Finding that elusive poem

How do you find a poem when all you remember is the first line or the title?
We have two excellent resources you can use to track down that elusive poem: one in print, the other online.

In this post, let’s use the two volumes of the Granger’s Index:
The Columbia Granger’s Index to Poetry in Collected and Selected Works.
The Columbia Granger’s Index to Poetry in Anthologies.
You can find Granger’s in the Arts, Recreation and Literature Department in the Central Library.

Let’s use some examples to explore the Index to Collected and Selected Works: The book is divided into three sections, each arranged alphabetically:
Title and First Line Index
Author Index
Subject Index

What is the title of the poem that begins “Does the road wind uphill all the way?”
Go to the Title and First Line Index. The complete entry reads:

Does the road wind uphill all the way? Uphill. Christina Georgina Rossetti. CP- Ros-C1.

The first line is listed, followed by the title, Uphill and the author, Christina Rossetti. CP-Ros-C1 is the letter code for her collected poems.

The list of Collected and Selected Works indicates that the title is Complete Poems of Christina Rossetti, Vol. 1.

Where can I find a poem called “Sailing to Byzantium”?
The author is listed as W. B. Yeats, and the letter code CP-YeatW translates to The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats.

The Index to Poetry in Anthologies indexes last lines, as well as first lines and titles.

What poem ends with the line “They also serve who only stand and wait”?

They also serve who only stand and wait. (LL ) On His Blindness. John Milton.
On His Blindness is the title, and the author is John Milton.  About 25 anthologies are listed.

Who wrote a poem called “The Elwha River”?

The author is Gary Snyder, and only one anthology is listed: The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry. I include this example because this poem is not listed in the Index to Selected and Collected Works.

In later posts, I will explore using the subscription database, Litfinder, to find poems and finding poems by subject, using Granger’s and The Seattle Public Library catalog.
~Stan S.

One thought on “Finding that elusive poem”

  1. Thanks so much for this post! I’m an MLS student working part-time in a public library, but I hadn’t yet heard about this resource. Turns out we have 2 editions in our reference collection, but I would never have known about it if not for you folks. Yours is my favorite library blog!

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