Writer's block gets the best of us but looking to famous pieces and works can be one of the best things to get your mind flowing again. Today's technological world has allowed the work of the masters be available at any time; a simple google search, and you're open to the world of literature. Even as I write on Odyssey or for school, I found that looking at famous works of poetry and seeing the way these philosophers and authors have woven their words together has enhanced my writing to do the same.
It's amazing how every literature work is simply the rearrangement of 26 letters in the alphabet. It's from the famous how we can learn to string them together. Here are my top seven favorite works of poetry that keep me inspired and never ceases to wake my creative side.
1. "Where the Sidewalk Ends" by Shel Silverstein
"There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.
Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.
Yes we'll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we'll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends."
As a child, I loved reading with my whole heart. I could spend days in a library if I could have; in my quest into finding a good book, I came across this poem. This was the first, and one of only, poems I can clearly remember falling in love with as I sat between spews of bookshelves in my school library.
It wasn't until I was older when I found out what it truly meant: adults should take a step back from their world and look at the world in the eyes of a child. Adults should see the world for its joy and beauty.
2. "i carry your heart with me" by e. e. cummings
"i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)"
e. e. cummings is one of my favorite poets, as his writing style is unique to all others in his famous notion of refusing to capitalize his letters in an attempt to refuse to obey societal rules. Alike his famous notion, his writing also breaks societal rules as his topics flow in a wide range from love, to hurt, to joy. This poem sticks with me because his structure presents three poems in one, with two voices but one story. His creative stance on taking poetry beyond that of words but telling the poem through creative structure inspires me everyday.
3. "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost
"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;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."
If I had to pick any work of literature I had read within my childhood as my favorite, it would have been this poem by Robert Frost. I distinctly remember the first time I read over this, within the second grade as a class assignment. My teacher read it out loud and I remember falling in love with the imagery he presented.
As I grew up, the meaning only spoke more to his words, and he is still today one of my favorite authors. He tells his readers in the poem that throughout life, its taking risks that makes the best adventures; sometimes it's taking risks that make life worth living.
4. "Still I Rise" by Maya Angelou
"You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own back yard.
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.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history's shame
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
When I think of Maya Angelou, I think of hardship but internal strength. I think of power. Maya Angelou lived a terrible life under racial discrimination and suffering from being raped as a child and witnessing her uncles murdering her rapist. She became mute as a result but began writing her hardship. This poem clearly defines her internal strength, being able to rise from the ashes and be as impactful as she is on others today. When I read this poem, I feel empowered as her words are able to tell all of us, it will be OK because we will be OK.
5. "I Wandered Lonely As a Cloud" by William Wordsworth
"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.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling leaves in glee;
A poet could not be but gay,
In such a jocund company!
I gazed and gazed but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils."
Just last year, I read this poem as an assignment, and, immediately, it was added to my list of favorite poems. Instead of simply describing a witty observation that's commonly seen in a lot of poetry today, William Wordsworth takes a new stance through responding to the beauty of nature by becoming it. He speaks his journey of seeing the world from the sky and how beautiful it is; an observation that's a beautiful reminder within our growing concrete world.
It's through these famous writers, authors and poets that new generations of writers are able to find inspiration and continue to make brilliant pieces of work. For me, its through these five authors that I'm able to find my inspiration; each preach stories of longing, passion, love, triumph and pain. Each work is able to show a reflection of the author and their own experiences with such emotions to the reader, all that any author strives to do with their work. I hope you are able to take away as much as these authors put into these works and as much I did reading them.