Poetry Literature Selections

No home library is complete without several poetry anthologies. It is an excellent practice to keep an anthology by your reading chair or at the dining room table so you can easily read a few poems out loud to your family each day.  Our poetry courses require students to read from  a poetry anthology every day and they are often asked to find poems with particular rhyme schemes, meters, or figures of speech in their anthologies. If you prefer to use an online anthology, the Poets’ Corner has a huge selection of poems of all kinds, and works well for this purpose.

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Anthologies for Poetry for Beginners and Intermediate Poetry


All assigned reading in Poetry for Beginners  and Intermediate Poetry is from poetry anthologies. These are a few of our favorites, but there are many others which will suit the purpose.

Favorite Poems Old and New  is a very comprehensive anthology of poetry that will appeal to children as well as adults. It is arranged by subjects, and has indexes by author and title as well, so it is very easy to find what you are looking for. If you only buy one anthology, this should probably be the one.

A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson is also available online, although we firmly believe this is a book that should be in every home library!

101 Great American Poems is a collection of 19th and 20th century works. Poets include Edgar Allen Poe, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes, and others.

Additional Suggestions for Intermediate Poetry


In addition to the anthologies recommended above, we recommend English Romantic Poetry and English Victorian Poetry, anthologies covering the Romantic and Victorian poets, since we devote a great deal of time these important literary periods. Romantic poets include William Wordsworth, Percy Shelley, John Keats, Samuel Coleridge, and William Blake. Victorian poets include Alfred Lord Tennyson, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Robert Browning, and Christina Rossetti.

Students also work with Old English alliterative poetry using selections from Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. These two books provide context for the selections we use, and students enjoy reading "the rest of the story".

Assigned Reading for AAdvanced Poetry


We chose Dante's Divine Comedy (comprised of Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradisio) Spenser's Faerie Queene, Milton's Paradise Lost as examples of medieval and early-modern epic poetry. Each one of these poems, in the tradition of Homer's and Virgil's epics, seeks to revive the ancient epic tradition for their times. Dante journeys through the Inferno (Hell), the Purgatorio (Purgatory), and Paradiso (Paradise or Heaven) and observes the sorts of persons he encounters in each place. Spenser, in the Faerie Queene, traces England's beginnings from the mythical King Arthur and Camelot, all the way up to the (for him) current reign of Queen Elizabeth I.  In Paradise Lost, Milton plots the fall of Satan, the subsequent fall of Adam and Eve, and ends with the promise of redemption for all of mankind.   All three of these poems are foundational in the western canon of literature.

All of these are also available online: Faerie Queene; Divine Comedy; Paradise Lost. Listening to these works on tape is also a very good alternative, as poetry is meant to be read aloud. Check your local library or Blackstone Audio for these titles.

Supplemental Reading for Advanced Poetry



These classic poetic works of Western Civilization are an indispensable part of a classical education. We recommend that every student be familiar with these works. Homer's Iliad and Odyssey translated by Lattimore and Virgil's Aeneid translated by Fitzgerald are tried and true standard versions. If you prefer a newer translation in more modern English, Robert Fagles is a good alternative.


Primer: Resources and Literature   

Aesop & Homer: Assigned and Supplemental Reading

Diogenes: Assigned and Supplemental Reading

Herodotus: Assigned and Supplemental Reading

Plutarch: Assigned and Supplemental Reading

Demosthenes: Assigned and Supplemental Reading



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