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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 William Shakespeare |

All the Worlds a Stage

 All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.
At first, the infant, Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel And shining morning face, creeping like snail Unwillingly to school.
And then the lover, Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad Made to his mistress' eyebrow.
Then a soldier, Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard, Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel, Seeking the bubble reputation Even in the cannon's mouth.
And then the justice, In fair round belly with good capon lined, With eyes severe and beard of formal cut, Full of wise saws and modern instances; And so he plays his part.
The sixth age shifts Into the lean and slippered pantaloon, With spectacles on nose and pouch on side; His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice, Turning again toward childish treble, pipes And whistles in his sound.
Last scene of all, That ends this strange eventful history, Is second childishness and mere oblivion, Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

Written by Sylvia Plath |

Letter In November

 Love, the world
Suddenly turns, turns color.
The streetlight Splits through the rat's tail Pods of the laburnum at nine in the morning.
It is the Arctic, This little black Circle, with its tawn silk grasses - babies hair.
There is a green in the air, Soft, delectable.
It cushions me lovingly.
I am flushed and warm.
I think I may be enormous, I am so stupidly happy, My Wellingtons Squelching and squelching through the beautiful red.
This is my property.
Two times a day I pace it, sniffing The barbarous holly with its viridian Scallops, pure iron, And the wall of the odd corpses.
I love them.
I love them like history.
The apples are golden, Imagine it ---- My seventy trees Holding their gold-ruddy balls In a thick gray death-soup, Their million Gold leaves metal and breathless.
O love, O celibate.
Nobody but me Walks the waist high wet.
The irreplaceable Golds bleed and deepen, the mouths of Thermopylae.

More great poems below...

Written by Derek Walcott |

The Sea Is History

 The Sea Is History

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.

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 Elizabeth Bishop |

Questions of Travel

 There are too many waterfalls here; the crowded streams 
hurry too rapidly down to the sea, 
and the pressure of so many clouds on the mountaintops 
makes them spill over the sides in soft slow-motion, 
turning to waterfalls under our very eyes.
--For if those streaks, those mile-long, shiny, tearstains, aren't waterfalls yet, in a quick age or so, as ages go here, they probably will be.
But if the streams and clouds keep travelling, travelling, the mountains look like the hulls of capsized ships, slime-hung and barnacled.
Think of the long trip home.
Should we have stayed at home and thought of here? Where should we be today? Is it right to be watching strangers in a play in this strangest of theatres? What childishness is it that while there's a breath of life in our bodies, we are determined to rush to see the sun the other way around? The tiniest green hummingbird in the world? To stare at some inexplicable old stonework, inexplicable and impenetrable, at any view, instantly seen and always, always delightful? Oh, must we dream our dreams and have them, too? And have we room for one more folded sunset, still quite warm? But surely it would have been a pity not to have seen the trees along this road, really exaggerated in their beauty, not to have seen them gesturing like noble pantomimists, robed in pink.
--Not to have had to stop for gas and heard the sad, two-noted, wooden tune of disparate wooden clogs carelessly clacking over a grease-stained filling-station floor.
(In another country the clogs would all be tested.
Each pair there would have identical pitch.
) --A pity not to have heard the other, less primitive music of the fat brown bird who sings above the broken gasoline pump in a bamboo church of Jesuit baroque: three towers, five silver crosses.
--Yes, a pity not to have pondered, blurr'dly and inconclusively, on what connection can exist for centuries between the crudest wooden footwear and, careful and finicky, the whittled fantasies of wooden footwear and, careful and finicky, the whittled fantasies of wooden cages.
--Never to have studied history in the weak calligraphy of songbirds' cages.
--And never to have had to listen to rain so much like politicians' speeches: two hours of unrelenting oratory and then a sudden golden silence in which the traveller takes a notebook, writes: "Is it lack of imagination that makes us come to imagined places, not just stay at home? Or could Pascal have been not entirely right about just sitting quietly in one's room? Continent, city, country, society: the choice is never wide and never free.
And here, or there .
Should we have stayed at home, wherever that may be?"

Written by Wendell Berry |

Do not be ashamed

 You will be walking some night
in the comfortable dark of your yard
and suddenly a great light will shine
round about you, and behind you
will be a wall you never saw before.
It will be clear to you suddenly that you were about to escape, and that you are guilty: you misread the complex instructions, you are not a member, you lost your card or never had one.
And you will know that they have been there all along, their eyes on your letters and books, their hands in your pockets, their ears wired to your bed.
Though you have done nothing shameful, they will want you to be ashamed.
They will want you to kneel and weep and say you should have been like them.
And once you say you are ashamed, reading the page they hold out to you, then such light as you have made in your history will leave you.
They will no longer need to pursue you.
You will pursue them, begging forgiveness.
They will not forgive you.
There is no power against them.
It is only candor that is aloof from them, only an inward clarity, unashamed, that they cannot reach.
Be ready.
When their light has picked you out and their questions are asked, say to them: "I am not ashamed.
" A sure horizon will come around you.
The heron will begin his evening flight from the hilltop.

Written by T S (Thomas Stearns) Eliot |

Gus: The Theatre Cat

 Gus is the Cat at the Theatre Door.
His name, as I ought to have told you before, Is really Asparagus.
That's such a fuss To pronounce, that we usually call him just Gus.
His coat's very shabby, he's thin as a rake, And he suffers from palsy that makes his paw shake.
Yet he was, in his youth, quite the smartest of Cats-- But no longer a terror to mice and to rats.
For he isn't the Cat that he was in his prime; Though his name was quite famous, he says, in its time.
And whenever he joins his friends at their club (Which takes place at the back of the neighbouring pub) He loves to regale them, if someone else pays, With anecdotes drawn from his palmiest days.
For he once was a Star of the highest degree-- He has acted with Irving, he's acted with Tree.
And he likes to relate his success on the Halls, Where the Gallery once gave him seven cat-calls.
But his grandest creation, as he loves to tell, Was Firefrorefiddle, the Fiend of the Fell.
"I have played," so he says, "every possible part, And I used to know seventy speeches by heart.
I'd extemporize back-chat, I knew how to gag, And I knew how to let the cat out of the bag.
I knew how to act with my back and my tail; With an hour of rehearsal, I never could fail.
I'd a voice that would soften the hardest of hearts, Whether I took the lead, or in character parts.
I have sat by the bedside of poor Little Nell; When the Curfew was rung, then I swung on the bell.
In the Pantomime season I never fell flat, And I once understudied Dick Whittington's Cat.
But my grandest creation, as history will tell, Was Firefrorefiddle, the Fiend of the Fell.
" Then, if someone will give him a toothful of gin, He will tell how he once played a part in East Lynne.
At a Shakespeare performance he once walked on pat, When some actor suggested the need for a cat.
He once played a Tiger--could do it again-- Which an Indian Colonel purused down a drain.
And he thinks that he still can, much better than most, Produce blood-curdling noises to bring on the Ghost.
And he once crossed the stage on a telegraph wire, To rescue a child when a house was on fire.
And he says: "Now then kittens, they do not get trained As we did in the days when Victoria reigned.
They never get drilled in a regular troupe, And they think they are smart, just to jump through a hoop.
" And he'll say, as he scratches himself with his claws, "Well, the Theatre's certainly not what it was.
These modern productions are all very well, But there's nothing to equal, from what I hear tell, That moment of mystery When I made history As Firefrorefiddle, the Fiend of the Fell.

Written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow |


 Spake full well, in language quaint and olden,
One who dwelleth by the castled Rhine,
When he called the flowers, so blue and golden,
Stars, that in earth's firmament do shine.
Stars they are, wherein we read our history, As astrologers and seers of eld; Yet not wrapped about with awful mystery, Like the burning stars, which they beheld.
Wondrous truths, and manifold as wondrous, God hath written in those stars above; But not less in the bright flowerets under us Stands the revelation of his love.
Bright and glorious is that revelation, Written all over this great world of ours; Making evident our own creation, In these stars of earth, these golden flowers.
And the Poet, faithful and far-seeing, Sees, alike in stars and flowers, a part Of the self-same, universal being, Which is throbbing in his brain and heart.
Gorgeous flowerets in the sunlight shining, Blossoms flaunting in the eye of day, Tremulous leaves, with soft and silver lining, Buds that open only to decay; Brilliant hopes, all woven in gorgeous tissues, Flaunting gayly in the golden light; Large desires, with most uncertain issues, Tender wishes, blossoming at night! These in flowers and men are more than seeming; Workings are they of the self-same powers, Which the Poet, in no idle dreaming, Seeth in himself and in the flowers.
Everywhere about us are they glowing, Some like stars, to tell us Spring is born; Others, their blue eyes with tears o'er-flowing, Stand like Ruth amid the golden corn; Not alone in Spring's armorial bearing, And in Summer's green-emblazoned field, But in arms of brave old Autumn's wearing, In the centre of his brazen shield; Not alone in meadows and green alleys, On the mountain-top, and by the brink Of sequestered pools in woodland valleys, Where the slaves of nature stoop to drink; Not alone in her vast dome of glory, Not on graves of bird and beast alone, But in old cathedrals, high and hoary, On the tombs of heroes, carved in stone; In the cottage of the rudest peasant, In ancestral homes, whose crumbling towers, Speaking of the Past unto the Present, Tell us of the ancient Games of Flowers; In all places, then, and in all seasons, Flowers expand their light and soul-like wings, Teaching us, by most persuasive reasons, How akin they are to human things.
And with childlike, credulous affection We behold their tender buds expand; Emblems of our own great resurrection, Emblems of the bright and better land.

Written by Yehuda Amichai |

A Man In His Life

 A man doesn't have time in his life
to have time for everything.
He doesn't have seasons enough to have a season for every purpose.
Ecclesiastes Was wrong about that.
A man needs to love and to hate at the same moment, to laugh and cry with the same eyes, with the same hands to throw stones and to gather them, to make love in war and war in love.
And to hate and forgive and remember and forget, to arrange and confuse, to eat and to digest what history takes years and years to do.
A man doesn't have time.
When he loses he seeks, when he finds he forgets, when he forgets he loves, when he loves he begins to forget.
And his soul is seasoned, his soul is very professional.
Only his body remains forever an amateur.
It tries and it misses, gets muddled, doesn't learn a thing, drunk and blind in its pleasures and its pains.
He will die as figs die in autumn, Shriveled and full of himself and sweet, the leaves growing dry on the ground, the bare branches pointing to the place where there's time for everything.

Written by Stephen Dunn |

Allegory Of The Cave

 He climbed toward the blinding light
and when his eyes adjusted
he looked down and could see

his fellow prisoners captivated
by shadows; everything he had believed
was false.
And he was suddenly in the 20th century, in the sunlight and violence of history, encumbered by knowledge.
Only a hero would dare return with the truth.
So from the cave's upper reaches, removed from harm, he called out the disturbing news.
What lovely echoes, the prisoners said, what a fine musical place to live.
He spelled it out, then, in clear prose on paper scraps, which he floated down.
But in the semi-dark they read his words with the indulgence of those who seldom read: It's about my father's death, one of them said.
No, said the others, it's a joke.
By this time he no longer was sure of what he'd seen.
Wasn't sunlight a shadow too? Wasn't there always a source behind a source? He just stood there, confused, a man who had moved to larger errors, without a prayer.

Written by Lewis Carroll |


 Little maidens, when you look 
On this little story-book, 
Reading with attentive eye 
Its enticing history, 
Never think that hours of play 
Are your only HOLIDAY, 
And that in a HOUSE of joy 
Lessons serve but to annoy: 
If in any HOUSE you find 
Children of a gentle mind, 
Each the others pleasing ever-- 
Each the others vexing never-- 
Daily work and pastime daily 
In their order taking gaily-- 
Then be very sure that they 
Have a life of HOLIDAY.

Written by Ralph Waldo Emerson |

The Apology

 Think me not unkind and rude,
That I walk alone in grove and glen;
I go to the god of the wood
To fetch his word to men.
Tax not my sloth that I Fold my arms beside the brook; Each cloud that floated in the sky Writes a letter in my book.
Chide me not, laborious band, For the idle flowers I brought; Every aster in my hand Goes home loaded with a thought.
There was never mystery, But 'tis figured in the flowers, Was never secret history, But birds tell it in the bowers.
One harvest from thy field Homeward brought the oxen strong; A second crop thine acres yield, Which I gather in a song.

Written by Lisa Zaran |

Love Is Believable

 love is believable 
in every moment of exhaustion 
in every heartbroken home 
in every dark spirit, 
the meaning unfolds.
in every night that sings of tomorrow.
in every suicide i carry deep inside my head.
in every lonely smile that plays across my lips.
love is believable i tell you, in every scrap of history, in every sheen of want.
what can be wrong that some days i have a tough time believing.
and in each chamber of my heart i pray.
Copyright © Lisa Zaran, 2006