The Ponder Effect | What are your favorite poems?
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What are your favorite poems?

For my 40th birthday, I asked friends and family to share their favorite poems with me. I compiled the results into a little booklet that sits by my bed. It has everything from The Contrariness of the Mad Farmer by Wendell Berry to Listen to the Mustn’ts by Shel Silverstein. I treasure this collection. The poems are singular sources of wisdom, and they are glimpses into the authentic selves of my loved ones.

Since April is National Poetry Month, I thought it would be beautiful for us to do this same exercise as a larger collective. What are your favorite poems? What would you add?

Note: Some of you may read this question with an eye roll. You may feel like poetry only has a national month because no one would read it otherwise. For you, verse may seem better relegated to dusty books from college that should never be opened again. Poetry is indeed ancient. It can be unnecessarily opaque. Nevertheless, I think there is something in it for everyone. Perhaps this list will touch even the most cynical of us.

Share your thoughts [All posts are 100% anonymous]

8 Ponderings
  • Anonymous

    April 7, 2019 at 5:30 pm

    Wendell Berry’s “The Peace of Wild Things” (

    Mary Oliver’s “The Journey” (

    Mary Oliver’s “To Begin With, The Sweet Grass” (

    Tess Gallagher’s “The Hug” (

    Edna St. Vincent Millay – 8 Sonnets, and particularly, the 8th:

    Shel Silverstein’s “Listen to the Mustn’ts” (

    And I have to add that many, many, many essays of EB White are so beautifully poetic, that I wish I could post them here, most notably “Once More to the Lake,” and most all of Annie Dillard’s writing is also hypnotically poetic.

    Thank you for encouraging this romp down poetic paths. I delayed making dinner for my family to look up some old favorites – what a joy!

  • Anonymous

    April 7, 2019 at 5:34 pm

    Mysteries, Yes
    By Mary Oliver

  • Anonymous

    April 7, 2019 at 6:26 pm

    The Road Not Taken Robert Frost

  • Anonymous

    April 8, 2019 at 11:37 am

    The palm at the end of the mind,
    Beyond the last thought, rises
    In the bronze decor,

    A gold-feathered bird
    Sings in the palm, without human meaning,
    Without human feeling, a foreign song.

    You know then that it is not the reason
    That makes us happy or unhappy.
    The bird sings. Its feathers shine.

    The palm stands on the edge of space.
    The wind moves slowly in the branches.
    The bird’s fire-fangled feathers dangle down.

    “Of Mere Being” by Wallace Stevens

  • Anonymous

    April 10, 2019 at 1:25 pm

    You do not have to be good.
    You do not have to walk on your knees
    for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
    You only have to let the soft animal of your body
    love what it loves.
    Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
    Meanwhile the world goes on.
    Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
    are moving across the landscapes,
    over the prairies and the deep trees,
    the mountains and the rivers.
    Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
    are heading home again.
    Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
    the world offers itself to your imagination,
    calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
    over and over announcing your place
    in the family of things.

    Wild Geese, Mary Oliver

  • Anonymous

    April 10, 2019 at 9:09 pm

    Essay On Craft by Ocean Vuong
    Good Bones by Maggie Nelson

  • Anonymous

    April 10, 2019 at 9:22 pm

    Still I Rise by:Mary Angelou

  • Anonymous

    April 11, 2019 at 10:19 am

    If you are a dreamer, come in
    If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
    A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer…
    If you’re a pretender, come sit by the fire
    For we have some flax-golden tales to spin.
    Come in!
    Come in!

    by Shel Silverstein