Now that we've entered the time of year reserved for stale fruitcake, inanities from American Greetings, egg nog so thick you'll need a crash cart after three sips, and a seemingly endless manneken pis-like stream of repetitive "best of" lists, I've decided to hop aboard the overloaded bandwagon and make a few lists of my own, not for 2012 but for all time... To begin, here's a list of some of my favorite American poems:
Walt Whitman, Song of Myself
Emily Dickinson, "I cannot live with you" (poem 640)
T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land
Hart Crane, "The Broken Tower"
Ezra Pound, "Canto LXXXI"
Robert Lowell, "For the Union Dead"
James Merrill, "Lost in Translation"
Allen Ginsberg, "Howl"
Galway Kinnell, "The Fundamental Project of Technology"
Sylvia Plath, "Ariel"
Robert Frost, "Desert Places"
Elizabeth Bishop, "In The Waiting Room"
George Oppen, "Route"
e e cummings, "next to of course god america i"
Wallace Stevens, "The Idea of Order at Key West"
John Ashbery, "Soonest Mended"
Randall Jarrell, "The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner"
Anne Sexton, "Red Riding Hood"
William Carlos Williams, "To Elsie"
Theodore Roethke, "Elegy for Jane"
Rita Dove, "Parsley"
Richard Howard, "Wildflowers"
Stanley Kunitz, "King of the River"
A. R. Ammons, "Corson's Inlet"
The least-known poem on the list is probably Oppen's "Route," one of the great masterpieces of American poetry. It should be as widely read and known as The Waste Land and "Howl."