Three Famous Poetry Books That Entered the Public Domain in 2019

Three classic poetry collections are now freely (and legally) available online.

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Photo by Álvaro Serrano on Unsplash

January 1st, 2019 was a huge day for public domain works in the United States.

“Public domain” refers to books and other works that aren’t under any form of copyright protection. This can include books that were never copyrighted by their authors, as well as books whose copyright has expired.

In theory, each new year should bring with it a slew of works whose copyright has just expired. In 1998 though, a court case extended copyright protection in the United States by 20 years. This meant that for the past 20 years, no new material entered the public domain through copyright expiration.

Now that the 20 years have passed, we’ve finally “caught up,” and we will start seeing a mass of new works entering the public domain each year. In 2019, work that was published in 1923 is now in the public domain.

This means that thousands of works published in 1923 are now completely free to read, distribute, modify, and more. Duke’s Center for the Study of Public Domain has been doing a great job trying to catalog all the works that are now available. You can see more information here.

Among all of these newly available works, there are quite a few excellent books of poetry. Some aren’t available yet online, but below are three that you can check out online right now, absolutely free (at least in the United States):

New Hampshire by Robert Frost

Robert Frost is a poet that needs no introduction. New Hampshire is one of Frost’s most famous books of poetry, and includes the wildly popular “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.”

The collection won the Pulitzer Prize in 1924.

A scanned copy of the collection is available through Hathi Trust.

The Harp-Weaver and Other Poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Edna St. Vincent Millay’s collection The Harp-Weaver and Other Poems contains the “Ballad of the Harp-Weaver”, one of her most famous poems.

Millay won the Pulitzer Prize for the “Ballad of the Harp-Weaver” in 1923. Only two women had ever won the prize for poetry before her.

A free online edition of the collection is available through The University of Adelaide.

The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

The Prophet is a prose poetry collection by Kahlil Gibran. It’s sold millions of copies around the world and according to Wikipedia is one of the most translated books in existence (it’s been translated into a mind-blowing 108 languages).

The ebook is available for free through Gutenberg.

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I’m a lawyer and teacher from North Carolina. I write about sobriety, mental health, running, and more.

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