by Wendell Berry
“The Peace of Wild Things” by Wendell Berry
“Everything Is Waiting For You” by David Whyte
“The House of Belonging” by David Whyte
“Variation on the Word Sleep” by Margaret Atwood
“On Marriage” by Kahlil Gibran
“Ithaka” by C.P. Cavafy
[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in] by E.E. Cummings
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