Free Audio Books: Poetry

Some of the world's most well-known poetry is available or free, as an audio book. Such titles discussed in this article include Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven, and Homer's The Illiad and The Odyssey. Schools offering Creative Writing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Edgar Allen Poe The Raven

Audio Poetry Books for Free

Poetry is often intended to be performed aloud rather than read on the page. When spoken aloud, the musical qualities of the words can better be heard. Fortunately, many classic works of poetry are available as free audio books.

The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe

This American poem, published in 1845, portrays a man slowly losing his mind as he laments his lost love, Lenore. The man is perpetually interrupted by the rapping at his door of the titular raven. The man asks questions of the bird and is surprised to hear it talk. Though the raven speaks to the man, it only says one word, 'Nevermore.'

The Iliad and The Odyssey by Homer

Homer's two epic poems from ancient Greece are among the earliest known works of Western literature. The Iliad is set during the Trojan War while The Odyssey covers a period after the war, during Odysseus' long and circuitous journey home. Both works of poetry were originally part of an oral tradition, making them highly suitable for the audio book format.

Beowulf

Beowulf is an Anglo-Saxon epic poem written in Old English. It describes Beowulf, a great hero, as he battles the monster Grendel. Prior to Beowulf's arrival, Grendel had been terrorizing the people ruled by Hrothgar. After defeating Grendel, Beowulf pursues Grendel's mother to her home under a lake and kills her. Beowulf returns to his home and becomes a king, though late in life he has a final battle with a dragon.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

This poem tells the tale of Sir Gawain, one of King Arthur's Knights of the Round Table. Sir Gawain encounters a strange knight who is entirely green, including his skin and hair. The knight makes a deal with Sir Gawain, allowing himself to be struck with his axe as long as Sir Gawain will permit a return strike one year and one day later. When Gawain beheads his opponent, the knight miraculously picks up his head, puts it back on his shoulders and reminds Gawain of his promise. The poem then follows Gawain as his honor and chivalry are tested.

Canterbury Tales

The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

Written in the 1300s, The Canterbury Tales contain a series of stories that are mostly poems, though some are prose. Each tale is told by a different member of a group of pilgrims on a journey to Canterbury. Among the storytellers are a knight, a miller and a friar. Throughout the collection, Chaucer criticizes the Catholic Church and English society.

The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri

Also from the 1300s, The Divine Comedy is an epic Italian poem written in three parts: the Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso. Each section portrays Dante's journey through a different world, starting with Hell, then moving through Purgatory and finally concluding in Heaven. In Hell and Purgatory Dante is guided by Virgil, the Roman poet. In Heaven, he's led by Beatrice, an idealized woman who was a contemporary of Dante's.

Paradise Lost by John Milton

Published in 1667, John Milton's epic blank verse poem is divided into two main stories. The first concerns Satan, as he is banished from Heaven and organizes his minions in Hell. Satan forms a plan to destroy Earth and poison God's prized creation, Mankind. The poem also tells the story of Adam and Eve. They are portrayed in the Garden of Eden, tempted by and eventually succumbing to sin in defiance of God.

Other notable works of literature are available as free audio books, including many classic European novels.

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