Saturday, 7 January 2006

Essential poets for theologians

“Poetry is nearer to vital truth than history.” —Plato
“Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.” —Percy Bysshe Shelley

This week I posted Kim Fabricius’ list of essential novels. Now Kim and I have collaborated to produce a list of 20 essential poets for theologians. We have limited the list to poets writing in English, so some of the great poets—Homer, Virgil, Dante, Pushkin, Goethe, Neruda, to name a few—are not included here.

Here’s our list, and we’d welcome your own suggestions as well:

1. Chaucer (c.1343-1400)
2. Edmund Spenser (c.1552-99)
3. Shakespeare (1564-1616)
4. John Donne (1572-1631)
5. George Herbert (1593-1633)
6. John Milton (1608-74)
7. Thomas Traherne (1637-74)
8. William Blake (1757-1827)
9. William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
10. Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)
11. Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-92)
12. Walt Whitman (1819-92)
13. Emily Dickinson (1830-86)
14. Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-89)
15. T. S. Eliot (1888-1965)
16. W. H. Auden (1907-73)
17. R. S. Thomas (1913-2000)
18. Elizabeth Jennings (1926-2001)
19. Bob Dylan (1941- )
20. Kevin Hart (1954- )

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