Free poems and poetry criticism this National Poetry Month

Title page of the first edition of John Milton’s “Paradise lost” from 1668.

Title page of the first edition of John Milton’s “Paradise lost” from 1668.

Questia honors National Poetry Month with free online access to popular poems from the Renaissance to today

While students focus on poetry this National Poetry Month, we at Questia are helping them access free poems and poetry criticism. We’ve released a list of our library’s top ten most researched poems from the Renaissance through today, and made reference works on each of them free for all of April.

  1. Paradise Lost by John Milton: Paradise Lost details one of the most famous stories in history: Adam and Eve’s banishment from the Garden of Eden, and the fall of mankind through Satan’s temptations. [Miner, Earl and William Moeck and Steven Jablonski. Paradise Lost, 1668-1968: Three Centuries of Commentary. Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press, 2004.]
  2. The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot: In this complex poem, Eliot discusses the moral decay of European society after World War I. Several themes and topics are discussed in The Waste Land including war, death, cynicism, religion, history, and politics. [Bloom, Harold. T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land. New York: Chelsea House, 1986.]
  3. The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser: The Faerie Queene is an allegorical poem written in Spenserian stanza that accounts the journeys of several knights in Medieval Times. [Parker, M. Pauline. The Allegory of the Faerie Queene. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1960.]
  4. The Rape of the Lock by Alexander Pope: In The Rape of the Lock, Pope uses satiric language and a mock-heroic tone to convey the vanities found within 18th-century British society. Essentially, the poem explores “how the mighty have fallen,” through the cutting of a lock of hair. [Pope, Alexander and Thomas Marc Parrott. The Rape of the Lock and Other Poems. Boston: Ginn, 1906.]
  5. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge: The poem recounts the epic seaward voyage of a Mariner and his crew, and the dangers they faced along the way. [Gibbs, Lincoln R. A. M. Selections from Coleridge: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Christabel, and Kubla Khan. Boston: Ginn and Co., 1916.]
  6. The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost: The Road Not Taken is a narrative poem written in iambic pentameter. The poem is a metaphor for the difficult life decisions everyone must face, and which path they choose to take. [Juten, Nancy Lewis and John Zubizarreta. The Robert Frost Encyclopedia. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2001.]
  7. Lady Lazarus by Sylvia Plath: Lady Lazarus is a Holocaust poem about oppression and death during World War II in Nazi Germany. [Annas, Pamela J. A Disturbance in Mirrors: The Poetry of Sylvia Plath. New York: Greenwood Press, 1988.]
  8. The Prelude by William Wordsworth: The Prelude is an autobiographical poem highlighting Wordsworth’s own poetic development throughout his life. [Potts, Abbie Findlay. Wordsworth's Prelude: A Study of Its Literary Form. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1953.]
  9. The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe: Perhaps one of Poe’s most famous works, The Raven, tells the story of a raven that visits a mourning soul who just lost the love of his life. However, the more the man divulges to the raven, the quicker he descends into madness until ultimately his existence becomes “nevermore.” [Kennedy, J. Gerald. A Historical Guide to Edgar Allan Poe. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.]
  10. Because I Could Not Stop for Death by Emily Dickinson: The poem is about the narrator’s carriage ride to the afterlife with Death, personified as a gentleman caller. [Ford, Thomas W. Heaven Beguiles the Tired: Death in the Poetry of Emily Dickinson. University, AL: University of Alabama Press, 1966.]

Visit our topic page on poetry for further quality research on poems and poets.

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