Pick Up a Poem!

Today is World Poetry Day so it’s a great time to re-read your favourite poem or discover something new! We asked our staff members what their favourite poems were. Some of us had a difficult time choosing, but we hope you enjoy them!

Amy – ‘Skimbleshanks the Railway Cat’ by T.S. Eliot

Find many more of these hilarious and weird poems about cats in Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, illustrated by Edward Gorey at Norfolk House, 821.91)

Victoria – ‘Take Comfort’ by Roger McGough and ‘The Mermaid’ by W.B. Yeats

Find more poems by Roger McGough at 821.91 and Yeats at 821.8.


Eleanor – ‘The Listeners‘ by Walter de la Mare and ‘When I Have Fears That I May Cease To Be‘ by John Keats

Check out this incredible artistic reinterpretation of ‘The Listeners’ as a horror-romance by Lauren O’Neill.

Robin – ‘The Lady of Shalott‘ by Alfred Lord Tennyson

Jessica – ‘Phenomenal Woman‘ by Maya Angelou

Read it with this web comic from the amazing Zen Pencils and read our review of Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings here.

Pam – ‘To Autumn’ by John Keats

Catherine – ‘Having a Coke With You’ by Frank O’Hara

A video of O’Hara reading his poem.

laser 3.14
A piece by Amsterdam’s street poet, Laser 3.14

If you’re interested in broadening your horizons…

Check out The Ode Less Travelled by Stephen Fry (Book Zone 821), a brilliant guide to writing poetry for fun, with Fry’s hilarious narration breaking the taboo that ‘writing poetry’ in your spare time is somehow pretentious.

This year is the 30-year anniversary of Poems on the Underground, an initiative by Transport for London to give commuters something interesting to read on the Tube and help people who might have been put off poetry learn to love it. Featured poems are collected in Poems on the Underground edited by Gerard Benson, Judith Chernaik and Cicely Herbert (Norfolk House 821.008)

Ode to the Countryside edited by Samuel Carr and Ode to the Sea edited by Howard Watson (Norfolk House 821) are celebrations from the National Trust of the English countryside and sea through centuries of poetry and moving illustrations.

For a perfect poem to read to someone you love: try The Virago Book of Love Poetry edited by Wendy Mulford and The Nation’s Favourite Love Poems (Norfolk House 821.008).

The Oxford Treasury of Classic Poems edited by Michael Harrison and Christopher Stuart-Clark (Norfolk House 821.008) and Classic Poetry: An Illustrated Collection edited by Michael Rosen (Norfolk House 821.08) are wonderful collections of classic poems with lovely illustrations that make them inviting to read.

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, art by Hunt Emerson (Norfolk House 821.7), is a depiction of Coleridge’s classic horror poem of the cursed sailor in graphic novel form, and The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes, illustrated by Charles Keeping (Book Zone 823.91), is an atmospheric and creepy illustrated version of Noyes’ tragic love story.


condesign (2015) Untitled. [Photograph] Available at: (Accessed: 21/03/16)

Heijnsbroek, F. (2011) Urban poetry of the famous street-poet in Amsterdam on mobile building-walls. [Photograph] Available at:,_Fons_Heijnsbroek.jpg (Accessed: 21/03/16)


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