Getting the Most out of The Columbia Granger's World of Poetry®

Granger’s offers poetry from a wide range of poets, conveniently categorized, in Advanced Search, in schools, eras, religion, nationality, and language, with searches also available by poem form. It also allows you to locate a poem by quickly answering such questions as "who wrote that poem about an albatross?" or "what poem contains that line about truth and beauty?" Here are some tips on how to use such an electronic resource to deepen your appreciation or study of poetry. These are very general tips. We realize that this database will be used by people with varied backgrounds and levels of expertise: by librarians, poets, teachers, students, researchers, poetry lovers, and those just looking for a favorite poem, as well as by beginners. We are happy to hear from all users on how to get the most out of Granger's. See below for where to send your suggestions.

Comparing Poems

Comparison is the first and essential tool in the understanding and appreciation of poetry, and a large poetry database can help you make interesting comparisons. You may go from your favorite poem to quite different poems by the same author (from Blake's "The Tyger," for instance, to his "The Lamb") or to different treatments of the same subject by different authors (from the short anonymous "Western Wind," for instance, to Percy Bysshe Shelley's "Ode to the West Wind"). Or you may consult different poems that use the same form (for instance, a sonnet by Shakespeare and a sonnet by Milton.)

You may then be led to such larger questions as how and why poets in different periods of history have treated the same topics in different ways. Or how a particular form (the fourteen lines of the sonnet, for instance) can be used to such different effects by different poets. Granger’s wonderful “Compare Poems” feature allows you to place two poems side-by-side, giving an optimal viewing opportunity for comparison.

Creating Your Own Anthology

There are a vast number of anthologies available in libraries—anthologies about politics, about travel, about vampires, about the sea—but there may not be an anthology of poems on a topic close to your heart: your own state, for instance, or a particular festival. Granger's subject headings lets you see how many poems on that topic are available immediately to be printed out, or saved to My Granger’s, and also in which anthologies other poems on the topic can be found in the library. My Granger’s is the perfect place to create such an anthology, which, if you choose, can be shared with others.

Writing Your Own Poetry

The urge to write a poem may come from anywhere, and it may certainly come from reading poems, even from reading first lines, hundreds of thousands of which are in Granger's. You may, for instance, find a first line that strikes you as interesting and then write three lines, or more, to follow them, and then see how the author of the original first line followed it.

Learning About Poems

In hundreds of cases, basic information about a particular poem's content, form, and date are available, together with guides to further reading. Thousands of poems are accompanied by a biography of the author. In this supporting material, links play an important part in establishing connections between poems throughout the history of English literature. There are thousands of such links: from biographies to poems; from commentaries to poems; from commentaries to the glossary; from the glossary to poems; and more.

Expanding Your Knowledge

There is more in Granger's than you will ever read, or ever want to read, which means that there is a wealth of poetry and commentary here that will easily help you pursue an interest in poetry. Exploring the site can be a fascinating exercise, and you may find yourself at different times in entirely new landscapes.
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