This is by no means a definitive top ten list of personal favourites, but instead a recollection of some poems that are currently on my mind. I have only come to poetry late in my life and I find reading it a natural progression from reading some literary fiction and Eastern philosophy. Out of respect for the poets and their craft, I have chosen not to reproduce the poems listed here as some of them are not readily available online. Many are, so happy hunting!

  1. Ceasefire (Michael Longley): I love this poems reference to the Iliad which is in my opinion one of the greatest stories ever told. How many of us heard the basic version of the tale when we were kids? This story is about much more than the Wooden Horse. In this poem Longley focuses on moment where Troy’s elderly king, Priam, faces the heroic warrior Achilles in the hope of reclaiming the body of his beloved son Prince Hector. The final lines are extremely powerful when considered in the context of the conflict in Northern Ireland.
  2. Unlegendary Heroes (Mary O’Donnell): It is fitting that this poem comes just after ‘Ceasefire’ in the list as it deals with the ‘unlegendary’ heroes of a time gone by. Too many of our history books point towards Achilles and his ilk when the simple man is forgotten. This poem appeared in the Windharp collection of Irish poems and does the ‘ordinary’ mans memories justice.
  3. Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep (Author Unknown): The mystery surrounding this poem most definitely adds to its appeal. I love that the theme of the poem allows the reader to forgo the idea of death as finality. The grave is not a final resting place for the deceased as he has ascended to a higher plain.
  4. Requiem For The Croppies (Seamus Heaney): The Croppies were poor Irish civilians who rose against the might of the British Army. With simple farming tools in hand as weapons they bravely faced cannonball and musket fire until their inevitable demise on Vinegar Hill. They lived on the run with barley in their pockets and when the spring came, Vinegar Hill bloomed with barley in memory of these brave men and women.
  5. Of Being Woven (Rumi): It was the late, great Dr. Wayne Dyer who pointed me in the direction of the mystic poet Rumi and I recently purchased an Everyman’s library pocket poet edition of his works. This one has stuck out for me so far as Rumi argues the merits and strengths of working together as opposed to going it alone. Even ‘every prophet sought out companions.’
  6. The Statue of the Virgin at Granard Speaks (Paula Meehan): The poet singer Christy Moore got behind this poem during the recent A Poem For Ireland competition. Based on real life events, the poem tells of a forsaken fifteen year old pregnant girl hopelessly seeking help from anyone on a bitterly cold night. This is one that highlights the sometimes merciless nature of our world. Read the poem here https://apoemforireland.rte.ie/shortlist/the-statue-of-the-virgin-at-granard/
  1. If (Rudyard Kipling): I nearly forgot probably the defining poem of my life and the only one that I have displayed on my wall. This poem offers some sage advice from beginning to end and it has helped me through many struggles and disappoints in my life. This is not a poem but a method of how to live your life. I first heard this poem as a TV advertisement https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nb3Sl3pSP2w
  1. Defeat (Kahlil Gibran): Another great writer who preaches the advantages of defeat as a necessary evil. I firmly believe in the method of ‘falling upward’ or learning from my mistakes. Kahlil Gibran obviously also appreciates defeat as a time for vital introspection.I thoroughly recommend Kahlil Gibran’s Collected Works 
  1. Ozymandias (Percy Bysshe Shelley): A politician recently tweeted this on his personal account and caught my attention. What a poem to prove the pointlessness of empire-building. We are but mere specks of dust in an infinite universe and this poem powerfully highlights how time conquers all.
  2. Leisure (William Henry Davies): I took some time ‘to stand and stare’ myself one summer’s evening as I endured a long drive home. By pure chance, I stumbled upon a small public park that had a simple stone garden with this poem engraved on a standing stone at its centre. In the information rat race age, this poem rings through truer than ever.