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Best Famous Identity Poems

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

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Written by Emily Dickinson |

This Consciousness that is aware

 This Consciousness that is aware
Of Neighbors and the Sun
Will be the one aware of Death
And that itself alone

Is traversing the interval
Experience between
And most profound experiment
Appointed unto Men --

How adequate unto itself
Its properties shall be
Itself unto itself and none
Shall make discovery.
Adventure most unto itself The Soul condemned to be -- Attended by a single Hound Its own identity.

Written by Anne Bronte |

Last Lines

 Jan 7th

A dreadful darkness closes in
On my bewildered mind;
O let me suffer and not sin,
Be tortured yet resigned.
Through all this world of whelming mist Still let me look to Thee, And give me courage to resist The Tempter till he flee.
Weary I am -- O give me strength And leave me not to faint; Say Thou wilt comfort me at length And pity my complaint.
I've begged to serve Thee heart and soul, To sacrifice to Thee No niggard portion, but the whole Of my identity.
I hoped amid the brave and strong My portioned task might lie, To toil amid the labouring throng With purpose pure and high.
But Thou hast fixed another part, And Thou hast fixed it well; I said so with my breaking heart When first the anguish fell.
For Thou hast taken my delight And hope of life away, And bid me watch the painful night And wait the weary day.
The hope and the delight were Thine; I bless Thee for their loan; I gave Thee while I deemed them mine Too little thanks, I own.
Shall I with joy Thy blessings share And not endure their loss? Or hope the martyr's crown to wear And cast away the cross? These weary hours will not be lost, These days of passive misery, These nights of darkness anguish tost If I can fix my heart on Thee.
Weak and weary though I lie, Crushed with sorrow, worn with pain, Still I may lift to Heaven mine eyes And strive and labour not in vain, That inward strife against the sins That ever wait on suffering; To watch and strike where first begins Each ill that would corruption bring, That secret labour to sustain With humble patience every blow, To gather fortitude from pain And hope and holiness from woe.
Thus let me serve Thee from my heart Whatever be my written fate, Whether thus early to depart Or yet awhile to wait.
If Thou shouldst bring me back to life More humbled I should be; More wise, more strengthened for the strife, More apt to lean on Thee.
Should Death be standing at the gate Thus should I keep my vow; But, Lord, whate'er my future fate So let me serve Thee now.
28, 1849.

Written by A R Ammons |


 1) An individual spider web
identifies a species:

an order of instinct prevails
 through all accidents of circumstance,
  though possibility is
high along the peripheries of
   you can go all
  around the fringing attachments

  and find
disorder ripe,
entropy rich, high levels of random,
 numerous occasions of accident:

2) the possible settings
of a web are infinite:

 how does
the spider keep
 while creating the web
 in a particular place?

 how and to what extent
  and by what modes of chemistry
  and control?

it is
 how things work: I will tell you
   about it

it is interesting
and because whatever is
moves in weeds
 and stars and spider webs
and known
   is loved:
  in that love,
  each of us knowing it,
  I love you,

for it moves within and beyond us,
  sizzles in
to winter grasses, darts and hangs with bumblebees
by summer windowsills:

   I will show you
the underlying that takes no image to itself,
 cannot be shown or said,
but weaves in and out of moons and bladderweeds,
   is all and
 beyond destruction
 because created fully in no
particular form:

   if the web were perfectly pre-set,
   the spider could
  never find
  a perfect place to set it in: and

   if the web were
perfectly adaptable,
if freedom and possibility were without limit,
   the web would
lose its special identity:

 the row-strung garden web
keeps order at the center
where space is freest (intersecting that the freest
  "medium" should
  accept the firmest order)

and that
   diminishes toward the
 allowing at the points of contact
  entropy equal to entropy.

More great poems below...

Written by Walt Whitman |

O Me! O Life!

 O ME! O life!.
of the questions of these recurring; Of the endless trains of the faithless—of cities fill’d with the foolish; Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?) Of eyes that vainly crave the light—of the objects mean—of the struggle ever renew’d; Of the poor results of all—of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me; Of the empty and useless years of the rest—with the rest me intertwined; The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life? Answer.
That you are here—that life exists, and identity; That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.

Written by Adrienne Rich |

From an Atlas of the Difficult World

 I know you are reading this poem
late, before leaving your office
of the one intense yellow lamp-spot and the darkening window
in the lassitude of a building faded to quiet
long after rush-hour.
I know you are reading this poem standing up in a bookstore far from the ocean on a grey day of early spring, faint flakes driven across the plains' enormous spaces around you.
I know you are reading this poem in a room where too much has happened for you to bear where the bedclothes lie in stagnant coils on the bed and the open valise speaks of flight but you cannot leave yet.
I know you are reading this poem as the underground train loses momentum and before running up the stairs toward a new kind of love your life has never allowed.
I know you are reading this poem by the light of the television screen where soundless images jerk and slide while you wait for the newscast from the intifada.
I know you are reading this poem in a waiting-room of eyes met and unmeeting, of identity with strangers.
I know you are reading this poem by fluorescent light in the boredom and fatigue of the young who are counted out, count themselves out, at too early an age.
I know you are reading this poem through your failing sight, the thick lens enlarging these letters beyond all meaning yet you read on because even the alphabet is precious.
I know you are reading this poem as you pace beside the stove warming milk, a crying child on your shoulder, a book in your hand because life is short and you too are thirsty.
I know you are reading this poem which is not in your language guessing at some words while others keep you reading and I want to know which words they are.
I know you are reading this poem listening for something, torn between bitterness and hope turning back once again to the task you cannot refuse.
I know you are reading this poem because there is nothing else left to read there where you have landed, stripped as you are.

Written by A R Ammons |


 I said I will find what is lowly
and put the roots of my identity
down there:
each day I'll wake up
and find the lowly nearby,
a handy focus and reminder,
a ready measure of my significance,
the voice by which I would be heard,
the wills, the kinds of selfishness
I could
freely adopt as my own:

but though I have looked everywhere,
I can find nothing
to give myself to:
everything is

magnificent with existence, is in 
surfeit of glory:
nothing is diminished,
nothing has been diminished for me:

I said what is more lowly than the grass:
ah, underneath,
a ground-crust of dry-burnt moss:
I looked at it closely
and said this can be my habitat: but
nestling in I
below the brown exterior
green mechanisms beyond the intellect
awaiting resurrection in rain: so I got up

and ran saying there is nothing lowly in the universe:
I found a beggar:
he had stumps for legs: nobody was paying
him any attention: everybody went on by:
I nestled in and found his life:
there, love shook his body like a devastation:
I said
though I have looked everywhere
I can find nothing lowly
in the universe:

I whirled though transfigurations up and down,
transfigurations of size and shape and place:

at one sudden point came still,
stood in wonder:
moss, beggar, weed, tick, pine, self, magnificent
with being!

Written by Denise Duhamel |

Sex With A Famous Poet

 I had sex with a famous poet last night 
and when I rolled over and found myself beside him I shuddered 
because I was married to someone else, 
because I wasn't supposed to have been drinking,
because I was in fancy hotel room
I didn't recognize.
I would have told you right off this was a dream, but recently a friend told me, write about a dream, lose a reader and I didn't want to lose you right away.
I wanted you to hear that I didn't even like the poet in the dream, that he has four kids, the youngest one my age, and I find him rather unattractive, that I only met him once, that is, in real life, and that was in a large group in which I barely spoke up.
He disgusted me with his disparaging remarks about women.
He even used the word "Jap" which I took as a direct insult to my husband who's Asian.
When we were first dating, I told him "You were talking in your sleep last night and I listened, just to make sure you didn't call out anyone else's name.
" My future-husband said that he couldn't be held responsible for his subconscious, which worried me, which made me think his dreams were full of blond vixens in rabbit-fur bikinis.
but he said no, he dreamt mostly about boulders and the ocean and volcanoes, dangerous weather he witnessed but could do nothing to stop.
And I said, "I dream only of you," which was romantic and silly and untrue.
But I never thought I'd dream of another man-- my husband and I hadn't even had a fight, my head tucked sweetly in his armpit, my arm around his belly, which lifted up and down all night, gently like water in a lake.
If I passed that famous poet on the street, he would walk by, famous in his sunglasses and blazer with the suede patches at the elbows, without so much as a glance in my direction.
I know you're probably curious about who the poet is, so I should tell you the clues I've left aren't accurate, that I've disguised his identity, that you shouldn't guess I bet it's him.
because you'll never guess correctly and even if you do, I won't tell you that you have.
I wouldn't want to embarrass a stranger who is, after all, probably a nice person, who was probably just having a bad day when I met him, who is probably growing a little tired of his fame-- which my husband and I perceive as enormous, but how much fame can an American poet really have, let's say, compared to a rock star or film director of equal talent? Not that much, and the famous poet knows it, knows that he's not truly given his due.
Knows that many of these young poets tugging on his sleeve are only pretending to have read all his books.
But he smiles anyway, tries to be helpful.
I mean, this poet has to have some redeeming qualities, right? For instance, he writes a mean iambic.
Otherwise, what was I doing in his arms.

Written by Laura Riding Jackson |

The Simple Line

 The secrets of the mind convene splendidly,
Though the mind is meek.
To be aware inwardly of brain and beauty Is dark too recognizable.
Thought looking out on thought Makes one an eye: Which it shall be, both decide.
One is with the mind alone, The other is with other thoughts gone To be seen from afar and not known.
When openly these inmost sights Flash and speak fully, Each head at home shakes hopelessly Of being never ready to see self And sees a universe too soon.
The immense surmise swims round and round And heads grow wise With their own bigness beatified In cosmos, and the idiot size Of skulls spells Nature on the ground, While ears listening the wrong way report Echoes first and hear words before sounds Because the mind, being quiet, seems late.
By ears words are copied into books, By letters minds are taught self-ignorance.
From mouths spring forth vocabularies To the assemblage of strange objects Grown foreign to the faithful countryside Of one king, poverty, Of one line, humbleness.
Unavowed and false horizons claim pride For spaces in the head The native head sees outside.
The flood of wonder rushing from the eyes Returns lesson by lesson.
The mind, shrunken of time, Overflows too soon.
The complete vision is the same As when the world-wideness began Worlds to describe The excessiveness of man.
But man's right portion rejects The surplus in the whole.
This much, made secret first, Now makes The knowable, which was Thought's previous flesh, And gives instruction of substance to its intelligence As far as flesh itself, As bodies upon themselves to where Understanding is the head And the identity of breath and breathing are established And the voice opening to cry: I know, Closes around the entire declaration With this evidence of immortality— The total silence to say: I am dead.
For death is all ugly, all lovely, Forbids mysteries to make Science of splendor, or any separate disclosing Of beauty to the mind out of body's book That page by page flutters a world in fragments, Permits no scribbling in of more Where spaces are, Only to look.
Body as Body lies more than still.
The rest seems nothing and nothing is If nothing need be.
But if need be, Thought not divided anyway Answers itself, thinking All open and everything.
Dead is the mind that parted each head.
But now the secrets of the mind convene Without pride, without pain To any onlookers.
What they ordain alone Cannot be known The ordinary way of eyes and ears But only prophesied If an unnatural mind, refusing to divide, Dies immediately Of too plain beauty Foreseen within too suddenly, And lips break open of astonishment Upon the living mouth and rehearse Death, that seems a simple verse And, of all ways to know, Dead or alive, easiest.

Written by Billy Collins |


 There is a section in my library for death
and another for Irish history,
a few shelves for the poetry of China and Japan,
and in the center a row of imperturbable reference books,
the ones you can turn to anytime,
when the night is going wrong
or when the day is full of empty promise.
I have nothing against the thin monograph, the odd query, a note on the identity of Chekhov's dentist, but what I prefer on days like these is to get up from the couch, pull down The History of the World, and hold in my hands a book containing nearly everything and weighing no more than a sack of potatoes, eleven pounds, I discovered one day when I placed it on the black, iron scale my mother used to keep in her kitchen, the device on which she would place a certain amount of flour, a certain amount of fish.
Open flat on my lap under a halo of lamplight, a book like this always has a way of soothing the nerves, quieting the riotous surf of information that foams around my waist even though it never mentions the silent labors of the poor, the daydreams of grocers and tailors, or the faces of men and women alone in single rooms- even though it never mentions my mother, now that I think of her again, who only last year rolled off the edge of the earth in her electric bed, in her smooth pink nightgown the bones of her fingers interlocked, her sunken eyes staring upward beyond all knowledge, beyond the tiny figures of history, some in uniform, some not, marching onto the pages of this incredibly heavy book.

Written by Laura Riding Jackson |

With The Face

 With the face goes a mirror
As with the mind a world.
Likeness tells the doubting eye That strangeness is not strange.
At an early hour and knowledge Identity not yet familiar Looks back upon itself from later, And seems itself.
To-day seems now.
With reality-to-be goes time.
With the mind goes a world.
Wit the heart goes a weather.
With the face goes a mirror As with the body a fear.
Young self goes staring to the wall Where dumb futurity speaks calm, And between then and then Forebeing grows of age.
The mirror mixes with the eye.
Soon will it be the very eye.
Soon will the eye that was The very mirror be.
Death, the final image, will shine Transparently not otherwise Than as the dark sun described With such faint brightnesses.

Written by Mahmoud Darwish |


 They did not recognize me in the shadows
That suck away my color in this Passport
And to them my wound was an exhibit
For a tourist Who loves to collect photographs
They did not recognize me,
Ah .
Don’t leave The palm of my hand without the sun Because the trees recognize me Don’t leave me pale like the moon! All the birds that followed my palm To the door of the distant airport All the wheatfields All the prisons All the white tombstones All the barbed Boundaries All the waving handkerchiefs All the eyes were with me, But they dropped them from my passport Stripped of my name and identity? On soil I nourished with my own hands? Today Job cried out Filling the sky: Don’t make and example of me again! Oh, gentlemen, Prophets, Don’t ask the trees for their names Don’t ask the valleys who their mother is >From my forehead bursts the sward of light And from my hand springs the water of the river All the hearts of the people are my identity So take away my passport!

Written by Emily Bronte |

The Philosopher

 "Enough of thought, philosopher!
Too long hast thou been dreaming
Unlightened, in this chamber drear,
While summer's sun is beaming!
Space - sweeping soul, what sad refrain
Concludes thy musings once again? 

"Oh, for the time when I shall sleep
Without identity,
And never care how rain may steep,
Or snow may cover me!
No promised heaven, these wild desires,
Could all, or half fulfil;
No threathened hell, with quenchless fires,
Subdue this quenchless will!" 

"So said I, and still say the same;
Still, to my death, will say -
Three gods, within this little frame,
Are warring night and day;
Heaven could not hold them all, and yet 
They all are held in me;
And must be mine till I forget
My present entity!
Oh, for the time, when in my breast
Their struggles will be o'er!
Oh, for the day, when I shall rest,
And never suffer more!" 

"I saw a spirit, standing, man,
Where thou dost stand - an hour ago, 
And round his feet three rivers ran,
Of equal depth, and equal flow -
"A golden stream - and one like blood;
And one like sapphire, seemed to be;
But, where they joined their triple flood
It tumbled in an inky sea.
The spirit sent his dazzling gaze Down through that ocean's gloomy night Then, kindling all, with sudden blaze, The glad deep sparkled wide and bright - White as the sun, far, far more fair Than its divided sources were!" "And even for that spirit, seer, I've watched and sought my life - time long; Sought him in heaven, hell, earth and air - An endless search, and always wrong! Had I but seen his glorious eye Once light the clouds that wilder me, I ne'er had raised this coward cry To cease to think and cease to be; I ne'er had called oblivion blest, Nor, stretching eager hands to death, Implored to change for senseless rest This sentient soul, this living breath - Oh, let me die - that power and will Their cruel strife may close; And conquered good, and conquering ill Be lost in one repose!"

Written by Chris Mansell |

The unquiet city

 we are succulents
our cool jade arms open
over clean tables our fine bone
china minds pull the strings
of our tongues together we plait
our thoughts with the television
back through the aerials and
transmission towers prodding
through the literal fog
the mechanics of which distance
does not startle us or the ears
pretend to hear the telephone
the page also wearies
us we have taken the meaning
out of things by laying them face to
face in our dictionary of emotions
we are so entirely alone that we
are unaware of it
and we enjoy the religion of solitude
because religions are at base
meaningless and we can turn
from them to a new hobby
to clean ashtrays or emptier
whiskey glasses we the women
of our building Margaret Gladys
Cecily Ida Eileen and I have
the cleanest washing on our block
we are proud and air our sheets
although it's a long time since
any serious stain or passionate figment
seeped through that censorious cloth
we have plants one of us has a budgie
and I have three fish the details
are unimportant God does not come here often
we would be suspicious if he
did without an identity card
we collect each others' mail
remind each other of garbage
days and are frightened
of the louts from the skating rink
but in the night I leave
my curtains open and air
my pendant tremulous breasts

Written by Craig Raine |


 'and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence'
 -- George Eliot, Middlemarch

Dead dandelions, bald as drumsticks,
swaying by the roadside

like Hare Krishna pilgrims
bowing to the Juggernaut.
They have given up everything.
Gold gone and their silver gone, humbled with dust, hollow, their milky bodies tan to the colour of annas.
The wind changes their identity: slender Giacomettis, Doré's convicts, Rodin's burghers of Calais with five bowed heads and the weight of serrated keys .
They wither into mystery, waiting to find out why they are, patiently, before nirvana when the rain comes down like vitriol.

Written by Emily Bronte |

Oh For The Time When I Shall Sleep

 Oh, for the time when I shall sleep
Without identity,
And never care how rain may steep,
Or snow may cover me!
No promised heaven these wild desires
Could all, or half, fulful;
No threatened hell, with quenchless fires,
Subdue this quenchless will!

So said I, and still say the same;
Still, to my death, will say— 
Three gods within this little frame
Are warring night and day:
Heaven could not hold them all, and yet
They all are held in me;
And must be mine till I forget
My present entity!

Oh, for the time when in my breast
Their struggles will be o'er!
Oh, for the day when I shall rest,
And never suffer more!