National Poetry Month may be drawing to a close, but chances are, you’ve been enjoying poetry without even knowing it.

While you may not have actually cracked open a book of poems (and why not try it right now—there’s still time!), you’ve probably been listening to poetry set to popular music, a custom that’s been handed down since the days of traditional folk music.

Take these five pieces. Are they poems or lyrics to songs? Can you tell? The answers are below…


1) Through the mad mystic hammering of the wild ripping hail,

the sky cracked its poems in naked wonder…


2) “Why do I love you, Sir?

Because—the wind does not require the grass to answer…”


3) Who knows how long I’ve loved you? You know I love you still.

Will I wait a lonely lifetime? If you want me to, I will.


4) Oh, I’ll twine with my mingles

and waving black hair

with the roses so red

and the lilies so fair


5) My lady can sleep

upon a handkerchief

or if it be Fall

upon a fallen leaf

No peeking at the answers!

No peeking at the answers!


1) Song. “Chimes of Freedom” by Bob Dylan.

2) Poem. “Why Do I Love” You, Sir by Emily Dickenson

3) That’s a song. “I Will” from the album The Beatles (a.k.a. The White Album). The song was written by Paul McCartney.

4) Another song: “Wildwood Flower,” from the album Joan Baez.

5) Did we trick you on this one? It’s from a poem titled “My Lady Can Sleep” by legendary folk musician (and noted poet) Leonard Cohen.


While we ring out National Poetry Month, here are books by and about two all-time great folk musicians:


Bob Dylan: the Story of the World’s Greatest Singer-Songwriter  by Brian Southall (Carlton Books, May 5, 2015)

Filled with eye-catching photos, this book follows Dylan’s life, from Minnesota to Greenwich Village to immortality as one of folk music’s greatest icons.

Book of Longing by Leonard Cohen (Ecco)

Cohen wrote much of Book of Longing while living in a Zen monastery on Mount Baldy in southern California.