7 Best Poetry Books of All Time

7 Best Poetry Books of All Time Guaranteed to Brighten your Spirit

“A good poem is a contribution to reality. The world is never the same once a good poem has been added to it. A good poem helps to change the shape of the universe, helps to extend everyone’s knowledge of himself and the world around him.”

-Dylan Thomas

Yes! Once you read good poetry, the world is never the same. That’s the pure magic of poetry, it transcends all human emotions, and reaches right to your soul. Probably many of us have wanted to write a few lines of poetry, and there are a few who have immersed our hearts into poetry books. 

As we near the end of a rather unusual year, why not get more poetry into your life? Here is a list of best poetry books of all times for you to brighten the spirits and welcome better days. The list spans many countries, and time periods to show you the worlds poetry has to offer.

In no particular order, here is a list of best poetry books that might make your life better and days more hopeful. 

1. The Essential Rumi by Rumi

Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Balkhī was a 13th century Persian poet and a Sufi mystic. His poetry has travelled all over the world transcending all barriers of language, culture, and race.  His didactic epic Mas̄navī-yi Maʿnavī (“Spiritual Couplets”), has widely influenced mystical thought and literature throughout the world. 

The Essential Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks is continuing to be one among the bestselling books all over the world. For many readers, it is a never ending book. You can keep it with you wherever you go, and read a verse or two, and dwell in the depths of mysticism and meaning. 

Excerpt: 

“I will be waiting here….

For your silence to break,

For your soul to shake,

For your love to wake!”

2. The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson

Can you believe only eleven of Emily Dickinson’s poems were published prior to her death in 1886! Today, we can’t imagine not recognizing a poem by her because of her startling originality, style, and simplicity. 

The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson has three chronologically organized volumes that bring together 1775 poems written by her. The book is the best way to explore her emotional turmoil, her experiments with the form, and simply to savor her genius. 

Excerpt:

““Hope” is the thing with feathers –

That perches in the soul –

And sings the tune without the words –

And never stops – at all -”

3. The Complete Sonnets & Poems by William Shakespeare

Shakespeare is the name that would be remembered till the end of the human race. Although he is famous for his plays, he first acquired success and fame as a poet. 

The Complete Sonnets & Poems by William Shakespeare is a compilation of his unforgettable sonnets and love poems. No one can ever deny the brilliance of his literary genius.

This book might be the good entry point for readers to appreciate sonnets better. His breathtaking sonnets are his musings on love and morality, and leaves us amazed, even a bit bedazzled.

Excerpt:

So that eternal love in love’s fresh case,

Weighs not the dust and injury of age,

Nor gives to necessary wrinkles place,

But makes antiquity for aye his page..

4. 100 Selected Poems by e.e.cummings

E.E. Cummings is the American poet and playwright who is best known for his radical experimentation with the form, syntax, punctuation, and technique. His poetry is well-loved by readers around the world for the simplicity in the language and style. 

100 Selected Poems by e.e. cummings consists of his wittiest and profound poems. His poems illuminate his concerns for the future of humanity. How could we not relate to that concern living in such strange times!

Excerpt:

“For whatever we lose (like a you or a me),

It’s always our self we find in the sea.”

5. And Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou, an acclaimed poet, activist, storyteller, and autobiographer is renowned in the world as her literary works explore the themes of oppression, and reflect the great celebrations and sorrow of human life. 

And I Still Rise is a collection of poetry that celebrates the triumph of human spirit over most gruesome hardships. She honors life here, and the good and bad that come with it. This book is for everyone, even if you are new to Angelou’s writing, her powerful poems will give you wings to fly high. 

Excerpt:

“You may shoot me with your words,

You may cut me with your eyes,

You may kill me with your hatefulness,

But still, like air, I’ll rise.”

6. Twenty Love Poems & A Song of Despair by Pablo Neruda

The Chilean Poet, Neruda is probably the most prolific and one of the greatest Latin-American poets. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1971 and has been enthralling poetry lovers everywhere with his poetic vision. 

Twenty Love Poems & A Song of Despair is an essential collection that still inspires poets and lovers worldwide. His poems are haunting, echoes the pain of heartbreak, and the glory of love.

Excerpt:

“I am no longer in love with her, that’s certain, but maybe I love her. 

 Love is so short, forgetting is so long.”

7. Ariel by Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath is best-known for her confessional novel, The Bell Jar. but her poems are highly impactful and stirring.

Ariel was posthumously published in 1966, and is considered her literary masterpiece. It contains some of her memorable poems like Daddy and Lady Lazarus. Her poems ache of despair and vulnerability, and also explore the vengeful side that many would shy away from. 

Excerpt:

“I didn’t want any flowers, I only wanted

to lie with my hands turned up and be utterly empty.

How free it is, you have no idea how free.”

Like with all the lists, it is subjective and might have missed some of your favorite poets. But, for sure, a book or two from this list will give you company on your days of solitude, travel, or on chilly winter night. Go, plunge into these books, right away!

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