Finding poetry

Find poetry and verse in the Library, online and print indexes, and the Internet.

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Barbara Carswell
Contact me via our online reference service citing my name and the title of this guide

Online database

To locate copies of poems, try Columbia Granger's poetry database. The database also has poet biographies, commentaries, essays and you can even listen to poetry online. It is available within the library and outside the library by  registered Victorian users. The database can be searched by 'author', 'title' or words or lines in the required poem. 

Poetry websites

Poetry websites are an efficient way to search: is a free website with 1000s of poems by 100s of international authors.

It includes Australasian, American and Victorian era verse, and poetry and English verse 1250-1900.

Search title, author and keyword in first line.

Project Gutenberg is another free website that contains collected works by poets.

Hear poetry online

There are numerous websites with modern and classic poetry.  Many have readings of the poems online. Here are some sites with online readings, but you can find more. Go to Google and type in the words audio poetry reading to find more online reading sites.

Classic Poetry Aloud Index: podcasts of great poetry in the English language.

Poetry Archive  This site includes readings of historic poems by the poets themselves in the Historic Recordings section.

Finding poems

Specific poems can be found:

  • online through internet search engines
  • online through literature databases
  • poetry indexes to find where a poem might be published
  • in books of poetry by particular authors
  • in anthologies


The Internet is an excellent source of free poetry, but accuracy is not guaranteed.  Errors can occur if the words are based on someone's  memory of an old poem, for example. In some cases, the spacing of the verse paragraphs may be altered by a  computer program, which alters the whole phrasing of the poem.  

If unsure, check with an authoritative published resources such as books and databases held in libraries. 

To search for a poem, use Google or other search engines. Use a line or phrase from the poem, with the name of the poet if possible, placing the phrase or line in quotation marks so that Google searches for the terms together.  For example, to search for a famous line from Wordsworth:  “I wandered lonely as a cloud”. 

If you are unsure of a complete line or phrase, use keywords, that is, the main words from a poem. For example, 'wandered lonely cloud'. Try to use the most unique or unusual terms to avoid large numbers of irrelevant results.


Print indexes

If you cannot find a poem online, try a print index. Indexes do not give the whole poem, but help you find where a poem was published.

Poetry indexes list the poet, title of the poem and the titles of books containing the poem. Some indexes can be searched by the first or last line of the poem.

Once you have the name of the poet, or the title of a book containing the poem, you can search the Library catalogue.

The comprehensive Columbia Granger poetry index has a number of editions.