On the Internet Writing Workshop, a woman had asked people to recommend poems she could introduce to her “philistine” friend. Here were my suggestions:
You could do worse than introduce your philistine to Robert Frost—Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening and Mending Wall are two of my favorites. Longer but worth a look is Death of the Hired Hand, while Nothing Gold Can Stay is short and sweet.
A few other random favorites, all available on www.bartleby.com:
—Ozymandias of Egypt by Percy Bysshe Shelley
—Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold
—On a Favourite Cat, Drowned in a Tub of Gold Fishes by Thomas Gray is a bit literary, but has a clever punch line you’re sure to recognize.
—A Penitential Week by Carolyn Wells isn’t world-class poetry, but it’s clever and funny.
Now a suggestion on delivery: Don’t just hand your friend the poems and send him off to read them by himself. Sit down with him, in front of a blazing fireplace if you can manage that, and take turns reading aloud to each other.