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As we're unsure (as a forum) whether we are allowed by copywright etc. to copy/paste contemporary poetry for appreciation, discovery and discussion... what's everybody's favourite "classic" poem ("classic" here simply means "old enough, i.e. written 75 years ago or before, not to get us in trouble")?

 

I'll post mine shortly, but was interested to see what other people's favourites were, and why?

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I'm not hugely into poetry, but I've always loved The Curse Sequence from Lord Byron's poem The Giaour:

 

But first on earth, as Vampyre sent,

Thy corpse shall from its tomb be rent;

Then ghastly haunt thy native place,

And suck the blood of all thy race;

There from thy daughter, sister, wife,

At midnight drain the stream of life;

Yet loathe the banquet, which perforce

Must feed thy livid living corpse,

Thy victims, ere they yet expire,

Shall know the demon for their sire;

As cursing thee, thou cursing them,

Thy flowers are witherd on the stem.

But one that for thy crime must fall,

The youngest, best beloved of all,

Shall bless thee with a farther's name -

That word shall wrap thy heart in flame!

Yet thou must end thy task and mark

Her cheek's last tinge - her eye's last spark.

And the last glassy glance must view

Which freezes o'er its lifeless blue;

Then with unhallowed hand shall tear

The tresses of her yellow hair,

Of which, in life a lock when shorn

Affection's fondest pledge was worn-

But now is born away by thee

Memorial to thine agony!

Yet with thine own best blood shall drip

Thy gnashing tooth, and haggard lip;

Then stalking to thy sullen grave

Go - and with Ghouls and Afrits rave,

Till theses in horror shrink away

From spectre more accursed than they..

 

----------

 

The other poem I've always loved and know by heart is Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There:

 

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves

Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:

All mimsy were the borogoves,

And the mome raths outgrabe.

 

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!

The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!

Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun

The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand:

Long time the manxome foe he sought --

So rested he by the Tumtum tree,

And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,

The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,

Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,

And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through

The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!

He left it dead, and with its head

He went galumphing back.

"And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?

Come to my arms, my beamish boy!

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'

He chortled in his joy.

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves

Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;

All mimsy were the borogoves,

And the mome raths outgrabe.

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Alexander Pope's Eloisa to Abelard.

 

I won't post it all, as it's very long, but my favourite segments are the following:

 

Unequal task! a passion to resign,

For hearts so touch'd, so pierc'd, so lost as mine.

Ere such a soul regains its peaceful state,

How often must it love, how often hate!

How often hope, despair, resent, regret,

Conceal, disdain--do all things but forget.

 

When at the close of each sad, sorrowing day,

Fancy restores what vengeance snatch'd away,

Then conscience sleeps, and leaving nature free,

All my loose soul unbounded springs to thee.

 

O Death all-eloquent! you only prove

What dust we dote on, when 'tis man we love.

 

Such if there be, who loves so long, so well;

Let him our sad, our tender story tell;

The well-sung woes will soothe my pensive ghost;

He best can paint 'em, who shall feel 'em most.

 

I love the whole poem, but they're the best lines in my opinion.

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Another favourite of mine is this:

 

The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes

Part One

I

The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees,

The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,

The road was a ribbon of moonlight, over the purple moor,

And the highwayman came riding-

Riding-riding-

The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.

 

II

He'd a French cocked-hat on his forehead, a bunch of lace at his chin,

A coat of the claret velvet, and breeches of brown doe-skin;

They fitted with never a wrinkle: his boots were up to the thigh!

And he rode with a jewelled twinkle,

His pistol butts a-twinkle,

His rapier hilt a-twinkle, under the jewelled sky.

 

III

Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark inn-yard,

And he tapped with his whip on the shutters, but all was locked and barred;

He whistled a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there

But the landlord's black-eyed daughter,

Bess, the landlord's daughter,

Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

 

IV

And dark in the old inn-yard a stable-wicket creaked

Where Tim the ostler listened; his face was white and peaked;

His eyes were hollows of madness, his hair like mouldy hay,

But he loved the landlord's daughter,

The landlord's red-lipped daughter,

Dumb as a dog he listened, and he heard the robber say-

 

V

"One kiss, my bonny sweetheart, I'm after a prize to-night,

But I shall be back with the yellow gold before the morning light;

Yet, if they press me sharply, and harry me through the day,

Then look for me by moonlight,

Watch for me by moonlight,

I'll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way."

 

VI

He rose upright in the stirrups; he scarce could reach her hand,

But she loosened her hair i' the casement! His face burnt like a brand

As the black cascade of perfume came tumbling over his breast;

And he kissed its waves in the moonlight,

(Oh, sweet black waves in the moonlight!)

Then he tugged at his rein in the moonlight, and galloped away to the West.

 

Part Two

I

He did not come in the dawning; he did not come at noon;

And out o' the tawny sunset, before the rise o' the moon,

When the road was a gipsy's ribbon, looping the purple moor,

A red-coat troop came marching-

Marching-marching-

King George's men came marching, up to the old inn-door.

 

II

They said no word to the landlord, they drank his ale instead,

But they gagged his daughter and bound her to the foot of her narrow bed;

Two of them knelt at her casement, with muskets at their side!

There was death at every window;

And hell at one dark window;

For Bess could see, through the casement, the road that he would ride.

 

III

They had tied her up to attention, with many a sniggering jest;

They bound a musket beside her, with the barrel beneath her breast!

"Now keep good watch!" and they kissed her.

She heard the dead man say-

Look for me by moonlight;

Watch for me by moonlight;

I'll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way!

 

IV

She twisted her hands behind her; but all the knots held good!

She writhed her hands till here fingers were wet with sweat or blood!

They stretched and strained in the darkness, and the hours crawled by like

years,

Till, now, on the stroke of midnight,

Cold, on the stroke of midnight,

The tip of one finger touched it! The trigger at least was hers!

 

V

The tip of one finger touched it; she strove no more for the rest!

Up, she stood up to attention, with the barrel beneath her breast,

She would not risk their hearing; she would not strive again;

For the road lay bare in the moonlight;

Blank and bare in the moonlight;

And the blood of her veins in the moonlight throbbed to her love's refrain.

 

VI

Tlot-tlot; tlot-tlot! Had they heard it? The horse-hoofs

ringing clear;

Tlot-tlot, tlot-tlot, in the distance? Were they deaf that they did

not hear?

Down the ribbon of moonlight, over the brow of the hill,

The highwayman came riding,

Riding, riding!

The red-coats looked to their priming! She stood up strait and still!

 

VII

Tlot-tlot, in the frosty silence! Tlot-tlot, in the echoing night

!

Nearer he came and nearer! Her face was like a light!

Her eyes grew wide for a moment; she drew one last deep breath,

Then her finger moved in the moonlight,

Her musket shattered the moonlight,

Shattered her breast in the moonlight and warned him-with her death.

 

VIII

He turned; he spurred to the West; he did not know who stood

Bowed, with her head o'er the musket, drenched with her own red blood!

Not till the dawn he heard it, his face grew grey to hear

How Bess, the landlord's daughter,

The landlord's black-eyed daughter,

Had watched for her love in the moonlight, and died in the darkness there.

 

IX

Back, he spurred like a madman, shrieking a curse to the sky,

With the white road smoking behind him and his rapier brandished high!

Blood-red were his spurs i' the golden noon; wine-red was his velvet coat,

When they shot him down on the highway,

Down like a dog on the highway,

And he lay in his blood on the highway, with a bunch of lace at his throat.

 

* * * * * *

 

X

And still of a winter's night, they say, when the wind is in the trees,

When the moon is a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,

When the road is a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,

A highwayman comes riding-

Riding-riding-

A highwayman comes riding, up to the old inn-door.

 

XI

Over the cobbles he clatters and clangs in the dark inn-yard,

And he taps with his whip on the shutters, but all is locked and barred;

He whistles a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there

But the landlord's black-eyed daughter,

Bess, the landlord's daughter,

Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

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An all time favourite:-

 

To Autumn

 

by John Keats

 

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness!

Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;

Conspiring with him how to load and bless

With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;

To bend with apples the mossed cottage trees,

And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;

To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells

With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,

And still more, later flowers for the bees, Until they think warm days will never cease,

For Summer has o'erbrimmed their clammy cells.

 

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?

Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find

Thee sitting careless on a granary floor, Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind,

Or on a half-reaped furrow sound asleep,

Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook

Spares the next swath and all its twin

Edited by Angel

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Another by the wonderful T.S. Eliot:

 

Rhapsody on a Windy Night

T.S. Eliot

 

Twelve o'clock.

Along the reaches of the street

Held in a lunar synthesis,

Whispering lunar incantations

Disolve the floors of memory

And all its clear relations,

Its divisions and precisions,

Every street lamp that I pass

Beats like a fatalistic drum,

And through the spaces of the dark

Midnight shakes the memory

As a madman shakes a dead geranium.

 

Half-past one,

The street lamp sputtered,

The street lamp muttered,

The street lamp said,

"Regard that woman

Who hesitates toward you in the light of the door

Which opens on her like a grin.

You see the border of her dress

Is torn and stained with sand,

And you see the corner of her eye

Twists like a crooked pin."

 

The memory throws up high and dry

A crowd of twisted things;

A twisted branch upon the beach

Eaten smooth, and polished

As if the world gave up

The secret of its skeleton,

Stiff and white.

A broken spring in a factory yard,

Rust that clings to the form that the strength has left

Hard and curled and ready to snap.

 

Half-past two,

The street-lamp said,

"Remark the cat which flattens itself in the gutter,

Slips out its tongue

And devours a morsel of rancid butter."

So the hand of the child, automatic,

Slipped out and pocketed a toy that was running along

the quay.

I could see nothing behind that child's eye.

I have seen eyes in the street

Trying to peer through lighted shutters,

And a crab one afternoon in a pool,

An old crab with barnacles on his back,

Gripped the end of a stick which I held him.

 

Half-past three,

The lamp sputtered,

The lamp muttered in the dark.

 

The lamp hummed:

"Regard the moon,

La lune ne garde aucune rancune,

She winks a feeble eye,

She smiles into corners.

She smooths the hair of the grass.

The moon has lost her memory.

A washed-out smallpox cracks her face,

Her hand twists a paper rose,

That smells of dust and old Cologne,

She is alone With all the old nocturnal smells

That cross and cross across her brain.

The reminiscence comes

Of sunless dry geraniums

And dust in crevices,

Smells of chestnuts in the streets

And female smells in shuttered rooms

And cigarettes in corridors

And cocktail smells in bars."

 

The lamp said,

"Four o'clock,

Here is the number on the door.

Memory!

You have the key,

The little lamp spreads a ring on the stair,

Mount.

The bed is open; the tooth-brush hangs on the wall,

Put your shoes at the door, sleep, prepare for life."

 

The last twist of the knife.

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Two of my three all-time favourites (the third is really long and will need abridging):

Sonnet 116, William Shakespeare

(The perfect explanation of what true love really is)

Let me not to the marriage of true minds

Admit impediments. Love is not love

Which alters when it alteration finds,

Or bends with the remover to remove:

O, no! it is an ever-fixed mark,

That looks on tempests and is never shaken;

It is the star to every wandering bark,

Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.

Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks

Within his bending sickle's compass come;

Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,

But bears it out even to the edge of doom.

If this be error and upon me proved,

I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

 

O Me! O Life, Walt Whitman

(Looked up thanks to "Dead Poets Society", Whitman is now one of my favourite poets - he speaks so simply, yet so powerfully, of life lived as poetry written)

 

O Me! O life!... of the questions of these recurring;

Of the endless trains of the faithless

Edited by BookJumper

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I love William Blake and this is one of my favourites.

 

The Tiger

 

By William Blake

 

1757-1827

 

 

TIGER, tiger, burning bright

In the forests of the night,

What immortal hand or eye

Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

 

In what distant deeps or skies

Burnt the fire of thine eyes?

On what wings dare he aspire?

What the hand dare seize the fire?

 

And what shoulder and what art

Could twist the sinews of thy heart?

And when thy heart began to beat,

What dread hand and what dread feet?

 

What the hammer? what the chain?

In what furnace was thy brain?

What the anvil? What dread grasp

Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

 

When the stars threw down their spears,

And water'd heaven with their tears,

Did He smile His work to see?

Did He who made the lamb make thee?

 

Tiger, tiger, burning bright

In the forests of the night,

What immortal hand or eye

Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

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THE DEFINITION OF LOVE.

by Andrew Marvell

 

 

I.

MY Love is of a birth as rare

As 'tis, for object, strange and high ;

It was begotten by Despair,

Upon Impossibility.

 

II.

Magnanimous Despair alone

Could show me so divine a thing,

Where feeble hope could ne'er have flown,

But vainly flapped its tinsel wing.

 

III.

And yet I quickly might arrive

Where my extended soul is fixed ;

But Fate does iron wedges drive,

And always crowds itself betwixt.

 

IV.

For Fate with jealous eye does see

Two perfect loves, nor lets them close ;

Their union would her ruin be,

And her tyrannic power depose.

 

V.

And therefore her decrees of steel

Us as the distant poles have placed,

(Though Love's whole world on us doth wheel),

Not by themselves to be embraced,

 

VI.

Unless the giddy heaven fall,

And earth some new convulsion tear.

And, us to join, the world should all

Be cramp'd into a planisphere.

 

VII.

As lines, so love's oblique, may well

Themselves in every angle greet :

But ours, so truly parallel,

Though infinite, can never meet.

 

VIII.

Therefore the love which us doth bind,

But Fate so enviously debars,

Is the conjunction of the mind,

And opposition of the stars.

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THE GOING

Thomas Hardy

 

 

Why did you give no hint that night

That quickly after the morrow's dawn,

And calmly, as if indifferent quite,

You would close your term here, up and be gone

Where I could not follow

With wing of swallow

To gain one glimpse of you ever anon!

 

Never to bid good-bye,

Or lip me the softest call,

Or utter a wish for a word, while I

Saw morning harden upon the wall,

Unmoved, unknowing

That your great going

Had place that moment, and altered all.

 

Why do you make me leave the house

And think for a breath it is you I see

At the end of the alley of bending boughs

Where so often at dusk you used to be;

Till in darkening dankness

The yawning blankness

Of the perspective sickens me!

 

You were she who abode

By those red-veined rocks far West,

You were the swan-necked one who rode

Along the beetling Beeny Crest,

And, reining nigh me,

Would muse and eye me,

While Life unrolled us its very best.

 

Why, then, latterly did we not speak,

Did we not think of those days long dead,

And ere your vanishing strive to seek

That time's renewal? We might have said,

"In this bright spring weather

We'll visit together

Those places that once we visited."

 

Well, well! All's past amend,

Unchangeable. It must go.

I seem but a dead man held on end

To sink down soon. . . . O you could not know

That such swift fleeing

No soul foreseeing—

Not even I—would undo me so!

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I don't know if this would be considered a classic, but i love it, so much as that i remember writing it down somewhere:

 

Edmund Spenser - Amoretti LXXV: One Day I Wrote Her Name

 

One day I wrote her name upon the strand,

But came the waves and washed it away:

Again I wrote it with a second hand,

But came the tide, and made my pains his prey.

Vain man, said she, that dost in vain assay

A mortal thing so to immortalize!

For I myself shall like to this decay,

And eek my name be wiped out likewise.

Not so (quoth I), let baser things devise

To die in dust, but you shall live by fame:

My verse your virtues rare shall eternize,

And in the heavens write your glorious name;

Where, whenas death shall all the world subdue,

Our love shall live, and later life renew.

Edited by Janet
Credited poet and added title

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I remember coming across it and thinking about what it could mean and then being moved by it a lot, it's very lovely ^-^

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This is just about the only poem I know in English. So I guess that would be my favourite, then. It IS beautiful.

 

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,

Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,

Silence the pianos and with muffled drum

Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

 

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead

Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,

Put cr

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It is indeed beautiful, Sara. John Hanna does a very moving reading of it at the funeral in "Four Weddings and a Funeral", too - that's how I personally discovered the poem.

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Rawr and Sara, your two poems just jumped on to my list of all-time favorites. Thanks for sharing. =) Mine will bring the collective IQ of the group down, but I love it nonetheless.

 

Casey At The Bat by Ernest Thayer

 

The outlook wasn't brilliant for the Mudville nine that day;

The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play,

And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,

A pall-like silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

 

A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest

Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast;

They thought, "If only Casey could but get a whack at that

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UPON JULIA’S CLOTHES

ROBERT HERRICK

 

Whenas in silks my Julia goes,

Then, then, methinks, how sweetly flows

The liquefaction of her clothes.

 

Next, when I cast mine eyes, and see

That brave vibration, each way free,

O how that glittering taketh me!

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FROM POSTHUMOUS POEMS, 1824

PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY

 

THE WANING MOON.

 

And like a dying lady, lean and pale,

Who totters forth, wrapped in a gauzy veil,

Out of her chamber, led by the insane

And feeble wanderings of her fading brain,

The moon arose up in the murky East,

A white and shapeless mass—

 

 

TO THE MOON.

 

Art thou pale for weariness

Of climbing heaven and gazing on the earth,

Wandering companionless

Among the stars that have a different birth,—

And ever changing, like a joyless eye

That finds no object worth its constancy?

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Rawr and Sara, your two poems just jumped on to my list of all-time favorites. Thanks for sharing. =) Mine will bring the collective IQ of the group down, but I love it nonetheless.

 

Casey At The Bat by Ernest Thayer

 

 

Casey at the Bat is a fantastic poem! I first read that when I was 15 & love love loved it!

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Innocentia Veritas Viat Fides. Circumdederunt me inimici mei

(Innocence, Truth, Wyatt and Faith. My enemies surround my soul)

Who list his wealth and ease retain,

Himself let him unknown contain.

Press not too fast in at that gate

Where the return stands by disdain,

For sure, circa Regna tonat.

The high mountains are blasted oft

When the low valley is mild and soft.

Fortune with Health stands at debate.

The fall is grievous from aloft.

And sure, circa Regna tonat.

These bloody days have broken my heart.

My lust, my youth did them depart,

And blind desire of estate.

Who hastes to climb seeks to revert.

Of truth, circa Regna tonat.

The bell tower showed me such sight

That in my head sticks day and night.

There did I learn out of a grate,

For all favour, glory, or might,

That yet circa Regna tonat.

By proof, I say, there did I learn:

Wit helpeth not defence too yerne,

Of innocency to plead or prate.

Bear low, therefore, give God the stern,

For sure, circa Regna tonat.

(circa Regna tonat-It thunders through the realms)

Thomas Wyatt

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