Poetry in English. Learning The Language From The Classics
Poetry in English can be considered the best way to master the language. You can not only expand your vocabulary but learn wonderful metaphors, understand complex grammar rules, and at the same time – let it touch the deepest and darkest corners of your soul. If you have been reading the Promova blog for a while, you already know how to describe a painting, talk about the weather, and use office-related idioms. Now it’s time to move further and learn how to master English with famous poems.
How can learning the best poetry in English help you become fluent?
Before learning beautiful poems, you have to understand the reason for doing so. Of course, it can help to train the brain and memory, and blah-blah-blah. But how can reading and learning poems in English help to master the language? Well, there are plenty of options. Below, we’ve mentioned only the essential ones. Still, you can find a lot more by yourself.
A poem is a great way to practice pronunciation. Reading everything out loud is great for your pronunciation skills. But if it is a poem, it can be not only beneficial but also a pleasant exercise. You can find an audio version of the short English language poem, listen to proper pronunciation, and then repeat it yourself.
Another advantage of English poems is the variety of words, sentences, and grammar structures that might be helpful for your studying process. You already know how to learn new words and expand your vocabulary with novels, but poems might be even more beneficial. Poets like no one else know how to choose the right words, so the more poetry you read, the better and more clearly you can express your thoughts and feelings in various circumstances.
How to make the most out of learning English short poems
Those are the main reasons for starting to learn short English poems. Moreover, you could not just learn it. With our tips, you will be able to make the whole language class from one short and easy piece of work. How can you do it? Take a look at some of the best tricks:
- Make the atmosphere. If your goal is to learn a short English poem, you should remove all distractions. Turn off the internet, remove AirPods from your ears, make yourself comfortable, and dive into the world of poetry. The more attention you pay – the better would be the results.
- Listen to the audio version. As we’ve mentioned, it is a perfect way to learn any poem. Find an audio version and listen to it a few times. After that, try to repeat it with the same intonation as the reader. When it’s done, do your best to try and memorize the poem. But choose the options carefully – starting with short and easy-to-understand ones would be better.
- Fill in the gaps in vocabulary. What do you think, why is it hard to learn a poem in English for some people? Primarily because of the lack of vocabulary. But don’t worry if you don’t know hundreds of thousands of words. Make your own dictionary instead! Read the poem you like, and write down new words and phrases. It will help you to learn a lot of new and useful things.
- Don’t be afraid of the breaks. You don’t have to learn a poem for a particular amount of time. If you feel tired or bored, give yourself a break. Try to do something that relaxes you, and then turn back to studying. And it doesn’t matter whether you need ten minutes or an hour – the point is to make the learning process satisfying, not exhausting.
Only these four tips can become a significant game changer when learning English through poetry. And now that you know that, you are ready to meet our list of the best poems of the English language. They have different meanings, grammar, and other details, but they also have one thing in common – they are short, easy to understand, and would be great even for students with intermediate fluency levels.
10 Best poems to learn English
There are hundreds of thousands of modern and classic poems in English. Hence, it took a lot of work to pick only ten. But we’ve done our best for you. So please, make yourself comfortable, and check out our list of good poems to analyze for English students.
“Hope is The Thing With Feathers” by Emily Dickinson
“Hope” is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops – at all
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm
I’ve heard it in the chillest land
And on the strangest Sea
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.
Emily Dickinson, a famous American poetess, wrote this poem back in the 1860s, but nowadays, this masterpiece resonates in the hearts of many people. This is the English language poem that praises and honors people’s ability to hope. Emily metaphorically pictures our hope as a bird that sings regardless of the circumstances, come rain or shine.
For English learners, this poem will be suitable for two reasons. First, it is very simple to read and understand – no complex vocabulary or grammar structure exists. Therefore, learning also would be easy. Another reason is the presence of a rather obvious metaphor – you can quickly determine its meaning and understand the reasons for using it.
“The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Robert Frost is a renowned writer and poet known for his metaphors. This poem was written in 1915 and is still considered one of the most popular in the world. The author describes the complexities of choice people face in different stages of their lives. Every person somehow finds themselves at a crossroads on which the further development of events depends. And sometimes, it can be really challenging to choose the right one. This poem is easy to read and understand. Therefore, it will be great for English learners.
“Leisure” by W. H. Davies
What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?
No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep and cows:
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
Leisure is a poem that has thousands of fans nowadays. The author shows us how important it is to pay attention to the most insignificant things and be close to nature. It is the best way to relax and exhale stress from our bodies and minds. Even the poem’s title shows us the importance of spare time and rest.
The poem “Leisure” was written by William Henry Davies over a hundred years ago, in 1911. It is very simple – and that is the beauty of it. First of all, it reminds us that even the simplest things can deeply touch our souls. It also allows English learners to understand and decode it easily. So if you want to practice pronunciation, translating, or reading skills, this poem would be a perfect option.
“The Chaos” by Gerard Nolst Trenité
Dearest creature in creation
Studying English pronunciation,
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse and worse.
I will keep you, Susy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy;
Tear in eye, your dress you’ll tear;
Queer, fair seer, hear my prayer.
Pray, console your loving poet,
Make my coat look new, dear, sew it!
Just compare heart, hear and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word.
Sword and sward, retain and Britain
(Mind the latter how it’s written).
Made has not the sound of bade,
Say-said, pay-paid, laid but plaid.
We all know how confusing the English language can be. And Gerard Nolst Trenité also knew it – back in 1920, he dedicated a whole verse to it. The Chaos poem is the perfect way to understand students' numerous difficulties during their studies. We’ve added only a small part of this poem to our article, but we highly recommend you read it all. It is a piece of art that is totally worth your attention.
“No Man Is an Island” by John Donne
No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.
The poem No Man is an Island was written by John Donne in 1624. It contains a very beautiful metaphor that shows us that every person in the world is connected to other people. The author believes that none of us is an island – we don’t live alone, even if sometimes it seems that we are. Conversely, John compares a person to a piece of the continent, reminding us that others surround people.
Even though it was written almost four hundred years ago, it is surprisingly relevant nowadays. It demonstrates the value of our relationships with loved ones, friends, and even total strangers. And since it is very short and has a very simple vocabulary, it can be great studying material for English learners. Reading it aloud can help you practice reading and pronunciation and also revise your priorities and attitudes toward many important things.
“Trees” by Joyce Kilmer
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
“Trees” is one of the most famous poems written by American author Joyce Kilmer. It was first published in 1913. The verse doesn’t have any complex grammar or vocabulary. Therefore, it can be a perfect practice option for those studying English. You can see how many adjectives and comparisons the author uses in the poem. Try to remember at least a few of them – you might use them next time describing a painting or talking about art in general.
A poem is fully dedicated to nature and faith. The author believes that only God could create something as beautiful and unique as a tree. People, on the other hand, can only make simple things. And that is the main point of this poem.
“A Dream Within a Dream” by Edgar Allan Poe
Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow –
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.
I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand –
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep – while I weep!
O God! Can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! Can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?
We all know Edgar Allan Poe for his amazing mystery and detective novels. But did you know that he also was a very talented poet? His verse “A Dream Within a Dream”, written in 1849, is considered a classic of English literature. Due to its simple structure and the variety of grammar constructions, this poem is perfect for language learners who want to expand their vocabulary and master pronunciation.
You’re probably aware that the main point of this verse is the value of life. The speaker in the poem struggles to hold the things taken from him, but he can’t do it. Therefore, the author compares their life to a dream within a dream since we can control numerous things happening to us.
“A Pizza The Size of The Sun” by Jack Prelutsky
I’m making a pizza the size of the sun,
a pizza that’s sure to weigh more than a ton,
a pizza too massive to pick up and toss,
a pizza resplendent with oceans of sauce.
I’m topping my pizza with mountains of cheese,
with acres of peppers, pimentos, and peas,
with mushrooms, tomatoes, and sausage galore,
with every last olive they had at the store.
My pizza is sure to be one of a kind,
my pizza will leave other pizzas behind,
my pizza will be a delectable treat
that all who love pizza are welcome to eat.
The oven is hot, I believe it will take
a year and a half for my pizza to bake.
hardly can wait till my pizza is done,
my wonderful pizza the size of the sun.
Children’s poetry is another great option for studying English. And who can write for kids better than the most popular contemporary author Jack Prelutsky? His books are famous for unique characters and amazing stories that can interest kids and adults. And one of his most famous short English poems, The Pizza The Size of The Sun, was written and published in 1996.
The best thing about kids’ poems is that they always mean exactly what you think. For example, this verse is dedicated to the extraordinary big tasty pizza – and that’s precisely what the author meant. If you don’t want to learn classic literature but still look for an easy poem to remember – this one would be perfect for you.
“When I Have Fears” by John Keats
When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain,
Before high-piled books, in charactery,
Hold like rich garners the full ripened grain;
When I behold, upon the night’s starred face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And think that I may never live to trace
Their shadows with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour,
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting love – then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
Till love and fame to nothingness do sink.
John Keats is a famous English poet with a very tragic life. He died young, but his poetry is still alive – so we all can admire his talent. The poem “When I Have Fears” was written in 1918. Nevertheless, the world saw it only thirty years later, in 1948. It was 27 years after John’s death.
This poem is about the poet’s fears. Speaker is afraid to die before reaching their goals as a writer, and the anxiety is almost unbearable. Despite such dramatic meaning, this verse is considered simple and suitable for English learners. You can learn a lot of new words, easily understand the meaning, and practice your language skills.
“Eating Poetry” by Mark Strand
Ink runs from the corners of my mouth.
There is no happiness like mine.
I have been eating poetry.
The librarian does not believe what she sees.
Her eyes are sad
and she walks with her hands in her dress.
The poems are gone.
The light is dim.
The dogs are on the basement stairs and coming up.
Their eyeballs roll,
their blond legs burn like brush.
The poor librarian begins to stamp her feet and weep.
She does not understand.
When I get on my knees and lick her hand,
I am a new man.
I snarl at her and bark.
I romp with joy in the bookish dark.
If you are struggling to learn new verbs in English, our last poem on the list is everything you need. It was written in 1980 by Mark Strand, the renowned author famous for his surreal way of explaining deep and important things. “Eating Poetry” describes a speaker who is literally eating poetry. This poem shows you a lot of new verbs. And also, it can be helpful for those who are just starting their studying journey – the verse consists of simple sentences, and you can learn their grammar and structure.
How can you master the language with short poems in English and Promova?
Studying English through learning poetry can be very beneficial. But if you are not prepared for it, this process may turn from romantic and satisfying to tedious and exhausting. You need to know how to make the most out of every poem you read. And we know exactly how we can assist you in achieving this aim.
Promova language-learning platform is a modern solution to all your problems. You don’t have to spend hours searching for the best studying option, since we already have everything you need. If you prefer to learn English with experienced tutors, join our personal or group classes. Our team of professionals is glad to help you with everything, from learning poems to mastering pronunciation. And group lessons are great for those who like to study and meet new friends.
For those who prefer studying on the go, Promova offers a state-of-the-art mobile application available for free. You can access hundreds of unique lessons and learn English grammar in poems, songs, games, TV shows, and much more. All you need to do is to install the app on your iOS or Android phone or tablet, and pass a quick test to determine your fluency level. Get the Promova app now, and see how fast you can see the results!
As we said, even one easy and simple English poem can have a significant impact on your studying process. You can not only expand your vocabulary, but also learn how to express your thoughts more clearly, practice pronunciation, and much more. We hope that you’ve liked our list of beautiful poems. And we will be happy to read your personal favorites – so please, share them in the comments!
Why should I learn long and short English poems?
You can find many advantages in learning English poetry. Of course, it is a great way to practice your memory. As for language learners, it can bring even more benefits – you can significantly expand your vocabulary and general outlook, strengthen pronunciation and translation skills, understand how to clearly express your thoughts and feelings, and much more. You may not believe it, but even Christmas songs and poems can help you to master the language!
What are the best ways to remember a poem?
First of all, you should choose a suitable one – don’t try to learn very long and complex poems or ones that have many words that you don’t know yet. Create an atmosphere – get rid of everything that can distract you, take off your headphones, etc. After that, read a poem silently a few times, then a few times aloud. You can also listen to the audio version to better understand accents and pronunciation nuances.
How to take the most out of the poem?
If you want to learn how to find English-studying tips in every poem, you need to pay attention to the details. Next time you read a poem, take a highlighter and mark all things that are new for you – metaphors, grammar structures, etc. Write down unusual words you want to learn, and don’t forget to analyze the poem.
What are some of the best poems for studying English?
Honestly, every poem can be useful. It is hard to pick only one since there are hundreds of them. You can see our favorites in this article, which includes “Hope Is The Thing With Feather” by Emily Dickinson, “No Man is an Island” by John Donne, and “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost.