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  1.  (10096.21)
    @ian holloway - I studied the WWI Poets at high school. Dulce was the one that really stuck with me...

    Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
    Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
    Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
    And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
    Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
    But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
    Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
    Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

    Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!–An ecstasy of fumbling,
    Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
    But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
    And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime...
    Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
    As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

    In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
    He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

    If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
    Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
    And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
    His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
    If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
    Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
    Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
    Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,–
    My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
    To children ardent for some desperate glory,
    The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
    Pro patria mori.

    (The Peret one also suck with me, but mostly because of the rats)

    To lighten the mood a bit...

    Things that go bump in the night,
    Should not really give one a fright,
    It's the hole in each ear, that lets in the fear,
    That, and the absence of light

    --Spike Milligan
  2.  (10096.22)
    @Purple Wyrm
    it's a harrowingly beautiful piece to be sure.

    and I always love me some Spike.
  3.  (10096.23)
    there are many good reasons for drinking
    and one's just entered my head
    if you don't drink when you're living
    how the hell can you drink when you're dead

    -- anon

    (painted on a wooden plate hung over my grandad's toilet in the 70s)
    • CommentTimeAug 2nd 2011
    I love several poets but for me Dorothy Parker has captured many a mood more accurately than any could
    Flippancy, sarcasm and gloom (in equal measure) are the salt and bread of all my favourite poems, I deem them important in that they helped give shape to an aspect or a thought.


    The days will rally, wreathing
    Their crazy tarantelle;
    And you must go on breathing,
    But I'll be safe in hell.

    Like January weather,
    The years will bite and smart,
    And pull your bones together
    To wrap your chattering heart.

    The pretty stuff you're made of
    Will crack and crease and dry.
    The thing you are afraid of
    Will look from every eye.

    You will go faltering after
    The bright, imperious line,
    And split your throat on laughter,
    And burn your eyes with brine.

    You will be frail and musty
    With peering, furtive head,
    Whilst I am young and lusty
    Among the roaring dead.
  4.  (10096.25)
    @Yskaya - I could have guessed you liked Dorothy Parker.

    I've always found William Gibson's poem Agrippa to be an interesting experiment.

    More recently I've been enjoying bits of William Carlos Williams, who strikes me as the most sympathetic writer to come out of Imagism.

    The Red Wheelbarrow

    so much depends

    a red wheel

    glazed with rain

    beside the white
    • CommentTimeAug 3rd 2011
    Glad you mentioned Crane (Stephen, not Hart). I always loved how raw and immediate his stuff was.
    • CommentTimeAug 3rd 2011
    Howl - Ginsberg
    The Waste Land - Eliot
    I Sing The Body Electric - Whitman

    and because I love it, The Gashlycrumb Tinies by Gorey.
    • CommentAuthorG. Foyle
    • CommentTimeAug 3rd 2011 edited
    I'll admit that neither of these are especially original choices (references to them in popular media abound), and I'm not a huge poetry reader, so my tastes are not all that sophisticated. However, both of these poems never fail to evoke a strong emotional reaction from me, because they so neatly express, with simple language, my own emotions upon the loss of certain loved ones.

    Dylan Thomas-Do Not Go Gentle...
    W. H. Auden-Stop All the Clocks...
    • CommentAuthormanglr
    • CommentTimeAug 3rd 2011
    I'll add the chrous on the subject of both Howl and Beowulf.

    Regarding Beowulf, I'd be remiss if I didn't point out this particular link. I was lucky enough to attend a performance of this and watching Beowulf performed live was definitely so write home about:

    Beowulf as performed by Benjamin Bagby
    • CommentTimeAug 3rd 2011
    I always loved Keats, but this one stays with me from my teenage years:

    I, being born a woman and distressed
    By all the needs and notions of my kind,
    Am urged by your propinquity to find
    Your person fair, and feel a certain zest
    To bear your body's weight upon my breast:
    So subtly is the fume of life designed,
    To clarify the pulse and cloud the mind,
    And leave me once again undone, possessed.
    Think not for this, however, the poor treason
    Of my stout blood against my staggering brain,
    I shall remember you with love, or season
    My scorn wtih pity, -- let me make it plain:
    I find this frenzy insufficient reason
    For conversation when we meet again.

    Edna St. Vincent Millay

    Not sure it counts as the most important, but to me it is quintessentially English...
  5.  (10096.31)
    Has anyone mentioned Oscar Wilde?

    Ballad of Reading Gaol
    ...Some love too little, some too long,
    Some sell, and others buy;
    Some do the deed with many tears,
    And some without a sigh:
    For each man kills the thing he loves,
    Yet each man does not die.


    Ok something happier. Nonsense poetry!

    Jabberwocky - Lewis Carroll
    (Best read aloud. Well... all poetry should be read aloud... but you CAN end up looking very silly in public.)
    `Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
    Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
    All mimsy were the borogoves,
    And the mome raths outgrabe.


    Sprung Verse!

    Also cries to be read aloud. It's related to the Anglo-Saxon poetry posted earlier, Hopkins kind of re-vamped it (in a 19th-century-welsh-vicar kind of a way), all alliteration and weird rhythm.

    Pied Beauty - Gerard Manley Hopkins
    GLORY be to God for dappled things—
    For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
    For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
    Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
    Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
    And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

    All things counter, original, spare, strange;
    Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
    With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
    He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
    Praise him.

    And I've got to include my favourite 'also ran' from the Romantics, poor old Swinburne.

    The Garden Of Proserpine - Algernon Charles Swinburne
    ...There go the loves that wither,
    The old loves with wearier wings ;
    And all dead years draw thither,
    And all disastrous things ;
    Dead dreams of days forsaken,
    Blind buds that snows have shaken,
    Wild leaves that winds have taken,
    Red strays of ruined springs.

    Yeah, he's hit and miss. But 'red strays of ruined springs' is one of my favourite lines ever.