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Friday, December 14, 2007

Poetry Friday- Famous Opening Lines


Just for fun, here are 10 of the most recognized opening lines in poetry. Without Googling, how many of the poets can you identify? I'm asking that readers, even those of you that know all 10, just pick one each to identify in the comments.

1. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways

2. In Xanadu did Kubla Khan

3. O, my luve is like a red, red rose

4. 'Twas brillig and the slithy toves

5. Whose woods these are I think I know

6. Do not go gentle into that good night

7. Because I could not stop for death

8. anyone lived in a pretty how town

9. The Northern Lights have seen queer sights

10. I saw the best minds of my generations, destroyed by madness

Easy? Any more notable openers you can think of?

25 comments:

Remi said...

The CanCon Classics Edition

1. If this brain's overtempered

2. It was taken some time ago

3. Marita

4. Alligator Pie, Alligator Pie,

(I could not resist the last one)

Remi said...

As for the 10, I managed 6.

John Mutford said...

Remi: I only recognized the last one (Dennis Lee). But seeing as we're doing Canadian first lines;

1. "In Flanders fields the poppies blow"

2. "It took the sea a thousand years"

3. "You fit into me"

GeraniumCat said...

Rats! had to Google the last one - and then kick myself.

I think my favourite first line is: Busie olde foole, unruly sunne

John Mutford said...

Remi: After searching, I'm more than a little ashamed I'd not gotten #3. Oh and feel free to pick one of the six you know, and expose who it was.

GeraniumCat: No worries, I had to Google yours too. And all but one of Remi's. And as I told Remi above, feel free to tell the readers one of the nine that you recognized.

Tricia (Miss Rumphius) said...

Since I've been experimenting with villanelle's, number 6 was a snap. I knew 7 of the 10. I had to Google the ones I didn't know.

And in these days of war, I'd be surprised if folks don't know about McCrae's poem. It is achingly beautiful.

Thanks for the quiz! It's always a treat to exercise those trivia muscles!

Remi said...

Number 10 was easy. Ginsberg's Howl is still one of my all-time favourites.

Kelly Fineman said...

I knew 8 without hesitation. Nice picks, all.

I loved seeing Dickinson in there with Because I could not stop for Death, which is right up there with her I heard a fly buzz when I died for memorable Dickinson death poems.

Here's another for the list:

"Afoot and light-hearted, I take to the open road"

TadMack said...

Aaargh! Robert Service! That was THE thing to memorize for some reason with one of my teachers. Eeek, what memories.

Imani said...

I'll just take the first one: Elizabeth Barret-Browning.

I only got 7 as well. More famous opening lines...

1. "The road goes ever on and on"

2. "Little Lamb who made thee"

3. "She walks in beauty like the night"

4. "'Just the place for a Snark!' the Bellman cried"

5. "If we must die, let it not be like hogs"

6. "The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees"

7. "Between plunging valleys, in a bareback of hill"

8. "The woods decay, the woods decay and fall"

9. "It little profits that an idle king"

10. "Do you remember an inn, Miranda?"

I betray my Anglo bias. :) It's what I was raised on.

Corey Redekop said...

"There once was a man from Nantucket,"

John Mutford said...

Tricia: I think the McCrae poem is one of those that loads of people recognize but few people pay attention to the author.

Remi: A classic, for sure.

Kelly: I knew I'd read that line before, but I had to look it up.

Tadmack: I don't remember ever having to memorize a poem for school. Maybe parts of "'Twas the night before Christmas".

Imani: I suck at this. I only recognized about half your lines, and knew none of the poets behind them.

Corey: (And I said with a grin) I almost included that one myself. Good luck correctly crediting that one!

~quoting beth said...

I loved your list. How about the following on that easy list?

"Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,"

Imani ~ I loved your list as well.

John Mutford said...

~quoting beth: Finally, one I know! POE.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Oh sure, make me think just before the weekend!

I only knew 6 of them.

As for notable openers, they only one I could think of, which hasn't already been named:

Here I sit, brokenhearted

What? Bathroom wall poetry is valid, innit?

raidergirl3 said...

Aren't we supposed to say?
#3. Robert Burns

Mabel Murple's house was purple...

John Mutford said...

Barbara: Perhaps you and Corey can make an anthology of low-brow poetry ;)

Raidergirl: That was my intention, but what the hey. Yes, Robbie Burns.

So was Mabel's hair...Sheree Fitch. I met her once.

Carrie K said...

#6 - Dylan Thomas. Love that poem.

I read 'Robert Service' in the comments and thought "wha'?" Oh, so bad. Clearly not paying attn. Sam McGee! How could I have missed the first line?

Ummm "Had we but world enough, and time/"

Imani said...

Since not many are rushing to name your lines, John, I'll take two more: #2 is Colerdige, #4 is Lewis Carroll.

You don't know the poets behind my #3 and #6 at least? For shame. ;) Your #10 is nagging me though. I think I know who it is...

Thanks, Beth. And Carrie your line is Andrew Marvell.

Rob Hardy said...

Okay, I'm a genius. I knew all of the poets, but not necessarily the names of the poems. Except I know #10 better as a line from the great They Might Be Giants song, "I Should Be Allowed to Think"

John Mutford said...

Carrie: I'm not a big Dylan Thomas fan, but I do like that one.

Imani: Remi answered #10 above. And you're right, I should have gotten #6. I even have the Loreena McKennitt song.

Rob: I didn't know that song. Thanks.

Mary Lee said...

I hate it when I'm late to the party! Great conversation! I knew about half of the poets/poems.

Here's one of my favorite firsts:

Life has loveliness to sell

John Mutford said...

Mary Lee: Not to worry, there's still some punch left ;)

You've stumped me with that one.

And we still have a few of mine left to identify, not to mention almost all of those left in the comments.

Allison said...

I knew 6, or 7, I can't remember. Its a Saturday, I am not made to think today.

Good list though. I have always been a fan of number 8.

Imani said...

OK, of the ones I know that haven't been identified yet:#5 is Robert Frost. And I was waaay off with my #10 guess.