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Best Famous Robert Southey Poems

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by Edgar Lee Masters | |

Robert Southey Burke

  I spent my money trying to elect you Mayor
A.
D.
Blood.
I lavished my admiration upon you, You were to my mind the almost perfect man.
You devoured my personality, And the idealism of my youth, And the strength of a high-souled fealty.
And all my hopes for the world, And all my beliefs in Truth, Were smelted up in the blinding heat Of my devotion to you, And molded into your image.
And then when I found what you were: That your soul was small And your words were false As your blue-white porcelain teeth, And your cuffs of celluloid, I hated the love I had for you, I hated myself, I hated you For my wasted soul, and wasted youth.
And I say to all, beware of ideals, Beware of giving your love away To any man alive.


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.


More great poems below...

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 | |

To My Own Minature Picture Taken At Two Years Of Age

 And I was once like this! that glowing cheek
Was mine, those pleasure-sparkling eyes, that brow
Smooth as the level lake, when not a breeze
Dies o'er the sleeping surface! twenty years
Have wrought strange alteration! Of the friends
Who once so dearly prized this miniature,
And loved it for its likeness, some are gone
To their last home; and some, estranged in heart,
Beholding me with quick-averted glance
Pass on the other side! But still these hues
Remain unalter'd, and these features wear
The look of Infancy and Innocence.
I search myself in vain, and find no trace Of what I was: those lightly-arching lines Dark and o'erhanging now; and that mild face Settled in these strong lineaments!--There were Who form'd high hopes and flattering ones of thee Young Robert! for thine eye was quick to speak Each opening feeling: should they not have known When the rich rainbow on the morning cloud Reflects its radiant dies, the husbandman Beholds the ominous glory sad, and fears Impending storms? they augur'd happily, For thou didst love each wild and wonderous tale Of faery fiction, and thine infant tongue Lisp'd with delight the godlike deeds of Greece And rising Rome; therefore they deem'd forsooth That thou shouldst tread PREFERMENT'S pleasant path.
Ill-judging ones! they let thy little feet Stray in the pleasant paths of POESY, And when thou shouldst have prest amid the crowd There didst thou love to linger out the day Loitering beneath the laurels barren shade.
SPIRIT of SPENSER! was the wanderer wrong? This little picture was for ornament Design'd, to shine amid the motley mob Of Fashion and of Folly,--is it not More honour'd by this solitary song?


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 Old Mans Comforts and how he gained them

 You are old, Father William, the young man cried,
The few locks which are left you are grey;
You are hale, Father William, a hearty old man,
Now tell me the reason I pray.
In the days of my youth, Father William replied, I remember'd that youth would fly fast, And abused not my health and my vigour at first That I never might need them at last.
You are old, Father William, the young man cried, And pleasures with youth pass away, And yet you lament not the days that are gone, Now tell me the reason I pray.
In the days of my youth, Father William replied, I remember'd that youth could not last; I thought of the future whatever I did, That I never might grieve for the past.
You are old, Father William, the young man cried, And life must be hastening away; You are chearful, and love to converse upon death! Now tell me the reason I pray.
I am chearful, young man, Father William replied, Let the cause thy attention engage; In the days of my youth I remember'd my God! And He hath not forgotten my age.


by Robert Southey | |

To The Chapel Bell

 "Lo I, the man who erst the Muse did ask
Her deepest notes to swell the Patriot's meeds,
Am now enforst a far unfitter task
For cap and gown to leave my minstrel weeds,"
For yon dull noise that tinkles on the air
Bids me lay by the lyre and go to morning prayer.
Oh how I hate the sound! it is the Knell, That still a requiem tolls to Comfort's hour; And loth am I, at Superstition's bell, To quit or Morpheus or the Muses bower.
Better to lie and dose, than gape amain, Hearing still mumbled o'er, the same eternal strain.
Thou tedious herald of more tedious prayers Say hast thou ever summoned from his rest, One being awakening to religious awe? Or rous'd one pious transport in the breast? Or rather, do not all reluctant creep To linger out the hour, in listlessness or sleep? I love the bell, that calls the poor to pray Chiming from village church its chearful sound, When the sun smiles on Labour's holy day, And all the rustic train are gathered round, Each deftly dizen'd in his Sunday's best And pleas'd to hail the day of piety and rest.
Or when, dim-shadowing o'er the face of day, The mantling mists of even-tide rise slow, As thro' the forest gloom I wend my way, The minster curfew's sullen roar I know; I pause and love its solemn toll to hear, As made by distance soft, it dies upon the ear.
Nor not to me the unfrequent midnight knell Tolls sternly harmonizing; on mine ear As the deep death-fraught sounds long lingering dwell Sick to the heart of Love and Hope and Fear Soul-jaundiced, I do loathe Life's upland steep And with strange envy muse the dead man's dreamless sleep.
But thou, memorial of monastic gall! What Fancy sad or lightsome hast thou given? Thy vision-scaring sounds alone recall The prayer that trembles on a yawn to heaven; And this Dean's gape, and that Dean's nosal tone, And Roman rites retain'd, tho' Roman faith be flown.


by Robert Southey | |

Written On Sunday Morning

 Go thou and seek the House of Prayer!
I to the Woodlands wend, and there
In lovely Nature see the GOD OF LOVE.
The swelling organ's peal Wakes not my soul to zeal, Like the wild music of the wind-swept grove.
The gorgeous altar and the mystic vest Rouse not such ardor in my breast, As where the noon-tide beam Flash'd from the broken stream, Quick vibrates on the dazzled sight; Or where the cloud-suspended rain Sweeps in shadows o'er the plain; Or when reclining on the clift's huge height I mark the billows burst in silver light.
Go thou and seek the House of Prayer! I to the Woodlands shall repair, Feed with all Natures charms mine eyes, And hear all Natures melodies.
The primrose bank shall there dispense Faint fragrance to the awaken'd sense, The morning beams that life and joy impart Shall with their influence warm my heart.
And the full tear that down my cheek will steal, Shall speak the prayer of praise I feel! Go thou and seek the House of Prayer! I to the woodlands bend my way And meet RELIGION there.
She needs not haunt the high-arch'd dome to pray Where storied windows dim the doubtful day: With LIBERTY she loves to rove.
Wide o'er the heathy hill or cowslip'd dale; Or seek the shelter of the embowering grove, Sweet are these scenes to her, and when the night Pours in the north her silver streams of light, She woos Reflexion in the silent gloom, And ponders on the world to come.


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 Paupers Funeral

 What! and not one to heave the pious sigh!
Not one whose sorrow-swoln and aching eye
For social scenes, for life's endearments fled,
Shall drop a tear and dwell upon the dead!
Poor wretched Outcast! I will weep for thee,
And sorrow for forlorn humanity.
Yes I will weep, but not that thou art come To the stern Sabbath of the silent tomb: For squalid Want, and the black scorpion Care, Heart-withering fiends! shall never enter there.
I sorrow for the ills thy life has known As thro' the world's long pilgrimage, alone, Haunted by Poverty and woe-begone, Unloved, unfriended, thou didst journey on: Thy youth in ignorance and labour past, And thine old age all barrenness and blast! Hard was thy Fate, which, while it doom'd to woe, Denied thee wisdom to support the blow; And robb'd of all its energy thy mind, Ere yet it cast thee on thy fellow-kind, Abject of thought, the victim of distress, To wander in the world's wide wilderness.
Poor Outcast sleep in peace! the wintry storm Blows bleak no more on thine unshelter'd form; Thy woes are past; thou restest in the tomb;-- I pause--and ponder on the days to come.


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 | |

The Well of St. Keyne

 A Well there is in the west country,
And a clearer one never was seen;
There is not a wife in the west country
But has heard of the Well of St.
Keyne.
An oak and an elm-tree stand beside, And behind doth an ash-tree grow, And a willow from the bank above Droops to the water below.
A traveller came to the Well of St.
Keyne; Joyfully he drew nigh, For from the cock-crow he had been travelling, And there was not a cloud in the sky.
He drank of the water so cool and clear, For thirsty and hot was he, And he sat down upon the bank Under the willow-tree.
There came a man from the house hard by At the Well to fill his pail; On the Well-side he rested it, And he bade the Stranger hail.
"Now art thou a bachelor, Stranger?" quoth he, "For an if thou hast a wife, The happiest draught thou hast drank this day That ever thou didst in thy life.
"Or has thy good woman, if one thou hast, Ever here in Cornwall been? For an if she have, I'll venture my life She has drank of the Well of St.
Keyne.
" "I have left a good woman who never was here.
" The Stranger he made reply, "But that my draught should be the better for that, I pray you answer me why?" "St.
Keyne," quoth the Cornish-man, "many a time Drank of this crystal Well, And before the Angel summon'd her, She laid on the water a spell.
"If the Husband of this gifted Well Shall drink before his Wife, A happy man thenceforth is he, For he shall be Master for life.
"But if the Wife should drink of it first,-- God help the Husband then!" The Stranger stoopt to the Well of St.
Keyne, And drank of the water again.
"You drank of the Well I warrant betimes?" He to the Cornish-man said: But the Cornish-man smiled as the Stranger spake, And sheepishly shook his head.
"I hasten'd as soon as the wedding was done, And left my Wife in the porch; But i' faith she had been wiser than me, For she took a bottle to Church.
"


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.