This guide is designed for anyone who is looking for poems or their sources. Both print-based and Web-based sources are included.
Poetry is very difficult to find on the web, unless it’s old enough to be out of copyright; print sources may be your best bet if you’re looking for a specific poem which is fairly recent. The following sites will have at least a representative sample of the works of poets, generally up until the late 19th – early 20th centuries:
This section of the Bartleby.com site includes the online text of several public-domain poetry anthologies and collections, including The Oxford Book of English Verse, Modern American Poetry , Lyrics & Poems of the 17th C. , and many others. There is a search engine for searching all of Bartleby.com’s texts, and you can also narrow it down to just the Verse section.
An Index of Poets in Representative Poetry Online
This is the author index to a site run out of the University of Toronto; it can also be searched by title, date, and keyword. The emphasis is on British poetry, but it is quite comprehensive within that framework; in addition, each poet on this site has at least two or three poems listed.
Locating poems which have appeared in Dear Abby or Ann Landers is especially tricky. There is no compilation of Dear Abby columns, but she does have a site
which allows you to post a question for others to review; it is possible that other people who access this site may know of the poem for which you are looking.
Ann Landers has a site
which has an archive of columns and an “Ask Ann Landers” feature by which you can write to her.
There is also a compilation of Ann Landers columns available; in hardback, it’s called Wake Up and Smell the Coffee (New York: Villard, 1996); in paperback, it’s called The Best of Ann Landers (New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1997).
In addition, a web search for “Ann Landers” and “poems” or “Dear Abby” and “poems” (for more on web searching, see below) will find some sites which have poems from these columns; one of them may be the one you’re looking for.
If you’re looking for a specific poem on the web, you may be able to track down a site which features it. Using a search engine such as AltaVista (http://www.altavista.com/), search on the title of the poem as a phrase:
+”the charge of the light brigade”
or the first line, as a phrase but without punctuation:
+”half a league half a league half a league onward”
or any combination of bits of these, with the poet:
+charge +league +tennyson
Some university libraries have put poetry online, as have some university English departments; searches such as those shown above will find these, if they’re out there.
These are a few reference sources which may help you locate the poem for which you’re looking. These will probably be found in your local public library:
Columbia Granger’s Index to Poetry
10th edition: Columbia University Press, 1994.
This is an index to poetry which has been published in anthologies (which most well-known poems are). You can look up a poem by title, author, first line, or last line; each entry will then tell you in which anthology it can be found.
If you want to know what poem a particular quotation came from:
Columbia Granger’s Dictionary of Poetry
Columbia University Press, 1992.
This is organized alphabetically by poet; it lists frequently quoted sections of poems, along with the title of the poem and the anthology in which it can be found. If you don’t know the poet, it also has a title index and a keyword index; the latter is particularly useful if you’re looking for a quote, and you don’t know much about it except that it contained a certain word.
For information on schools of poetry, criticism of poetry, and poetic terms:
The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics
Princeton University Press, 1993.
This is arranged in alphabetical order by topic; the topics cover schools of poetry (for example, the Romantics), poetic terms (for example, sonnet), and the like. The entries are detailed but not too long, and each one has a bibliography.
A good, thorough anthology of poetry:
Norton Anthology of Poetry
3rd edition: Norton,1983.
A selection of poetry through time, ranging from anonymous ballads to modern works.
If you want to find more books like this, or books of and about poetry in general, they can be found under the 800’s in a public library, and the Library of Congress call numbers starting with PN in most university libraries. Normally, call numbers need to be more specific than this, but poetry is scattered throughout this range: anthologies of poetry, works by only one poet, and poetry in different languages all have different call numbers. If you wish to look up similar titles in either a card catalog or an on-line library catalog, the official Library of Congress Subject Headings under which they can be found are:
Poetry—[name of country] for example: Poetry—United States
This pathfinder created by Deb DeGeorge