10 Great Poems You Can Memorize Today

Shakespeare once wrote, “Brevity is the soul of wit.” Centuries later, Dorothy Parker took the bard’s immortal words and applied them to undergarments in Vogue, writing, “Brevity is the soul of lingerie.” As these two esteemed poets once pointed out, less can be more, which is why this National Poetry Month we’ve decided to collect some of our favorite short poems. Death, love, tourism — we’ve still got all the hard-hitting themes, and, we hope, a solid repertoire for you to pull from when the need for a poem arises. And if you have your own “short but great” favorite, we hope you’ll add in the comments, because isn’t poetry more fun when you get to share it with others?

A wonderfully concise takedown of Henry James, i.e. overthinking it. We recommend listening to the above clip, where Gunn discusses a piece of “literary criticism” graffitied below the poem on a New York City bus when it was included in MTA’s Poetry in Motion program.

“Jamesian,” Thom Gunn

Their relationship consisted
In discussing if it existed.