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Best Famous Poets Poems

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

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by Ben Jonson | |

His Excuse for Loving

Let it not your wonder move, 
Less your laughter, that I love.
Though I now write fifty years, I have had, and have, my peers.
Poets, though divine, are men; Some have loved as old again.
And it is not always face, Clothes, or fortune gives the grace, Or the feature, or the youth; But the language and the truth, With the ardor and the passion, Gives the lover weight and fashion.
If you then would hear the story, First, prepare you to be sorry That you never knew till now Either whom to love or how; But be glad as soon with me When you hear that this is she Of whose beauty it was sung, She shall make the old man young, Keep the middle age at stay, And let nothing hide decay, Till she be the reason why All the world for love may die.


by John Dryden | |

To the Memory of Mr. Oldham

Farewell, too little, and too lately known,
Whom I began to think and call my own:
For sure our souls were near allied, and thine
Cast in the same poetic mold with mine.
One common note on either lyre did strike, And knaves and fools we both abhorred alike.
To the same goal did both our studies drive; The last set out the soonest did arrive.
Thus Nisus fell upon the slippery place, While his young friend performed and won the race.
O early ripe! to thy abundant store What could advancing age have added more? It might (what nature never gives the young) Have taught the numbers of thy native tongue.
But satire needs not those, and wit will shine Through the harsh cadence of a rugged line: A noble error, and but seldom made, When poets are by too much force betrayed.
Thy generous fruits, though gathered ere their prime, Still showed a quickness, and maturing time But mellows what we write to the dull sweets of rhyme.
Once more, hail and farewell; farewell, thou young, But ah too short, Marcellus of our tongue; Thy brows with ivy, and with laurels bound; But fate and gloomy night encompass thee around.


by Percy Bysshe Shelley | |

The Poets Dream

ON a Poet's lips I slept  
Dreaming like a love-adept 
In the sound his breathing kept; 
Nor seeks nor finds he mortal blisses  
But feeds on the aerial kisses 5 
Of shapes that haunt Thought's wildernesses.
He will watch from dawn to gloom The lake-reflected sun illume The blue bees in the ivy-bloom Nor heed nor see what things they be¡ª 10 But from these create he can Forms more real than living man Nurslings of Immortality!


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by Olu Oguibe | |

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.


by Marcin Malek | |

For life and death of a Poet

Poets
In literal meaning
Are not responsive
To normative rules of dying

Moreover 
Just like the Saints
They do not fit into a
Written conventions

Of the existence
Of the survival
At all costs
At the cost of their own greatness

They rather resemble
Orphaned fortresses
Which has to be taken
Meter by meter - as in the past

With the severe blood loss

Or permanently straining
Among the yellow fields
Mossy towers with no vaults
But with the ever-vigilant gaze

Poet as gaper
- Windblown
- Caressed by storms 
Until he not falls


Never measures 
Himself as the one
- And then all fading behind
For life and death of a Poet
There is no proper time

He lives in himself
Stirring up higher and higher
By the abandoned fortification
Of horror of consequences

To the moment in which
He is taken - far far away 


by Ben Jonson | |

Why I Write Not Of Love

  

I.
— WHY I WRITE NOT OF LOVE.
                  


Can poets hope to fetter me ?
It is enough, they once did get             5
Mars and my mother, in their net :
I wear not these my wings in vain.
With which he fled me ;  and again,
Into my rhymes could ne'er be got
By any art :  then wonder not,            10
That since, my numbers are so cold,
When Love is fled, and I grow cold.


I thought to bind him in my verse :
Which when he felt, Away, quoth he,
Can poets hope to fetter me ?
It is enough, they once did get             5
Mars and my mother, in their net :
I wear not these my wings in vain.
With which he fled me ;  and again,
Into my rhymes could ne'er be got
By any art :  then wonder not,            10
That since, my numbers are so cold,
When Love is fled, and I grow cold.


by Ben Jonson | |

To Elizabeth, Countess of Rutland


LXXIX.
 — TO ELIZABETH, COUNTESS OF RUTLAND.

That poets are far rarer births than king,
    Your noblest father proved; like whom, before,
Or then, or since, about our Muses' springs,
    Came not that soul exhausted so their store.
Hence was it, that the Destinies decreed
    (Save that most masculine issue of his brain)
No male unto him; who could so exceed
    Nature, they thought, in all that he would feign,
At which, she happily displeased, made you:
    On whom, if he were living now, to look,
He should those rare, and absolute numbers view,
    As he would burn, or better far his book.


by Ben Jonson | |

To Robert Earl of Salisbury


XLIII.
 ? TO ROBERT EARL OF SALISBURY.
  
What need hast thou of me, or of my muse,
     Whose actions so themselves do celebrate ?
Which should thy country's love to speak refuse,
     Her foes enough would fame thee in their hate.
Tofore, great men were glad of poets ; now,
     I, not the worst, am covetous of thee :
Yet dare not to my thought least hope allow
     Of adding to thy fame ; thine may to me,
When in my book men read but CECIL'S name,
     And what I write thereof find far, and free
From servile flattery, common poets' shame,
     As thou stand'st clear of the necessity.


by Robert Seymour Bridges | |

To the President of Magdalen College Oxford

 Since now from woodland mist and flooded clay 
I am fled beside the steep Devonian shore, 
Nor stand for welcome at your gothic door, 
'Neath the fair tower of Magdalen and May, 
Such tribute, Warren, as fond poets pay 
For generous esteem, I write, not more 
Enhearten'd than my need is, reckoning o'er 
My life-long wanderings on the heavenly way: 
But well-befriended we become good friends, 
Well-honour'd honourable; and all attain 
Somewhat by fathering what fortune sends.
I bid your presidency a long reign, True friend; and may your praise to greater ends Aid better men than I, nor me in vain.


by Oliver Wendell Holmes | |

The Chambered Nautilus

 THIS is the ship of pearl, which, poets feign,
Sails the unshadowed main,--
The venturous bark that flings
On the sweet summer wind its purpled wings
In gulfs enchanted, where the Siren sings,
And coral reefs lie bare,
Where the cold sea-maids rise to sun their streaming hair.
Its webs of living gauze no more unfurl; Wrecked is the ship of pearl! And every chambered cell, Where its dim dreaming life was wont to dwell, As the frail tenant shaped his growing shell, Before thee lies revealed,-- Its irised ceiling rent, its sunless crypt unsealed! Year after year beheld the silent toil That spread his lustrous coil; Still, as the spiral grew, He left the past year's dwelling for the new, Stole with soft step its shining archway through, Built up its idle door, Stretched in his last-found home, and knew the old no more.
Thanks for the heavenly message brought by thee, Child of the wandering sea, Cast from her lap, forlorn! From thy dead lips a clearer note is born Than ever Triton blew from wreathèd horn! While on mine ear it rings, Through the deep caves of thought I hear a voice that sings:-- Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul, As the swift seasons roll! Leave thy low-vaulted past! Let each new temple, nobler than the last, Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast, Till thou at length art free, Leaving thine outgrown shell by life's unresting sea!


by Marianne Moore | |

Poetry

 I, too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond all 
 this fiddle.
Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one discovers in it after all, a place for the genuine.
Hands that can grasp, eyes that can dilate, hair that can rise if it must, these things are important not because a high-sounding interpretation can be put upon them but because they are useful.
When they become so derivative as to become unintelligible, the same thing may be said for all of us, that we do not admire what we cannot understand: the bat holding on upside down or in quest of something to eat, elephants pushing, a wild horse taking a roll, a tireless wolf under a tree, the immovable critic twitching his skin like a horse that feels a flea, the base- ball fan, the statistician-- nor is it valid to discriminate against 'business documents and school-books'; all these phenomena are important.
One must make a distinction however: when dragged into prominence by half poets, the result is not poetry, nor till the poets among us can be 'literalists of the imagination'--above insolence and triviality and can present for inspection, 'imaginary gardens with real toads in them', shall we have it.
In the meantime, if you demand on the one hand, the raw material of poetry in all its rawness and that which is on the other hand genuine, you are interested in poetry.


by Petrarch | |

SONNET CCXXIII.

[Pg 225]

SONNET CCXXIII.

Qual donna attende a gloriosa fama.

THE EYES OF LAURA ARE THE SCHOOL OF VIRTUE.

Feels any fair the glorious wish to gain
Of sense, of worth, of courtesy, the praise?
On those bright eyes attentive let her gaze
Of her miscall'd my love, but sure my foe.
Honour to gain, with love of God to glow,
Virtue more bright how native grace displays,
May there be learn'd; and by what surest ways
To heaven, that for her coming pants, to go.
The converse sweet, beyond what poets write,
Is there; the winning silence, and the meek
And saint-like manners man would paint in vain.
The matchless beauty, dazzling to the sight,
Can ne'er be learn'd; for bootless 'twere to seek
By art, what by kind chance alone we gain.
Anon.
, Ox.
, 1795.


by Petrarch | |

SONNET CLIII.

SONNET CLIII.

Se Virgilio ed Omero avessin visto.

THE MOST FAMOUS POETS OF ANTIQUITY WOULD HAVE SUNG HER ONLY, HAD THEY SEEN HER.

Had tuneful Maro seen, and Homer old,
The living sun which here mine eyes behold,
The best powers they had join'd of either lyre,
Sweetness and strength, that fame she might acquire;
Unsung had been, with vex'd Æneas, then
Achilles and Ulysses, godlike men,
And for nigh sixty years who ruled so well
The world; and who before Ægysthus fell;
Nay, that old flower of virtues and of arms,
As this new flower of chastity and charms,
A rival star, had scarce such radiance flung.
In rugged verse him honour'd Ennius sung,
I her in mine.
Grant, Heaven! on my poor lays
She frown not, nor disdain my humble praise.
Anon.


by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe | |

OPEN TABLE.

 MANY a guest I'd see to-day,

Met to taste my dishes!
Food in plenty is prepar'd,

Birds, and game, and fishes.
Invitations all have had, All proposed attending.
Johnny, go and look around! Are they hither wending? Pretty girls I hope to see, Dear and guileless misses, Ignorant how sweet it is Giving tender kisses.
Invitations all have had, All proposed attending.
Johnny, go and look around! Are they hither wending? Women also I expect, Loving tow'rd their spouses, Whose rude grumbling in their breasts Greater love but rouses.
Invitations they've had too, All proposed attending! Johnny, go and look around! Are they hither wending? I've too ask'd young gentlemen, Who are far from haughty, And whose purses are well-stock'd, Well-behaved, not haughty.
These especially I ask'd, All proposed attending.
Johnny, go and look around! Are they hither wending? Men I summon'd with respect, Who their own wives treasure; Who in ogling other Fair Never take a pleasure.
To my greetings they replied, All proposed attending.
Johnny, go and look around! Are they hither wending? Then to make our joy complete, Poets I invited, Who love other's songs far more Than what they've indited.
All acceded to my wish, All proposed attending.
Johnny, go and look around! Are they hither wending? Not a single one appears, None seem this way posting.
All the soup boils fast away, Joints are over-roasting.
Ah, I fear that we have been Rather too unbending! Johnny, tell me what you think! None are hither wending.
Johnny, run and quickly bring Other guests to me now! Each arriving as he is-- That's the plan, I see now.
In the town at once 'tis known, Every one's commending.
Johnny, open all the doors: All are hither wending! 1815.
*


by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe | |

TO THE GRASSHOPPER.

 AFTER ANACREON.
[The strong resemblance of this fine poem to Cowley's Ode bearing the same name, and beginning "Happy insect! what can be," will be at once seen.
] HAPPY art thou, darling insect, Who, upon the trees' tall branches, By a modest draught inspired, Singing, like a monarch livest! Thou possessest as thy portion All that on the plains thou seest, All that by the hours is brought thee 'Mongst the husbandmen thou livest, As a friend, uninjured by them, Thou whom mortals love to honour, Herald sweet of sweet Spring's advent! Yes, thou'rt loved by all the Muses, Phoebus' self, too, needs must love thee; They their silver voices gave thee, Age can never steal upon thee.
Wise and gentle friend of poets, Born a creature fleshless, bloodless, Though Earth's daughter, free from suff'ring, To the gods e'en almost equal.
1781.


by James Henry Leigh Hunt | |

May and the Poets

 There is May in books forever; 
May will part from Spenser never; 
May's in Milton, May's in Prior, 
May's in Chaucer, Thomson, Dyer; 
May's in all the Italian books:-- 
She has old and modern nooks, 
Where she sleeps with nymphs and elves, 
In happy places they call shelves, 
And will rise and dress your rooms 
With a drapery thick with blooms.
Come, ye rains, then if ye will, May's at home, and with me still; But come rather, thou, good weather, And find us in the fields together.


by Sir Walter Raleigh | |

Song of Myself

 I was a Poet! 
But I did not know it,
Neither did my Mother,
Nor my Sister nor my Brother.
The Rich were not aware of it; The Poor took no care of it.
The Reverend Mr.
Drewitt Never knew it.
The High did not suspect it; The Low could not detect it.
Aunt Sue Said it was obviously untrue.
Uncle Ned Said I was off my head: (This from a Colonial Was really a good testimonial.
) Still everybody seemed to think That genius owes a good deal to drink.
So that is how I am not a poet now, And why My inspiration has run dry.
It is no sort of use To cultivate the Muse If vulgar people Can't tell a village pump from a church steeple.
I am merely apologizing For the lack of the surprising In what I write To-night.
I am quite well-meaning, But a lot of things are always intervening Between What I mean And what it is said I had in my head.
It is all very puzzling.
Uncle Ned Says Poets need muzzling.
He might Be right.
Good-night!


by R S Thomas | |

Poetry For Supper

 'Listen, now, verse should be as natural 
As the small tuber that feeds on muck 
And grows slowly from obtuse soil 
To the white flower of immortal beauty.
' 'Natural, hell! What was it Chaucer Said once about the long toil That goes like blood to the poem's making? Leave it to nature and the verse sprawls, Limp as bindweed, if it break at all Life's iron crust.
Man, you must sweat And rhyme your guts taut, if you'd build Your verse a ladder.
' 'You speak as though No sunlight ever surprised the mind Groping on its cloudy path.
' 'Sunlight's a thing that needs a window Before it enter a dark room.
Windows don't happen.
' So two old poets, Hunched at their beer in the low haze Of an inn parlour, while the talk ran Noisily by them, glib with prose.


by Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi | |

The Way Things Should

What will our children do in the morning?

Will they wake with their hearts wanting to play, the way wings should?

Will they have dreamed the needed flights and gathered the strength from the planets that all men and women need to balance the wonderful charms of the earth

so that her power and beauty does not make us forget our own?

I know all about the ways of the heart – how it wants to be alive.

Love so needs to love that it will endure almost anything, even abuse, just to flicker for a moment.
But the sky’s mouth is kind, its song will never hurt you, for I sing those words.

What will our children do in the morning if they do not see us fly?

 

From Love Poems from God, by Daniel Ladinsky.

Copyright © 2002 by Daniel Ladinsky.
Reprinted by permission of the author.


by Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi | |

There Is A Candle In Your Heart

There is a candle in your heart,       ready to be kindled.
There is a void in your soul,       ready to be filled.
You feel it, don’t you? You feel the separation       from the Beloved.
Invite Him to fill you up,       embrace the fire.
Remind those who tell you otherwise that       Love       comes to you of its own accord,       and the yearning for it       cannot be learned in any school.

From: ‘Hush Don’t Say Anything to God: Passionate Poems of Rumi’ Translated by Sharam Shiva

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by Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi | |

Whoever Brought Me Here

All day I think about it, then at night I say it.
Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing? I have no idea.
My soul is from elsewhere, I’m sure of that, and I intend to end up there.

This drunkenness began in some other tavern.
When I get back around to that place, I’ll be completely sober.
Meanwhile, I’m like a bird from another continent, sitting in this aviary.
The day is coming when I fly off, but who is it now in my ear who hears my voice? Who says words with my mouth?

Who looks out with my eyes? What is the soul? I cannot stop asking.
If I could taste one sip of an answer, I could break out of this prison for drunks.
I didn’t come here of my own accord, and I can’t leave that way.
Whoever brought me here, will have to take me home.

This poetry.
I never know what I’m going to say.
I don’t plan it.
When I’m outside the saying of it, I get very quiet and rarely speak at all.

Trans.
Coleman Barks.

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by Sir John Suckling | |

If you refuse me once and think again

 If you refuse me once, and think again,
I will complain.
You are deceiv'd, love is no work of art, It must be got and born, Not made and worn, By every one that hath a heart.
Or do you think they more than once can die, Whom you deny? Who tell you of a thousand deaths a day, Like the old poets feign And tell the pain They met, but in the common way? Or do you think 't too soon to yield, And quit the field? Nor is that right, they yield that first entreat; Once one may crave for love, But more would prove This heart too little, that too great.
Oh that I were all soul, that I might prove For you as fit a love As you are for an angel; for I know, None but pure spirits are fit loves for you.
You are all ethereal; there's in you no dross, Nor any part that's gross.
Your coarsest part is like a curious lawn, The vestal relics for a covering drawn.
Your other parts, part of the purest fire That e'er Heav'n did inspire, Makes every thought that is refin'd by it A quintessence of goodness and of wit.
Thus have your raptures reach'd to that degree In love's philosophy, That you can figure to yourself a fire Void of all heat, a love without desire.
Nor in divinity do you go less; You think, and you profess, That souls may have a plenitude of joy, Although their bodies meet not to employ.
But I must needs confess, I do not find The motions of my mind So purified as yet, but at the best My body claims in them an interest.
I hold that perfect joy makes all our parts As joyful as our hearts.
Our senses tell us, if we please not them, Our love is but a dotage or a dream.
How shall we then agree? you may descend, But will not, to my end.
I fain would tune my fancy to your key, But cannot reach to that obstructed way.
There rests but this, that whilst we sorrow here, Our bodies may draw near; And, when no more their joys they can extend, Then let our souls begin where they did end.


by Laura Riding Jackson | |

The Poets Corner

 Here where the end of bone is no end of song
And the earth is bedecked with immortality
In what was poetry
And now is pride beside
And nationality,
Here is a battle with no bravery
But if the coward's tongue has gone
Swording his own lusty lung.
Listen if there is victory Written into a library Waving the books in banners Soldierly at last, for the lines Go marching on, delivered of the soul.
And happily may they rest beyond Suspicion now, the incomprehensibles Traitorous in such talking As chattered over their countries' boundaries.
The graves are gardened and the whispering Stops at the hedges, there is singing Of it in the ranks, there is a hush Where the ground has limits And the rest is loveliness.
And loveliness? Death has an understanding of it Loyal to many flags And is a silent ally of any country Beset in its mortal heart With immortal poetry.


by Ezra Pound | |

Masks

 These tales of old disguisings, are they not
Strange myths of souls that found themselves among
Unwonted folk that spake an hostile tongue,
Some soul from all the rest who'd not forgot
The star-span acres of a former lot
Where boundless mid the clouds his course he swung,
Or carnate with his elder brothers sung
Ere ballad-makers lisped of Camelot?

Old singers half-forgetful of their tunes,
Old painters color-blind come back once more,
Old poets skill-less in the wind-heart runes,
Old wizards lacking in their wonder-lore:

All they that with strange sadness in their eyes
Ponder in silence o'er earth's queynt devyse?


by Theodore Roethke | |

I Knew A Woman

 I knew a woman, lovely in her bones,
When small birds sighed, she would sigh back at them;
Ah, when she moved, she moved more ways than one:
The shapes a bright container can contain!
Of her choice virtues only gods should speak,
Or English poets who grew up on Greek
(I'd have them sing in chorus, cheek to cheek.
) How well her wishes went! She stroked my chin, She taught me Turn, and Counter-turn, and stand; She taught me Touch, that undulant white skin: I nibbled meekly from her proffered hand; She was the sickle; I, poor I, the rake, Coming behind her for her pretty sake (But what prodigious mowing did we make.
) Love likes a gander, and adores a goose: Her full lips pursed, the errant note to seize; She played it quick, she played it light and loose; My eyes, they dazzled at her flowing knees; Her several parts could keep a pure repose, Or one hip quiver with a mobile nose (She moved in circles, and those circles moved.
) Let seed be grass, and grass turn into hay: I'm martyr to a motion not my own; What's freedom for? To know eternity.
I swear she cast a shadow white as stone.
But who would count eternity in days? These old bones live to learn her wanton ways: (I measure time by how a body sways.
)