My grandfather often recited “The Raven” to me when I was I child. I memorized portions of the poem before I was able to read it. Once I was able to read “The Raven”, I was fascinated by how different the poem looked in print compared the how I experienced the recited work. Poe became an early favorite poet to my younger self.
The very first poem I read (and enjoyed) in primary school was “My Beard” by Shel Silverstein. Later, in junior high, I read “Chartless” by Emily Dickinson and “If” by Rudyard Kipling. That poem became a constant reminder to me during difficult years in a rural country high school.
The public library in that small village where I lived during those high school days primarily carried poetry books of Robert Frost and John Greenleaf Whittier. Their poems became early favorite poets. The university library was a sacred place once I discovered Edmund Spenser and many other books of poetry.
Compared to the small village library, the university library was one of the wonders of the world to my developing mind. “Trees” by Joyce Kilmer is one of my favorite poems of all times. The first book I bought at an antiquarian bookshop had that poem in it. That anthology remains one of my treasured books.
I asked friends on social media a few weeks ago: What is the first poem you read and enjoyed? Here’s a list of some of those poems:
- Margaret Atwood’s “You Are Happy”
- Whitman’s “Song of Myself”
- Edgar Alan Poe’s “The Raven”
- “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost
- “Snowbound” by John Greenleaf Whittier
- “Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll
- Wordsworth’s “Daffodils”
- “Trees” by Joyce Kilmer
This is a good selection and variety of poetry and poets. What about you? What’s your story? What is the first poem you read and enjoyed?
I don’t actually remember the first poem I’ve ever read but the first I one I remember might have been it. I was eight or nine and my mom had told me her favorite poem was where the sidewalk ends. It was a great poem and I stole the book it was in, a gorgeous white and black one with the simple scribble like drawings that I still recall to this day, and read it all in a day. I think I lost that book and my mom was super upset about it but to this day that’s how I remember my begining with poetry.
That’s a great story. Where the Sidewalk Ends is still one of my favorite poetry books. Thanks for sharing your memories about how your mother introduced you to poetry.