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Best Famous Sidney Lanier Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Sidney Lanier poems. This is a select list of the best famous Sidney Lanier poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Sidney Lanier poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of Sidney Lanier poems.

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by Sidney Lanier | |

Nirvana

 not much chance,
completely cut loose from
purpose,
he was a young man
riding a bus
through North Carolina
on the wat to somewhere
and it began to snow
and the bus stopped 
at a little cafe
in the hills
and the passengers 
entered.
he sat at the counter with the others, he ordered and the food arived.
the meal was particularly good and the coffee.
the waitress was unlike the women he had known.
she was unaffected, there was a natural humor which came from her.
the fry cook said crazy things.
the dishwasher.
in back, laughed, a good clean pleasant laugh.
the young man watched the snow through the windows.
he wanted to stay in that cafe forever.
the curious feeling swam through him that everything was beautiful there, that it would always stay beautiful there.
then the bus driver told the passengers that it was time to board.
the young man thought, I'll just sit here, I'll just stay here.
but then he rose and followed the others into the bus.
he found his seat and looked at the cafe through the bus window.
then the bus moved off, down a curve, downward, out of the hills.
the young man looked straight foreward.
he heard the other passengers speaking of other things, or they were reading or attempting to sleep.
they had not noticed the magic.
the young man put his head to one side, closed his eyes, pretended to sleep.
there was nothing else to do- just to listen to the sound of the engine, the sound of the tires in the snow.


by Sidney Lanier | |

Night

 A pale enchanted moon is sinking low
Behind the dunes that fringe the shadowy lea, 
And there is haunted starlight on the flow
Of immemorial sea.
I am alone and need no more pretend Laughter or smile to hide a hungry heart; I walk with solitude as with a friend Enfolded and apart.
We tread an eerie road across the moor Where shadows weave upon their ghostly looms, And winds sing an old lyric that might lure Sad queens from ancient tombs.
I am a sister to the loveliness Of cool far hill and long-remembered shore, Finding in it a sweet forgetfulness Of all that hurt before.
The world of day, its bitterness and cark, No longer have the power to make me weep; I welcome this communion of the dark As toilers welcome sleep.


by Sidney Lanier | |

Ireland.

 Written for the Art Autograph during the Irish Famine, 1880.
Heartsome Ireland, winsome Ireland, Charmer of the sun and sea, Bright beguiler of old anguish, How could Famine frown on thee? As our Gulf-Stream, drawn to thee-ward, Turns him from his northward flow, And our wintry western headlands Send thee summer from their snow, Thus the main and cordial current Of our love sets over sea, -- Tender, comely, valiant Ireland, Songful, soulful, sorrowful Ireland, -- Streaming warm to comfort thee.


More great poems below...

by Sidney Lanier | |

Martha Washington

 Written for the "Martha Washington Court Journal".
Down cold snow-stretches of our bitter time, When windy shams and the rain-mocking sleet Of Trade have cased us in such icy rime That hearts are scarcely hot enough to beat, Thy fame, O Lady of the lofty eyes, Doth fall along the age, like as a lane Of Spring, in whose most generous boundaries Full many a frozen virtue warms again.
To-day I saw the pale much-burdened form Of Charity come limping o'er the line, And straighten from the bending of the storm And flush with stirrings of new strength divine, Such influence and sweet gracious impulse came Out of the beams of thine immortal name!


by Sidney Lanier | |

Night

 HEART-HIDDEN from the outer things I rose;
The spirit woke anew in nightly birth
Unto the vastness where forever glows
 The star-soul of the earth.
There all alone in primal ecstasy, Within her depths where revels never tire, The olden Beauty shines: each thought of me Is veined through with its fire.
And all my thoughts are throngs of living souls; They breathe in me, heart unto heart allied; Their joy undimmed, though when the morning tolls The planets may divide.


by Sidney Lanier | |

Night and Day

 When the golden day is done, 
Through the closing portal, 
Child and garden, Flower and sun, 
Vanish all things mortal.
As the blinding shadows fall As the rays diminish, Under evening's cloak they all Roll away and vanish.
Garden darkened, daisy shut, Child in bed, they slumber-- Glow-worm in the hallway rut, Mice among the lumber.
In the darkness houses shine, Parents move the candles; Till on all the night divine Turns the bedroom handles.
Till at last the day begins In the east a-breaking, In the hedges and the whins Sleeping birds a-waking.
In the darkness shapes of things, Houses, trees and hedges, Clearer grow; and sparrow's wings Beat on window ledges.
These shall wake the yawning maid; She the door shall open-- Finding dew on garden glade And the morning broken.
There my garden grows again Green and rosy painted, As at eve behind the pane From my eyes it fainted.
Just as it was shut away, Toy-like, in the even, Here I see it glow with day Under glowing heaven.
Every path and every plot, Every blush of roses, Every blue forget-me-not Where the dew reposes, "Up!" they cry, "the day is come On the smiling valleys: We have beat the morning drum; Playmate, join your allies!"


by Sidney Lanier | |

Night

 BURNING our hearts out with longing
 The daylight passed:
Millions and millions together,
 The stars at last!


Purple the woods where the dewdrops,
 Pearly and grey,
Wash in the cool from our faces
 The flame of day.
Glory and shadow grow one in The hazel wood: Laughter and peace in the stillness Together brood.
Hopes all unearthly are thronging In hearts of earth: Tongues of the starlight are calling Our souls to birth.
Down from the heaven its secrets Drop one by one; Where time is for ever beginning And time is done.
There light eternal is over Chaos and night: Singing with dawn lips for ever, “Let there be light!” There too for ever in twilight Time slips away, Closing in darkness and rapture Its awful day.


by Sidney Lanier | |

A Song Of Eternity In Time

 Once, at night, in the manor wood
My Love and I long silent stood,
Amazed that any heavens could
Decree to part us, bitterly repining.
My Love, in aimless love and grief, Reached forth and drew aside a leaf That just above us played the thief And stole our starlight that for us was shining.
A star that had remarked her pain Shone straightway down that leafy lane, And wrought his image, mirror-plain, Within a tear that on her lash hung gleaming.
"Thus Time," I cried, "is but a tear Some one hath wept 'twixt hope and fear, Yet in his little lucent sphere Our star of stars, Eternity, is beaming.
"


by Sidney Lanier | |

A Song Of The Future.

 Sail fast, sail fast,
Ark of my hopes, Ark of my dreams;
Sweep lordly o'er the drowned Past,
Fly glittering through the sun's strange beams;
Sail fast, sail fast.
Breaths of new buds from off some drying lea With news about the Future scent the sea: My brain is beating like the heart of Haste: I'll loose me a bird upon this Present waste; Go, trembling song, And stay not long; oh, stay not long: Thou'rt only a gray and sober dove, But thine eye is faith and thy wing is love.


by Sidney Lanier | |

The Raven Days

 Our hearths are gone out and our hearts are broken,
And but the ghosts of homes to us remain,
And ghastly eyes and hollow sighs give token
From friend to friend of an unspoken pain.
O Raven days, dark Raven days of sorrow, Bring to us in your whetted ivory beaks Some sign out of the far land of To-morrow, Some strip of sea-green dawn, some orange streaks.
Ye float in dusky files, forever croaking.
Ye chill our manhood with your dreary shade.
Dumb in the dark, not even God invoking, We lie in chains, too weak to be afraid.
O Raven days, dark Raven days of sorrow, Will ever any warm light come again? Will ever the lit mountains of To-morrow Begin to gleam athwart the mournful plain?


by Sidney Lanier | |

The Waving Of The Corn

 Ploughman, whose gnarly hand yet kindly wheeled
Thy plough to ring this solitary tree
With clover, whose round plat, reserved a-field,
In cool green radius twice my length may be --
Scanting the corn thy furrows else might yield,
To pleasure August, bees, fair thoughts, and me,
That here come oft together -- daily I,
Stretched prone in summer's mortal ecstasy,
Do stir with thanks to thee, as stirs this morn
With waving of the corn.
Unseen, the farmer's boy from round the hill Whistles a snatch that seeks his soul unsought, And fills some time with tune, howbeit shrill; The cricket tells straight on his simple thought -- Nay, 'tis the cricket's way of being still; The peddler bee drones in, and gossips naught; Far down the wood, a one-desiring dove Times me the beating of the heart of love: And these be all the sounds that mix, each morn, With waving of the corn.
From here to where the louder passions dwell, Green leagues of hilly separation roll: Trade ends where yon far clover ridges swell.
Ye terrible Towns, ne'er claim the trembling soul That, craftless all to buy or hoard or sell, From out your deadly complex quarrel stole To company with large amiable trees, Suck honey summer with unjealous bees, And take Time's strokes as softly as this morn Takes waving of the corn.


by Sidney Lanier | |

The Wedding

 O marriage-bells, your clamor tells
Two weddings in one breath.
SHE marries whom her love compels: -- And I wed Goodman Death! My brain is blank, my tears are red; Listen, O God: -- "I will," he said: -- And I would that I were dead.
Come groomsman Grief and bridesmaid Pain Come and stand with a ghastly twain.
My Bridegroom Death is come o'er the meres To wed a bride with bloody tears.
Ring, ring, O bells, full merrily: Life-bells to her, death-bells to me: O Death, I am true wife to thee!


by Sidney Lanier | |

Thou And I

 So one in heart and thought, I trow,
That thou might'st press the strings and I might draw the bow
And both would meet in music sweet,
Thou and I, I trow.


by Sidney Lanier | |

To Charlotte Cushman

 Look where a three-point star shall weave his beam
Into the slumb'rous tissue of some stream,
Till his bright self o'er his bright copy seem
Fulfillment dropping on a come-true dream;
So in this night of art thy soul doth show
Her excellent double in the steadfast flow
Of wishing love that through men's hearts doth go:
At once thou shin'st above and shin'st below.
E'en when thou strivest there within Art's sky (Each star must o'er a strenuous orbit fly), Full calm thine image in our love doth lie, A Motion glassed in a Tranquillity.
So triple-rayed, thou mov'st, yet stay'st, serene -- Art's artist, Love's dear woman, Fame's good queen!


by Sidney Lanier | |

Resurrection

 Sometimes in morning sunlights by the river
Where in the early fall long grasses wave,
Light winds from over the moorland sink and shiver
And sigh as if just blown across a grave.
And then I pause and listen to this sighing.
I look with strange eyes on the well-known stream.
I hear wild birth-cries uttered by the dying.
I know men waking who appear to dream.
Then from the water-lilies slow uprises The still vast face of all the life I know, Changed now, and full of wonders and surprises, With fire in eyes that once were glazed with snow.
Fair now the brows old Pain had erewhile wrinkled, And peace and strength about the calm mouth dwell.
Clean of the ashes that Repentance sprinkled, The meek head poises like a flower-bell.
All the old scars of wanton wars are vanished; And what blue bruises grappling Sense had left And sad remains of redder stains are banished, And the dim blotch of heart-committed theft.
O still vast vision of transfigured features Unvisited by secret crimes or dooms, Remain, remain amid these water-creatures, Stand, shine among yon water-lily blooms.
For eighteen centuries ripple down the river, And windy times the stalks of empires wave, -- Let the winds come from the moor and sigh and shiver, Fain, fain am I, O Christ, to pass the grave.


by Sidney Lanier | |

Rose-Morals

 I.
-- Red.
Would that my songs might be What roses make by day and night -- Distillments of my clod of misery Into delight.
Soul, could'st thou bare thy breast As yon red rose, and dare the day, All clean, and large, and calm with velvet rest? Say yea -- say yea! Ah, dear my Rose, good-bye; The wind is up; so; drift away.
That songs from me as leaves from thee may fly, I strive, I pray.
II.
-- White.
Soul, get thee to the heart Of yonder tuberose: hide thee there -- There breathe the meditations of thine art Suffused with prayer.
Of spirit grave yet light, How fervent fragrances uprise Pure-born from these most rich and yet most white Virginities! Mulched with unsavory death, Grow, Soul! unto such white estate, That virginal-prayerful art shall be thy breath, Thy work, thy fate.


by Sidney Lanier | |

Souls And Rain-Drops

 Light rain-drops fall and wrinkle the sea,
Then vanish, and die utterly.
One would not know that rain-drops fell If the round sea-wrinkles did not tell.
So souls come down and wrinkle life And vanish in the flesh-sea strife.
One might not know that souls had place Were't not for the wrinkles in life's face.


by Sidney Lanier | |

Special Pleading

 Time, hurry my Love to me:
Haste, haste! Lov'st not good company?
Here's but a heart-break sandy waste
'Twixt Now and Then.
Why, killing haste Were best, dear Time, for thee, for thee! Oh, would that I might divine Thy name beyond the zodiac sign Wherefrom our times-to-come descend.
He called thee `Sometime'.
Change it, friend: `Now-time' sounds so much more fine! Sweet Sometime, fly fast to me: Poor Now-time sits in the Lonesome-tree And broods as gray as any dove, And calls, `When wilt thou come, O Love?' And pleads across the waste to thee.
Good Moment, that giv'st him me, Wast ever in love? Maybe, maybe Thou'lt be this heavenly velvet time When Day and Night as rhyme and rhyme Set lip to lip dusk-modestly; Or haply some noon afar, -- O life's top bud, mixt rose and star, How ever can thine utmost sweet Be star-consummate, rose-complete, Till thy rich reds full opened are? Well, be it dusk-time or noon-time, I ask but one small boon, Time: Come thou in night, come thou in day, I care not, I care not: have thine own way, But only, but only, come soon, Time.


by Sidney Lanier | |

Spring Greeting

 From the German of Herder.
All faintly through my soul to-day, As from a bell that far away Is tinkled by some frolic fay, Floateth a lovely chiming.
Thou magic bell, to many a fell And many a winter-saddened dell Thy tongue a tale of Spring doth tell, Too passionate-sweet for rhyming.
Chime out, thou little song of Spring, Float in the blue skies ravishing.
Thy song-of-life a joy doth bring That's sweet, albeit fleeting.
Float on the Spring-winds e'en to my home: And when thou to a rose shalt come That hath begun to show her bloom, Say, I send her greeting!


by Sidney Lanier | |

Strange Jokes

 Well: Death is a huge omnivorous Toad
Grim squatting on a twilight road.
He catcheth all that Circumstance Hath tossed to him.
He curseth all who upward glance As lost to him.
Once in a whimsey mood he sat And talked of life, in proverbs pat, To Eve in Eden, -- "Death, on Life" -- As if he knew! And so he toadied Adam's wife There, in the dew.
O dainty dew, O morning dew That gleamed in the world's first dawn, did you And the sweet grass and manful oaks Give lair and rest To him who toadwise sits and croaks His death-behest? Who fears the hungry Toad? Not I! He but unfetters me to fly.
The German still, when one is dead, Cries out "Der Tod!" But, pilgrims, Christ will walk ahead And clear the road.


by Sidney Lanier | |

Struggle

 My soul is like the oar that momently
Dies in a desperate stress beneath the wave,
Then glitters out again and sweeps the sea:
Each second I'm new-born from some new grave.


by Sidney Lanier | |

Tampa Robins

 The robin laughed in the orange-tree:
"Ho, windy North, a fig for thee:
While breasts are red and wings are bold
And green trees wave us globes of gold,
Time's scythe shall reap but bliss for me
-- Sunlight, song, and the orange-tree.
Burn, golden globes in leafy sky, My orange-planets: crimson I Will shine and shoot among the spheres (Blithe meteor that no mortal fears) And thrid the heavenly orange-tree With orbits bright of minstrelsy.
If that I hate wild winter's spite -- The gibbet trees, the world in white, The sky but gray wind over a grave -- Why should I ache, the season's slave? I'll sing from the top of the orange-tree `Gramercy, winter's tyranny.
' I'll south with the sun, and keep my clime; My wing is king of the summer-time; My breast to the sun his torch shall hold; And I'll call down through the green and gold `Time, take thy scythe, reap bliss for me, Bestir thee under the orange-tree.
'"


by Sidney Lanier | |

The Mocking-Bird

 Superb and sole, upon a plumed spray
That o'er the general leafage boldly grew,
He summ'd the woods in song; or typic drew
The watch of hungry hawks, the lone dismay
Of languid doves when long their lovers stray,
And all birds' passion-plays that sprinkle dew
At morn in brake or bosky avenue.
Whate'er birds did or dreamed, this bird could say.
Then down he shot, bounced airily along The sward, twitched in a grasshopper, made song Midflight, perched, prinked, and to his art again.
Sweet Science, this large riddle read me plain: How may the death of that dull insect be The life of yon trim Shakespeare on the tree?


by Sidney Lanier | |

The Palm And The Pine

 From the German of Heine.
In the far North stands a Pine-tree, lone, Upon a wintry height; It sleeps: around it snows have thrown A covering of white.
It dreams forever of a Palm That, far i' the Morning-land, Stands silent in a most sad calm Midst of the burning sand.


by Sidney Lanier | |

The Dying Words Of Stonewall Jackson

 "Order A.
P.
Hill to prepare for battle.
" "Tell Major Hawks to advance the Commissary train.
" "Let us cross the river and rest in the shade.
" The stars of Night contain the glittering Day And rain his glory down with sweeter grace Upon the dark World's grand, enchanted face -- All loth to turn away.
And so the Day, about to yield his breath, Utters the stars unto the listening Night, To stand for burning fare-thee-wells of light Said on the verge of death.
O hero-life that lit us like the sun! O hero-words that glittered like the stars And stood and shone above the gloomy wars When the hero-life was done! The phantoms of a battle came to dwell I' the fitful vision of his dying eyes -- Yet even in battle-dreams, he sends supplies To those he loved so well.
His army stands in battle-line arrayed: His couriers fly: all's done: now God decide! -- And not till then saw he the Other Side Or would accept the shade.
Thou Land whose sun is gone, thy stars remain! Still shine the words that miniature his deeds.
O thrice-beloved, where'er thy great heart bleeds, Solace hast thou for pain!