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Best Famous Lyric Poems

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

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Written by C S Lewis | Create an image from this poem

On Being Human

 Angelic minds, they say, by simple intelligence 
Behold the Forms of nature.
They discern Unerringly the Archtypes, all the verities Which mortals lack or indirectly learn.
Transparent in primordial truth, unvarying, Pure Earthness and right Stonehood from their clear, High eminence are seen; unveiled, the seminal Huge Principles appear.
The Tree-ness of the tree they know-the meaning of Arboreal life, how from earth's salty lap The solar beam uplifts it; all the holiness Enacted by leaves' fall and rising sap; But never an angel knows the knife-edged severance Of sun from shadow where the trees begin, The blessed cool at every pore caressing us -An angel has no skin.
They see the Form of Air; but mortals breathing it Drink the whole summer down into the breast.
The lavish pinks, the field new-mown, the ravishing Sea-smells, the wood-fire smoke that whispers Rest.
The tremor on the rippled pool of memory That from each smell in widening circles goes, The pleasure and the pang --can angels measure it? An angel has no nose.
The nourishing of life, and how it flourishes On death, and why, they utterly know; but not The hill-born, earthy spring, the dark cold bilberries.
The ripe peach from the southern wall still hot Full-bellied tankards foamy-topped, the delicate Half-lyric lamb, a new loaf's billowy curves, Nor porridge, nor the tingling taste of oranges.
—An angel has no nerves.
Far richer they! I know the senses' witchery Guards us like air, from heavens too big to see; Imminent death to man that barb'd sublimity And dazzling edge of beauty unsheathed would be.
Yet here, within this tiny, charmed interior, This parlour of the brain, their Maker shares With living men some secrets in a privacy Forever ours, not theirs.
Written by Robert William Service | Create an image from this poem

The Ghosts

 Smith, great writer of stories, drank; found it immortalized his pen;
Fused in his brain-pan, else a blank, heavens of glory now and then;
Gave him the magical genius touch; God-given power to gouge out, fling
Flat in your face a soul-thought -- Bing!
Twiddle your heart-strings in his clutch.
"Bah!" said Smith, "let my body lie stripped to the buff in swinish shame, If I can blaze in the radiant sky out of adoring stars my name.
Sober am I nonentitized; drunk am I more than half a god.
Well, let the flesh be sacrificed; spirit shall speak and shame the clod.
Who would not gladly, gladly give Life to do one thing that will live?" Smith had a friend, we'll call him Brown; dearer than brothers were those two.
When in the wassail Smith would drown, Brown would rescue and pull him through.
When Brown was needful Smith would lend; so it fell as the years went by, Each on the other would depend: then at the last Smith came to die.
There Brown sat in the sick man's room, still as a stone in his despair; Smith bent on him his eyes of doom, shook back his lion mane of hair; Said: "Is there one in my chosen line, writer of forthright tales my peer? Look in that little desk of mine; there is a package, bring it here.
Story of stories, gem of all; essence and triumph, key and clue; Tale of a loving woman's fall; soul swept hell-ward, and God! it's true.
I was the man -- Oh, yes, I've paid, paid with mighty and mordant pain.
Look! here's the masterpiece I've made out of my sin, my manhood slain.
Art supreme! yet the world would stare, know my mistress and blaze my shame.
I have a wife and daughter -- there! take it and thrust it in the flame.
" Brown answered: "Master, you have dipped pen in your heart, your phrases sear.
Ruthless, unflinching, you have stripped naked your soul and set it here.
Have I not loved you well and true? See! between us the shadows drift; This bit of blood and tears means You -- oh, let me have it, a parting gift.
Sacred I'll hold it, a trust divine; sacred your honour, her dark despair; Never shall it see printed line: here, by the living God I swear.
" Brown on a Bible laid his hand; Smith, great writer of stories, sighed: "Comrade, I trust you, and understand.
Keep my secret!" And so he died.
Smith was buried -- up soared his sales; lured you his books in every store; Exquisite, whimsy, heart-wrung tales; men devoured them and craved for more.
So when it slyly got about Brown had a posthumous manuscript, Jones, the publisher, sought him out, into his pocket deep he dipped.
"A thousand dollars?" Brown shook his head.
"The story is not for sale, " he said.
Jones went away, then others came.
Tempted and taunted, Brown was true.
Guarded at friendship's shrine the fame of the unpublished story grew and grew.
It's a long, long lane that has no end, but some lanes end in the Potter's field; Smith to Brown had been more than friend: patron, protector, spur and shield.
Poor, loving-wistful, dreamy Brown, long and lean, with a smile askew, Friendless he wandered up and down, gaunt as a wolf, as hungry too.
Brown with his lilt of saucy rhyme, Brown with his tilt of tender mirth Garretless in the gloom and grime, singing his glad, mad songs of earth: So at last with a faith divine, down and down to the Hunger-line.
There as he stood in a woeful plight, tears a-freeze on his sharp cheek-bones, Who should chance to behold his plight, but the publisher, the plethoric Jones; Peered at him for a little while, held out a bill: "NOW, will you sell?" Brown scanned it with his twisted smile: "A thousand dollars! you go to hell!" Brown enrolled in the homeless host, sleeping anywhere, anywhen; Suffered, strove, became a ghost, slave of the lamp for other men; For What's-his-name and So-and-so in the abyss his soul he stripped, Yet in his want, his worst of woe, held he fast to the manuscript.
Then one day as he chewed his pen, half in hunger and half despair, Creaked the door of his garret den; Dick, his brother, was standing there.
Down on the pallet bed he sank, ashen his face, his voice a wail: "Save me, brother! I've robbed the bank; to-morrow it's ruin, capture, gaol.
Yet there's a chance: I could to-day pay back the money, save our name; You have a manuscript, they say, worth a thousand -- think, man! the shame.
.
.
.
" Brown with his heart pain-pierced the while, with his stern, starved face, and his lips stone-pale, Shuddered and smiled his twisted smile: "Brother, I guess you go to gaol.
" While poor Brown in the leer of dawn wrestled with God for the sacred fire, Came there a woman weak and wan, out of the mob, the murk, the mire; Frail as a reed, a fellow ghost, weary with woe, with sorrowing; Two pale souls in the legion lost; lo! Love bent with a tender wing, Taught them a joy so deep, so true, it seemed that the whole-world fabric shook, Thrilled and dissolved in radiant dew; then Brown made him a golden book, Full of the faith that Life is good, that the earth is a dream divinely fair, Lauding his gem of womanhood in many a lyric rich and rare; Took it to Jones, who shook his head: "I will consider it," he said.
While he considered, Brown's wife lay clutched in the tentacles of pain; Then came the doctor, grave and grey; spoke of decline, of nervous strain; Hinted Egypt, the South of France -- Brown with terror was tiger-gripped.
Where was the money? What the chance? Pitiful God! .
.
.
the manuscript! A thousand dollars! his only hope! he gazed and gazed at the garret wall.
.
.
.
Reached at last for the envelope, turned to his wife and told her all.
Told of his friend, his promise true; told like his very heart would break: "Oh, my dearest! what shall I do? shall I not sell it for your sake?" Ghostlike she lay, as still as doom; turned to the wall her weary head; Icy-cold in the pallid gloom, silent as death .
.
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at last she said: "Do! my husband? Keep your vow! Guard his secret and let me die.
.
.
.
Oh, my dear, I must tell you now -- the women he loved and wronged was I; Darling! I haven't long to live: I never told you -- forgive, forgive!" For a long, long time Brown did not speak; sat bleak-browed in the wretched room; Slowly a tear stole down his cheek, and he kissed her hand in the dismal gloom.
To break his oath, to brand her shame; his well-loved friend, his worshipped wife; To keep his vow, to save her name, yet at the cost of what? Her life! A moment's space did he hesitate, a moment of pain and dread and doubt, Then he broke the seals, and, stern as fate, unfolded the sheets and spread them out.
.
.
.
On his knees by her side he limply sank, peering amazed -- each page was blank.
(For oh, the supremest of our art are the stories we do not dare to tell, Locked in the silence of the heart, for the awful records of Heav'n and Hell.
) Yet those two in the silence there, seemed less weariful than before.
Hark! a step on the garret stair, a postman knocks at the flimsy door.
"Registered letter!" Brown thrills with fear; opens, and reads, then bends above: "Glorious tidings! Egypt, dear! The book is accepted -- life and love.
"
Written by Lucy Maud Montgomery | Create an image from this poem

To My Enemy

 Let those who will of friendship sing,
And to its guerdon grateful be,
But I a lyric garland bring
To crown thee, O, mine enemy! 

Thanks, endless thanks, to thee I owe
For that my lifelong journey through
Thine honest hate has done for me
What love perchance had failed to do.
I had not scaled such weary heights But that I held thy scorn in fear, And never keenest lure might match The subtle goading of thy sneer.
Thine anger struck from me a fire That purged all dull content away, Our mortal strife to me has been Unflagging spur from day to day.
And thus, while all the world may laud The gifts of love and loyalty, I lay my meed of gratitude Before thy feet, mine enemy!
Written by Robert William Service | Create an image from this poem

Why Do Birds Sing?

 Let poets piece prismatic words,
Give me the jewelled joy of birds!

What ecstasy moves them to sing?
Is it the lyric glee of Spring,
The dewy rapture of the rose?
Is it the worship born in those
Who are of Nature's self a part,
The adoration of the heart?

Is it the mating mood in them
That makes each crystal note a gem?
Oh mocking bird and nightingale,
Oh mavis, lark and robin - hail!
Tell me what perfect passion glows
In your inspired arpeggios?

A thrush is thrilling as I write
Its obligato of delight;
And in its fervour, as in mine,
I fathom tenderness divine,
And pity those of earthy ear
Who cannot hear .
.
.
who cannot hear.
Let poets pattern pretty words: For lovely largesse - bless you, Birds!
Written by John Drinkwater | Create an image from this poem

Persuasion

Persuasion

I 	At any moment love unheralded
Comes, and is king.
Then as, with a fall Of frost, the buds upon the hawthorn spread Are withered in untimely burial, So love, occasion gone, his crown puts by, And as a beggar walks unfriended ways, With but remembered beauty to defy The frozen sorrows of unsceptred days.
Or in that later travelling he comes Upon a bleak oblivion, and tells Himself, again, again, forgotten tombs Are all now that love was, and blindly spells His royal state of old a glory cursed, Saying 'I have forgot', and that's the worst.
II If we should part upon that one embrace, And set our courses ever, each from each, With all our treasure but a fading face And little ghostly syllables of speech; Should beauty's moment never be renewed, And moons on moons look out for us in vain, And each but whisper from a solitude To hear but echoes of a lonely pain, — Still in a world that fortune cannot change Should walk those two that once were you and I, Those two that once when moon and stars were strange Poets above us in an April sky, Heard a voice falling on the midnight sea, Mute, and for ever, but for you and me.
III This nature, this great flood of life, this cheat That uses us as baubles for her coat, Takes love, that should be nothing but the beat Of blood for its own beauty, by the throat, Saying, you are my servant and shall do My purposes, or utter bitterness Shall be your wage, and nothing come to you But stammering tongues that never can confess.
Undaunted then in answer here I cry, 'You wanton, that control the hand of him Who masquerades as wisdom in a sky Where holy, holy, sing the cherubim, I will not pay one penny to your name Though all my body crumble into shame.
' IV Woman, I once had whimpered at your hand, Saying that all the wisdom that I sought Lay in your brain, that you were as the sand Should cleanse the muddy mirrors of my thought; I should have read in you the character Of oracles that quick a thousand lays, Looked in your eyes, and seen accounted there Solomons legioned for bewildered praise.
Now have I learnt love as love is.
I take Your hand, and with no inquisition learn All that your eyes can tell, and that's to make A little reckoning and brief, then turn Away, and in my heart I hear a call, 'I love, I love, I love'; and that is all.
V When all the hungry pain of love I bear, And in poor lightless thought but burn and burn, And wit goes hunting wisdom everywhere, Yet can no word of revelation learn; When endlessly the scales of yea and nay In dreadful motion fall and rise and fall, When all my heart in sorrow I could pay Until at last were left no tear at all; Then if with tame or subtle argument Companions come and draw me to a place Where words are but the tappings of content, And life spreads all her garments with a grace, I curse that ease, and hunger in my heart Back to my pain and lonely to depart.
VI Not anything you do can make you mine, For enterprise with equal charity In duty as in love elect will shine, The constant slave of mutability.
Nor can your words for all their honey breath Outsing the speech of many an older rhyme, And though my ear deliver them from death One day or two, it is so little time.
Nor does your beauty in its excellence Excel a thousand in the daily sun, Yet must I put a period to pretence, And with my logic's catalogue have done, For act and word and beauty are but keys To unlock the heart, and you, dear love, are these.
VII Never the heart of spring had trembled so As on that day when first in Paradise We went afoot as novices to know For the first time what blue was in the skies, What fresher green than any in the grass, And how the sap goes beating to the sun, And tell how on the clocks of beauty pass Minute by minute till the last is done.
But not the new birds singing in the brake, And not the buds of our discovery, The deeper blue, the wilder green, the ache For beauty that we shadow as we see, Made heaven, but we, as love's occasion brings, Took these, and made them Paradisal things.
VIII The lilacs offer beauty to the sun, Throbbing with wonder as eternally For sad and happy lovers they have done With the first bloom of summer in the sky; Yet they are newly spread in honour now, Because, for every beam of beauty given Out of that clustering heart, back to the bough My love goes beating, from a greater heaven.
So be my love for good or sorry luck Bound, it has virtue on this April eve That shall be there for ever when they pluck Lilacs for love.
And though I come to grieve Long at a frosty tomb, there still shall be My happy lyric in the lilac tree.
IX When they make silly question of my love, And speak to me of danger and disdain, And look by fond old argument to move My wisdom to docility again; When to my prouder heart they set the pride Of custom and the gossip of the street, And show me figures of myself beside A self diminished at their judgment seat; Then do I sit as in a drowsy pew To hear a priest expounding th' heavenly will, Defiling wonder that he never knew With stolen words of measured good and ill; For to the love that knows their counselling, Out of my love contempt alone I bring.
X Not love of you is most that I can bring, Since what I am to love you is the test, And should I love you more than any thing You would but be of idle love possessed, A mere love wandering in appetite, Counting your glories and yet bringing none, Finding in you occasions of delight, A thief of payment for no service done.
But when of labouring life I make a song And bring it you, as that were my reward, To let what most is me to you belong, Then do I come of high possessions lord, And loving life more than my love of you I give you love more excellently true.
XI What better tale could any lover tell When age or death his reckoning shall write Than thus, 'Love taught me only to rebel Against these things, — the thieving of delight Without return; the gospellers of fear Who, loving, yet deny the truth they bear, Sad-suited lusts with lecherous hands to smear The cloth of gold they would but dare not wear.
And love gave me great knowledge of the trees, And singing birds, and earth with all her flowers; Wisdom I knew and righteousness in these, I lived in their atonement all my hours; Love taught me how to beauty's eye alone The secret of the lying heart is known.
' XII This then at last; we may be wiser far Than love, and put his folly to our measure, Yet shall we learn, poor wizards that we are, That love chimes not nor motions at our pleasure.
We bid him come, and light an eager fire, And he goes down the road without debating; We cast him from the house of our desire, And when at last we leave he will be waiting.
And in the end there is no folly but this, To counsel love out of our little learning.
For still he knows where rotten timber is, And where the boughs for the long winter burning; And when life needs no more of us at all, Love's word will be the last that we recall.
Written by Robert William Service | Create an image from this poem

The Living Dead

 Since I have come to years sedate
I see with more and more acumen
The bitter irony of Fate,
The vanity of all things human.
Why, just to-day some fellow said, As I surveyed Fame's outer portal: "By gad! I thought that you were dead.
" Poor me, who dreamed to be immortal! But that's the way with many men Whose name one fancied time-defying; We thought that they were dust and then We found them living by their dying.
Like dogs we penmen have our day, To brief best-sellerdom elected; And then, "thumbs down," we slink away And die forgotten and neglected.
Ah well, my lyric fling I've had; A thousand bits of verse I've minted; And some, alas! were very bad, And some, alack! were best unprinted.
But if I've made my muse a bawd (Since I am earthy as a ditch is), I'll answer humbly to my God: Most men at times have toyed with bitches.
Yes, I have played with Lady Rhyme, And had a long and lovely innings; And when the Umpire calls my time I'll blandly quit and take my winnings.
I'll hie me to some Sleepydale, And feed the ducks and pat the poodles, And prime my paunch with cakes and ale, And blether with the village noodles.
And then some day you'll idly scan The Times obituary column, And say: "Dear me, the poor old man!" And for a moment you'll look solemn.
"So all this time he's been alive - In realms of rhyme a second-rater .
.
.
But gad! to live to ninety-five: Let's toast his ghost - a sherry, waiter!"
Written by Joyce Kilmer | Create an image from this poem

Apology

 (For Eleanor Rogers Cox)

For blows on the fort of evil
That never shows a breach,
For terrible life-long races
To a goal no foot can reach,
For reckless leaps into darkness
With hands outstretched to a star,
There is jubilation in Heaven
Where the great dead poets are.
There is joy over disappointment And delight in hopes that were vain.
Each poet is glad there was no cure To stop his lonely pain.
For nothing keeps a poet In his high singing mood Like unappeasable hunger For unattainable food.
So fools are glad of the folly That made them weep and sing, And Keats is thankful for Fanny Brawne And Drummond for his king.
They know that on flinty sorrow And failure and desire The steel of their souls was hammered To bring forth the lyric fire.
Lord Byron and Shelley and Plunkett, McDonough and Hunt and Pearse See now why their hatred of tyrants Was so insistently fierce.
Is Freedom only a Will-o'-the-wisp To cheat a poet's eye? Be it phantom or fact, it's a noble cause In which to sing and to die! So not for the Rainbow taken And the magical White Bird snared The poets sing grateful carols In the place to which they have fared; But for their lifetime's passion, The quest that was fruitless and long, They chorus their loud thanksgiving To the thorn-crowned Master of Song.
Written by Joyce Kilmer | Create an image from this poem

Wealth

 (For Aline)

From what old ballad, or from what rich frame
Did you descend to glorify the earth?
Was it from Chaucer's singing book you came?
Or did Watteau's small brushes give you birth?
Nothing so exquisite as that slight hand
Could Raphael or Leonardo trace.
Nor could the poets know in Fairyland The changing wonder of your lyric face.
I would possess a host of lovely things, But I am poor and such joys may not be.
So God who lifts the poor and humbles kings Sent loveliness itself to dwell with me.
Written by Sidney Lanier | Create an image from this poem

Night

 A pale enchanted moon is sinking low
Behind the dunes that fringe the shadowy lea, 
And there is haunted starlight on the flow
Of immemorial sea.
I am alone and need no more pretend Laughter or smile to hide a hungry heart; I walk with solitude as with a friend Enfolded and apart.
We tread an eerie road across the moor Where shadows weave upon their ghostly looms, And winds sing an old lyric that might lure Sad queens from ancient tombs.
I am a sister to the loveliness Of cool far hill and long-remembered shore, Finding in it a sweet forgetfulness Of all that hurt before.
The world of day, its bitterness and cark, No longer have the power to make me weep; I welcome this communion of the dark As toilers welcome sleep.
Written by Robert William Service | Create an image from this poem

My Will

 I've made my Will.
I don't believe In luxury and wealth; And to those loving ones who grieve My age and frailing health I give the meed to soothe their ways That they may happy be, And pass serenely all their days In snug security.
That duty done, I leave behind The all I have to give To crippled children and the blind Who lamentably live; Hoping my withered hand may freight To happiness a few Poor innocents whom cruel fate Has cheated of their due.
A am no grey philanthropist, Too humble is my lot Yet how I'm glad to give the grist My singing mill has brought.
For I have had such lyric days, So rich, so full, so sweet, That I with gratitude and praise Would make my life complete.
I'VE MADE MY WILL: now near the end, At peace with all mankind, To children lame I would be friend, And brother to the blind .
.
.
And if there be a God, I pray He bless my last bequest, And in His love and pity say: "Good servant,--rest!"
Written by Joyce Kilmer | Create an image from this poem

In Memory

 I
Serene and beautiful and very wise,
Most erudite in curious Grecian lore,
You lay and read your learned books, and bore
A weight of unshed tears and silent sighs.
The song within your heart could never rise Until love bade it spread its wings and soar.
Nor could you look on Beauty's face before A poet's burning mouth had touched your eyes.
Love is made out of ecstasy and wonder; Love is a poignant and accustomed pain.
It is a burst of Heaven-shaking thunder; It is a linnet's fluting after rain.
Love's voice is through your song; above and under And in each note to echo and remain.
II Because Mankind is glad and brave and young, Full of gay flames that white and scarlet glow, All joys and passions that Mankind may know By you were nobly felt and nobly sung.
Because Mankind's heart every day is wrung By Fate's wild hands that twist and tear it so, Therefore you echoed Man's undying woe, A harp Aeolian on Life's branches hung.
So did the ghosts of toiling children hover About the piteous portals of your mind; Your eyes, that looked on glory, could discover The angry scar to which the world was blind: And it was grief that made Mankind your lover, And it was grief that made you love Mankind.
III Before Christ left the Citadel of Light, To tread the dreadful way of human birth, His shadow sometimes fell upon the earth And those who saw it wept with joy and fright.
"Thou art Apollo, than the sun more bright!" They cried.
"Our music is of little worth, But thrill our blood with thy creative mirth Thou god of song, thou lord of lyric might!" O singing pilgrim! who could love and follow Your lover Christ, through even love's despair, You knew within the cypress-darkened hollow The feet that on the mountain are so fair.
For it was Christ that was your own Apollo, And thorns were in the laurel on your hair.
Written by Olu Oguibe | Create an image from this poem

Song of Sorrow

Song of Sorrow 
for rosa diez

si només, però, aquesta
llum parada poguès durar 


I shall sing you a song of 
Sorrow when the moment comes.
It is the way of poets.
He will come bearing along his voice Like the lament of an old guitar.
Only night shall fall; another day dawn.
I shall sing you a tearful song.
In the desert the rain fell on me.
Bushfires danced their way through The undergrowth of my verse.
Your footfall soft as felt, you Stepped into the light and Asked the poet for a song.
I shall sing you a lyric of pain.
The blue moon peers through the foliage Of your eyelashes.
The minstrel hawks His tears through the streets of night.
A household god is asking for water; An old god is pleading at your door.
There's a white rose on your breast.
It is the fortune of poets; I shall sing you a song.
Untie the fresh leaves of dawn, I want to make my journey short.
I will go upon the hill and cast my little net, Decorate the river of your morning with petals; I shall speak the words of songs.
It is the destiny of poets.
I shall sing you A song of sorrow When the moment comes.
Written by William Vaughn Moody | Create an image from this poem

An Ode in Time of Hesitation

 After seeing at Boston the statue of Robert Gould Shaw, killed while storming Fort Wagner, July 18, 1863, at the head of the first enlisted negro regiment, the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts.
I Before the solemn bronze Saint Gaudens made To thrill the heedless passer's heart with awe, And set here in the city's talk and trade To the good memory of Robert Shaw, This bright March morn I stand, And hear the distant spring come up the land; Knowing that what I hear is not unheard Of this boy soldier and his negro band, For all their gaze is fixed so stern ahead, For all the fatal rhythm of their tread.
The land they died to save from death and shame Trembles and waits, hearing the spring's great name, And by her pangs these resolute ghosts are stirred.
II Through street and mall the tides of people go Heedless; the trees upon the Common show No hint of green; but to my listening heart The still earth doth impart Assurance of her jubilant emprise, And it is clear to my long-searching eyes That love at last has might upon the skies.
The ice is runneled on the little pond; A telltale patter drips from off the trees; The air is touched with southland spiceries, As if but yesterday it tossed the frond Of pendant mosses where the live-oaks grow Beyond Virginia and the Carolines, Or had its will among the fruits and vines Of aromatic isles asleep beyond Florida and the Gulf of Mexico.
III Soon shall the Cape Ann children shout in glee, Spying the arbutus, spring's dear recluse; Hill lads at dawn shall hearken the wild goose Go honking northward over Tennessee; West from Oswego to Sault Sainte-Marie, And on to where the Pictured Rocks are hung, And yonder where, gigantic, wilful, young, Chicago sitteth at the northwest gates, With restless violent hands and casual tongue Moulding her mighty fates, The Lakes shall robe them in ethereal sheen; And like a larger sea, the vital green Of springing wheat shall vastly be outflung Over Dakota and the prairie states.
By desert people immemorial On Arizonan mesas shall be done Dim rites unto the thunder and the sun; Nor shall the primal gods lack sacrifice More splendid, when the white Sierras call Unto the Rockies straightway to arise And dance before the unveiled ark of the year, Sounding their windy cedars as for shawms, Unrolling rivers clear For flutter of broad phylacteries; While Shasta signals to Alaskan seas That watch old sluggish glaciers downward creep To fling their icebergs thundering from the steep, And Mariposa through the purple calms Gazes at far Hawaii crowned with palms Where East and West are met, -- A rich seal on the ocean's bosom set To say that East and West are twain, With different loss and gain: The Lord hath sundered them; let them be sundered yet.
IV Alas! what sounds are these that come Sullenly over the Pacific seas, -- Sounds of ignoble battle, striking dumb The season's half-awakened ecstasies? Must I be humble, then, Now when my heart hath need of pride? Wild love falls on me from these sculptured men; By loving much the land for which they died I would be justified.
My spirit was away on pinions wide To soothe in praise of her its passionate mood And ease it of its ache of gratitude.
Too sorely heavy is the debt they lay On me and the companions of my day.
I would remember now My country's goodliness, make sweet her name.
Alas! what shade art thou Of sorrow or of blame Liftest the lyric leafage from her brow, And pointest a slow finger at her shame? V Lies! lies! It cannot be! The wars we wage Are noble, and our battles still are won By justice for us, ere we lift the gage.
We have not sold our loftiest heritage.
The proud republic hath not stooped to cheat And scramble in the market-place of war; Her forehead weareth yet its solemn star.
Here is her witness: this, her perfect son, This delicate and proud New England soul Who leads despisèd men, with just-unshackled feet, Up the large ways where death and glory meet, To show all peoples that our shame is done, That once more we are clean and spirit-whole.
VI Crouched in the sea fog on the moaning sand All night he lay, speaking some simple word From hour to hour to the slow minds that heard, Holding each poor life gently in his hand And breathing on the base rejected clay Till each dark face shone mystical and grand Against the breaking day; And lo, the shard the potter cast away Was grown a fiery chalice crystal-fine Fulfilled of the divine Great wine of battle wrath by God's ring-finger stirred.
Then upward, where the shadowy bastion loomed Huge on the mountain in the wet sea light, Whence now, and now, infernal flowerage bloomed, Bloomed, burst, and scattered down its deadly seed, -- They swept, and died like freemen on the height, Like freemen, and like men of noble breed; And when the battle fell away at night By hasty and contemptuous hands were thrust Obscurely in a common grave with him The fair-haired keeper of their love and trust.
Now limb doth mingle with dissolvèd limb In nature's busy old democracy To flush the mountain laurel when she blows Sweet by the southern sea, And heart with crumbled heart climbs in the rose: -- The untaught hearts with the high heart that knew This mountain fortress for no earthly hold Of temporal quarrel, but the bastion old Of spiritual wrong, Built by an unjust nation sheer and strong, Expugnable but by a nation's rue And bowing down before that equal shrine By all men held divine, Whereof his band and he were the most holy sign.
VII O bitter, bitter shade! Wilt thou not put the scorn And instant tragic question from thine eye? Do thy dark brows yet crave That swift and angry stave -- Unmeet for this desirous morn -- That I have striven, striven to evade? Gazing on him, must I not deem they err Whose careless lips in street and shop aver As common tidings, deeds to make his cheek Flush from the bronze, and his dead throat to speak? Surely some elder singer would arise, Whose harp hath leave to threaten and to mourn Above this people when they go astray.
Is Whitman, the strong spirit, overworn? Has Whittier put his yearning wrath away? I will not and I dare not yet believe! Though furtively the sunlight seems to grieve, And the spring-laden breeze Out of the gladdening west is sinister With sounds of nameless battle overseas; Though when we turn and question in suspense If these things be indeed after these ways, And what things are to follow after these, Our fluent men of place and consequence Fumble and fill their mouths with hollow phrase, Or for the end-all of deep arguments Intone their dull commercial liturgies -- I dare not yet believe! My ears are shut! I will not hear the thin satiric praise And muffled laughter of our enemies, Bidding us never sheathe our valiant sword Till we have changed our birthright for a gourd Of wild pulse stolen from a barbarian's hut; Showing how wise it is to cast away The symbols of our spiritual sway, That so our hands with better ease May wield the driver's whip and grasp the jailer's keys.
VIII Was it for this our fathers kept the law? This crown shall crown their struggle and their ruth? Are we the eagle nation Milton saw Mewing its mighty youth, Soon to possess the mountain winds of truth, And be a swift familiar of the sun Where aye before God's face his trumpets run? Or have we but the talons and the maw, And for the abject likeness of our heart Shall some less lordly bird be set apart? -- Some gross-billed wader where the swamps are fat? Some gorger in the sun? Some prowler with the bat? IX Ah no! We have not fallen so.
We are our fathers' sons: let those who lead us know! 'T was only yesterday sick Cuba's cry Came up the tropic wind, "Now help us, for we die!" Then Alabama heard, And rising, pale, to Maine and Idaho Shouted a burning word.
Proud state with proud impassioned state conferred, And at the lifting of a hand sprang forth, East, west, and south, and north, Beautiful armies.
Oh, by the sweet blood and young Shed on the awful hill slope at San Juan, By the unforgotten names of eager boys Who might have tasted girls' love and been stung With the old mystic joys And starry griefs, now the spring nights come on, But that the heart of youth is generous, -- We charge you, ye who lead us, Breathe on their chivalry no hint of stain! Turn not their new-world victories to gain! One least leaf plucked for chaffer from the bays Of their dear praise, One jot of their pure conquest put to hire, The implacable republic will require; With clamor, in the glare and gaze of noon, Or subtly, coming as a thief at night, But surely, very surely, slow or soon That insult deep we deeply will requite.
Tempt not our weakness, our cupidity! For save we let the island men go free, Those baffled and dislaureled ghosts Will curse us from the lamentable coasts Where walk the frustrate dead.
The cup of trembling shall be drainèd quite, Eaten the sour bread of astonishment, With ashes of the hearth shall be made white Our hair, and wailing shall be in the tent; Then on your guiltier head Shall our intolerable self-disdain Wreak suddenly its anger and its pain; For manifest in that disastrous light We shall discern the right And do it, tardily.
-- O ye who lead, Take heed! Blindness we may forgive, but baseness we will smite.
Written by Robert William Service | Create an image from this poem

My Garden

 The world is sadly sick, they say,
And plagued by woe and pain.
But look! How looms my garden gay, With blooms in golden reign! With lyric music in the air, Of joy fulfilled in song, I can't believe that anywhere Is hate and harm and wrong.
A paradise my garden is, And there my day is spent; A steep myself in sunny bliss, Incredibly content.
Feeling that I am truly part Of peace so rapt and still, There's not a care within my heart .
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How can the world be ill? Aye, though the land be sick they say, And named unto pain, My garden never was so gay, So innocent, so sane.
My roses mock at misery, My thrushes vie in song .
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When only beauty I can see, How can the world be wrong?
Written by Robert William Service | Create an image from this poem

Your Poem

 My poem may be yours indeed
In melody and tone,
If in its rhythm you can read
A music of your own;
If in its pale woof you can weave
Your lovelier design,
'Twill make my lyric, I believe,
 More yours than mine.
I'm but a prompter at the best; Crude cues are all I give.
In simple stanzas I suggest - 'Tis you who make them live.
My bit of rhyme is but a frame, And if my lines you quote, I think, although they bear my name, 'Tis you who wrote.
Yours is the beauty that you see In any words I sing; The magic and the melody 'Tis you, dear friend, who bring.
Yea, by the glory and the gleam, The loveliness that lures Your thought to starry heights of dream, The poem's yours.