Throughout your entire life—especially when you’re in college—you encounter many varying personalities, and a lot of these very different characters grow to be your closest friends. Though they may not all be writers, they can each be personified as a famous poet from history. How many of these poets are accurate representations of your friends?
The Hopeless Romantic
Francesco Petrarca (1304-1374)
This Italian poet wrote during the Renaissance, and it was just his luck that he fell in love with a married woman known as “Laura.” Nearly all of his poetry after 1327 is absolutely fixated on this woman, describing unrequited love and agonizing longing in the form of sonnets: a form of poetry focused on love. He even pioneered a particular type of sonnet, appropriately named the Petrarchan sonnet. We all have that friend who lusts after that one unattainable guy or gal; the majority of their conversations with us are about this love interest. It can get annoying at times, but the unconditional love they have is truly inspiring and breathtaking. Hopefully, though, they make better fashion choices than Petrarca…
Read: “Sonnet 227”
The Nature Enthusiast
William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
Wordsworth was a key player in the English Romantic movement, and many of his poems focused on the benefits of nature. For him, being “at one” with nature was the only way to live a moral, healthy life; in many of his works, Wordsworth even bashes urban living. Your “tree hugger” friend may be equally as protective of the environment, which can be frustrating when you want to tour your favorite city, drive a souped-up truck, or drink water from a disposable bottle, but they will always be there for you when you want to unwind and enjoy the beauty of nature—or when you need help sorting your recyclables. They love the simplicity of the Earth, which makes them great, drama-free friends to chat with.
Read: “The World is Too Much with Us”
The Inspiring Survivor
Maya Angelou (1928-2014)
The late great American author Maya Angelou gained most of her fame due to her compelling autobiographies. However, her poetry is also powerful, with common themes of overcoming oppression and the struggles of African Americans including herself. Angelou was a true survivor, surmounting all obstacles that came her way. We all have one of these friends: the person whose life was incredibly difficult, yet refuses to buckle under the pressure. You often find yourself telling your problems to them, only to be met with wise words of inspiration. There are many lessons to learn from this person, and they are not afraid to tell you how it is, even if the truth can be a little difficult to handle. Much like Angelou, this friend is always there to show you encouragement in the face of adversity.
Read: “Still I Rise”
The Dark One
Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)
It’s no secret that Poe was a little… macabre. Orphaned by the time he could walk, Poe spent most of his life living in financial hardship, especially since he attempted to make a living solely through writing. This translated into his Gothic/Dark Romantic works, which many times focused on mystery, death, and mourning. Though they may not be as fixated as Poe was, there is likely a friend in your group who enjoys dark humor much more than most, and who laughs during the scariest of horror movies. Their Halloween costumes are often a bit too good, and sometimes you wonder if there is something else going on with them. Even if their tastes are not nearly as morbid as Poe’s, they can be a little disturbing; however, hanging out with them can always lead to adventure.
Read: “The Raven”
The Best Friend
William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
Good ole Shakespeare! Arguably the most renowned English writer of all time, Shakespeare, like Petrarch, has a form of sonnet named after him. He wrote many of his poems on various themes, such as romance, platonic love, and eternity. In addition to his poetry, Shakespeare was a prolific playwright, crafting histories, tragedies and comedies. His work is overall very well-rounded, kind of like your best friend: they can make you cry, laugh, think, and learn. They will always be there for you, never failing to give you exactly what you need. And, of course, they’re just wicked awesome.
Read: “All the World’s A Stage”