Best Poetry Books of all Times

Best Poetry Books of all Times

Poetry? What is Poetry? 

It is something that tears your heart with what you need to hear and repair it just the same. 

Poetry has been in existence since the beginning of time with the notable era of Restoration poetry to the era of Romanticism and the countryside poetry, poets and people have a relationship like no other. 

It is even often said that poetry is the reflection of society. 

But did you know that poetry has been a form of expression even in the mythological epics such as Mahabharata and Ramayana? And did you know that Mahabharata is the longest poem in the world with 1.8 million words in total and is 10 times longer than the earliest works of the west – Iliad and the Odyssey combined?

Poetry has been a form or an art of expression which fuses meaning, sound and rhythm to the magical written text which offers solace and insight into the unknown and us. 

BookArt101 will make you want to buy the poetry books you didn’t know you needed. So, here’s a list of the best poetry books of all time. 

The Essential Rumi by Rumi (1207-1273):

Rumi was a 13th-century Persian poet and was an Islamic scholar and a spiritual leader for some. His works have been translated into many languages. Rumi has also been the most popular and best-selling poet in the United States. 

His works are best known for transporting readers into a mystical, spiritual world that was unbeknown to them. The Essential Rumi by Rumi seeps beyond poetry or any other artistic expression. The book is a collection of ecstatic poetry with a blend of spirituality and mystical philosophy. The words framed in the book “The Essential Rumi” goes beyond any culture, language and era, making “love” as the undisputable theme throughout.  The interpretation of love in his poem is important, for it is not the love between two lovers; it is beyond the realms of you and me. 

“Be empty of worrying.

Think of who created thought!

Why do you stay in prison

When the door is so wide open?”

Ariel by Sylvia Plath (1932-1963):

Sylvia Plath has been known for her confessional novel but her works and her death has haunted every reader. As stirring her novel has been, Plath’s poems weigh the same on the reader’s heart and mind. Plath’s poems brood over a wide range of topics which are astute, ironic and intense. As a reader or as a writer or someone who appreciates art is sure to go back to the Plath’s work. 

Ariel by Sylvia Plath contains some of her most memorable poems such as “Lady Lazarus,” “Daddy,” and “Paralytic” and so on. The book, Ariel, is a living example of the brilliant, thought-provoking work of Plath which has captured generations. Sylvia Plath’s Ariel could go from a despairing and vengeful tone to tenderness and love, everything encapsulated in one. 

“Love is a shadow.

How you lie and cry after it”

The Collected Poems by Audre Lorde (1934–1992): 

Audre Lorde called herself by many identities – she preferred and self-described herself as “black, lesbian, mother, warrior and poet.” Audre Lorde is best known for her essays and speeches but her poetry has brought a revolution in the society and has paved way for the color lesbian feminist identity. Audre Lorde inter-mixes narrative, cultural history, myth and blends it with politics to lend a fresh perspective through her poems. 

The Collected Poems by Audre Lorde is a collection of more than three hundred poems which provides a blend of sharp linguistic, overwhelming emotions, and political take packed in beautifully written lyrics. Audre’s whole life was dedicated to raising voice against injustice and this is well-depicted in her work which is sharp, powerful and impassioned. 


in the middle

of our bloodiest battles

you lay down your arms

like flowering mines

to conqueror me home.” 

Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman (1819-1892):

Walt Whitman was one of the most renowned poets in his times and even now. He was one of the poets who self-published his initial works, especially “Leaves of Grass.” His poems are like no other poet as they outsize the joy and pain and encompass an affinity towards love, self-love, and nature. 

Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman’s first edition was a self-published book in which he adopted the free verse style. The 1855 version of the book was 160 pages long. His poems are based on celebrating nature, love, body and self. His poetry was sensual and encouraged the role of an individual in nature. The poems that Walt Whitman wrote were considered “immoral” subject matter at the time but little did he know that they would be the most loved poems in the centuries to follow, “Song of Myself” is an example of this. 

“Do I contradict myself?

Very well then I contradict myself,

(I am large, I contain multitudes.)”

John Donne’s Poetry by John Donne (1572-1631):

John Donne's Poetry by John Donne

John Donne is the greatest poet of all time and he is more than just a poet, for he is the one who made the world acquainted with metaphysical poetry. John Donne’s Poetry is colossal and a gift for poetry. It would not be wrong to say that Donne’s poetry is a wonder and he is a wonderer. 

John Donne’s poetry has a sensual, pragmatic and realistic style. It could be metaphorical but his poems were ground to sonnets, love poems, spiritual poems, epigrams, satires and more. John Donne carries a paradox coupled with complexities which can leave a reader ecstatically perplexed. John Donne’s poems are open to interpretation as with every carefully chosen word Donne makes sure to add a touch of an artful seducer. 

“Look, Lord, and find both Adams met in me

As the first Adam’s sweat surrounds my face 

May the last Adam’s blood my soul embrace.”

Night Sky with Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong (1988-):

Ocean Vuong is an American-Vietnamese poet and Night Sky with Exit Wounds is his debut which made him a star overnight. Through his debut, he proved that he is willing to tell a story of difficulties with courage. Ocean Vuong’s work will leave you reeling and in admiration but will also provoke your interest and thoughts. 

Ocean’s book “Night Sky with Exit Wounds” is a contemporary poetry book which captures outstanding lyricism, timeless imagery and explores the theme of war, violence, nationality and sexuality. The collection of poems in the book “Night Sky with Exit Wounds” are both challenging and moving. In Ocean’s poem there occurs an element of surprise, organic timing which makes the poems like a chant. 

“The most beautiful part of your body

is where it’s headed, & remember

loneliness is still time spent

with the world.”

Gitanjali by Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941):

Rabindranath Tagore was an Indian writer- a Nobel Prize winner, a thinker and a philanthropist. A person who shared his gift of words with the world in the form of short poems and stories. Tagore’s poems have a deep sense of mysticism attached with emotions which are capable of provoking refreshing thoughts. 

Rabindranath Tagore’s Gitanjali is like a serene pair of eyes which can turn the hearts. The book Gitanjali is a fine craft of an artist which has been crafted to perfection by harbouring an observant and thoughtful eye. The word Gitanjali means “Song Offerings.” The book captures the readers with its simplicity, depth, romanticism, philosophy, morality and sublime imagery.  Tagore’s Gitanjali is a masterpiece. 

“It is the pang of separation that spreads throughout the world and gives birth to shapes innumerable in the infinite sky.

It is this sorrow of separation that gazes in silence all night from star to star and becomes lyric among rustling leaves in the rainy darkness of July.”

The Collected Poems of W.B Yeats by W.B Yeats (1865-1939):

William Butler Yeats was an Irish poet and one of the most eminent figures of 20th-century literature. W.B Yeats has been bestowed with the highest honorary award for his contribution to English literature – The Nobel Prize in Literature. Yeats is a man of structure- a man of rhythmic structure and the rhymes flow internally through his poems. Yeats was a master of rhyme, sound and cadence with which he landed a personified sense to his work. 

The Collected Poems of W.B Yeats level has not been touched by anyone for they have a touch of ariose beauty of lyrical genius which no one has been able to come close to. The poems in the book are mysterious, elliptic and like silent waters that run deeper than you might have thought. 

“For he would be thinking of love

Till the stars had run away

And the shadows eaten the moon.”

The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931):

Kahlil Gibran was an American-Lebanese poet who was considered a philosopher by many, even though he rejected the title. It is hard to pin down the poet’s musings but an attempt to understand him can export you into another world. Kahlil Gibran was one of the most beloved poets of the time and it still stands true for his poetry has made a mark. 

The Prophet has been divided into different chapters where the poet uses love, marriage, crime, punishment prayer, good and evil and so on. The beauty of Khalil Gibran’s “The Prophet” is that it takes the shape and meaning as you grow in life and you see things and Khalil words in an altogether different and more meaningful light as time passes. The Prophet is a beautiful wordplay, whether you take it as deep advice or rhetoric. 

 “You talk when you cease to be at peace with your thoughts.”

To know life in its true form is to know its poetry. 

If you enjoyed this blog, you will also enjoy our blog on “Top 10 books to satisfy your wanderlust”, here!

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