20th Century Poems That Still Ring True Today

by Kaitlyn Wylde

As a poet, I spend a lot of time defending poetry. People who don't have a natural affinity for the genre tend to write it off as antiquated, impermeable, or just plain stuffy. Non-poets often brush off poetry from the previous century as outdated and no longer applicable to the modern mind. But if you believe that, you couldn't be more misinformed.

The way that love hurts and lust excites and anger swells and loss rips does not change over time, it's our nature. And while we might have more on our minds these days, and maybe less time to think about our feelings, our core affecting interests remain: love, loss, hope, anger, jealousy, loneliness, and nostalgia. We're still the same people we were 100 years ago; we still want the same things.

But I get it, poetry doesn't always open itself to you, and if you prefer literature that doesn't play hard to get, I get it. Sometimes poets can talk in tongues and get off on playing with sounds rhythms which can keep their readers from being able to comprehend them. It can be a turn off. So, to encourage non-poets to fall in love with poetry, I've put together a list of quotes pulled from poems written in the 20th century that still ring true today.

The False Friends, Poem, Dorothy Parker
And time could heal a hurt, they said,And time could dim a vow.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, Robert Frost

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

Bluebird, Charles Bukowski
there's a bluebird in my heart thatwants to get outbut I'm too tough for him,I say, stay in there, I'm not goingto let anybody seeyou.
Hymn to Beauty, Charles Baudelaire
Whether you come from heaven or from hell, who cares, O Beauty!
I Cannot Live With You, Emily Dickinson

So we must keep apart,

You there, I here,

With just the door ajar

That oceans are,

And prayer,

And that pale sustenance,


Faces In The Fire, Lewis Carroll

Ay, changeless through the changing scene,

The ghostly whisper rings between

The dark refrain of "might have been."

Love One Another, Khalil Gibran

Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping.

He Wishes For The Cloths Of Heaven, W.B. Yeats

I have spread my dreams under your feet;Tread softly because you tread on my dreams

Her Voice, Oscar Wilde

One world was not enough for two Like me and you.

Sometimes With One I Love, Walt Whitman

Sometimes with one I love I fill myself with rage for fear I effuse unreturn'd love
Since Feeling Is First, E.E. Cummings
my blood approves,and kisses are a far better fatethan wisdom
The Machine, Ted Hughes
And you will never know what a battleI fought to keep the meaning of my wordsSolid with the world we were making
Alone, Edgar Allan Poe
From childhood's hour I have not beenAs others were; I have not seenAs others saw; I could not bringMy passions from a common spring.

Bright Star, Would I Were Stedfast As Thou Are, John Keats

And so live ever—or else swoon to death

The Love Sogn Of J. Alfred Prufrock, T.S. Eliot

Do I dareDisturb the universe?In a minute there is timeFor decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.
Clown In The Moon, Dylan Thomas
I think, that if I touched the earth,It would crumble;It is so sad and beautiful,So tremulously like a dream.

Letter To N.Y., Elizabeth Bishop

taking cabs in the middle of the night,driving as if to save your soul

Image: Pexels