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Best Famous Beach Poems

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

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See also: Best Member Poems

by Matthew Arnold | |

Dover Beach

The sea is calm to-night.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair Upon the straits; on the French coast the light Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand, Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air! Only, from the long line of spray Where the sea meets the moon-blanch'd land, Listen! you hear the grating roar Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling, At their return, up the high strand, Begin, and cease, and then again begin, With tremulous cadence slow, and bring The eternal note of sadness in.
Sophocles long ago Heard it on the {AE}gean, and it brought Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow Of human misery; we Find also in the sound a thought, Hearing it by this distant northern sea.
The Sea of Faith Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furl'd.
But now I only hear Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar, Retreating, to the breath Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear And naked shingles of the world.
Ah, love, let us be true To one another! for the world, which seems To lie before us like a land of dreams, So various, so beautiful, so new, Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light, Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain; And we are here as on a darkling plain Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, Where ignorant armies clash by night.


by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow | |

The Fire of Drift-Wood

We sat within the farm-house old,
  Whose windows, looking o'er the bay,
Gave to the sea-breeze damp and cold,
  An easy entrance, night and day.
Not far away we saw the port, The strange, old-fashioned, silent town, The lighthouse, the dismantled fort, The wooden houses, quaint and brown.
We sat and talked until the night, Descending, filled the little room; Our faces faded from the sight, Our voices only broke the gloom.
We spake of many a vanished scene, Of what we once had thought and said, Of what had been, and might have been, And who was changed, and who was dead; And all that fills the hearts of friends, When first they feel, with secret pain, Their lives thenceforth have separate ends, And never can be one again; The first slight swerving of the heart, That words are powerless to express, And leave it still unsaid in part, Or say it in too great excess.
The very tones in which we spake Had something strange, I could but mark; The leaves of memory seemed to make A mournful rustling in the dark.
Oft died the words upon our lips, As suddenly, from out the fire Built of the wreck of stranded ships, The flames would leap and then expire.
And, as their splendor flashed and failed, We thought of wrecks upon the main, Of ships dismasted, that were hailed And sent no answer back again.
The windows, rattling in their frames, The ocean, roaring up the beach, The gusty blast, the bickering flames, All mingled vaguely in our speech; Until they made themselves a part Of fancies floating through the brain, The long-lost ventures of the heart, That send no answers back again.
O flames that glowed! O hearts that yearned! They were indeed too much akin, The drift-wood fire without that burned, The thoughts that burned and glowed within.


by Conrad Aiken | |

ZUDORA

Here on the pale beach, in the darkness; 
With the full moon just to rise; 
They sit alone, and look over the sea, 
Or into each other's eyes.
.
.
She pokes her parasol into the sleepy sand, Or sifts the lazy whiteness through her hand.
'A lovely night,' he says, 'the moon, Comes up for you and me.
Just like a blind old spotlight there, Fizzing across the sea!' She pays no heed, nor even turns her head: He slides his arm around her waist instead.
'Why don't we do a sketch together-- Those songs you sing are swell.
Where did you get them, anyway? They suit you awfully well.
' She will not turn to him--will not resist.
Impassive, she submits to being kissed.
'My husband wrote all four of them.
You know,--my husband drowned.
He was always sickly, soon depressed.
.
.
' But still she hears the sound Of a stateroom door shut hard, and footsteps going Swiftly and steadily, and the dark sea flowing.
She hears the dark sea flowing, and sees his eyes Hollow with disenchantment, sick surprise,-- And hate of her whom he had loved too well.
.
.
She lowers her eyes, demurely prods a shell.
'Yes.
We might do an act together.
That would be very nice.
' He kisses her passionately, and thinks She's carnal, but cold as ice.


More great poems below...

by Elizabeth Barrett Browning | |

Meeting at Night

        I.
The grey sea and the long black land; And the yellow half-moon large and low; And the startled little waves that leap In fiery ringlets from their sleep, As I gain the cove with pushing prow, And quench its speed i' the slushy sand.
II.
Then a mile of warm sea-scented beach; Three fields to cross till a farm appears; A tap at the pane, the quick sharp scratch And blue spurt of a lighted match, And a voice less loud, thro' its joys and fears, Than the two hearts beating each to each!


by Sara Teasdale | |

I Thought Of You

 I thought of you and how you love this beauty,
And walking up the long beach all alone 
I heard the waves breaking in measured thunder
As you and I once heard their monotone.
Around me were the echoing dunes, beyond me The cold and sparkling silver of the sea -- We two will pass through death and ages lengthen Before you hear that sound again with me.


by Margaret Atwood | |

A Visit

 Gone are the days
when you could walk on water.
When you could walk.
The days are gone.
Only one day remains, the one you're in.
The memory is no friend.
It can only tell you what you no longer have: a left hand you can use, two feet that walk.
All the brain's gadgets.
Hello, hello.
The one hand that still works grips, won't let go.
That is not a train.
There is no cricket.
Let's not panic.
Let's talk about axes, which kinds are good, the many names of wood.
This is how to build a house, a boat, a tent.
No use; the toolbox refuses to reveal its verbs; the rasp, the plane, the awl, revert to sullen metal.
Do you recognize anything? I said.
Anything familiar? Yes, you said.
The bed.
Better to watch the stream that flows across the floor and is made of sunlight, the forest made of shadows; better to watch the fireplace which is now a beach.


by William Cullen Bryant | |

A Song of Pitcairns Island

 Come, take our boy, and we will go
Before our cabin door;
The winds shall bring us, as they blow,
The murmurs of the shore;
And we will kiss his young blue eyes, 
And I will sing him, as he lies,
Songs that were made of yore:
I'll sing, in his delighted ear,
The island lays thou lov'st to hear.
And thou, while stammering I repeat, Thy country's tongue shalt teach; 'Tis not so soft, but far more sweet, Than my own native speech: For thou no other tongue didst know, When, scarcely twenty moons ago, Upon Tahete's beach, Thou cam'st to woo me to be thine, With many a speaking look and sign.
I knew thy meaning--thou didst praise My eyes, my locks of jet; Ah! well for me they won thy gaze,-- But thine were fairer yet! I'm glad to see my infant wear Thy soft blue eyes and sunny hair, And when my sight is met By his white brow and blooming cheek, I feel a joy I cannot speak.
Come talk of Europe's maids with me, Whose necks and cheeks, they tell, Outshine the beauty of the sea, White foam and crimson shell.
I'll shape like theirs my simple dress, And bind like them each jetty tress.
A sight to please thee well: And for my dusky brow will braid A bonnet like an English maid.
Come, for the soft low sunlight calls, We lose the pleasant hours; 'Tis lovelier than these cottage walls,-- That seat among the flowers.
And I will learn of thee a prayer, To Him, who gave a home so fair, A lot so blessed as ours-- The God who made, for thee and me, This sweet lone isle amid the sea.


by A R Ammons | |

So I Said I Am Ezra

 So I said I am Ezra
and the wind whipped my throat
gaming for the sounds of my voice
 I listened to the wind
go over my head and up into the night
Turning to the sea I said
 I am Ezra
but there were no echoes from the waves
The words were swallowed up
 in the voice of the surf
or leaping over the swells
lost themselves oceanward
 Over the bleached and broken fields
I moved my feet and turning from the wind
 that ripped sheets of sand
 from the beach and threw them
 like seamists across the dunes
swayed as if the wind were taking me away
and said
 I am Ezra
As a word too much repeated
falls out of being
so I Ezra went out into the night
like a drift of sand
and splashed among the windy oats
that clutch the dunes
of unremembered seas


by Paul Laurence Dunbar | |

The Made to Order Smile

 When a woman looks up at you with a twist about her eyes, 
And her brows are half uplifted in a nicely feigned surprise 
As you breathe some pretty sentence, though she hates you all the while, 
She is very apt to stun you with a made to order smile.
It's a sublte combination of a sneer and a caress, With a dash of warmth thrown in to relieve its iciness, And she greets you when she meets you with that look as if a file Had been used to fix and fashion out the made to order smile.
I confess that I'm eccentric and am not a woman's man, For they seem to be constructed on the bunko fakir plan, And it somehow sets me thinking that her heart is full of guile When a woman looks up at me with a made to order smile.
Now, all maidens, young and aged, hear the lesson I would teach: Ye who meet us in the ballroom, ye who meet us at the beach, Pray consent to try and charm us by some other sort of wile And relieve us from the burden of that made to order smile.


by Edna St Vincent Millay | |

Eel-Grass

 No matter what I say,
All that I really love
Is the rain that flattens on the bay,
And the eel-grass in the cove;
The jingle-shells that lie and bleach
At the tide-line, and the trace
Of higher tides along the beach:
Nothing in this place.


by William Ernest Henley | |

Theres a Regret

 There's a regret
So grinding, so immitigably sad,
Remorse thereby feels tolerant, even glad.
.
.
.
Do you not know it yet? For deeds undone Rnakle and snarl and hunger for their due, Till there seems naught so despicable as you In all the grin o' the sun.
Like an old shoe The sea spurns and the land abhors, you lie About the beach of Time, till by and by Death, that derides you too -- Death, as he goes His ragman's round, espies you, where you stray, With half-an-eye, and kicks you out of his way And then -- and then, who knows But the kind Grave Turns on you, and you feel the convict Worm, In that black bridewell working out his term, Hanker and grope and crave? "Poor fool that might -- That might, yet would not, dared not, let this be, Think of it, here and thus made over to me In the implacable night!" And writhing, fain And like a triumphing lover, he shall take, His fill where no high memory lives to make His obscene victory vain.


by William Ernest Henley | |

Croquis

 The beach was crowded.
Pausing now and then, He groped and fiddled doggedly along, His worn face glaring on the thoughtless throng The stony peevishness of sightless men.
He seemed scarce older than his clothes.
Again, Grotesquing thinly many an old sweet song, So cracked his fiddle, his hand so frail and wrong, You hardly could distinguish one in ten.
He stopped at last, and sat him on the sand, And, grasping wearily his bread-winner, Staring dim towards the blue immensity, Then leaned his head upon his poor old hand.
He may have slept: he did not speak nor stir: His gesture spoke a vast despondency.


by Thomas Edward Brown | |

Ibant Obscur?

 To-night I saw three maidens on the beach,
Dark-robed descending to the sea,
So slow, so silent of all speech,
And visible to me
Only by that strange drift-light, dim, forlorn,
Of the sun's wreck and clashing surges born.
Each after other went, And they were gathered to his breast-- It seemed to me a sacrament Of some stern creed unblest: As when to rocks, that cheerless girt the bay, They bound thy holy limbs, Andromeda.


by Edgar Albert Guest | |

The Little Orphan

 The crowded street his playground is, a patch of blue his sky;
A puddle in a vacant lot his sea where ships pass by:
Poor little orphan boy of five, the city smoke and grime 
Taint every cooling breeze he gets throughout the summer time;
And he is just as your boy is, a child who loves to play,
Except that he is drawn and white and cannot get away.
And he would like the open fields, for often in his dreams The angels kind bear him off to where are pleasant streams, Where he may sail a splendid boat, sometimes he flies a kite, Or romps beside a shepherd dog and shouts with all his might; But when the dawn of morning comes he wakes to find once more That what he thought were sun-kissed hills are rags upon the floor.
Then through the hot and sultry day he plays at "make-pretend," The alley is a sandy beach where all the rich folks send Their little boys and girls to play, a barrel is his boat, But, oh, the air is tifling and the dust fills up his throat; And though he tries so very hard to play, somehow it seems He never gets such wondrous joys as angels bring in dreams.
Poor little orphan boy of five, except that he is pale, With sunken cheeks and hollow eyes and very wan and frail, Just like that little boy of yours, with same desire to play, Fond of the open fields and skies, he's built the self-same way; But kept by fate and circumstance away from shady streams, His only joy comes when he sleeps and angels bring him dreams.


by Katherine Mansfield | |

Sea Song

 I will think no more of the sea! Of the big green waves And the hollowed
shore, Of the brown rock caves No more, no more Of the swell and the weed
And the bubbling foam.
Memory dwells in my far away home, She has nothing to do with me.
She is old and bent With a pack On her back.
Her tears all spent, Her voice, just a crack.
With an old thorn stick She hobbles along, And a crazy song Now slow, now quick, Wheeks in her throat.
And every day While there's light on the shore She searches for something; Her withered claw Tumbles the seaweed; She pokes in each shell Groping and mumbling Until the night Deepens and darkens, And covers her quite, And bids her be silent, And bids her be still.
The ghostly feet Of the whispery waves Tiptoe beside her.
They follow, follow To the rocky caves In the white beach hollow.
.
.
She hugs her hands, She sobs, she shrills, And the echoes shriek In the rocky hills.
She moans: "It is lost! Let it be! Let it be! I am old.
I'm too cold.
I am frightened.
.
.
the sea Is too loud.
.
.
it is lost, It is gone.
.
.
" Memory Wails in my far away home.
1913


by Alexander Pushkin | |

The Name

 What is my name to you? 'T will die:
a wave that has but rolled to reach
with a lone splash a distant beach;
or in the timbered night a cry .
.
.
'T will leave a lifeless trace among names on your tablets: the design of an entangled gravestone line in an unfathomable tongue.
What is it then? A long-dead past, lost in the rush of madder dreams, upon your soul it will not cast Mnemosyne's pure tender beams.
But if some sorrow comes to you, utter my name with sighs, and tell the silence: "Memory is true - there beats a heart wherein I dwell.
"


by Craig Raine | |

City Gent

 On my desk, a set of labels
or a synopsis of leeks,
blanched by the sun
and trailing their roots

like a watering can.
Beyond and below, diminished by distance, a taxi shivers at the lights: a shining moorhen with an orange nodule set over the beak, taking a passenger under its wing.
I turn away, confront the cuckold hatstand at bay in the corner, and eavesdrop (bless you!) on a hay-fever of brakes.
My Caran d'Ache are sharp as the tips of an iris and the four-tier file is spotted with rust: a study of plaice by a Japanese master, ochres exquisitely bled.
Instead of office work, I fish for complements and sport a pencil behind each ear, a bit of a devil, or trap the telephone awkwardly under my chin like Richard Crookback, crying, A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse! but only to myself, ironically: the tube is semi-stiff with stallion whangs, the chairman's Mercedes has windscreen wipers like a bird's broken tongue, and I am perfectly happy to see your head, quick round the door like a dryad, as I pretend to be Ovid in exile, composing Tristia and sad for the shining, the missed, the muscular beach.


by Susan Rich | |

A Poem for Will Baking

 Each night he stands before

the kitchen island, begins again

from scratch: chocolate, cinnamon, nutmeg,

he beats, he folds;

keeps faith in what happens

when you combine known quantities,

bake twelve minutes at a certain heat.
The other rabbis, the scholars, teenagers idling by the beach, they receive his offerings, in the early hours, share his grief.
It’s enough now, they say.
Each day more baked goods to friends, and friends of friends, even the neighborhood cops.
He can’t stop, holds on to the rhythmic opening and closing of the oven, the timer’s expectant ring.
I was just baking, he says if someone comes by.
Again and again, evenings winter into spring, he creates the most fragile of confections: madelines and pinwheels, pomegranate crisps and blue florentines; each crumb to reincarnate a woman – a savoring of what the living once could bring.


by Jack Spicer | |

For Mac

 A dead starfish on a beach
He has five branches
Representing the five senses
Representing the jokes we did not tell each other
Call the earth flat
Call other people human 
But let this creature lie
Flat upon our senses
Like a love
Prefigured in the sea
That died.
And went to water All the oceans Of emotion.
All the oceans of emotion are full of such ffish Why Is this dead one of such importance?


by William Stafford | |

This Life

 With Kit, Age 7, at the Beach


We would climb the highest dune, 
from there to gaze and come down: 
the ocean was performing; 
we contributed our climb.
Waves leapfrogged and came straight out of the storm.
What should our gaze mean? Kit waited for me to decide.
Standing on such a hill, what would you tell your child? That was an absolute vista.
Those waves raced far, and cold.
"How far could you swim, Daddy, in such a storm?" "As far as was needed," I said, and as I talked, I swam.


by Christina Rossetti | |

Later life

 Something this foggy day, a something which 
Is neither of this fog nor of today, 
Has set me dreaming of the winds that play 
Past certain cliffs, along one certain beach, 
And turn the topmost edge of waves to spray: 
Ah pleasant pebbly strand so far away, 
So out of reach while quite within my reach, 
As out of reach as India or Cathay! 
I am sick of where I am and where I am not, 
I am sick of foresight and of memory, 
I am sick of all I have and all I see, 
I am sick of self, and there is nothing new; 
Oh weary impatient patience of my lot! 
Thus with myself: how fares it, Friends, with you?


by Robert William Service | |

Sea Change

 I saw a Priest in beetle black
Come to our golden beach,
And I was taken sore aback
Lest he should choose to preach
And chide me for my only wear,
A "Gee" string and a brassière.
And then I saw him shyly doff And fold his grim soutane, And one by one his clothes take off, Until like any man He stood in bathing trunks, a sight To thrill a maiden with delight.
For he was framed and fashioned like Apollo Belvedere; I felt my heart like cymbal strike Beneath my brassière.
And then the flounce of foam he broke, And disappeared with flashing stroke.
We met.
'Twas in the billows roll.
Oh how he sang with joy; But not a hymn, - a merry troll With gusto of a boy.
I looked, and lo! the priest was gone, And in his place a laughing faun.
.
.
.
Today confession I have made.
The Father's face was stern, And I was glad that in the shade Mine he could not discern .
.
.
He gave me grace - but oh the bliss, The salty passion of his kiss!


by Robert William Service | |

The Three Voices

 The waves have a story to tell me,
 As I lie on the lonely beach;
Chanting aloft in the pine-tops,
 The wind has a lesson to teach;
But the stars sing an anthem of glory
 I cannot put into speech.
The waves tell of ocean spaces, Of hearts that are wild and brave, Of populous city places, Of desolate shores they lave, Of men who sally in quest of gold To sink in an ocean grave.
The wind is a mighty roamer; He bids me keep me free, Clean from the taint of the gold-lust, Hardy and pure as he; Cling with my love to nature, As a child to the mother-knee.
But the stars throng out in their glory, And they sing of the God in man; They sing of the Mighty Master, Of the loom his fingers span, Where a star or a soul is a part of the whole, And weft in the wondrous plan.
Here by the camp-fire's flicker, Deep in my blanket curled, I long for the peace of the pine-gloom, When the scroll of the Lord is unfurled, And the wind and the wave are silent, And world is singing to world.


by Robert William Service | |

Trees Against The Sky

 Pines against the sky,
Pluming the purple hill;
Pines .
.
.
and I wonder why, Heart, you quicken and thrill? Wistful heart of a boy, Fill with a strange sweet joy, Lifting to Heaven nigh - Pines against the sky.
Palms against the sky, Failing the hot, hard blue; Stark on the beach I lie, Dreaming horizons new; Heart of my youth elate, Scorning a humdrum fate, Keyed to adventure high - Palms against the sky.
Oaks against the sky, Ramparts of leaves high-hurled, Staunch to stand and defy All the winds of the world; Stalwart and proud and free, Firing the man in me To try and again to try - Oaks against the sky.
Olives against the sky Of evening, limpidly bright; Tranquil and soft and shy, Dreaming in amber light; Breathing the peace of life, Ease after toil and strife .
.
.
Hark to their silver sigh! Olives against the sky.
Cypresses glooming the sky, Stark at the end of the road; Failing and faint am I, Lief to be eased of my load; There where the stones peer white in the last of the silvery light, Quiet and cold I'll lie - Cypresses etching the sky.
Trees, trees against the sky - O I have loved them well! There are pleasures you cannot buy, Treasurers you cannot sell, And not the smallest of these Is the gift and glory of trees.
.
.
.
So I gaze and I know now why It is good to live - and to die.
.
.
.
Trees and the Infinite Sky.


by Robert William Service | |

Flight

 On silver sand where ripples curled
I counted sea-gulls seven;
Shy, secret screened from all the world,
And innocent as heaven.
They did not of my nearness know, For dawn was barely bright, And they were still, like spots of snow In that pale, pearly light.
Then one went forth unto the sea That rippled up in gold, And there were rubies flashing free From out its wing-unfold; It ducked and dived in pretty play, The while the other six So gravely sat it seemed that they Were marvelled by its tricks.
Then with a sudden flurry each Down-rushed to join its mate, And in a flash that sickle beach With rapture was elate.
With joy they pranked till everyone Was diamonded with spray, Then flicked with flame to greet the sun They rose and winged away.
But with their going, oh, the surge Of loss they left in me! For in my heart was born the urge, The passion to be free.
And where each dawn with terror brings Some tale of bale and blight, Who would not envy silver wings, The sea-gull in its flight! Let me not know the soils of woe That chain this stricken earth; Let me forget the fear and fret That bind men from their birth; Let me be the one with wind and sun, With earth and sky and sea.
.
.
.
Oh, let me teach in living speech God's glory - Liberty.