American Poems Literature, these are the poems that seem to me to have left the deepest mark on US literature.
He Wishes For The Cloths Of Heaven by William Butler Yeats
Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
1. “Song of Myself” by Walt Whitman
Whitman reinvents American poetry in this peerless self-performance,
finding cadences that seem utterly his own yet somehow keyed to the energy and rhythms of a young nation waking to its own voice and vision.
He calls to every poet after him,
such as Ezra Pound,
who notes in “A Pact” that Whitman “broke the new wood.”
2. “The Idea of Order at Key West” by Wallace Stevens
glittering language takes blank verse and reinvents it.
This poem raises to a sublime level
what Stevens once called a war “between the mind and sky.”
The poem celebrates the “blessed rage for order” at the heart of all creative work.
3. “Because I could not stop for death” by Emily Dickinson
A perfect poem,
and one of Dickinson’s most compressed and chilling attempts to come to terms with mortality.
Once read, it stays in the head forever,
in part because of the ballad stanza, so weirdly fresh in her capable hands.