The basic rule about copyright is that the poet needs to have been dead for 70 years or more before his or her work is freely available. If they died more recently than that, or if still alive, you need permission to reproduce anything which amounts to more than 10% of a poem.
Publishers’ Licensing Services (PLS) provide a free service for checking and requesting copyright permissions for published poetry. We recommend you should try here first.
Search for publication titles and make permissions requests (External content)
Guide for Making Permissions Requests via PLSclear (External content)
If you are an author / editor requesting permission to use a poem in your publication, here is a useful checklist
If you need advice, or would like to know who holds the copyright to a particular poet’s work, we may be able to help. Please contact us using the ‘ask a librarian’ form.