BookJumper

Post your favourite "classic" poem

105 posts in this topic

The first poem I ever read that I remember staying with me. That is why it is my favorite. Plus, she's a fairy! :D

 

The Lady of Shalott

 

On either side the river lie

Long fields of barley and of rye,

That clothe the wold and meet the sky;

And thro' the field the road runs by

To many-tower'd Camelot;

And up and down the people go,

Gazing where the lilies blow

Round an island there below,

The island of Shalott.

 

Willows whiten, aspens quiver,

Little breezes dusk and shiver

Through the wave that runs for ever

By the island in the river

Flowing down to Camelot.

Four grey walls, and four grey towers,

Overlook a space of flowers,

And the silent isle imbowers

The Lady of Shalott.

 

By the margin, willow veil'd,

Slide the heavy barges trail'd

By slow horses; and unhail'd

The shallop flitteth silken-sail'd

Skimming down to Camelot:

But who hath seen her wave her hand?

Or at the casement seen her stand?

Or is she known in all the land,

The Lady of Shalott?

 

Only reapers, reaping early,

In among the bearded barley

Hear a song that echoes cheerly

From the river winding clearly;

Down to tower'd Camelot;

And by the moon the reaper weary,

Piling sheaves in uplands airy,

Listening, whispers, " 'Tis the fairy

Lady of Shalott."

 

There she weaves by night and day

A magic web with colours gay.

She has heard a whisper say,

A curse is on her if she stay

To look down to Camelot.

She knows not what the curse may be,

And so she weaveth steadily,

And little other care hath she,

The Lady of Shalott.

 

And moving through a mirror clear

That hangs before her all the year,

Shadows of the world appear.

There she sees the highway near

Winding down to Camelot;

There the river eddy whirls,

And there the surly village churls,

And the red cloaks of market girls

Pass onward from Shalott.

 

Sometimes a troop of damsels glad,

An abbot on an ambling pad,

Sometimes a curly shepherd lad,

Or long-hair'd page in crimson clad

Goes by to tower'd Camelot;

And sometimes through the mirror blue

The knights come riding two and two.

She hath no loyal Knight and true,

The Lady of Shalott.

 

But in her web she still delights

To weave the mirror's magic sights,

For often through the silent nights

A funeral, with plumes and lights

And music, went to Camelot;

Or when the Moon was overhead,

Came two young lovers lately wed.

"I am half sick of shadows," said

The Lady of Shalott.

 

A bow-shot from her bower-eaves,

He rode between the barley sheaves,

The sun came dazzling thro' the leaves,

And flamed upon the brazen greaves

Of bold Sir Lancelot.

A red-cross knight for ever kneel'd

To a lady in his shield,

That sparkled on the yellow field,

Beside remote Shalott.

 

The gemmy bridle glitter'd free,

Like to some branch of stars we see

Hung in the golden Galaxy.

The bridle bells rang merrily

As he rode down to Camelot:

And from his blazon'd baldric slung

A mighty silver bugle hung,

And as he rode his armor rung

Beside remote Shalott.

 

All in the blue unclouded weather

Thick-jewell'd shone the saddle-leather,

The helmet and the helmet-feather

Burn'd like one burning flame together,

As he rode down to Camelot.

As often thro' the purple night,

Below the starry clusters bright,

Some bearded meteor, burning bright,

Moves over still Shalott.

 

His broad clear brow in sunlight glow'd;

On burnish'd hooves his war-horse trode;

From underneath his helmet flow'd

His coal-black curls as on he rode,

As he rode down to Camelot.

From the bank and from the river

He flashed into the crystal mirror,

"Tirra lirra," by the river

Sang Sir Lancelot.

 

She left the web, she left the loom,

She made three paces through the room,

She saw the water-lily bloom,

She saw the helmet and the plume,

She look'd down to Camelot.

Out flew the web and floated wide;

The mirror crack'd from side to side;

"The curse is come upon me," cried

The Lady of Shalott.

 

In the stormy east-wind straining,

The pale yellow woods were waning,

The broad stream in his banks complaining.

Heavily the low sky raining

Over tower'd Camelot;

Down she came and found a boat

Beneath a willow left afloat,

And around about the prow she wrote

The Lady of Shalott.

 

And down the river's dim expanse

Like some bold seer in a trance,

Seeing all his own mischance --

With a glassy countenance

Did she look to Camelot.

And at the closing of the day

She loosed the chain, and down she lay;

The broad stream bore her far away,

The Lady of Shalott.

 

Lying, robed in snowy white

That loosely flew to left and right --

The leaves upon her falling light --

Thro' the noises of the night,

She floated down to Camelot:

And as the boat-head wound along

The willowy hills and fields among,

They heard her singing her last song,

The Lady of Shalott.

 

Heard a carol, mournful, holy,

Chanted loudly, chanted lowly,

Till her blood was frozen slowly,

And her eyes were darkened wholly,

Turn'd to tower'd Camelot.

For ere she reach'd upon the tide

The first house by the water-side,

Singing in her song she died,

The Lady of Shalott.

 

Under tower and balcony,

By garden-wall and gallery,

A gleaming shape she floated by,

Dead-pale between the houses high,

Silent into Camelot.

Out upon the wharfs they came,

Knight and Burgher, Lord and Dame,

And around the prow they read her name,

The Lady of Shalott.

 

Who is this? And what is here?

And in the lighted palace near

Died the sound of royal cheer;

And they crossed themselves for fear,

All the Knights at Camelot;

But Lancelot mused a little space

He said, "She has a lovely face;

God in his mercy lend her grace,

The Lady of Shalott."

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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—of cities fill’d with the foolish;

Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)

Of eyes that vainly crave the light—of the objects mean—of the struggle ever renew’d;

Of the poor results of all—of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me;

Of the empty and useless years of the rest—with the rest me intertwined;

The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?

 

Answer.

 

That you are here—that life exists, and identity;

That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.

 

Oooo, I just saw this post. One of my favorite Shakespeare Sonnets and Walt Whitman is also one of my favorite poets.

 

Here is a favorite verse from Song of Myself.

 

48

I have said that the soul is not more than the body,

And I have said that the body is not more than the soul,

And nothing, not God, is greater to one than one's self is,

And whoever walks a furlong without sympathy walks to his own

funeral drest in his shroud,

And I or you pocketless of a dime may purchase the pick of the

earth,

And to glance with an eye or show a bean in its pod confounds the

learning of all times,

And there is no trade or employment but the young man following it

may become a hero,

And there is no object so soft but it makes a hub for the wheel'd

universe,

And I say to any man or woman, Let your soul stand cool and composed

before a million universes.

 

And I say to mankind, Be not curious about God,

For I who am curious about each am not curious about God,

(No array of terms can say how much I am at peace about God and

about death.)

I hear and behold God in every object, yet understand God not in the

least,

Nor do I understand who there can be more wonderful than myself.

Why should I wish to see God better than this day?

I see something of God each hour of the twenty-four, and each moment

then,

In the faces of men and women I see God, and in my own face in the

glass,

I find letters from God dropt in the street, and every one is sign'd

by God's name,

And I leave them where they are, for I know that wheresoe'er I go,

Others will punctually come for ever and ever.

Edited by libri vermis

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I'm so glad The Lady of Shalott and The Highwayman have been posted! Two of my favorites :).

 

Another favorite of mine that I've had memorized since I was in middle school-

 

Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening

Robert Frost-

 

Whose woods these are I think I know.

His house is in the village, though;

He will not see me stopping here

To watch his woods fill up with snow.

 

My little horse must think it queer

To stop without a farmhouse near

Between the woods and frozen lake

The darkest evening of the year.

 

He gives his harness bells a shake

To ask if there is some mistake.

The only other sounds the sweep

Of easy wind and downy flake.

 

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

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I've posted this earlier as well, but my favourite for years has been Victor Hugo, and especially his "Je marchais au hasard..."

 

Je marchais au hasard, devant moi, n'importe o

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I've posted this earlier as well, but my favourite for years has been Victor Hugo
Victor's been my favourite novelist for the past decade; I'll admit shamefully to having never read his poetry though. Seems like I'll have to research that as well as his conversations with the dead (no fair, why did he have a direct line with Shakespeare and I don't?! *sulks*).

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(no fair, why did he have a direct line with Shakespeare and I don't?! *sulks*).

 

:)

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Ok, I've been thinking about mine and I've finally come to a decision.

 

Poe's Annabel Lee has it for me I think.

 

There's something about the rhthym and poignancy of the words, and the direction the poem takes:

 

It was many and many a year ago,

In a kingdom by the sea,

That a maiden there lived whom you may know

By the name of Annabel Lee;

And this maiden she lived with no other thought

Than to love and be loved by me.

 

I was a child and she was a child,

In this kingdom by the sea:

But we loved with a love that was more than love -

I and my Annabel Lee;

With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven

Coveted her and me.

 

And this was the reason that, long ago,

In this kingdom by the sea,

A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling

My beautiful Annabel Lee;

So that her high-born kinsmen came

And bore her away from me,

To shut her up in a sepulchre

In this kingdom by the sea.

 

The angels, not half so happy in heaven,

Went envying her and me -

Yes! that was the reason (as all men know,

In this kingdom by the sea)

That the wind came out of the cloud one night,

Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

 

But our love it was stronger by far than the love

Of those who were older than we -

Of many far wiser than we -

And neither the angels in heaven above,

Nor the demons down under the sea,

Can ever dissever my soul from the soul

Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;

 

For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams

Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;

And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes

Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;

And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side

Of my darling -my darling -my life and my bride,

In the sepulchre there by the sea -

In her tomb by the sounding sea.

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Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening

Robert Frost-

 

Whose woods these are I think I know.

His house is in the village, though;

He will not see me stopping here

To watch his woods fill up with snow.

 

My little horse must think it queer

To stop without a farmhouse near

Between the woods and frozen lake

The darkest evening of the year.

 

He gives his harness bells a shake

To ask if there is some mistake.

The only other sounds the sweep

Of easy wind and downy flake.

 

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

 

Ah, my favourite poet. I will hopefully be receiving a huge book of his poetry today. :welcome2:

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To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,

One clover, and a bee,

And revery.

The revery alone will do,

If bees are few.

 

--Emily Dickinson

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Ah, my favourite poet. I will hopefully be receiving a huge book of his poetry today. :)

 

Ooh I'm jealous, Kylie! He's one of my favorites as well, and I never get tired of reading his works :welcome2:. When I took a road trip out east a few years ago we stopped in the town of Sugar Hill, New Hampshire where he lived for a short while, supposedly around the time he composed that poem. They now have a writer-in-residency program there and one lucky poet gets to live there every summer and work.

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Another favourite of mine is this:

 

The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes

 

This is a good one.

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The first poem I ever read that I remember staying with me. That is why it is my favorite. Plus, she's a fairy! :welcome2:

 

 

The Lady of Shalott

 

 

Another good one.

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They now have a writer-in-residency program there and one lucky poet gets to live there every summer and work.
Nice. That's like there being a competition to choose one lucky poet to go live in Shakespeare's Stratford house and soak up the latent genius... DO WANT :welcome2:!

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Excellent idea, BookJumper! It's inevitable, right? Being in the same exact spot where a genius once worked and lived and created, the talent is bound to rub off on you! :tong:

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I like this one:

 

"Earth" by William Roscoe

 

SAD is my lot; among the shining spheres

Wheeling, I weave incessant day and night,

And ever, in my never-ending flight,

Add woes to woes, and count up tears on tears.

Young wives’ and new-born infants’ hapless biers

Lie on my breast, a melancholy sight;

Fresh griefs abhor my fresh returning light;

Pain and remorse and want fill up my years.

My happier children’s farther-piercing eyes

Into the blessed solvent future climb,

And knit the threads of joy and hope and warning;

But I, the ancient mother, am not wise,

And, shut within the blind obscure of time,

Roll on from morn to night, and on from night to morning.

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I agree with BookJumper on Shakespeare's Sonnet 116. :smile2:

 

Also, I love Emily Dickinson's "Hope is the thing with feathers"..........

 

Hope is the thing with feathers



That perches in the soul,

And sings the tune--without the words,

And never stops at all,

 

And sweetest in the gale is heard;

And sore must be the storm

That could abash the little bird

That kept so many warm.

 

I've heard it in the chillest land,

And on the strangest sea;

Yet, never, in extremity,

It asked a crumb of me.

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I love this section of Blake's Auguries of Innocence;

 

'To see a world in a grain of sand,

And heaven in a wild flower.

Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,

And eternity in an hour.'

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There are passages in William Wordsworth's The Prelude which work for me every time I read them.

 

All moveables of wonder, from all parts,

Are here--Albinos, painted Indians, Dwarfs,

The Horse of knowledge, and the learned Pig,

The Stone-eater, the man that swallows fire,

Giants, Ventriloquists, the Invisible Girl,

The Bust that speaks and moves its goggling eyes,

The Wax-work, Clock-work, all the marvellous craft

Of modern Merlins, Wild Beasts, Puppet-shows,

All out-o'-the-way, far-fetched, perverted things,

All freaks of nature, all Promethean thoughts

Of man, his dulness, madness, and their feats

All jumbled up together, to compose

A Parliament of Monsters. Tents and Booths

Meanwhile, as if the whole were one vast mill,

Are vomiting, receiving on all sides,

Men, Women, three-years' Children, Babes in arms.

 

 

The whole text is online here.

 

I also like Eliot's The Wasteland, though less so.

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I thought this would be a timely inclusion for this thread. The bolded and enlarged verse is the one that will probably be recognised by most in the UK.

For The Fallen by Laurence Binyon

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,

England mourns for her dead across the sea.

Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,

Fallen in the cause of the free.

 

Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal

Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,

There is music in the midst of desolation

And a glory that shines upon our tears.

 

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,

Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.

They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;

They fell with their faces to the foe.

 

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;

They sit no more at familiar tables of home;

They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;

They sleep beyond England's foam.

 

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,

Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,

To the innermost heart of their own land they are known

As the stars are known to the Night;

 

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,

Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;

As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,

To the end, to the end, they remain.

 

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The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes

 

 

I remember studying that poem in school! I'd forgotten about it, thanks for reminding me Kell! I should look into Alfred Noyes's poems.

 

 

My absolute favourite is William Henry Davies's Leisure

 

W. H. Davies



 

Leisure

 

WHAT is this life if, full of care,



We have no time to stand and stare?—

No time to stand beneath the boughs,

And stare as long as sheep and cows:

 

No time to see, when woods we pass,

Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:

 

No time to see, in broad daylight,

Streams full of stars, like skies at night:

 

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,

And watch her feet, how they can dance:

 

No time to wait till her mouth can

Enrich that smile her eyes began?

 

A poor life this if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

 

 

Another favourite, which is definitely too long to post here, is Samuel Taylor Coleridge's The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner.

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Here's a few of my favourites...

 

Emily Dickinson - Because I Could Not Stop For Death

 

Because I could not stop for Death,

He kindly stopped for me;

The carriage held but just ourselves

And Immortality.

We slowly drove, he knew no haste,

And I had put away

My labor, and my leisure too,

For his civility.

 

We passed the school, where children strove

At recess, in the ring;

We passed the fields of gazing grain,

We passed the setting sun.

 

Or rather, he passed us;

The dews grew quivering and chill,

For only gossamer my gown,

My tippet only tulle.

 

We paused before a house that seemed

A swelling of the ground;

The roof was scarcely visible,

The cornice but a mound.

 

Since then 'tis centuries, and yet each

Feels shorter than the day

I first surmised the horses' heads

Were toward eternity.

 

William Blake - The Fly (Yes, you might laugh at this one, but I really really *love* it :D)

 

Little Fly,

Thy summer's play

My thoughtless hand

Has brushed away.

 

Am not I

A fly like thee?

Or art not thou

A man like me?

 

For I dance

And drink, and sing,

Till some blind hand

Shall brush my wing.

 

If thought is life

And strength and breath

And the want

Of thought is death;

 

Then am I

A happy fly,

If I live,

Or if I die.

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I was shuffling through some of my brothers belongings, and I came across a book of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. This was about ten years ago. I was just getting ready to take a three hour coach journey and I didn't bring anything to read with me. But for some reason I had taken the poetry book with me (because it was my brothers and he had left home) and starting reading it. I'm not really a big poetry lover but I think this poem was one of the first ones I read on that journey and it's just stayed with me ever since.

 

The tide rises, the tide falls,

 

The twilight darkens, the curlew calls;

 

Along the sea-sands damp and brown

 

The traveler hastens toward the town,

 

And the tide rises, the tide falls.

 

Darkness settles on roofs and walls,

 

But the sea, the sea in darkness calls;

 

The little waves, with their soft, white hands

 

Efface the footprints in the sands,

 

And the tide rises, the tide falls.

 

The morning breaks; the steeds in their stalls

 

Stamp and neigh, as the hostler calls;

 

The day returns, but nevermore

 

Returns the traveler to the shore.

 

And the tide rises, the tide falls.

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My absolute favourite is William Henry Davies's Leisure

 

W. H. Davies



 

Leisure

 

WHAT is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare?—

No time to stand beneath the boughs,

And stare as long as sheep and cows:

 

No time to see, when woods we pass,

Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:

 

No time to see, in broad daylight,

Streams full of stars, like skies at night:

 

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,

And watch her feet, how they can dance:

 

No time to wait till her mouth can

Enrich that smile her eyes began?

 

A poor life this if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

 

 

That is one of my favourites too.

 

As is:

 

THE DAFFODILS; OR, I WANDERED LONELY AS A CLOUD

 

by: William Wordsworth

 

I WANDERED lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o'er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

 

Continuous as the stars that shine

And twinkle on the milky way,

They stretched in never-ending line

Along the margin of the bay:

Ten thousand saw I at a glance,

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

 

The waves beside them danced; but they

Out-did the sparkling waves in glee

A poet could not but be gay,

In such a jocund company

I gazed -- and gazed -- but little thought

What wealth the show to me had brought:

 

For oft, when on my couch I lie

In vacant or in pensive mood,

They flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude;

And then my heart with pleasure fills,

And dances with the daffodils.

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On the Ning Nang Nong - Spike Milligan

 

On the Ning Nang Nong

Where the Cows go Bong!

and the monkeys all say BOO!

There's a Nong Nang Ning

Where the trees go Ping!

And the tea pots jibber jabber joo.

On the Nong Ning Nang

All the mice go Clang

And you just can't catch 'em when they do!

So its Ning Nang Nong

Cows go Bong!

Nong Nang Ning

Trees go ping

Nong Ning Nang

The mice go Clang

What a noisy place to belong

is the Ning Nang Ning Nang Nong!!

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Wow, I haven't heard that poem in many years Amesy! Thanks for posting it! :)

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