Poetry

“Bless whoever it was who came up with the idea,” jazz historian Dan Morgenstern says in a Smithsonian interview about Armstrong’s rendition of the holiday chestnut.

The Little-Known Recording of Louis Armstrong Reciting 'The Night Before Christmas'

Shortly before he died, the jazz legend offered his own rendition of the classic holiday poem

Ary Scheffer, The Ghosts of Paolo and Francesca Appear to Dante and Virgil, 1835

Before Romeo and Juliet, Paolo and Francesca Were Literature's Star-Crossed Lovers

Centuries after Italian poet Dante published "The Divine Comedy," Romantic artists and writers reimagined the tragedy as a tale of female agency

Singer-songwriter and visual artist Solange has launched a free library of rare works by Black authors, available to borrow on a first-come, first-served basis.

Singer and Artist Solange Debuts Free Library of Rare Books by Black Authors

Readers in the U.S. can borrow 50 titles, including collections of poems by Gwendolyn Brooks and Langston Hughes and a sci-fi novel by Octavia Butler

The Surprising Artistic Life of Ancient Sparta

Poets and lyricists populated the Greek civilization

A monument in Thermopylae to King Leonidas.

Sparta Was Much More Than an Army of Super Warriors

Fierce? Yes. Tough? You bet. But the true history of the Greek civilization had a lot more nuance

Some of the details between the film and its source material are, of course, different, but the themes at their respective hearts remain consistent.

'The Green Knight' Adopts a Medieval Approach to 'Modern' Problems

A new film starring Dev Patel as Gawain feels more like a psychological thriller than a period drama

Plath's recipe cards and rolling pin reflect her love of cooking—and her conflicted relationship with domestic life.

Explore Sylvia Plath's Love Letters, Recipe Cards and Tarot Deck

A trove of the American poet's personal possessions recently sold at auction for more than $1 million

Highlights of the upcoming sale include this 1841 birthday note from Emily Brontë to her sister Anne.

Unseen Trove of Literary Treasures, From Emily Brontë's Handwritten Poems to Robert Burns' Musings, Up for Sale

Sotheby's is set to auction a private collection of 500 manuscripts, first editions, letters and papers linked to famed British authors

Astronaut Sally Ride (left) and poet Maya Angelou (right) will be the first individuals honored through the American Women Quarters Program.

Women Who Shaped History

Maya Angelou, Sally Ride to Be Among First Women Featured on U.S. Quarters

Between 2022 and 2025, the U.S. Mint is set to highlight up to 20 trailblazing American women

Elexia Alleyne and her family have lived in what they call “the barrio of Washington, D.C.” for three generations.

Smithsonian Voices

Coming of Age in Poetry: Meet Elexia Alleyne

Growing up in D.C.’s barrio, the young poet remembers a vibrant, tight-knit Dominican community.

Chinese poetry carved on the wall of the Angel Island Immigration Station in the San Francisco Bay.

Smithsonian Voices

Read Poems Left by Chinese Immigrants Arriving at Angel Island, the 'Ellis Island of the West'

The primary mission of San Francisco's Angel Island Immigration Station was to better enforce the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and other anti-Asian laws

On January 20, 2021, poet Amanda Gorman read her her poem "The Hill We Climb" during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

Why Poetry Is Experiencing an Awakening

Celebrate the 25th Anniversary of April’s National Poetry Month with these workshops from the National Museum of African American History and Culture

Portrait of Dante Alighieri, Florence and the allegory of the Divine Comedy, 1465, detail.

Virtual Travel

Follow Dante's Footsteps Through Italy

For the 700th anniversary of the poet’s death, visit his birthplace, churches and tomb

This month's book picks include The Light of Days, The Musical Human and Empire of Ants.

Books of the Month

Women Resistance Fighters of WWII, the Secret Lives of Ants and Other New Books to Read

These April releases elevate overlooked stories and offer insights on oft-discussed topics

Dante Alighieri, as depicted in Luca Signorelli's Orvieto Cathedral fresco

Dante's Descendant Wants to Overturn the Poet's 1302 Corruption Conviction

More than 700 years ago, a magistrate sentenced the "Divine Comedy" author to be burned at the stake if he ever returned to Florence

The Cultural Office of the Embassy of Spain in Washington is hosting a photography exhibit, PHotoEspaña, posted on the fence surrounding its historic mansion.

Virtual Travel

Their Doors May Be Closed, but Embassies Are Still Showing People the World

From cooking demonstrations to poetry readings to special exhibitions, exploring another country has never been easier

Gorman's inaugural poem contains lines stating “But while democracy can be periodically delayed / It can never be permanently defeated.”

Inauguration History

Meet Amanda Gorman, the U.S.' Youngest Inaugural Poet

The 22-year-old revised her original composition, "The Hill We Climb," in the aftermath of the January 6 storming of the Capitol

Artist María Magdalena Campos-Pons spearheaded the creation of When We Gather, a three-minute short film marking Harris' inauguration.

How Seven Women Artists Are Celebrating Kamala Harris' Historic Inauguration

The group's upcoming short film, titled "When We Gather," honors the achievements of women who preceded the vice president

A recently concluded auction featured a trove of artifacts collected by Bob Dylan's close friend Tony Glover.

Long-Hidden Trove of Bob Dylan Letters, Handwritten Lyrics Heads to Auction

The archives of harmonica player and close Dylan friend Tony Glover act as a "time capsule" of 20th-century music, says RR Auction

"Poetry is about those lyric transcendent moments," says Kevin Young, the new director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, "and so is the museum, it reminds us what is possible."

A Bold Anthology Shows How R-I-G-H-T and W-R-I-T-E Come Together in Black Poetry

Poet and essayist Kevin Young discusses his new book, "African American Poetry," and his new post at the Smithsonian

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