Norton Anthology Collection

Special Collection

The Norton Anthology of Poetry has been in existence for almost fifty years, and during that time the way its audience experiences poetry has changed dramatically. Readers now expect to use their ears as much as their eyes when they encounter poetry; hearing poems read out loud deepens both readers’ enjoyment and their understanding.  
For the new, sixth edition of the anthology, Norton has teamed up with The Poetry Archive, this popular UK-based website dedicated to recording poets reading their own work. Together, they have gathered existing Archive recordings of selections that appear in the anthology, and added new recordings of older poems, to create a rich acoustic line-up of poems from across the anthology.  
The result does more than simply confirm the anthology’s reputation as an invaluable teaching tool for instructors, and a book that students want to keep long after their courses end. Listening to the poems being read adds a fascinating human element to the experience, prompting questions such as What do the poets sound like? What are their accents? How quickly or slowly do they read? What do their pauses signify? At the same time, dipping into this gathering of recordings confirms by means of new technology an ancient truth: that we understand and appreciate poetry as much by paying attention to sounds as we do by comprehending sense. This is what Robert Frost meant when he said, "The ear does it. The ear is the only true writer and the only true reader."

- Sir Andrew Motion, Poetry Archive Co-Founder.

The Poetry Archive website contains recordings of over 150 poems that appear in The Norton Anthology of Poetry. A sampling of those poems is provided below. To explore the full list, click here

Further information on The Norton Anthology of Poetry, including a full table of contents and ordering information, is available here

The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd

Walter Raleigh

If all the world and love were young,

And truth in every Shepherd’s tongue,

These pretty pleasures might me move,

To live with thee, and be thy love.

Book 1, Canto 1 of The Faerie Queen

Edmund Spenser

A Gentle Knight was pricking on the plaine,

Y cladd in mightie armes and silver shielde,

Wherein old dints of deepe wounds did remaine,

The cruell markes of many a bloudy fielde;

The Passionate Shepherd to His Love

Christopher Marlowe

Come live with me and be my love,

And we will all the pleasures prove,

That Valleys, groves, hills, and fields,

Woods, or steepy mountain yields.

A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning

John Donne

As virtuous men pass mildly away,

And whisper to their souls to go,

Whilst some of their sad friends do say

The breath goes now, and some say, No:

The Author to Her Book

Anne Bradstreet

Thou ill-formed offspring of my feeble brain,

Who after birth didst by my side remain,

Till snatched from thence by friends, less wise than true,

Who thee abroad, exposed to public view,

To His Coy Mistress

Andrew Marvell

Had we but world enough and time,

This coyness, lady, were no crime.

We would sit down, and think which way

To walk, and pass our long love’s day.

On being brought from Africa to America

Phyllis Wheatley

'Twas mercy brought me from my Pagan land,

Taught my benighted soul to understand

That there's a God, that there's a Saviour too:

Once I redemption neither sought nor knew.

The Lamb

William Blake

Little Lamb who made thee

Dost thou know who made thee

Gave thee life & bid thee feed.

By the stream & o'er the mead;

Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, On Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour. July 13, 1798

William Wordsworth

Five years have past; five summers, with the length

Of five long winters! and again I hear

These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs

With a soft inland murmur.—Once again

The Raven  

Edgar Allan Poe

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

Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,

Song of Myself

Walt Whitman

I celebrate myself, and sing myself,

And what I assume you shall assume,

For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

I never lost as much as twice

Emily Dickinson

I never lost as much but twice

And that was in the sod

Twice have I stood a beggar

Before the door of God!

Pied Beauty

Gerard Manley Hopkins

Glory be to God for dappled things —

For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow; For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;

Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;


Paul Laurence Dunbar

I know what the caged bird feels, alas!

When the sun is bright on the upland slopes;

When the wind stirs soft through the springing grass,

And the river flows like a stream of glass;