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BGSU University Libraries

English Literature Studies: Poetry

A guide to English literature and literary criticism.

Finding lyric poems

Greek lyreDoes your class assignment require you to find a lyric poem in the library?

Flip through a poetry anthology or collection and look for poems that fit your understanding of a lyric poem. Look for poems with rhythm, just like song lyrics have rhythm. Sonnets and ballads are types of lyric poetry.

Try these collections:

You can also browse the works of particular poets. Good ones to try are:

  • Robert or Elizabeth Barrett Browning: PR4182.F67 1988, PR4203.D39 1991
  • Lord Byron: PR4353 .L68 1995
  • Robert Taylor Coleridge:  PR4472 .J3 1994
  • John Donne: PR2246 .C52 1988b
  • John Keats: PR4832.C66 1990
  • D. H. Lawrence: PR6023.A93 A17 1986
  • Andrew Marvell: PR3546 .A1 1976
  • Shakespeare PR2841.A1 1958b
  • Emily Dickinson: PS1541 .A17 1997
  • Robert Frost: PS3511.R94 A6 1995
  • Edgar Allen Poe: PS2605 .A1 1965

Also: Sappho, Wordsworth, Tennyson, or Longfellow.

Anthologies

I just need a poem. Any poem will do.

Again, a poetry anthology might be just the ticket. An alternative is to search within the library catalog, using keywords such as "victorian poetry" or "slam poets" to find collections by time period or genre. Or, try browsing in journals such as as the ones in the column on the left.

For collections of poetry, search the library catalog for the Subject: Poetry--Collections or try these titles.

Poetry Full Text databases

Major collections of fully searchable poems are available in full text. For the full text of thousands of poems in English, start with these resources.

20th Century African-American Poetry contains works by more than 100 poets, including Audre Lorde, Langston Hughes, and Rita Dove. Biographical profiles accompany each poet's work. For earlier African-American poetry, see African American Poetry, 1760-1900, which includes allegories, broadsides, children's poems, elegiac poems, epics, hymns, odes, patriotic poems, and sonnets.

20th Century American Poetry contains poems from collected works and individual volumes of poetry covering the works of most major twentieth-century American poets. For early American poetry, see American Poetry 1600-1900, which contains poems of American writers from the 17th to the early 20th centuries.

20th Century English Poetry contains poems and any integral images are also scanned. Introductions and prefaces to the volumes are included, as are all notes and any prose sections. For early English poetry, see English Poetry 600-1900, which contains the full text of  poems by poets from British Commonwealth and ex-colonial countries.  Many of these collections are rare books, unavailable in print form. Works in English of Welsh, Scottish, and Irish poets are included with any relevant accompanying text written by the poet.

Thousand of poems by hundreds of authors are collected in Bartleby Verse, one of the largest free collections of verse in the public domain. Includes anthologies as well as works by individual poets.

Online Corpus of Old English Poetry is continually expanding its collection of poems; the site is maintained by Prof. Murray McGillivrary of the University of Calgary. Although the site itself lacks frills, find full text of many old English poems here, including The Dream of the Rood and The Wife's Lament; this version of Beowulf hyperlinks each word in the text to a glossary, and hopes to do so so each poem over time.

Finding a poem

I have a poem, now I need to find scholarly articles about the poem.

Response, analysis, and interpretation of literature, such as poems, fall under the category of Literary Criticism. To find resources on criticism of poetry, see the information within the Literary Criticism tab.

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Name that poem!

Know how a poem begins but can't remember the author? Know the poet's name but can't remember the poem? When trying to match a line with an author, begin with a Columbia Granger's Index.

Also see Lost Ties, Forgotton Rhymes: How to Find a Novel, Short Story, or Poem Without Knowing its Title or Author"  from the Library of Congress.

Recommended Reference Books in Jerome Library

Recommended Databases and Websites about poetry

Modern American Poetry is a scholarly, comprehensive site filled with commentary and criticism on many poems and poets.

Poetry Foundation has a variety of poetry-related information, including poems organized by categories such as Weddings, Love, Pets, Funerals. Brief biographical sketches, literary criticism of poems, poetry podcasts, and Poetry magazine are found here.

Spoken Words

Poetry is meant to be experienced aloud, much like plays are meant to be performed. The Poetry Archive is an online collection of poets, of the 20th century onwards, reading their work; it includes some historic recordings from the late 19th century. Poems are browsable by title, theme, and form. Requires Real Player download to hear poetry; link from site.

Jerome Library also has many recordings of poets reading their works; search the BGSU Library Catalog by choosing Material Type > Spoken Word Recording.