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Looking for some poems...
Posted by: KittyPryde (
Date: July 02, 2004 12:16PM

I have sort of an odd poetry request. I've been looking around this board, and everyone knowledgable... I was hoping I could at least get pointed in the right direction.

I need to find a poem to for a reading. The only requirement is it has to be at least 7 minutes long. A group of listeners is going to hear me present the poem once, and then I will be rated on the quality of my reading. Obviously, my skills are large part of this, but I think selection of good poem will also help me greatly.

I don't have a set subject matter at all. The main point here is it needs to be something that has some emotional weight- something the listners will connect with and remember. I orignally planed to do a poem on immigration, but I haven't been able to find any that I like.

The other thing is that it also has to be accesible to my listners. I want them to hear it and understand it, and we were told to assume the listners had never read poetry before. If they got lost in too many metahpors and devices, I will lose their attention. I suppose a narrative poem is kind of what I need- something with a story. At the same time, I want it to be well written. I've found poems that fit all mt requirements, but would make me ashamed to read out loud.

Hmm.. I know that's a long list of what I'm looking for. If anyone has any ideas on poems, or at least could give me an idea of where to start looking, I would greatly appreciate it.

Re: Looking for some poems...
Posted by: lg (
Date: July 02, 2004 12:26PM

Kitty, believe it or not, a poem which takes 7 minutes to read is a rather long poem. My suggestion would be to read several poems by names you know from our classic poets list on this page. Read Longfellow and Whitman, whose poetry is comprehensible at first read. For a specific suggestion I like
this one by Longfellow:

The Day is Done
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Re: Looking for some poems...
Posted by: Talia (
Date: July 02, 2004 03:21PM

I agree with Les, if you allowed to read mor than one poem to last 7 minutes it will be more enjoyable as well. As far as your "performance", I recently had to do this for a class assignment as well and found that by listening to poets read their own work helped me alot! Check out the Acadamy of American Poets listening booth.


Re: Looking for some poems...
Posted by: Emer (
Date: July 02, 2004 04:53PM

If I were you, I'd go for "The Balad of Reading Gaol" by Oscar Wilde. It's very long - 15 pages if you print it out in font 10 on A4 paper - and it has a good fluidity. It's also a sad, rhyming story, that should keep listeners' interest. (Also one of my personal favourite poems)


Re: Looking for some poems...
Posted by: Hugh Clary (
Date: July 02, 2004 05:04PM

Without knowing which ones make you ashamed, KP, how is it possible to suggest a possible candidate?

Re: Looking for some poems...
Posted by: Johnny SansCulo (
Date: July 02, 2004 05:05PM

Yes Oscar......he seems to have always remained cheerful even tho his life was no bargain

Re: Looking for some poems...
Posted by: Marian-NYC (
Date: July 02, 2004 05:06PM

Reading Gaol will tear your heart out.

You might also look at much longer works -- book length -- and choose a section.

There are contemporary translations of BEOWULF, Pushkin's EUGENE ONEGIN, Homer's ILIAD and ODYSSEY, that are pretty readable, and you might find a seven-minute section that you'd enjoy reading. Chaucer's CANTERBURY TALES are in verse. I think the TALE OF GENJI is, too. Milton's PARADISE LOST ... Dante's INFERNO (several translations to choose among).

On a more contemporary note, Denise Levertov's book THE OLGA POEMS could be read as one long poem -- but you'd better check with Those in Authority about what they consider "a poem."


If you don't enjoy reading it, nobody will enjoy listening.

Re: Looking for some poems...
Posted by: IanB (
Date: July 02, 2004 05:29PM

‘The Pied Piper of Hamelin’ by Robert Browning, which you can find through the Classical Poets List link at the top of this page, tells a good, light-hearted story and is certainly accessible to listeners unfamiliar with poetry (provided of course you read it well!). It was supposedly written for a child. The last four lines are inferior and could be cut without loss, but the whole would surely still be at least 7 minutes.

The thread on Talia’s search for a suitable presentation piece (though she wasn't after a 7 minute one) is at


Post Edited (07-02-04 16:36)

Re: Looking for some poems...
Posted by: Talia (
Date: July 02, 2004 05:38PM

That is soooooooo true true!

Re: Looking for some poems...
Posted by: Talia (
Date: July 02, 2004 05:40PM

Also, Edna St. Vincent Millay's Renasence (sp?) is long and interesting....she also has a few other longer poems that are similar, like "Suicide" (I think).

Re: Looking for some poems...
Posted by: DonC (
Date: July 02, 2004 09:28PM

I think "Horatius at the Bridge" should last seven minutes and is a heroic narrative.

Re: Looking for some poems...
Posted by: KittyPryde (
Date: July 03, 2004 12:19PM

Thanks for all your suggestions... I will defintely check them out. I love Wilde's "The Ballad of Reading Gaol"... I completely forgot about it.

Re: Looking for some poems...
Posted by: joseph r. torelli (
Date: July 03, 2004 12:48PM

While I've never timed a reading of it, Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" has some length and is an entertaining read...and listen. A fellow I served with in the Air Force was particularly good at reciting it, and his "performances" were always well received. And that's saying something since he usually recited in front of a bunch of other GIs!


Re: Looking for some poems...
Posted by: Melissa Morris (
Date: July 26, 2004 03:53PM

If you're still looking for that poem, consider Poe's "The Raven." It's very accesible for audiences. I would think you could really showcase your dramatic ability with this poem. I don't know if it would take seven minutes to recite, however.

Let us know what you choose, and how it went!

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