Getting into poetry can be an intimidating experience, but the benefits of expressive writing are numerous. If you’re unfamiliar with the genre, you might spend your time analysing poems that aren’t exactly considered required reading. But if you want to get to the greats with ease, Lithub editor Emily Temple has compiled the most anthologised poems, essentially creating a greatest hits of English language poetry.
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Temple gathered 20 poetry anthology books published in the last 25 years to find the most popular works included within. To narrow the list, she looked at anthologies collecting English language poems, and only included poems with three or more appearances.
My aim was to see what has been included in “general” poetry anthologies for English-speaking readers, so I looked at anthologies that collected international, American, and English-language poems, and I accepted all time periods, but did not allow for any segmentation or specialisation otherwise.
I only remember one practical writing lesson from my three years as an English major. Whenever you can, put the best bits at the end of the sentence. Put the next-best bits at the beginning, and put the rest in the middle. This trick works in every kind of writing, and I wish I'd spent my university years learning more tricks like it, instead of pretending to read The Brothers Karamazov.Read more
There are, naturally, multiple entries from lauded poets including Sylvia Plath, T.S. Eliot and Robert Frost. The most anthologised poem, with 11 inclusions, is William Carlos Williams’ The Red Wheelbarrow, a short but poignant piece of literature.
I once wrote a haiku about public pools, but as it remains unpublished, it was not included in this list.