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Best Famous Metaphor Poems

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

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See also: Best Member Poems

by Wallace Stevens | |

Poem Written at Morning

A sunny day's complete Poussiniana
Divide it from itself.
It is this or that And it is not.
By metaphor you paint A thing.
Thus, the pineapple was a leather fruit, A fruit for pewter, thorned and palmed and blue, To be served by men of ice.
The senses paint By metaphor.
The juice was fragranter Than wettest cinnamon.
It was cribled pears Dripping a morning sap.
The truth must be That you do not see, you experience, you feel, That the buxom eye brings merely its element To the total thing, a shapeless giant forced Upward.
Green were the curls upon that head.


by Omer Tarin | |

Sea Gull (Leith Docks, 1995)

Once before I've heard this
anguished cry

A long-drawn note of many-lettered woe,
The great open beak straining 
against the roar of raging surf;

Head, thrown back, taut
against the distant sails

Anger flickering in eyes flecked with amber,
rolling in lonely knowledge,
this bond servant of the sea,
tied by its giant wingspan 
to the torturous flight of sainthood

Martyred
in its terrible existence
murdered
by the yellow fog of banality

Victim 
to the squalor of urban beachfronts , 
snuffed out in the face of its own metaphor
screaming curses unto heaven,
proud to the very last;

''Once before'', I said,
''I've heard this cry''.
(from ''Burnt Offerings'', 1996)


by Margaret Atwood | |

Spelling

 My daughter plays on the floor
with plastic letters,
red, blue & hard yellow,
learning how to spell,
spelling,
how to make spells.
* I wonder how many women denied themselves daughters, closed themselves in rooms, drew the curtains so they could mainline words.
* A child is not a poem, a poem is not a child.
There is no either / or.
However.
* I return to the story of the woman caught in the war & in labour, her thighs tied together by the enemy so she could not give birth.
Ancestress: the burning witch, her mouth covered by leather to strangle words.
A word after a word after a word is power.
* At the point where language falls away from the hot bones, at the point where the rock breaks open and darkness flows out of it like blood, at the melting point of granite when the bones know they are hollow & the word splits & doubles & speaks the truth & the body itself becomes a mouth.
This is a metaphor.
* How do you learn to spell? Blood, sky & the sun, your own name first, your first naming, your first name, your first word.


More great poems below...

by Jorge Luis Borges | |

We are the time. We are the famous

 We are the time.
We are the famous metaphor from Heraclitus the Obscure.
We are the water, not the hard diamond, the one that is lost, not the one that stands still.
We are the river and we are that greek that looks himself into the river.
His reflection changes into the waters of the changing mirror, into the crystal that changes like the fire.
We are the vain predetermined river, in his travel to his sea.
The shadows have surrounded him.
Everything said goodbye to us, everything goes away.
Memory does not stamp his own coin.
However, there is something that stays however, there is something that bemoans.


by Craig Raine | |

Nature Study

 (for Rona, Jeremy, Sam & Grace)

All the lizards are asleep--
perched pagodas with tiny triangular tiles,
each milky lid a steamed-up window.
Inside, the heart repeats itself like a sleepy gong, summoning nothing to nothing.
In winter time, the zoo reverts to metaphor, God's poetry of boredom: the cobra knits her Fair-Isle skin, rattlers titter over the same joke.
All of them endlessly finish spaghetti.
The python runs down like a spring, and time stops on some ancient Sabbath.
Pythagorean bees are shut inside the hive, which hymns and hums like Sunday chapel-- drowsy thoughts in a wrinkled brain.
The fire's gone out-- crocodiles lie like wet beams, cross-hatched by flames that no one can remember.
Grasshoppers shiver, chafe their limbs and try to keep warm, crouching on their marks perpetually.
The African cricket is trussed like a cold chicken: the sneeze of movement returns it to the same position, in the same body.
There is no change.
The rumple-headed lion has nowhere to go and snoozes in his grimy combinations.
A chaise lounge with missing castors, the walrus is stuck forever on his rock.
Sleepily, the seals play crib, scoring on their upper lips.
The chimps kill fleas and time, sewing nothing to nothing Five o'clock--perhaps.
Vultures in their shabby Sunday suits fidget with broken umbrellas, while the ape beats his breast and yodels out repentance.
Their feet are an awful dream of bunions-- but the buffalo's brazil nut bugle-horns can never sound reveille.


by Adrienne Rich | |

A Valediction Forbidding Mourning

 My swirling wants.
Your frozen lips.
The grammar turned and attacked me.
Themes, written under duress.
Emptiness of the notations.
They gave me a drug that slowed the healing of wounds.
I want you to see this before I leave: the experience of repetition as death the failure of criticism to locate the pain the poster in the bus that said: my bleeding is under control A red plant in a cemetary of plastic wreaths.
A last attempt: the language is a dialect called metaphor.
These images go unglossed: hair, glacier, flashlight.
When I think of a landscape I am thinking of a time.
When I talk of taking a trip I mean forever.
I could say: those mountains have a meaning but further than that I could not say.
To do something very common, in my own way.


by Edgar Lee Masters | |

Roger Heston

 Oh many times did Ernest Hyde and I
Argue about the freedom of the will.
My favorite metaphor was Prickett's cow Roped out to grass, and free you know as far As the length of the rope.
One day while arguing so, watching the cow Pull at the rope to get beyond the circle Which she had eaten bare, Out came the stake, and tossing up her head, She ran for us.
"What's that, free-will or what?" said Ernest, running.
I fell just as she gored me to my death.


by David Lehman | |

November 6

 Remember when Khrushchev said
"We will bury you!"
on the cover
of Time
I thought he was
employing a metaphor
as in "Braves Scalp Giants!"
on the back page
of the Daily News
I pictured the Russians
burying us under a mound
of all the rubble
that rubles could buy
when what he meant was
he had come not to praise Caesar
but to bury him


by Vernon Scannell | |

Incendiary

 That one small boy with a face like pallid cheese 
And burnt-out little eyes could make a blaze 
As brazen, fierce and huge, as red and gold 
And zany yellow as the one that spoiled 
Three thousand guineas' worth of property 
And crops at Godwin's Farm on Saturday 
Is frightening---as fact and metaphor: 
An ordinary match intended for 
The lighting of a pipe or kitchen fire 
Misused may set a whole menagerie 
Of flame-fanged tigers roaring hungrily.
And frightening, too, that one small boy should set The sky on fire and choke the stars to heat Such skinny limbs and such a little heart Which would have been content with one warm kiss Had there been anyone to offer this.


by Anne Sexton | |

The Touch

 For months my hand was sealed off
in a tin box.
Nothing was there but the subway railings.
Perhaps it is bruised, I thought, and that is why they have locked it up.
You could tell time by this, I thought, like a clock, by its five knuckles and the thin underground veins.
It lay there like an unconscious woman fed by tubes she knew not of.
The hand had collapse, a small wood pigeon that had gone into seclusion.
I turned it over and the palm was old, its lines traced like fine needlepoint and stitched up into fingers.
It was fat and soft and blind in places.
Nothing but vulnerable.
And all this is metaphor.
An ordinary hand -- just lonely for something to touch that touches back.
The dog won't do it.
Her tail wags in the swamp for a frog.
I'm no better than a case of dog food.
She owns her own hunger.
My sisters won't do it.
They live in school except for buttons and tears running down like lemonade.
My father won't do it.
He comes in the house and even at night he lives in a machine made by my mother and well oiled by his job, his job.
The trouble is that I'd let my gestures freeze.
The trouble was not in the kitchen or the tulips but only in my head, my head.
Then all this became history.
Your hand found mine.
Life rushed to my fingers like a blood clot.
Oh, my carpenter, the fingers are rebuilt.
They dance with yours.
They dance in the attic and in Vienna.
My hand is alive all over America.
Not even death will stop it, death shedding her blood.
Nothing will stop it, for this is the kingdom and the kingdom come.


by Nick Flynn | |

Alan Dugan Telling Me I Have A Problem With Time

 He reads my latest attempt at a poem
and is silent for a long time, until it feels
like that night we waited for Apollo,
my mother wandering in and out of her bedroom, asking,
Haven't they landed yet? At last
Dugan throws it on the table and says,
This reads like a cheap detective novel
and I've got nothing to say about it.
It sits, naked and white, with everyone's eyes running over it.
The week before he'd said I had a problem with time, that in my poems everything kept happening at once.
In 1969, the voice of Mission Control told a man named Buzz that there was a bunch of guys turning blue down here on Earth, and now I can understand it was with anticipation, not sickness.
Next, Dugan says, Let's move on.
The attempted poem was about butterflies and my recurring desire to return to a place I've never been.
It was inspired by reading this in a National Geographic: monarchs stream northward from winter roosts in Mexico, laying their eggs atop milkweed to foster new generations along the way.
With the old monarchs gone (I took this line as the title) and all ties to the past ostensibly cut the unimaginable happens--butterflies that have never been to that plateau in Mexico roost there the next winter.
.
.
.
I saw this as a metaphor for a childhood I never had, until Dugan pointed out that metaphor has been dead for a hundred years.
A woman, new to the workshop, leans behind his back and whispers, I like it, but the silence is seamless, as deep as outer space.
That night in 1969 I could turn my head from the television and see the moon filling the one pane over the bed completely as we waited for Neil Armstrong to leave his footprints all over it.


by Robinson Jeffers | |

The Great Explosion

 The universe expands and contracts like a great heart.
It is expanding, the farthest nebulae Rush with the speed of light into empty space.
It will contract, the immense navies of stars and galaxies, dust clouds and nebulae Are recalled home, they crush against each other in one harbor, they stick in one lump And then explode it, nothing can hold them down; there is no way to express that explosion; all that exists Roars into flame, the tortured fragments rush away from each other into all the sky, new universes Jewel the black breast of night; and far off the outer nebulae like charging spearmen again Invade emptiness.
No wonder we are so fascinated with fireworks And our huge bombs: it is a kind of homesickness perhaps for the howling fireblast that we were born from.
But the whole sum of the energies That made and contain the giant atom survives.
It will gather again and pile up, the power and the glory-- And no doubt it will burst again; diastole and systole: the whole universe beats like a heart.
Peace in our time was never one of God's promises; but back and forth, live and die, burn and be damned, The great heart beating, pumping into our arteries His terrible life.
He is beautiful beyond belief.
And we, God's apes--or tragic children--share in the beauty.
We see it above our torment, that's what life's for.
He is no God of love, no justice of a little city like Dante's Florence, no anthropoid God Making commandments,: this is the God who does not care and will never cease.
Look at the seas there Flashing against this rock in the darkness--look at the tide-stream stars--and the fall of nations--and dawn Wandering with wet white feet down the Caramel Valley to meet the sea.
These are real and we see their beauty.
The great explosion is probably only a metaphor--I know not --of faceless violence, the root of all things.


by Elizabeth Jennings | |

In a Garden

 When the gardener has gone this garden
Looks wistful and seems waiting an event.
It is so spruce, a metaphor of Eden And even more so since the gardener went, Quietly godlike, but of course, he had Not made me promise anything and I Had no one tempting me to make the bad Choice.
Yet I still felt lost and wonder why.
Even the beech tree from next door which shares Its shadow with me, seemed a kind of threat.
Everything was too neat, and someone cares In the wrong way.
I need not have stood long Mocked by the smell of a mown lawn, and yet I did.
Sickness for Eden was so strong.


by Thomas Blackburn | |

Hospital For Defectives

 By your unnumbered charities
A miracle disclose,
Lord of the Images, whose love
The eyelids and the rose 
Takes for a language, and today
Tell to me what is said
By these men in a turnip field 
And their unleavened bread.
For all things seem to figure out The stirrings of your heart, And two men pick the turnips up And two men pull the cart; And yet between the four of them No word is ever said Because the yeast was not put in Which makes the human bread.
But three men stare on vacancy And one man strokes his knees; What is the meaning to be found In such dark vowels as these? Lord of the Images, whose love The eyelid and the rose Takes for a metaphor, today, Beneath the warder's blows, The unleavened man did not cry out Or turn his face away; Through such men in a turnip field What is it that you say?


by William Carlos (WCW) Williams | |

A Sort Of A Song

 Let the snake wait under
his weed
and the writing
be of words, slow and quick, sharp
to strike, quiet to wait,
sleepless.
—through metaphor to reconcile the people and the stones.
Compose.
(No ideas but in things) Invent! Saxifrage is my flower that splits the rocks.


by William Butler Yeats | |

At Algeciras - A Meditaton Upon Death

 The heron-billed pale cattle-birds
That feed on some foul parasite
Of the Moroccan flocks and herds
Cross the narrow Straits to light
In the rich midnight of the garden trees
Till the dawn break upon those mingled seas.
Often at evening when a boy Would I carry to a friend - Hoping more substantial joy Did an older mind commend - Not such as are in Newton's metaphor, But actual shells of Rosses' level shore.
Greater glory in the Sun, An evening chill upon the air, Bid imagination run Much on the Great Questioner; What He can question, what if questioned I Can with a fitting confidence reply.


by William Butler Yeats | |

High Talk

 Processions that lack high stilts have nothing that
 catches the eye.
What if my great-granddad had a pair that were twenty foot high, And mine were but fifteen foot, no modern Stalks upon higher, Some rogue of the world stole them to patch up a fence or a fire.
Because piebald ponies, led bears, caged lions, ake but poor shows, Because children demand Daddy-long-legs upon This timber toes, Because women in the upper storeys demand a face at the pane, That patching old heels they may shriek, I take to chisel and plane.
Malachi Stilt-Jack am I, whatever I learned has run wild, From collar to collar, from stilt to stilt, from father to child.
All metaphor, Malachi, stilts and all.
A barnacle goose Far up in the stretches of night; night splits and the dawn breaks loose; I, through the terrible novelty of light, stalk on, stalk on; Those great sea-horses bare their teeth and laugh at the dawn.