February 24, 2010

Most Overused Poems in Literature

First of all, let me make it clear that I'm not against stealing good lines from poetry or verse and reusing them in literature as titles, especially if this is done meaningfully (e.g. The Sound and the Fury or Pale Fire). However, certain poems have been so overused it seems kind of lazy to go back to them and dredge up another line; there's no shortage of decent poetry. Constantly going back to the same works basically proves that the writer didn't read Byron or Coleridge extensively, but was probably just assigned one or two of their famous works in an introductory English Lit. class as an undergrad, and clung to them ever since.

Anyway, here is my list of most overused poems, it's mostly off the top of my head, done with little research, and limited to 10, so I'm bound to miss a few, you can add them in the comments if you like.
  1. All of Shakespeare
  2. To His Coy Mistress - Andrew Marvell
  3. Meditation XVII - John Donne
  4. The Tyger - William Blake
  5. She Walks in Beauty - Lord Byron
  6. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner - Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  7. Jabberwocky - Lewis Carroll
  8. The Second Coming - William Butler Yeats
  9. The Waste Land - T.S. Eliot
  10. Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night - Dylan Thomas
(I focused on direct quotes rather than allusions, hence the lack of texts like The Odyssey and The Divine Comedy.)

1 comment:

  1. Don't forget "The Road Less Travelled" by Robert Frost.