These aren’t my favourite poems in the sense of being the top ten or anything, but they’re among the poems I either know by heart or love to pieces or tell people to read.
Seamus Heaney, Limbo. So harrowing, and so dense.
A.A. Milne, Disobedience. I make all my students learn it – particularly effective if spoken in a group.
John Donne, The Sunne Rising. Nothing else is.
William Shakespeare, Sonnet 129: Th’expense of spirit in a waste of shame. May be delivered subversively, as a party piece. Done so famously by Ralph Fiennes on the When Love Speaks album (available on iTunes).
Gerard Manley Hopkins, No worst, there is none. Because the mind, mind has mountains.
Robert Graves, Love Without Hope.
John Keats, On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer. This poem got me my job.
Adam Thorpe, Fossil. Not available online, but I was there when it came into being, and it is also dedicated to me.
All kinds of great and lofty works of poetry are trying to muscle their way in to spot number 10, so I’ll deliberately give it to something light and charming:
Vikram Seth, Round and Round.