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Best Famous War Poems

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

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by John Donne | |

Death Be Not Proud

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee 
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so; 
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow, 
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be, Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow, And soonest our best men with thee do go, Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men, And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell; And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then? One short sleep past, we wake eternally, And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.


by William Shakespeare | |

Sonnet 55

Not marble, nor the gilded monuments
Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme;
But you shall shine more bright in these contènts
Than unswept stone, besmeared with sluttish time.
When wasteful war shall statues overturn, And broils root out the work of masonry, Nor Mars his sword nor war's quick fire shall burn The living record of your memory.
'Gainst death and all-oblivious enmity Shall you pace forth; your praise shall still find room Even in the eyes of all posterity That wear this world out to the ending doom.
So, till the judgment that yourself arise, You live in this, and dwell in lovers' eyes.


by John Donne | |

Death

DEATH be not proud though some have call¨¨d thee 
Mighty and dreadful for thou art not so: 
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow 
Die not poor Death; nor yet canst thou kill me.
From Rest and Sleep which but thy picture be 5 Much pleasure then from thee much more must flow; And soonest our best men with thee do go¡ª Rest of their bones and souls' delivery! Thou'rt slave to fate chance kings and desperate men And dost with poison war and sickness dwell; 10 And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well And better than thy stroke.
Why swell'st thou then? One short sleep past we wake eternally And Death shall be no more: Death thou shalt die!


by Gerard Manley Hopkins | |

The Soldier

 Yes.
Why do we ?ll, seeing of a soldier, bless him? bless Our redcoats, our tars? Both these being, the greater part, But frail clay, nay but foul clay.
Here it is: the heart, Since, proud, it calls the calling manly, gives a guess That, hopes that, makesbelieve, the men must be no less; It fancies, feigns, deems, dears the artist after his art; And fain will find as sterling all as all is smart, And scarlet wear the spirit of w?r th?re express.
Mark Christ our King.
He knows war, served this soldiering through; He of all can handle a rope best.
There he bides in bliss Now, and s?eing somewh?re some m?n do all that man can do, For love he leans forth, needs his neck must fall on, kiss, And cry 'O Christ-done deed! So God-made-flesh does too: Were I come o'er again' cries Christ 'it should be this'.


by Gerard Manley Hopkins | |

Patience Hard Thing! The Hard Thing But To Pray

 Patience, hard thing! the hard thing but to pray,
But bid for, Patience is! Patience who asks
Wants war, wants wounds; weary his times, his tasks;
To do without, take tosses, and obey.
Rare patience roots in these, and, these away, Nowhere.
Natural heart's ivy, Patience masks Our ruins of wrecked past purpose.
There she basks Purple eyes and seas of liquid leaves all day.
We hear our hearts grate on themselves: it kills To bruise them dearer.
Yet the rebellious wills Of us we do bid God bend to him even so.
And where is he who more and more distils Delicious kindness?—He is patient.
Patience fills His crisp combs, and that comes those ways we know.


by Gerard Manley Hopkins | |

To What Serves Mortal Beauty?

 To what serves mortal beauty '—dangerous; does set danc-
ing blood—the O-seal-that-so ' feature, flung prouder form
Than Purcell tune lets tread to? ' See: it does this: keeps warm
Men's wits to the things that are; ' what good means—where a glance
Master more may than gaze, ' gaze out of countenance.
Those lovely lads once, wet-fresh ' windfalls of war's storm, How then should Gregory, a father, ' have gleanèd else from swarm- ed Rome? But God to a nation ' dealt that day's dear chance.
To man, that needs would worship ' block or barren stone, Our law says: Love what are ' love's worthiest, were all known; World's loveliest—men's selves.
Self ' flashes off frame and face.
What do then? how meet beauty? ' Merely meet it; own, Home at heart, heaven's sweet gift; ' then leave, let that alone.
Yea, wish that though, wish all, ' God's better beauty, grace.


by Gerard Manley Hopkins | |

In Honour Of St. Alphonsus Rodriguez

 Laybrother of the Society of Jesus


Honour is flashed off exploit, so we say;
And those strokes once that gashed flesh or galled shield
Should tongue that time now, trumpet now that field,
And, on the fighter, forge his glorious day.
On Christ they do and on the martyr may; But be the war within, the brand we wield Unseen, the heroic breast not outward-steeled, Earth hears no hurtle then from fiercest fray.
Yet God (that hews mountain and continent, Earth, all, out; who, with trickling increment, Veins violets and tall trees makes more and more) Could crowd career with conquest while there went Those years and years by of world without event That in Majorca Alfonso watched the door.


by Gerard Manley Hopkins | |

St. Alphonsus Rodriguez

 Laybrother of the Society of Jesus


Honour is flashed off exploit, so we say; 
And those strokes once that gashed flesh or galled shield
Should tongue that time now, trumpet now that field, 
And, on the fighter, forge his glorious day.
On Christ they do and on the martyr may; But be the war within, the brand we wield Unseen, the heroic breast not outward-steeled, Earth hears no hurtle then from fiercest fray.
Yet God (that hews mountain and continent, Earth, all, out; who, with trickling increment, Veins violets and tall trees makes more and more) Could crowd career with conquest while there went Those years and years by of world without event That in Majorca Alfonso watched the door.


by Helen Hunt Jackson | |

A Calendar of Sonnets: March

 Month which the warring ancients strangely styled 
The month of war,--as if in their fierce ways 
Were any month of peace!--in thy rough days 
I find no war in Nature, though the wild 
Winds clash and clang, and broken boughs are piled 
As feet of writhing trees.
The violets raise Their heads without affright, without amaze, And sleep through all the din, as sleeps a child.
And he who watches well may well discern Sweet expectation in each living thing.
Like pregnant mother the sweet earth doth yearn; In secret joy makes ready for the spring; And hidden, sacred, in her breast doth bear Annunciation lilies for the year.


by Helen Hunt Jackson | |

The Victory of Patience

 Armed of the gods! Divinest conqueror! 
What soundless hosts are thine! Nor pomp, nor state, 
Nor token, to betray where thou dost wait.
All Nature stands, for thee, ambassador; Her forces all thy serfs, for peace or war.
greatest and least alike, thou rul'st their fate,-- The avalanch chained until its century's date, The mulberry leaf made robe for emperor! Shall man alone thy law deny? --refuse Thy healing for his blunders and his sins? Oh, make us thine! Teach us who waits best sues; Who longest waits of all most surely wins.
When Time is spent, Eternity begins.
To doubt, to chafe, to haste, doth God accuse.


by Edwin Arlington Robinson | |

Monadnock through the Trees

 Before there was in Egypt any sound 
Of those who reared a more prodigious means 
For the self-heavy sleep of kings and queens 
Than hitherto had mocked the most renowned,— 
Unvisioned here and waiting to be found,
Alone, amid remote and older scenes, 
You loomed above ancestral evergreens 
Before there were the first of us around.
And when the last of us, if we know how, See farther from ourselves than we do now, Assured with other sight than heretofore That we have done our mortal best and worst,— Your calm will be the same as when the first Assyrians went howling south to war.


by George William Russell | |

Three Counsellors

 IT was the fairy of the place,
Moving within a little light,
Who touched with dim and shadowy grace
The conflict at its fever height.
It seemed to whisper “Quietness,” Then quietly itself was gone: Yet echoes of its mute caress Were with me as the years went on.
It was the warrior within Who called “Awake, prepare for fight: Yet lose not memory in the din: Make of thy gentleness thy might: “Make of thy silence words to shake The long-enthroned kings of earth: Make of thy will the force to break Their towers of wantonness and mirth.
” It was the wise all-seeing soul Who counselled neither war nor peace: “Only be thou thyself that goal In which the wars of time shall cease.


by George William Russell | |

Duality

 WHO gave thee such a ruby flaming heart
And such a pure cold spirit? Side by side
I know these must eternally abide
In intimate war, and each to each impart
Life from its pain, in every joy a dart
To wound with grief or death the self allied.
Red life within the spirit crucified, The eyes eternal pity thee: thou art Fated with deathless powers at war to be, Not less the martyr of the world than he Whose thorn-crowned brow usurps the due of tears We would pay to thee, ever ruddy life, Whose passionate peace is still to be at strife, O’erthrown but in the unconflicting spheres.


by Friedrich von Schiller | |

German Faith

 Once for the sceptre of Germany, fought with Bavarian Louis
Frederick, of Hapsburg descent, both being called to the throne.
But the envious fortune of war delivered the Austrian Into the hands of the foe, who overcame him in fight.
With the throne he purchased his freedom, pledging his honor For the victor to draw 'gainst his own people his sword; But what he vowed when in chains, when free he could not accomplish, So, of his own free accord, put on his fetters again.
Deeply moved, his foe embraced him,--and from thenceforward As a friend with a friend, pledged they the cup at the feast; Arm-in-arm, the princes on one couch slumbered together.
While a still bloodier hate severed the nations apart.
'Gainst the army of Frederick Louis now went, and behind him Left the foe he had fought, over Bavaria to watch.
"Ay, it is true! 'Tis really true! I have it in writing!" Thus did the Pontifex cry, when he first heard of the news.


by Friedrich von Schiller | |

The Knights Of St. John

 Oh, nobly shone the fearful cross upon your mail afar,
When Rhodes and Acre hailed your might, O lions of the war!
When leading many a pilgrim horde, through wastes of Syrian gloom;
Or standing with the cherub's sword before the holy tomb.
Yet on your forms the apron seemed a nobler armor far, When by the sick man's bed ye stood, O lions of the war! When ye, the high-born, bowed your pride to tend the lowly weakness, The duty, though it brought no fame, fulfilled by Christian meekness-- Religion of the cross, thou blend'st, as in a single flower, The twofold branches of the palm--humility and power.


by Friedrich von Schiller | |

The Maid Of Orleans

 Humanity's bright image to impair.
Scorn laid thee prostrate in the deepest dust; Wit wages ceaseless war on all that's fair,-- In angel and in God it puts no trust; The bosom's treasures it would make its prey,-- Besieges fancy,--dims e'en faith's pure ray.
Yet issuing like thyself from humble line, Like thee a gentle shepherdess is she-- Sweet poesy affords her rights divine, And to the stars eternal soars with thee.
Around thy brow a glory she hath thrown; The heart 'twas formed thee,--ever thou'lt live on! The world delights whate'er is bright to stain, And in the dust to lay the glorious low; Yet fear not! noble bosoms still remain, That for the lofty, for the radiant glow Let Momus serve to fill the booth with mirth; A nobler mind loves forms of nobler worth.


by Henry Van Dyke | |

Lights Out

 "Lights out" along the land,
"Lights out" upon the sea.
The night must put her hiding hand O'er peaceful towns where children sleep, And peaceful ships that darkly creep Across the waves, as if they were not free.
The dragons of the air, The hell-hounds of the deep, Lurking and prowling everywhere, Go forth to seek their helpless prey, Not knowing whom they maim or slay-- Mad harvesters, who care not what they reap.
Out with the tranquil lights, Out with the lights that burn For love and law and human rights! Set back the clock a thousand years: All they have gained now disappears, And the dark ages suddenly return.
Kaiser who loosed wild death, And terror in the night-- God grant you draw no quiet breath, Until the madness you began Is ended, and long-suffering man, Set free from war lords, cries, "Let there be Light.
"


by Henry Van Dyke | |

The Price of Peace

 Peace without Justice is a low estate,--
A coward cringing to an iron Fate!
But Peace through Justice is the great ideal,--
We'll pay the price of war to make it real.


by Henry Van Dyke | |

Remarks About Kings

 "God said I am tired of kings.
" -- EMERSON God said, "I am tired of kings,"-- But that was a long while ago! And meantime man said, "No,-- I like their looks in their robes and rings.
" So he crowned a few more, And they went on playing the game as before, Fighting and spoiling things.
Man said, "I am tired of kings! Sons of the robber-chiefs of yore, They make me pay for their lust and their war; I am the puppet, they pull the strings; The blood of my heart is the wine they drink.
I will govern myself for awhile I think, And see what that brings!" Then God, who made the first remark, Smiled in the dark.


by Henry Van Dyke | |

A Scrap of Paper

 "Will you go to war just for a scrap of paper?" -- Question 
of the German Chancellor to the British Ambassador, 
August 5, 1914.
A mocking question! Britain's answer came Swift as the light and searching as the flame.
"Yes, for a scrap of paper we will fight Till our last breath, and God defend the right! "A scrap of paper where a name is set Is strong as duty's pledge and honor's debt.
"A scrap of paper holds for man and wife The sacrament of love, the bond of life.
"A scrap of paper may be Holy Writ With God's eternal word to hallow it.
"A scrap of paper binds us both to stand Defenders of a neutral neighbor land.
"By God, by faith, by honor, yes! We fight To keep our name upon that paper white.
"