I've never been much of a fan of poetry but I am quite partial to Edgar Allen Poe's Raven and H.P. Lovecraft's poem before Call of Cthulhu.

That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons even death may die.

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All of Blake requires contextualization, but not all of Blake is equally impenetrable. Poems like the Songs of Innocence and of Experience, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, and many of the notebook poems, for instance, are reasonably self-contained, whereas Blake's prophetic books are saturated with his private mythology which requires the assistance of several decades of scholars to decipher it. Nevertheless, I found many passages intuitively made sense to me though they would be totally perplexing to the average person. However, I am also conscious of the tendency to read one's own interpretation into the author's range of possible intentions. Blake's thought also has an objectionable dimension to it, but it is a tribute to Blake's genius, that in spite of his anti-Enlightenment stance, he appeals to so many atheists.
I think a lot of it has to do with how the reader's brain is wired -- how a person thinks, perceives reality, and how they interpret information. I'm fairly intelligent, but for example, I cannot play games such as board games, games of strategy, or problem-solving games (I could never do rubick's cube back in the 80s). I also can't easily decipher how objects work if they are too complex or mechanical, while some ppl have a knack for it. Yet, I can read Shakespeare's sonnets and almost always clearly understand what he is trying to say, while others struggle with it.

I can understand some of Blake, but I tend to grow impatient with him to some extent. However, I have not abandoned all interest in or exploration of his work.

Thanks for your insightful comments, Ralph.
Some of my favorite poems are written by Bill Holm: Old Family Pictures and many more.
I love poetry, and I even used to think I could write it. But college classes taught me that the e e cummings take-offs didn't cut it. My all-time favorite poem is _The Wasteland_ by T. S. Eliot. I also love Shakespeare.
There are a few poems with a nice atheistic angle to them. I'll share a few.

First, we have "And the sins of the fathers shall be..." by Stephen Crane:

"And the sins of the fathers shall be
visited upon the heads of the children,
even unto the third and fourth
generation of them that hate me."

Well, then I hate thee, unrighteous picture;
Wicked image, I hate thee;
So, strike with thy vengeance
The heads of those little men
Who come blindly.
It will be a brave thing.
Many of you might really enjoy The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.

Some excerpts:

What! out of senseless Nothing to provoke
A conscious Something to resent the yoke
Of unpermitted Pleasure, under pain
Of Everlasting Penalties, if broke!


The Revelations of Devout and Learn’d
Who rose before us, and as Prophets burned,
Are all but Stories, but awoke from Sleep
They told their comrades, and to Sleep return’d.
My favorite poem on the subject of death is Edna St. Vincent Millay's 'Dirge Without Music':


I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely.
Crowned with lilies and with laurel they go: but I am not resigned.

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains - but the best is lost.

The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,-
They are gone. They are gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.
Nice. I've read a bit of EsVM, but not run across that one. Very nice.
I just read this again, and I like it even more. Thanks!
There are a few poets I really like but the one that resonates the most with me it is a poem in A.E Housmans "A Shropshire Lad." I don't think anyone has ever managed to put mortality quite so beautifully. Also my favourite author Roger Zelazny who was more of a poet than a writer, wrote a beautiful short story called "For a breath I tarry." Lovely stuff.


"FROM far, from eve and morning
And yon twelve-winded sky,
The stuff of life to knit me
Blew hither: here am I.

Now—for a breath I tarry
Nor yet disperse apart—
Take my hand quick and tell me,
What have you in your heart.

Speak now, and I will answer;
How shall I help you, say;
Ere to the wind’s twelve quarters
I take my endless way"
This is nice as well. I'll have to look into Housmans. Not familiar with him at all.
My favourite poets are Shakespeare, Gerarard Manley Hopkins, John Clare and Wilfred Owen, but my favourite poem is probably 'The Lotus Eaters' by Tennyson - rest and relaxation after strife and struggle!

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