An open form of poetic output, free verse has emerged in the final decades of the 20th century and has become a popular genre. In such poems, the paces face difficulties in rhyming and rhyme schemes. This vers libre does not follow any metrical pattern or rhyme scheme, the reason that it is called free verse poetry. Yet this genre has various popular poems and popular poets. Some of the best free verse poems are as follows.
Sloe Gin by Seamus Heaney
Sloe Gin might have appeared in the book of Seamus Heaney, Death of a Naturalist, which was published in 1966. As the title of the book suggests that it is about a person loving nature, the poem also demonstrates the traits of a nature lover. The poet expresses his love for the seasons and flora and fauna but another theme that is of sloe, its production and presentation is couched in this natural presentation. In just four stanzas with each having unrhymed four lines, Heaney has successfully brought home his readers about his thematic idea of what he thinks about this sloe and the sloe giver. This striking feature of the poem has brought it to the top in our ranking of the best free verse poems. Some of the best verses of this poem are as follows.
- She fed gin to sloes.
- I smelled the disturbed / tart stillness of a brush.
- When I poured it, it had a cutting edge.
I Carry Your Heart with Me by e. e. cummings
This beautiful poem is full of punctuation errors, especially with a lack of capitalization. Yet it is one of the best free verse poems with its language, style as well as forceful free verse poetic diction. It was published in 1952. Not only in punctuation and style, but also in free verse, this poem is entirely unconventional. The speaker’s intense expression of his love that he is carrying the heart of his beloved with him through thick or think or any type of weather is seductive and heart-wrenching. The unconventionality, however, is broken when the poet cleverly inserts internal rhyme at some points to make the poem melodious. Some of the best lines from this poem are as follows.
In the Metro Station by Ezra Pound
This two-liner by Ezra Pound is one of the strangest yet best free verse poems ever published. It was written in 1913 and has set the stage for the upcoming free verse poems. It is ranked third in our ranking of the best free verse poems on account of its pithiness, precision, and imagist quality. The poem is just in two lines but tells a host of stories about the people traveling by Metro. The poem calls them apparitions, using a metaphor and them create a simile out of it, comparing them to petals. Although there is no hint of as and like used in similes, it shows this direct comparison that is metaphoric presentation.
- The apparition of these faces in the crowd:
- Petals on a wet, black bough.
Fog by Carl Sandburg
This short poem was published in 1916. It has been the best poem of its era written in free verse when it was not so common. Sandburg has presented the extended metaphor of a cat to show how fog comes and goes and acts like a cat in the city. This is also a personification. This dual usage of literary devices has made it the best poem, the reason that it is ranked fourth in our ranking of the best free verse poems. Also, its two stanzas and six free verse lines break unconventionality – a hallmark of conventional poetry. Some of its best verses are as follows.
- The fog comes / on little cat feet.
- It sits looking /over harbor and city.
- On silent haunches / and then moves on.
Siren Song by Margaret Atwood
This poem by Margaret Atwood, a famous Canadian poet and author, is a beautiful free verse poem. It was published in 1974 as part of her collection. The poem has a total of nine stanzas with three verses each. It presents a Greek mythical figure of the Siren, a half-bird, and half-woman creature, singing songs for the sailors to lead them to death. The feminine theme of seduction and vanity are at the center of the poem. However, the poet does not want to exercise these feminine powers and intends to be unique amongst the people. The use of internal rhyme marks the poetic diction. The best verses of this poem are as follows.
1. There is the one song everyone / would like to learn.
2. the song nobody knows / because anyone who has heard it / is dead,
3. the song that forces men / to leap overboard in squadrons.
4. Alas / it is a boring song.
Risk by Anaïs Nin
This short poem by Anais Nin is one of the best and known for its pithiness, theme, and comparative presentation of the risk of blossoming and staying tight in the bud. This garden metaphor is perfectly applicable to the mysterious phenomenon of the creation of a tight bud. It shows that even a bud is a risk when it blossoms or decides not to blossom. This oblique effort of personifying a vegetation phenomenon to present creation is unique, the reason that the poem has been put at the top in the ranking. Some of the best verses of this poem are given below.
1. And then the dame came.
2. To remain tight / in a bid / was more painful
3. Than the risk / it took / to blossom.
Tulips by Sylvia Plath
This poem was written in 1965. It is taken from the collection of Sylvia Plath. The poem describes the time when the speaker is in a hospital for her surgery in which she ruminates on different organs of her body, presenting that even tulips are excited at it. It has nine stanzas with each having seven free verses, the poet presents her personal experience of staying in the hospital. The desire to live and die is the major conflict of the poem that Plath has resolved using somatic metaphors and similes. The metaphor of tulips runs throughout the poem symbolizing life. Some of the best verses of the poem are as follows.
- i am learning peacefulness, lying by myself quietly.
- My body is a pebble to them, they tend it as water.
- How free it is, you have no idea how free / The peacefulness is so big it dazes you.
- The tulips turn to me, and the window behind me
The Snow Man by Wallace Stevens
The following poem was written in 1921 but was published in Harmonium in 1923. It became one of his most popular poems of Stevens. The reason is the tone and objectivity that the poet touts very much. He states that the observers should be cold and detached when looking at the scenes of winter. However, this resistance to not associating one’s personal feelings with the seasons mingles with the nothingness of the situation. The use of nature and metaphors has made this poem a beautiful poetic output. Some of the best verses of this poem are as follows.
- One must have a minder of winter.
- To behold the junipers shagged with ice.
- The spruces of rough in the distant glitter.
- Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.
Still I Rise by Maya Angelou
This free verse poem is one of the best poems by Maya Angelou, published in 1978. Also, its thematic strand, its use of literary devices such as anaphora, metaphor, and first-person narrator add further to the forcefulness and beauty of the poem, its thematic strand is very strong. This theme of femininity and its power with the directness of the poem attracts its readers. Some of the best verses of this poem are as follows.
You may write me down in history.
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my haughtiness offend you?
You may kill me with your hatefulness.
Autumn by T. E. Hulme
Although the poem has won the status of the first modern poem in the English Literary world, it is one of the best of Hulme on account of its first-person experiment, narrative technique, and free verse. The personification of the Autumn, moon, and stars creates a beauty that lasts long in the minds of the readers. The use of the final simile shows as the best free verse poems. Some of the best verses of the poem are as follows.
- A touch of cold in at Autumn night.
- I did not stop to speak, but nodded.
- With white faces like town children.