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Best Famous Robert Southey Poems

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by Robert Southey | |

Sonnet 06

 (to a brook near the village of Corston.
) As thus I bend me o'er thy babbling stream And watch thy current, Memory's hand pourtrays The faint form'd scenes of the departed days, Like the far forest by the moon's pale beam Dimly descried yet lovely.
I have worn Upon thy banks the live-long hour away, When sportive Childhood wantoned thro' the day, Joy'd at the opening splendour of the morn, Or as the twilight darken'd, heaved the sigh Thinking of distant home; as down my cheek At the fond thought slow stealing on, would speak The silent eloquence of the full eye.
Dim are the long past days, yet still they please As thy soft sounds half heard, borne on the inconstant breeze.


by Robert Southey | |

Inscription 02 - For A Column At Newbury

 Art thou a Patriot Traveller? on this field
Did FALKLAND fall the blameless and the brave
Beneath a Tyrant's banners: dost thou boast
Of loyal ardor? HAMBDEN perish'd here,
The rebel HAMBDEN, at whose glorious name
The heart of every honest Englishman
Beats high with conscious pride.
Both uncorrupt, Friends to their common country both, they fought, They died in adverse armies.
Traveller! If with thy neighbour thou should'st not accord, In charity remember these good men, And quell each angry and injurious thought.


by Robert Southey | |

Sonnet 04

 What tho' no sculptur'd monument proclaim
Thy fate-yet Albert in my breast I bear
Inshrin'd the sad remembrance; yet thy name
Will fill my throbbing bosom.
When DESPAIR The child of murdered HOPE, fed on thy heart, Loved honored friend, I saw thee sink forlorn Pierced to the soul by cold Neglect's keen dart, And Penury's hard ills, and pitying Scorn, And the dark spectre of departed JOY Inhuman MEMORY.
Often on thy grave Love I the solitary hour to employ Thinking on other days; and heave the sigh Responsive, when I mark the high grass wave Sad sounding as the cold breeze rustles by.


by Robert Southey | |

Sonnet 05

 Hard by the road, where on that little mound
The high grass rustles to the passing breeze,
The child of Misery rests her head in peace.
Pause there in sadness.
That unhallowed ground Inshrines what once was Isabel.
Sleep on Sleep on, poor Outcast! lovely was thy cheek, And thy mild eye was eloquent to speak The soul of Pity.
Pale and woe-begone Soon did thy fair cheek fade, and thine eye weep The tear of anguish for the babe unborn, The helpless heir of Poverty and Scorn.
She drank the draught that chill'd her soul to sleep.
I pause and wipe the big drop from mine eye, Whilst the proud Levite scowls and passes by.


by Robert Southey | |

Sonnet 03

 Not to thee Bedford mournful is the tale
Of days departed.
Time in his career Arraigns not thee that the neglected year Has past unheeded onward.
To the vale Of years thou journeyest.
May the future road Be pleasant as the past! and on my friend Friendship and Love, best blessings! still attend, 'Till full of days he reach the calm abode Where Nature slumbers.
Lovely is the age Of Virtue.
With such reverence we behold The silver hairs, as some grey oak grown old That whilome mock'd the rushing tempest's rage Now like the monument of strength decayed With rarely-sprinkled leaves casting a trembling shade.


by Robert Southey | |

Sonnet 07

 (to the rainbow)

Mild arch of promise! on the evening sky
Thou shinest fair with many a lovely ray
Each in the other melting.
Much mine eye Delights to linger on thee; for the day, Changeful and many-weather'd, seem'd to smile Flashing brief splendor thro' its clouds awhile, That deepen'd dark anon and fell in rain: But pleasant is it now to pause, and view Thy various tints of frail and watery hue, And think the storm shall not return again.
Such is the smile that Piety bestows On the good man's pale cheek, when he in peace Departing gently from a world of woes, Anticipates the realm where sorrows cease.


by Robert Southey | |

Sonnet 08

 With many a weary step, at length I gain
Thy summit, Lansdown; and the cool breeze plays,
Gratefully round my brow, as hence the gaze
Returns to dwell upon the journeyed plain.
'Twas a long way and tedious! to the eye Tho fair the extended vale, and fair to view The falling leaves of many a faded hue, That eddy in the wild gust moaning by.
Even so it fared with Life! in discontent Restless thro' Fortune's mingled scenes I went, Yet wept to think they would return no more! But cease fond heart in such sad thoughts to roam, For surely thou ere long shall reach thy home, And pleasant is the way that lies before.


by Robert Southey | |

To a Goose

 If thou didst feed on western plains of yore 
Or waddle wide with flat and flabby feet 
Over some Cambrian mountain's plashy moor, 
Or find in farmer's yard a safe retreat 
From gipsy thieves and foxes sly and fleet; 
If thy grey quills by lawyer guided, trace 
Deeds big with ruin to some wretched race, 
Or love-sick poet's sonnet, sad and sweet, 
Wailing the rigour of some lady fair; 
Or if, the drudge of housemaid's daily toil, 
Cobwebs and dust thy pinion white besoil, 
Departed goose! I neither know nor care.
But this I know, that thou wert very fine, Seasoned with sage and onions and port wine.


by Robert Southey | |

Inscription 08 - For The Cenotaph At Ermenonville

 STRANGER! the MAN OF NATURE lies not here:
Enshrin'd far distant by his rival's side
His relics rest, there by the giddy throng
With blind idolatry alike revered!
Wiselier directed have thy pilgrim feet
Explor'd the scenes of Ermenonville.
ROUSSEAU Loved these calm haunts of Solitude and Peace; Here he has heard the murmurs of the stream, And the soft rustling of the poplar grove, When o'er their bending boughs the passing wind Swept a grey shade.
Here if thy breast be full, If in thine eye the tear devout should gush, His SPIRIT shall behold thee, to thine home From hence returning, purified of heart.


by Robert Southey | |

To Mary Wollstonecraft

 The lilly cheek, the "purple light of love,"
The liquid lustre of the melting eye,--
Mary! of these the Poet sung, for these
Did Woman triumph! with no angry frown
View this degrading conquest.
At that age No MAID OF ARC had snatch'd from coward man The heaven-blest sword of Liberty; thy sex Could boast no female ROLAND'S martyrdom; No CORDE'S angel and avenging arm Had sanctified again the Murderer's name As erst when Caesar perish'd: yet some strains May even adorn this theme, befitting me To offer, nor unworthy thy regard.


by Robert Southey | |

The Curse of Kehama

 I charm thy life, 
From the weapons of strife, 
From stone and from wood, 
From fire and from flood, 
From the serpent’s tooth, 
And the beast of blood.
From sickness I charm thee, And time shall not harm thee; But earth, which is mine, Its fruits shall deny thee; And water shall hear me, And know thee and flee thee: And the winds shall not touch thee When they pass by thee, And the dews shall not wet thee When they fall nigh thee.
And thou shalt seek death, To release thee, in vain; Thou shalt live in thy pain, While Kehama shall reign, With a fire in thy heart, And a fire in thy brain.
And sleep shall obey me, And visit thee never, And the curse shall be on thee Forever and ever.


by Robert Southey | |

The Race Of Banquo

 Fly, son of Banquo! Fleance, fly!
Leave thy guilty sire to die.
O'er the heath the stripling fled, The wild storm howling round his head.
Fear mightier thro' the shades of night Urged his feet, and wing'd his flight; And still he heard his father cry Fly, son of Banquo! Fleance, fly.
Fly, son of Banquo! Fleance, fly Leave thy guilty sire to die.
On every blast was heard the moan The anguish'd shriek, the death-fraught groan; Loathly night-hags join the yell And see--the midnight rites of Hell.
Forms of magic! spare my life! Shield me from the murderer's knife! Before me dim in lurid light Float the phantoms of the night-- Behind I hear my Father cry, Fly, son of Banquo--Fleance, fly! Parent of the sceptred race, Fearless tread the circled space: Fearless Fleance venture near-- Sire of monarchs--spurn at fear.
Sisters with prophetic breath Pour we now the dirge of Death!


by Robert Southey | |

Inscription 07 - For A Tablet On The Banks Of A Stream

 Stranger! awhile upon this mossy bank
Recline thee.
If the Sun rides high, the breeze, That loves to ripple o'er the rivulet, Will play around thy brow, and the cool sound Of running waters soothe thee.
Mark how clear It sparkles o'er the shallows, and behold Where o'er its surface wheels with restless speed Yon glossy insect, on the sand below How the swift shadow flies.
The stream is pure In solitude, and many a healthful herb Bends o'er its course and drinks the vital wave: But passing on amid the haunts of man, It finds pollution there, and rolls from thence A tainted tide.
Seek'st thou for HAPPINESS? Go Stranger, sojourn in the woodland cot Of INNOCENCE, and thou shalt find her there.


by Robert Southey | |

My Days among the Dead are Past

 My days among the Dead are past;
Around me I behold,
Where'er these casual eyes are cast,
The mighty minds of old;
My never-failing friends are they,
With whom I converse day by day.
With them I take delight in weal, And seek relief in woe; And while I understand and feel How much to them I owe, My cheeks have often been bedew'd With tears of thoughtful gratitude.
My thoughts are with the Dead, with them I live in long-past years, Their virtues love, their faults condemn, Partake their hopes and fears, And from their lessons seek and find Instruction with an humble mind.
My hopes are with the Dead, anon My place with them will be, And I with them shall travel on Through all Futurity; Yet leaving here a name, I trust, That will not perish in the dust.


by Robert Southey | |

Inscription 01 - For A Tablet At Godstow Nunnery

 Here Stranger rest thee! from the neighbouring towers
Of Oxford, haply thou hast forced thy bark
Up this strong stream, whose broken waters here
Send pleasant murmurs to the listening sense:
Rest thee beneath this hazel; its green boughs
Afford a grateful shade, and to the eye
Fair is its fruit: Stranger! the seemly fruit
Is worthless, all is hollowness within,
For on the grave of ROSAMUND it grows!
Young lovely and beloved she fell seduced,
And here retir'd to wear her wretched age
In earnest prayer and bitter penitence,
Despis'd and self-despising: think of her
Young Man! and learn to reverence Womankind!


by Robert Southey | |

Inscription 03 - For A Cavern That Overlooks The River Avon

 Enter this cavern Stranger! the ascent
Is long and steep and toilsome; here awhile
Thou mayest repose thee, from the noontide heat
O'ercanopied by this arch'd rock that strikes
A grateful coolness: clasping its rough arms
Round the rude portal, the old ivy hangs
Its dark green branches down, and the wild Bees,
O'er its grey blossoms murmuring ceaseless, make
Most pleasant melody.
No common spot Receives thee, for the Power who prompts the song, Loves this secluded haunt.
The tide below Scarce sends the sound of waters to thine ear; And this high-hanging forest to the wind Varies its many hues.
Gaze Stranger here! And let thy soften'd heart intensely feel How good, how lovely, Nature! When from hence Departing to the City's crouded streets, Thy sickening eye at every step revolts From scenes of vice and wretchedness; reflect That Man creates the evil he endures.


by Robert Southey | |

Inscription 04 - For The Apartment In Chepstow-Castle

 For thirty years secluded from mankind,
Here Marten linger'd.
Often have these walls Echoed his footsteps, as with even tread He paced around his prison: not to him Did Nature's fair varieties exist; He never saw the Sun's delightful beams, Save when thro' yon high bars it pour'd a sad And broken splendor.
Dost thou ask his crime? He had rebell'd against the King, and sat In judgment on him; for his ardent mind Shaped goodliest plans of happiness on earth, And peace and liberty.
Wild dreams! But such As PLATO lov'd; such as with holy zeal Our MILTON worshipp'd.
Blessed hopes! awhile From man withheld, even to the latter days, When CHRIST shall come and all things be fulfill'd.


by Robert Southey | |

Inscription 05 - For A Monument At Silbury-Hill

 This mound in some remote and dateless day
Rear'd o'er a Chieftain of the Age of Hills,
May here detain thee Traveller! from thy road
Not idly lingering.
In his narrow house Some Warrior sleeps below: his gallant deeds Haply at many a solemn festival The Bard has harp'd, but perish'd is the song Of praise, as o'er these bleak and barren downs The wind that passes and is heard no more.
Go Traveller on thy way, and contemplate Glory's brief pageant, and remember then That one good deed was never wrought in vain.


by Robert Southey | |

Inscription 06 - For A Monument In The New For

 This is the place where William's kingly power
Did from their poor and peaceful homes expel,
Unfriended, desolate, and shelterless,
The habitants of all the fertile track
Far as these wilds extend.
He levell'd down Their little cottages, he bade their fields Lie barren, so that o'er the forest waste He might most royally pursue his sports! If that thine heart be human, Passenger! Sure it will swell within thee, and thy lips Will mutter curses on him.
Think thou then What cities flame, what hosts unsepulchred Pollute the passing wind, when raging Power Drives on his blood-hounds to the chase of Man; And as thy thoughts anticipate that day When God shall judge aright, in charity Pray for the wicked rulers of mankind.


by Robert Southey | |

Ariste

 Let ancient stories round the painter's art, 
Who stole from many a maid his Venus' charms, 
Till warm devotion fired each gazer's heart 
And every bosom bounded with alarms.
He culled the beauties of his native isle, From some the blush of beauty's vermeil dyes, From some the lovely look, the winning smile, From some the languid lustre of the eyes.
Low to the finished form the nations round In adoration bent the pious knee; With myrtle wreaths the artist's brow they crowned, Whose skill, Ariste, only imaged thee.
Ill-fated artist, doomed so wide to seek The charms that blossom on Ariste's cheek!