20 Poems That Could Save America


“In the Odyssey when a priest and a poet fall on their knees before Odysseus, praying him to spare their lives, the hero kills the priest without a thought, but saves the poet. Homer says that he felt awe to slay a man who had been taught his divine art by the gods. Not the priest, but the poet, had influence with heaven—and no one was ever afraid of a poet.”

Mythology, Edith Hamilton

“Twenty-First. Night. Monday,” by Anna Akhmatova “
“God’s Justice,” by Anne Carson
“memory,” by Lucille Clifton “
A Man and a Woman,” by Alan Feldman
“America,” by Allen Ginsberg
“Bamboo and a Bird,” by Linda Gregg
“The Sick Child,” by Randall Jarrell
“Black People & White People Were Said,” by Kerry Johannsen
“Topography,” by Sharon Olds
“Wild Geese,” by Mary Oliver
“Written in Pencil in the Sealed Railway Car,” by Dan Pagis
“Merengue,” by Mary Ruefle
“The Ballad of Orange and Grape,” by Muriel Rukeyser
“Waiting for Icarus,” by Muriel Rukeyser
“American Classic,” by Louis Simpson
“Song of Speaks-Fluently,” by Speaks-Fluently
“Traveling through the Dark,” by William Stafford
“The Geraniums,” by Genevieve Taggard
“When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer,” by Walt Whitman
“Our Dust,” by C. D. Wright


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