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Best Famous History Poems

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

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Written by Maya Angelou | |

Still I Rise

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you? Why are you beset with gloom? 'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns, With the certainty of tides, Just like hopes springing high, Still I'll rise.
Did you want to see me broken? Bowed head and lowered eyes? Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.
Does my haughtiness offend you? Don't you take it awful hard 'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines Diggin' in my own back yard.
You may shoot me with your words, You may cut me with your eyes, You may kill me with your hatefulness, But still, like air, I'll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you? Does it come as a surprise That I dance like I've got diamonds At the meeting of my thighs? Out of the huts of history's shame I rise Up from a past that's rooted in pain I rise I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide, Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear I rise Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear I rise Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise I rise I rise.


Written by Maya Angelou | |

Million Man March Poem

The night has been long,
The wound has been deep,
The pit has been dark,
And the walls have been steep.
Under a dead blue sky on a distant beach, I was dragged by my braids just beyond your reach.
Your hands were tied, your mouth was bound, You couldn't even call out my name.
You were helpless and so was I, But unfortunately throughout history You've worn a badge of shame.
I say, the night has been long, The wound has been deep, The pit has been dark And the walls have been steep.
But today, voices of old spirit sound Speak to us in words profound, Across the years, across the centuries, Across the oceans, and across the seas.
They say, draw near to one another, Save your race.
You have been paid for in a distant place, The old ones remind us that slavery's chains Have paid for our freedom again and again.
The night has been long, The pit has been deep, The night has been dark, And the walls have been steep.
The hells we have lived through and live through still, Have sharpened our senses and toughened our will.
The night has been long.
This morning I look through your anguish Right down to your soul.
I know that with each other we can make ourselves whole.
I look through the posture and past your disguise, And see your love for family in your big brown eyes.
I say, clap hands and let's come together in this meeting ground, I say, clap hands and let's deal with each other with love, I say, clap hands and let us get from the low road of indifference, Clap hands, let us come together and reveal our hearts, Let us come together and revise our spirits, Let us come together and cleanse our souls, Clap hands, let's leave the preening And stop impostering our own history.
Clap hands, call the spirits back from the ledge, Clap hands, let us invite joy into our conversation, Courtesy into our bedrooms, Gentleness into our kitchen, Care into our nursery.
The ancestors remind us, despite the history of pain We are a going-on people who will rise again.
And still we rise.
Poem read at the Million Man March


Written by Sylvia Plath | |

Winter Trees

The wet dawn inks are doing their blue dissolve.
On their blotter of fog the trees Seem a botanical drawing-- Memories growning, ring on ring, A series of weddings.
Knowing neither abortions nor bitchery, Truer than women, They seed so effortlessly! Tasting the winds, that are footless, Waisting-deep in history-- Full of wings, otherworldliness.
In this, they are Ledas.
O mother of leaves and sweetness Who are these peitas? The shadows of ringdoves chanting, but easing nothing.
note: 12 Ledas: Leda, the maiden who was raped by Zeus in the guise of a swan.


More great poems below...

Written by Oliver Wendell Holmes | |

A Farewell to Agassiz

 How the mountains talked together,
Looking down upon the weather,
When they heard our friend had planned his
Little trip among the Andes
How they'll bare their snowy scalps
To the climber of the Alps
When the cry goes through their passes,
"Here comes the great Agassiz!"
"Yes, I'm tall," says Chimborazo,
"But I wait for him to say so,--
That's the only thing that lacks,-- he
Must see me, Cotopaxi!"
"Ay! ay!" the fire-peak thunders,
"And he must view my wonders
I'm but a lonely crater
Till I have him for spectator!"
The mountain hearts are yearning,
The lava-torches burning,
The rivers bend to meet him,
The forests bow to greet him,
It thrills the spinal column
Of fossil fishes solemn,
And glaciers crawl the faster
To the feet of their old master!
Heaven keep him well and hearty,
Both him and all his party!
From the sun that broils and smites,
From the centipede that bites,
From the hail-storm and the thunder,
From the vampire and the condor,
From the gust upon the river,
From the sudden earthquake shiver,
From the trip of mule or donkey,
From the midnight howling monkey,
From the stroke of knife or dagger,
From the puma and the jaguar,
From the horrid boa-constrictor
That has scared us in the picture,
From the Indians of the Pampas
Who would dine upon their grampas,
From every beast and vermin
That to think of sets us squirmin',
From every snake that tries on
The traveller his p'ison,
From every pest of Natur',
Likewise the alligator,
And from two things left behind him,
(Be sure they'll try to find him,)
The tax-bill and assessor,--
Heaven keep the great Professor!
May he find, with his apostles,
That the land is full of fossils,
That the waters swarm with fishes
Shaped according to his wishes,
That every pool is fertile
In fancy kinds of turtle,
New birds around him singing,
New insects, never stinging,
With a million novel data
About the articulata,
And facts that strip off all husks
From the history of mollusks.
And when, with loud Te Deum, He returns to his Museum May he find the monstrous reptile That so long the land has kept ill By Grant and Sherman throttled, And by Father Abraham bottled, (All specked and streaked and mottled With the scars of murderous battles, Where he clashed the iron rattles That gods and men he shook at,) For all the world to look at! God bless the great Professor! And Madam, too, God bless her! Bless him and all his band, On the sea and on the land, Bless them head and heart and hand, Till their glorious raid is o'er, And they touch our ransomed shore! Then the welcome of a nation, With its shout of exultation, Shall awake the dumb creation, And the shapes of buried aeons Join the living creature's paeans, Till the fossil echoes roar; While the mighty megalosaurus Leads the palaeozoic chorus, God bless the great Professor, And the land his proud possessor,-- Bless them now and evermore!


Written by Dimitris P Kraniotis | |

Ideals

 Snow-covered mountains,
ancient monuments,
a north wind that nods to us,
a thought that flows,
images imbued
with hymns of history,
words on signs
with ideals of geometry.


Written by Dimitris P Kraniotis | |

Illusions

 Noiseless wrinkles
on our forehead
the frontiers of history,
shed oblique glances
at Homer’s verses.
Illusions full of guilt redeem wounded whispers that became echoes in lighted caves of the fools and the innocent.


Written by Robert Seymour Bridges | |

Melancholia

 the history of melancholia
includes all of us.
me, I writhe in dirty sheets while staring at blue walls and nothing.
I have gotten so used to melancholia that I greet it like an old friend.
I will now do 15 minutes of grieving for the lost redhead, I tell the gods.
I do it and feel quite bad quite sad, then I rise CLEANSED even though nothing is solved.
that's what I get for kicking religion in the ass.
I should have kicked the redhead in the ass where her brains and her bread and butter are at .
.
.
but, no, I've felt sad about everything: the lost redhead was just another smash in a lifelong loss .
.
.
I listen to drums on the radio now and grin.
there is something wrong with me besides melancholia.


Written by R S Thomas | |

Ninetieth Birthday

 You go up the long track
That will take a car, but is best walked
On slow foot, noting the lichen
That writes history on the page
Of the grey rock.
Trees are about you At first, but yield to the green bracken, The nightjars house: you can hear it spin On warm evenings; it is still now In the noonday heat, only the lesser Voices sound, blue-fly and gnat And the stream's whisper.
As the road climbs, You will pause for breath and the far sea's Signal will flash, till you turn again To the steep track, buttressed with cloud.
And there at the top that old woman, Born almost a century back In that stone farm, awaits your coming; Waits for the news of the lost village She thinks she knows, a place that exists In her memory only.
You bring her greeting And praise for having lasted so long With time's knife shaving the bone.
Yet no bridge joins her own World with yours, all you can do Is lean kindly across the abyss To hear words that were once wise.


Written by R S Thomas | |

The Village

 Scarcely a street, too few houses
To merit the title; just a way between
The one tavern and the one shop
That leads nowhere and fails at the top
Of the short hill, eaten away
By long erosion of the green tide
Of grass creeping perpetually nearer 
This last outpost of time past.
So little happens; the black dog Cracking his fleas in the hot sun Is history.
Yet the girl who crosses From door to door moves to a scale Beyond the bland day's two dimensions.
Stay, then, village, for round you spins On a slow axis a world as vast And meaningful as any posed By great Plato's solitary mind.


Written by R S Thomas | |

The Village

 Scarcely a street, too few houses
To merit the title; just a way between
The one tavern and the one shop
That leads nowhere and fails at the top
Of the short hill, eaten away
By long erosion of the green tide
Of grass creeping perpetually nearer 
This last outpost of time past.
So little happens; the black dog Cracking his fleas in the hot sun Is history.
Yet the girl who crosses From door to door moves to a scale Beyond the bland day's two dimensions.
Stay, then, village, for round you spins On a slow axis a world as vast And meaningful as any posed By great Plato's solitary mind.


Written by R S Thomas | |

A Welsh Testament

 All right, I was Welsh.
Does it matter? I spoke a tongue that was passed on To me in the place I happened to be, A place huddled between grey walls Of cloud for at least half the year.
My word for heaven was not yours.
The word for hell had a sharp edge Put on it by the hand of the wind Honing, honing with a shrill sound Day and night.
Nothing that Glyn Dwr Knew was armour against the rain's Missiles.
What was descent from him? Even God had a Welsh name: He spoke to him in the old language; He was to have a peculiar care For the Welsh people.
History showed us He was too big to be nailed to the wall Of a stone chapel, yet still we crammed him Between the boards of a black book.
Yet men sought us despite this.
My high cheek-bones, my length of skull Drew them as to a rare portrait By a dead master.
I saw them stare From their long cars, as I passed knee-deep In ewes and wethers.
I saw them stand By the thorn hedges, watching me string The far flocks on a shrill whistle.
And always there was their eyes; strong Pressure on me: You are Welsh, they said; Speak to us so; keep your fields free Of the smell of petrol, the loud roar Of hot tractors; we must have peace And quietness.
Is a museum Peace? I asked.
Am I the keeper Of the heart's relics, blowing the dust In my own eyes? I am a man; I never wanted the drab role Life assigned me, an actor playing To the past's audience upon a stage Of earth and stone; the absurd label Of birth, of race hanging askew About my shoulders.
I was in prison Until you came; your voice was a key Turning in the enormous lock Of hopelessness.
Did the door open To let me out or yourselves in?


Written by Alec Derwent (A D) Hope | |

Australia

 A Nation of trees, drab green and desolate grey 
In the field uniform of modern wars, 
Darkens her hills, those endless, outstretched paws 
Of Sphinx demolished or stone lion worn away.
They call her a young country, but they lie: She is the last of lands, the emptiest, A woman beyond her change of life, a breast Still tender but within the womb is dry.
Without songs, architecture, history: The emotions and superstitions of younger lands, Her rivers of water drown among inland sands, The river of her immense stupidity Floods her monotonous tribes from Cairns to Perth.
In them at last the ultimate men arrive Whose boast is not: "we live" but "we survive", A type who will inhabit the dying earth.
And her five cities, like five teeming sores, Each drains her: a vast parasite robber-state Where second hand Europeans pullulate Timidly on the edge of alien shores.
Yet there are some like me turn gladly home From the lush jungle of modern thought, to find The Arabian desert of the human mind, Hoping, if still from the deserts the prophets come, Such savage and scarlet as no green hills dare Springs in that waste, some spirit which escapes The learned doubt, the chatter of cultured apes Which is called civilization over there.


Written by Jorge Luis Borges | |

History Of The Night

 Throughout the course of the generations
men constructed the night.
At first she was blindness; thorns raking bare feet, fear of wolves.
We shall never know who forged the word for the interval of shadow dividing the two twilights; we shall never know in what age it came to mean the starry hours.
Others created the myth.
They made her the mother of the unruffled Fates that spin our destiny, they sacrificed black ewes to her, and the cock who crows his own death.
The Chaldeans assigned to her twelve houses; to Zeno, infinite words.
She took shape from Latin hexameters and the terror of Pascal.
Luis de Leon saw in her the homeland of his stricken soul.
Now we feel her to be inexhaustible like an ancient wine and no one can gaze on her without vertigo and time has charged her with eternity.
And to think that she wouldn't exist except for those fragile instruments, the eyes.


Written by C S Lewis | |

Cliche Came Out of its Cage

 1

You said 'The world is going back to Paganism'.
Oh bright Vision! I saw our dynasty in the bar of the House Spill from their tumblers a libation to the Erinyes, And Leavis with Lord Russell wreathed in flowers, heralded with flutes, Leading white bulls to the cathedral of the solemn Muses To pay where due the glory of their latest theorem.
Hestia's fire in every flat, rekindled, burned before The Lardergods.
Unmarried daughters with obedient hands Tended it By the hearth the white-armd venerable mother Domum servabat, lanam faciebat.
at the hour Of sacrifice their brothers came, silent, corrected, grave Before their elders; on their downy cheeks easily the blush Arose (it is the mark of freemen's children) as they trooped, Gleaming with oil, demurely home from the palaestra or the dance.
Walk carefully, do not wake the envy of the happy gods, Shun Hubris.
The middle of the road, the middle sort of men, Are best.
Aidos surpasses gold.
Reverence for the aged Is wholesome as seasonable rain, and for a man to die Defending the city in battle is a harmonious thing.
Thus with magistral hand the Puritan Sophrosune Cooled and schooled and tempered our uneasy motions; Heathendom came again, the circumspection and the holy fears .
.
.
You said it.
Did you mean it? Oh inordinate liar, stop.
2 Or did you mean another kind of heathenry? Think, then, that under heaven-roof the little disc of the earth, Fortified Midgard, lies encircled by the ravening Worm.
Over its icy bastions faces of giant and troll Look in, ready to invade it.
The Wolf, admittedly, is bound; But the bond wil1 break, the Beast run free.
The weary gods, Scarred with old wounds the one-eyed Odin, Tyr who has lost a hand, Will limp to their stations for the Last defence.
Make it your hope To be counted worthy on that day to stand beside them; For the end of man is to partake of their defeat and die His second, final death in good company.
The stupid, strong Unteachable monsters are certain to be victorious at last, And every man of decent blood is on the losing side.
Take as your model the tall women with yellow hair in plaits Who walked back into burning houses to die with men, Or him who as the death spear entered into his vitals Made critical comments on its workmanship and aim.
Are these the Pagans you spoke of? Know your betters and crouch, dogs; You that have Vichy water in your veins and worship the event Your goddess History (whom your fathers called the strumpet Fortune).


Written by Edgar Albert Guest | |

Father

 The long lines of diesels 
groan toward evening 
carrying off the breath 
of the living.
The face of your house is black, it is your face, black and fire bombed in the first street wars, a black tooth planted in the earth of Michigan and bearing nothing, and the earth is black, sick on used oils.
Did you look for me in that house behind the sofa where I had to be? in the basement where the shirts yellowed on hangers? in the bedroom where a woman lay her face on a locked chest? I waited at windows the rain streaked and no one told me.
I found you later face torn from The History of Siege, eyes turned to a public wall and gone before I turned back, mouth in mine and gone.
I found you whole toward the autumn of my 43rd year in this chair beside a masonjar of dried zinnias and I turned away.
I find you in these tears, few, useless and here at last.
Don't come back.