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Best Famous Epic Poems

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

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Written by Sarojini Naidu | Create an image from this poem

To My Children

 Jaya Surya

GOLDEN sun of victory, born 
In my life's unclouded morn, 
In my lambent sky of love, 
May your growing glory prove 
Sacred to your consecration, 
To my heart and to my nation.
Sun of victory, may you be Sun of song and liberty.
Padmaja Lotus-maiden, you who claim All the sweetness of your name, Lakshmi, fortune's queen, defend you, Lotus-born like you, and send you Balmy moons of love to bless you, Gentle joy-winds to caress you.
Lotus-maiden, may you be Fragrant of all ecstasy.
Ranadheera Little lord of battle, hail In your newly-tempered mail! Learn to conquer, learn to fight In the foremost flanks of right, Like Valmiki's heroes bold, Rubies girt in epic gold.
Lord of battle, may you be, Lord of love and chivalry.
Lilamani Limpid jewel of delight Severed from the tender night Of your sheltering mother-mine, Leap and sparkle, dance and shine, Blithely and securely set In love's magic coronet.
Living jewel, may you be Laughter-bound and sorrow-free.
Written by Allen Ginsberg | Create an image from this poem

Plutonian Ode


What new element before us unborn in nature? Is there
 a new thing under the Sun?
At last inquisitive Whitman a modern epic, detonative,
 Scientific theme
First penned unmindful by Doctor Seaborg with poison-
 ous hand, named for Death's planet through the 
 sea beyond Uranus
whose chthonic ore fathers this magma-teared Lord of 
 Hades, Sire of avenging Furies, billionaire Hell-
 King worshipped once
with black sheep throats cut, priests's face averted from
 underground mysteries in single temple at Eleusis,
Spring-green Persephone nuptialed to his inevitable
 Shade, Demeter mother of asphodel weeping dew,
her daughter stored in salty caverns under white snow, 
 black hail, grey winter rain or Polar ice, immemor-
 able seasons before
Fish flew in Heaven, before a Ram died by the starry
 bush, before the Bull stamped sky and earth
or Twins inscribed their memories in clay or Crab'd
washed memory from the skull, or Lion sniffed the
 lilac breeze in Eden--
Before the Great Year began turning its twelve signs,
 ere constellations wheeled for twenty-four thousand
 sunny years
slowly round their axis in Sagittarius, one hundred 
 sixty-seven thousand times returning to this night

Radioactive Nemesis were you there at the beginning 
 black dumb tongueless unsmelling blast of Disil-
I manifest your Baptismal Word after four billion years
I guess your birthday in Earthling Night, I salute your
 dreadful presence last majestic as the Gods,
Sabaot, Jehova, Astapheus, Adonaeus, Elohim, Iao, 
 Ialdabaoth, Aeon from Aeon born ignorant in an
 Abyss of Light,
Sophia's reflections glittering thoughtful galaxies, whirl-
 pools of starspume silver-thin as hairs of Einstein!
Father Whitman I celebrate a matter that renders Self
Grand Subject that annihilates inky hands & pages'
 prayers, old orators' inspired Immortalities,
I begin your chant, openmouthed exhaling into spacious
 sky over silent mills at Hanford, Savannah River,
 Rocky Flats, Pantex, Burlington, Albuquerque
I yell thru Washington, South Carolina, Colorado, 
 Texas, Iowa, New Mexico,
Where nuclear reactors creat a new Thing under the 
 Sun, where Rockwell war-plants fabricate this death
 stuff trigger in nitrogen baths,
Hanger-Silas Mason assembles the terrified weapon
 secret by ten thousands, & where Manzano Moun-
 tain boasts to store
its dreadful decay through two hundred forty millenia
 while our Galaxy spirals around its nebulous core.
I enter your secret places with my mind, I speak with your presence, I roar your Lion Roar with mortal mouth.
One microgram inspired to one lung, ten pounds of heavy metal dust adrift slow motion over grey Alps the breadth of the planet, how long before your radiance speeds blight and death to sentient beings? Enter my body or not I carol my spirit inside you, Unnaproachable Weight, O heavy heavy Element awakened I vocalize your con- sciousness to six worlds I chant your absolute Vanity.
Yeah monster of Anger birthed in fear O most Ignorant matter ever created unnatural to Earth! Delusion of metal empires! Destroyer of lying Scientists! Devourer of covetous Generals, Incinerator of Armies & Melter of Wars! Judgement of judgements, Divine Wind over vengeful nations, Molester of Presidents, Death-Scandal of Capital politics! Ah civilizations stupidly indus- trious! Canker-Hex on multitudes learned or illiterate! Manu- factured Spectre of human reason! O solidified imago of practicioner in Black Arts I dare your reality, I challenge your very being! I publish your cause and effect! I turn the wheel of Mind on your three hundred tons! Your name enters mankind's ear! I embody your ultimate powers! My oratory advances on your vaunted Mystery! This breath dispels your braggart fears! I sing your form at last behind your concrete & iron walls inside your fortress of rubber & translucent silicon shields in filtered cabinets and baths of lathe oil, My voice resounds through robot glove boxes & ignot cans and echoes in electric vaults inert of atmo- sphere, I enter with spirit out loud into your fuel rod drums underground on soundless thrones and beds of lead O density! This weightless anthem trumpets transcendent through hidden chambers and breaks through iron doors into the Infernal Room! Over your dreadful vibration this measured harmony floats audible, these jubilant tones are honey and milk and wine-sweet water Poured on the stone black floor, these syllables are barley groats I scatter on the Reactor's core, I call your name with hollow vowels, I psalm your Fate close by, my breath near deathless ever at your side to Spell your destiny, I set this verse prophetic on your mausoleum walls to seal you up Eternally with Diamond Truth! O doomed Plutonium.
II The Bar surveys Plutonian history from midnight lit with Mercury Vapor streetlamps till in dawn's early light he contemplates a tranquil politic spaced out between Nations' thought-forms proliferating bureaucratic & horrific arm'd, Satanic industries projected sudden with Five Hundred Billion Dollar Strength around the world same time this text is set in Boulder, Colorado before front range of Rocky Mountains twelve miles north of Rocky Flats Nuclear Facility in United States of North America, Western Hemi- sphere of planet Earth six months and fourteen days around our Solar System in a Spiral Galaxy the local year after Dominion of the last God nineteen hundred seventy eight Completed as yellow hazed dawn clouds brighten East, Denver city white below Blue sky transparent rising empty deep & spacious to a morning star high over the balcony above some autos sat with wheels to curb downhill from Flatiron's jagged pine ridge, sunlit mountain meadows sloped to rust-red sandstone cliffs above brick townhouse roofs as sparrows waked whistling through Marine Street's summer green leafed trees.
III This ode to you O Poets and Orators to come, you father Whitman as I join your side, you Congress and American people, you present meditators, spiritual friends & teachers, you O Master of the Diamond Arts, Take this wheel of syllables in hand, these vowels and consonants to breath's end take this inhalation of black poison to your heart, breath out this blessing from your breast on our creation forests cities oceans deserts rocky flats and mountains in the Ten Directions pacify with exhalation, enrich this Plutonian Ode to explode its empty thunder through earthen thought-worlds Magnetize this howl with heartless compassion, destroy this mountain of Plutonium with ordinary mind and body speech, thus empower this Mind-guard spirit gone out, gone out, gone beyond, gone beyond me, Wake space, so Ah! July 14, 1978
Written by Robinson Jeffers | Create an image from this poem

The Epic Stars

 The heroic stars spending themselves,
Coining their very flesh into bullets for the lost battle,
They must burn out at length like used candles;
And Mother Night will weep in her triumph, taking home her heroes.
There is the stuff for an epic poem-- This magnificent raid at the heart of darkness, this lost battle-- We don't know enough, we'll never know.
Oh happy Homer, taking the stars and the Gods for granted.
Written by Oliver Wendell Holmes | Create an image from this poem

A Familiar Letter

 YES, write, if you want to, there's nothing like trying;
Who knows what a treasure your casket may hold?
I'll show you that rhyming's as easy as lying,
If you'll listen to me while the art I unfold.
Here's a book full of words; one can choose as he fancies, As a painter his tint, as a workman his tool; Just think! all the poems and plays and romances Were drawn out of this, like the fish from a pool! You can wander at will through its syllabled mazes, And take all you want, not a copper they cost,-- What is there to hinder your picking out phrases For an epic as clever as "Paradise Lost"? Don't mind if the index of sense is at zero, Use words that run smoothly, whatever they mean; Leander and Lilian and Lillibullero Are much the same thing in the rhyming machine.
There are words so delicious their sweetness will smother That boarding-school flavor of which we're afraid, There is "lush"is a good one, and "swirl" is another,-- Put both in one stanza, its fortune is made.
With musical murmurs and rhythmical closes You can cheat us of smiles when you've nothing to tell You hand us a nosegay of milliner's roses, And we cry with delight, "Oh, how sweet they do smell!" Perhaps you will answer all needful conditions For winning the laurels to which you aspire, By docking the tails of the two prepositions I' the style o' the bards you so greatly admire.
As for subjects of verse, they are only too plenty For ringing the changes on metrical chimes; A maiden, a moonbeam, a lover of twenty Have filled that great basket with bushels of rhymes.
Let me show you a picture--'t is far from irrelevant-- By a famous old hand in the arts of design; 'T is only a photographed sketch of an elephant,-- The name of the draughtsman was Rembrandt of Rhine.
How easy! no troublesome colors to lay on, It can't have fatigued him,-- no, not in the least,-- A dash here and there with a haphazard crayon, And there stands the wrinkled-skinned, baggy-limbed beast.
Just so with your verse,-- 't is as easy as sketching,-- You can reel off a song without knitting your brow, As lightly as Rembrandt a drawing or etching; It is nothing at all, if you only know how.
Well; imagine you've printed your volume of verses: Your forehead is wreathed with the garland of fame, Your poems the eloquent school-boy rehearses, Her album the school-girl presents for your name; Each morning the post brings you autograph letters; You'll answer them promptly,-- an hour isn't much For the honor of sharing a page with your betters, With magistrates, members of Congress, and such.
Of course you're delighted to serve the committees That come with requests from the country all round, You would grace the occasion with poems and ditties When they've got a new schoolhouse, or poorhouse, or pound.
With a hymn for the saints and a song for the sinners, You go and are welcome wherever you please; You're a privileged guest at all manner of dinners, You've a seat on the platform among the grandees.
At length your mere presence becomes a sensation, Your cup of enjoyment is filled to its brim With the pleasure Horatian of digitmonstration, As the whisper runs round of "That's he!" or "That's him!" But remember, O dealer in phrases sonorous, So daintily chosen, so tunefully matched, Though you soar with the wings of the cherubim o'er us, The ovum was human from which you were hatched.
No will of your own with its puny compulsion Can summon the spirit that quickens the lyre; It comes, if at all, like the Sibyl's convulsion And touches the brain with a finger of fire.
So perhaps, after all, it's as well to he quiet If you've nothing you think is worth saying in prose, As to furnish a meal of their cannibal diet To the critics, by publishing, as you propose.
But it's all of no use, and I'm sorry I've written,-- I shall see your thin volume some day on my shelf; For the rhyming tarantula surely has bitten, And music must cure you, so pipe it yourself.
Written by Andrew Barton Paterson | Create an image from this poem

A Song of the Pen

 Not for the love of women toil we, we of the craft, 
Not for the people's praise; 
Only because our goddess made us her own and laughed, 
Claiming us all our days, 
Claiming our best endeavour -- body and heart and brain 
Given with no reserve -- 
Niggard is she towards us, granting us little gain: 
Still, we are proud to serve.
Not unto us is given choice of the tasks we try, Gathering grain or chaff; One of her favoured servants toils at an epic high, One, that a child may laugh.
Yet if we serve her truly in our appointed place, Freely she doth accord Unto her faithful servants always this saving grace, Work is its own reward!
Written by Robert William Service | Create an image from this poem

The Revelation

 The same old sprint in the morning, boys, to the same old din and smut;
Chained all day to the same old desk, down in the same old rut;
Posting the same old greasy books, catching the same old train:
Oh, how will I manage to stick it all, if I ever get back again?

We've bidden good-bye to life in a cage, we're finished with pushing a pen;
They're pumping us full of bellicose rage, they're showing us how to be men.
We're only beginning to find ourselves; we're wonders of brawn and thew; But when we go back to our Sissy jobs, -- oh, what are we going to do? For shoulders curved with the counter stoop will be carried erect and square; And faces white from the office light will be bronzed by the open air; And we'll walk with the stride of a new-born pride, with a new-found joy in our eyes, Scornful men who have diced with death under the naked skies.
And when we get back to the dreary grind, and the bald-headed boss's call, Don't you think that the dingy window-blind, and the dingier office wall, Will suddenly melt to a vision of space, of violent, flame-scarred night? Then .
oh, the joy of the danger-thrill, and oh, the roar of the fight! Don't you think as we peddle a card of pins the counter will fade away, And again we'll be seeing the sand-bag rims, and the barb-wire's misty grey? As a flat voice asks for a pound of tea, don't you fancy we'll hear instead The night-wind moan and the soothing drone of the packet that's overhead? Don't you guess that the things we're seeing now will haunt us through all the years; Heaven and hell rolled into one, glory and blood and tears; Life's pattern picked with a scarlet thread, where once we wove with a grey To remind us all how we played our part in the shock of an epic day? Oh, we're booked for the Great Adventure now, we're pledged to the Real Romance; We'll find ourselves or we'll lose ourselves somewhere in giddy old France; We'll know the zest of the fighter's life; the best that we have we'll give; We'll hunger and thirst; we'll die .
but first -- we'll live; by the gods, we'll live! We'll breathe free air and we'll bivouac under the starry sky; We'll march with men and we'll fight with men, and we'll see men laugh and die; We'll know such joy as we never dreamed; we'll fathom the deeps of pain: But the hardest bit of it all will be -- when we come back home again.
For some of us smirk in a chiffon shop, and some of us teach in a school; Some of us help with the seat of our pants to polish an office stool; The merits of somebody's soap or jam some of us seek to explain, But all of us wonder what we'll do when we have to go back again.
Written by Sylvia Plath | Create an image from this poem

Electra On Azalea Path

 The day you died I went into the dirt,
Into the lightless hibernaculum
Where bees, striped black and gold, sleep out the blizzard
Like hieratic stones, and the ground is hard.
It was good for twenty years, that wintering -- As if you never existed, as if I came God-fathered into the world from my mother's belly: Her wide bed wore the stain of divinity.
I had nothing to do with guilt or anything When I wormed back under my mother's heart.
Small as a doll in my dress of innocence I lay dreaming your epic, image by image.
Nobody died or withered on that stage.
Everything took place in a durable whiteness.
The day I woke, I woke on Churchyard Hill.
I found your name, I found your bones and all Enlisted in a cramped necropolis your speckled stone skewed by an iron fence.
In this charity ward, this poorhouse, where the dead Crowd foot to foot, head to head, no flower Breaks the soil.
This is Azalea path.
A field of burdock opens to the south.
Six feet of yellow gravel cover you.
The artificial red sage does not stir In the basket of plastic evergreens they put At the headstone next to yours, nor does it rot, Although the rains dissolve a bloody dye: The ersatz petals drip, and they drip red.
Another kind of redness bothers me: The day your slack sail drank my sister's breath The flat sea purpled like that evil cloth My mother unrolled at your last homecoming.
I borrow the silts of an old tragedy.
The truth is, one late October, at my birth-cry A scorpion stung its head, an ill-starred thing; My mother dreamed you face down in the sea.
The stony actors poise and pause for breath.
I brought my love to bear, and then you died.
It was the gangrene ate you to the bone My mother said: you died like any man.
How shall I age into that state of mind? I am the ghost of an infamous suicide, My own blue razor rusting at my throat.
O pardon the one who knocks for pardon at Your gate, father -- your hound-bitch, daughter, friend.
It was my love that did us both to death.
Written by Patrick Kavanagh | Create an image from this poem


 I have lived in important places, times
When great events were decided, who owned
That half a rood of rock, a no-man's land
Surrounded by our pitchfork-armed claims.
I heard the Duffys shouting "Damn your soul" And old McCabe stripped to the waist, seen Step the plot defying blue cast-steel— "Here is the march along these iron stones" That was the year of the Munich bother.
Which Was more important? I inclined To lose my faith in Ballyrush and Gortin Til Homer's ghost came whispering to my mind He said: I made the Iliad from such A local row.
Gods make their own importance.
Written by Constantine P Cavafy | Create an image from this poem


 The poet Phernazis is composing
the important part of his epic poem.
How Darius, son of Hystaspes, assumed the kingdom of the Persians.
(From him is descended our glorious king Mithridates, Dionysus and Eupator).
But here philosophy is needed; he must analyze the sentiments that Darius must have had: maybe arrogance and drunkenness; but no -- rather like an understanding of the vanity of grandeurs.
The poet contemplates the matter deeply.
But he is interrupted by his servant who enters running, and announces the portendous news.
The war with the Romans has begun.
The bulk of our army has crossed the borders.
The poet is speechless.
What a disaster! No time now for our glorious king Mithridates, Dionysus and Eupator, to occupy himself with greek poems.
In the midst of a war -- imagine, greek poems.
Phernazis is impatient.
Misfortune! Just when he was positive that with "Darius" he would distinguish himself, and shut the mouths of his critics, the envious ones, for good.
What a delay, what a delay to his plans.
And if it were only a delay, it would still be all right.
But it yet remains to be seen if we have any security at Amisus.
It is not a strongly fortified city.
The Romans are the most horrible enemies.
Can we hold against them we Cappadocians? It is possible at all? It is possible to pit ourselves against the legions? Mighty Gods, protectors of Asia, help us.
-- But in all his turmoil and trouble, the poetic idea too comes and goes persistently-- the most probable, surely, is arrogance and drunkenness; Darius must have felt arrogance and drunkenness.
Written by Victor Hugo | Create an image from this poem


 ("Un lion avait pris un enfant.") 

 A Lion in his jaws caught up a child— 
 Not harming it—and to the woodland, wild 
 With secret streams and lairs, bore off his prey— 
 The beast, as one might cull a bud in May. 
 It was a rosy boy, a king's own pride, 
 A ten-year lad, with bright eyes shining wide, 
 And save this son his majesty beside 
 Had but one girl, two years of age, and so 
 The monarch suffered, being old, much woe; 
 His heir the monster's prey, while the whole land 
 In dread both of the beast and king did stand; 
 Sore terrified were all. 
 By came a knight 
 That road, who halted, asking, "What's the fright?" 
 They told him, and he spurred straight for the site! 
 The beast was seen to smile ere joined they fight, 
 The man and monster, in most desperate duel, 
 Like warring giants, angry, huge, and cruel. Beneath his shield, all blood and mud and mess: 
 Whereat the lion feasted: then it went 
 Back to its rocky couch and slept content. 
 Sudden, loud cries and clamors! striking out 
 Qualm to the heart of the quiet, horn and shout 
 Causing the solemn wood to reel with rout. 
 Terrific was this noise that rolled before; 
 It seemed a squadron; nay, 'twas something more— 
 A whole battalion, sent by that sad king 
 With force of arms his little prince to bring, 
 Together with the lion's bleeding hide. 
 Which here was right or wrong? Who can decide? 
 Have beasts or men most claim to live? God wots! 
 He is the unit, we the cipher-dots. 
 Ranged in the order a great hunt should have, 
 They soon between the trunks espy the cave. 
 "Yes, that is it! the very mouth of the den!" 
 The trees all round it muttered, warning men; 
 Still they kept step and neared it. Look you now, 
 Company's pleasant, and there were a thou— 
 Good Lord! all in a moment, there's its face! 
 Frightful! they saw the lion! Not one pace 
 Further stirred any man; but bolt and dart 
 Made target of the beast. He, on his part, 
 As calm as Pelion in the rain or hail, 
 Bristled majestic from the teeth to tail, 
 And shook full fifty missiles from his hide, 
 But no heed took he; steadfastly he eyed, 
 And roared a roar, hoarse, vibrant, vengeful, dread, 
 A rolling, raging peal of wrath, which spread, 
 Making the half-awakened thunder cry, 
 "Who thunders there?" from its black bed of sky. 
 This ended all! Sheer horror cleared the coast; 
 As fogs are driven by the wind, that valorous host 
 Melted, dispersed to all the quarters four, 
 Clean panic-stricken by that monstrous roar. 
 Then quoth the lion, "Woods and mountains, see, 
 A thousand men, enslaved, fear one beast free!" 
 He followed towards the hill, climbed high above, 
 Lifted his voice, and, as the sowers sow 
 The seed down wind, thus did that lion throw 
 His message far enough the town to reach: 
 "King! your behavior really passes speech! 
 Thus far no harm I've wrought to him your son; 
 But now I give you notice—when night's done, 
 I will make entry at your city-gate, 
 Bringing the prince alive; and those who wait 
 To see him in my jaws—your lackey-crew— 
 Shall see me eat him in your palace, too!" 
 Next morning, this is what was viewed in town: 
 Dawn coming—people going—some adown 
 Praying, some crying; pallid cheeks, swift feet, 
 And a huge lion stalking through the street. 
 It seemed scarce short of rash impiety 
 To cross its path as the fierce beast went by. 
 So to the palace and its gilded dome 
 With stately steps unchallenged did he roam; 
 He enters it—within those walls he leapt! 
 No man! 
 For certes, though he raged and wept, 
 His majesty, like all, close shelter kept, 
 Solicitous to live, holding his breath 
 Specially precious to the realm. Now death 
 Is not thus viewed by honest beasts of prey; 
 And when the lion found him fled away, 
 Ashamed to be so grand, man being so base, 
 He muttered to himself, "A wretched king! 
 'Tis well; I'll eat his boy!" Then, wandering, 
 Lordly he traversed courts and corridors, 
 Paced beneath vaults of gold on shining floors, 
 Glanced at the throne deserted, stalked from hall 
 To hall—green, yellow, crimson—empty all! 
 Rich couches void, soft seats unoccupied! 
 And as he walked he looked from side to side 
 To find some pleasant nook for his repast, 
 Since appetite was come to munch at last 
 The princely morsel!—Ah! what sight astounds 
 That grisly lounger? 
 In the palace grounds 
 An alcove on a garden gives, and there 
 A tiny thing—forgot in the general fear, 
 Lulled in the flower-sweet dreams of infancy, 
 Bathed with soft sunlight falling brokenly 
 Through leaf and lattice—was at that moment waking; 
 A little lovely maid, most dear and taking, 
 The prince's sister—all alone, undressed— 
 She sat up singing: children sing so best. 
 Charming this beauteous baby-maid; and so 
 The beast caught sight of her and stopped— 
 And then 
 Entered—the floor creaked as he stalked straight in. 
 Above the playthings by the little bed 
 The lion put his shaggy, massive head, 
 Dreadful with savage might and lordly scorn, 
 More dreadful with that princely prey so borne; 
 Which she, quick spying, "Brother, brother!" cried, 
 "Oh, my own brother!" and, unterrified, 
 She gazed upon that monster of the wood, 
 Whose yellow balls not Typhon had withstood, 
 And—well! who knows what thoughts these small heads hold? 
 She rose up in her cot—full height, and bold, 
 And shook her pink fist angrily at him. 
 Whereon—close to the little bed's white rim, 
 All dainty silk and laces—this huge brute 
 Set down her brother gently at her foot, 
 Just as a mother might, and said to her, 
 "Don't be put out, now! There he is, dear, there!" 


Written by Denise Levertov | Create an image from this poem

What Were They Like?

 Did the people of Viet Nam
use lanterns of stone?
Did they hold ceremonies
to reverence the opening of buds?
Were they inclined to quiet laughter?
Did they use bone and ivory,
jade and silver, for ornament?
Had they an epic poem?
Did they distinguish between speech and singing?

Sir, their light hearts turned to stone.
It is not remembered whether in gardens stone gardens illumined pleasant ways.
Perhaps they gathered once to delight in blossom, but after their children were killed there were no more buds.
Sir, laughter is bitter to the burned mouth.
A dream ago, perhaps.
Ornament is for joy.
All the bones were charred.
it is not remembered.
Remember, most were peasants; their life was in rice and bamboo.
When peaceful clouds were reflected in the paddies and the water buffalo stepped surely along terraces, maybe fathers told their sons old tales.
When bombs smashed those mirrors there was time only to scream.
There is an echo yet of their speech which was like a song.
It was reported their singing resembled the flight of moths in moonlight.
Who can say? It is silent now.
Written by Barry Tebb | Create an image from this poem


 ( I )

for ‘JC’ of the TLS

Nightmare of metropolitan amalgam

Grand Hotel and myself as a guest there

Lost with my room rifled, my belongings scattered,

Purse, diary and vital list of numbers gone – 

Vague sad memories of mam n’dad

Leeds 1942 back-to-back with shared outside lav.
Hosannas of sweet May mornings Whitsun glory of lilac blooming Sixty years on I run and run From death, from loss, from everyone.
Which are the paths I never ventured down, Or would they, too, be vain? O for the secret anima of Leeds girlhood A thousand times better than snide attacks in the TLS By ‘JC’.
Fuck you, Jock, you should be ashamed, Attacking Brenda Williams, who had a background Worse than yours, an alcoholic schizophrenic father And an Irish immigrant mother who died when Brenda was fifteen But still she managed to read Proust on her day off As a library girl, turned down by David Jenkins, ‘As rising star of the left’ for a place at Leeds To read theology started her as a protest poet Sitting out on the English lawn, mistaken for a snow sculpture In the depths of winter.
Her sit-in protest lasted seven months, Months, eight hours a day, her libellous verse scorching The academic groves of Leeds in sheets by the thousand, Mailed through the university's internal post.
She called The VC 'a mouse from the mountain'; Bishop of Durham to-be David Jenkins a wimp and worse and all in colourful verse And 'Guntrip's Ghost' went to every VC in England in a Single day.
When she sat on the English lawn Park Honan Flew paper aeroplanes with messages down and And when she was in Classics they took away her chair So she sat on the floor reading Virgil and the Chairman of the Department sent her an official Christmas card 'For six weeks on the university lawn, learning the Hebrew alphabet'.
And that was just the beginning: in Oxford Magdalen College School turned our son away for the Leeds protest so she Started again, in Magdalen Quad, sitting through Oxford's Worst ever winter and finally they arrested her on the Eve of the May Ball so she wrote 'Oxford from a Prison Cell' her most famous poem and her protest letter went in A single day to every MP and House of Lords Member and It was remembered years after and when nobody nominated Her for the Oxford Chair she took her own and sat there In the cold for almost a year, well-wishers pinning messages To the tree she sat under - "Tityre, tu patulae recubans Sub tegmine fagi" and twelve hundred and forty dons had "The Pain Clinic" in a single day and she was fourteen Times in the national press, a column in "The Guardian" And a whole page with a picture in the 'Times Higher' - "A Well Versed Protester" JC, if you call Myslexia’s editor a ‘kick-arse virago’ You’ve got to expect a few kicks back.
All this is but the dust We must shake from our feet Purple heather still with blossom In Haworth and I shall gather armfuls To toss them skywards and you, Madonna mia, I shall bed you there In blazing summer by High Wythens, Artist unbroken from the highest peak I raise my hands to heaven.
( II ) Sweet Anna, I do not know you from Eve But your zany zine in the post Is the best I’ve ever seen, inspiring this rant Against the cant of stuck-up cunts currying favour I name no name but if the Dutch cap fits Then wear it and share it.
Who thought at sixty one I’d have owned a watch Like this one, chased silver cased Quartz reflex Japanese movement And all for a fiver at the back of Leeds Market Where I wander in search of oil pastels Irish folk and cheap socks.
The TLS mocks our magazine With its sixties Cadillac pink Psychedelic cover and every page crimson Orange or mauve, revolutionary sonnets By Brenda Williams from her epic ‘Pain Clinic’ And my lacerating attacks on boring Bloodaxe Neil Ghastly and Anvil’s preciosity and all the Stuck-up arse-holes in their cubby-holes sending out Rejection slip by rote – LPW
Written by Robert William Service | Create an image from this poem


 It was the steamer Alice May that sailed the Yukon foam.
And touched in every river camp from Dawson down to Nome.
It was her builder, owner, pilot, Captain Silas Geer, Who took her through the angry ice, the last boat of the year; Who patched her cracks with gunny sacks and wound her pipes with wire, And cut the spruce upon the banks to feed her boiler fire; Who headed her into the stream and bucked its mighty flow, And nosed her up the little creeks where no one else would go; Who bragged she had so small a draft, if dew were on the grass, With gallant heart and half a start his little boat would pass.
Aye, ships might come and ships might go, but steady every year The Alice May would chug away with Skipper Silas Geer.
Now though Cap geer had ne'er a fear the devil he could bilk, He owned a gastric ulcer and his grub was mostly milk.
He also owned a Jersey cow to furnish him the same, So soft and sleek and mild and meek, and Kathleen was her name.
And so his source of nourishment he got to love her so That everywhere the captain went the cow would also go; And though his sleeping quarters were ridiculously small, He roped a section of them off to make Kathleen a stall.
So every morn she'd wake him up with mellifluous moo, And he would pat her on the nose and go to wake the crew.
Then when he'd done his daily run and hitched on to the bank, She'd breath above his pillow till to soothing sleep he sank.
So up and down the river seeded sourdoughs would allow, They made a touching tableau, Captain Silas and his cow.
Now as the Captain puffed his pipe and Kathleen chewed her cud, There came to him a poetess, a Miss Belinda Budd.
"An epic I would write," said she, "about this mighty stream, And from your gallant bark 'twould be romantic as a dream.
" Somewhat amazed the Captain gazed at her and shook his head; "I'm sorry, Miss, but we don't take she passengers," he said.
"My boat's a freighter, we have no accommodation space For women-folk - my cabin is the only private palce.
It's eight foot small from wall to wall, and I have, anyhow, No room to spare, for half I share with Kathleen, That's my cow.
" The lady sighed, then soft replied: "I love your Yukon scene, And for its sake your room I'll take, and put up with Kathleen.
" Well, she was so dead set to go the Captain said: "By heck! I like your spunk; you take my bunk and I'll camp on the deck.
" So days went by then with a sigh she sought him so anew: "Oh, Captain Geer, Kathleen's a dear, but does she have to moo? In early morn like motor horn she bellows overhead, While all the night without respite she snores above my bed.
I know it's true she dotes on you, your smile she seems to miss; She leans so near I live in fear my brow she'll try to kiss.
Her fond regard makes it so hard my Pegasus to spur.
Oh, please be kind and try to find another place for her.
" Bereft of cheer was captain Geer; his face was glazed with gloom: He scratched his head: "There ain't," he said, "another inch of room.
With freight we're packed; it's stowed and stacked - why even on the deck.
There's seven salted sourdoughs and they're sleeping neck and neck.
I'm sorry, Miss, that Kathleen's kiss has put your muse to flight; I realize her amber eyes abstract you when you write.
I used to love them orbs above a-shining down on me, And when she'd chew my whickers you can't calculate my glee.
I ain't at all poetical, but gosh! I guess your plight, So I will try to plan what I can fix up for to-night.
" Thus while upon her berth the wan and weary Author Budd Bewailed her fate, Kathleen sedate above her chewed her cud; And as he sought with brain distraught a steady course to steer, Yet find a plan, a worried man was Captain Silas Geer.
Then suddenly alert was he, he hollerred to his mate; "Hi, Patsy, press our poetess to climb on deck and wait.
Hip-hip-hooray! Bid her be gay and never more despair; My search is crowned - by heck, I've found an answer to her prayer.
" To Patsy's yell like glad gazelle came bounding Bardess Budd; No more forlorn, with hope new-born she faced the foaming flood; While down the stair with eager air was seen to disappear, Like one inspired (by genius fired) exultant Captain Geer.
Then up he came with eye aflame and honest face aglow, And oh, how loud he laughed, as proud he led her down below.
"Now you may write by day or night upon our Yukon scene, For I," he cried, "have clarified the problem of Kathleen.
I thought a lot, then like a shot the remedy I found: I jest unhitched her rope and switched the loving creature round.
No more her moo will trouble you, you'll sleep right restful now.
Look, Lady, look! - I'm giving you.
the tail end of the cow.
Written by William Matthews | Create an image from this poem

Homers Seeing-Eye Dog

 Most of the time he worked, a sort of sleep
with a purpose, so far as I could tell.
How he got from the dark of sleep to the dark of waking up I'll never know; the lax sprawl sleep allowed him began to set from the edges in, like a custard, and then he was awake, me too, of course, wriggling my ears while he unlocked his bladder and stream of dopey wake-up jokes.
The one about the wine-dark pee I hated instantly.
I stood at the ready, like a god in an epic, but there was never much to do.
Oh now and then I'd make a sure intervention, save a life, whatever.
But my exploits don't interest you and of his life all I can say is that when he'd poured out his work the best of it was gone and then he died.
He was a great man and I loved him.
Not a whimper about his sex life -- how I detest your prurience -- but here's a farewell literary tip: I myself am the model for Penelope.
Don't snicker, you hairless moron, I know so well what faithful means there's not even a word for it in Dog, I just embody it.
I think you bipeds have a catchphrase for it: "To thine own self be true, .
" though like a blind man's shadow, the second half is only there for those who know it's missing.
Merely a dog, I'll tell you what it is: " .
as if you had a choice.
Written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe | Create an image from this poem


 KLOPSTOCK would lead us away from Pindus; no longer 
for laurel
May we be eager--the homely acorn alone must content us;
Yet he himself his more-than-epic crusade is conducting
High on Golgotha's summit, that foreign gods he may honour!
Yet, on what hill he prefers, let him gather the angels together,
Suffer deserted disciples to weep o'er the grave of the just one:
There where a hero and saint hath died, where a bard breath'd his 
Both for our life and our death an ensample of courage resplendent
And of the loftiest human worth to bequeath,--ev'ry nation
There will joyously kneel in devotion ecstatic, revering
Thorn and laurel garland, and all its charms and its tortures.