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Famous Ambiguous Poems by Famous Poets

These are examples of famous Ambiguous poems written by some of the greatest and most-well-known modern and classical poets. PoetrySoup is a great educational poetry resource of famous ambiguous poems. These examples illustrate what a famous ambiguous poem looks like and its form, scheme, or style (where appropriate).

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by Brackenridge, Hugh Henry
...ate at their bloody shrines. 
No more with vain uncertainty perplex 
Mistaken worshippers, or give unseen 
Response ambiguous in some mystic sound, 
And hollow murmer from the dark recess. 
No more of Lybian Jove; Dodona's oaks, 
In sacred grove give prophecy no more. 
Th' infernal deities retire abash'd, 
Our God himself on earth begins his reign; 
Pure revelation beams on ev'ry land, 
On ev'ry heart exerts a sov'reign sway, 
And makes the human nature grow divin...Read More



by Melville, Herman
...II

Later, and it streamed in fight
When tempest mingled with the fray,
And over the spear-point of the shaft
I saw the ambiguous lightning play.
Valor with Valor strove, and died:
Fierce was Despair, and cruel was Pride;
And the lorn Mother speechless stood,
Pale at the fury of her brood.


III

Yet later, and the silk did wind
Her fair cold for;
Little availed the shining shroud,
Though ruddy in hue, to cheer or warm
A watcher looked upon her low, and said-
She slee...Read More

by Browning, Robert
...epy town at unaware, 
The man and I. I send thee what is writ. 
Regard it as a chance, a matter risked 
To this ambiguous Syrian--he may lose, 
Or steal, or give it thee with equal good. 
Jerusalem's repose shall make amends 
For time this letter wastes, thy time and mine; 
Till when, once more thy pardon and farewell! 

The very God! think, Abib; dost thou think? 
So, the All-Great, were the All-Loving too-- 
So, through the thunder comes a human voice 
Saying, "...Read More

by Wilde, Oscar
...readed with a blue vein's tapestry
Had not yet ceased to throb, and still her breast
Swayed like a wind-stirred lily in ambiguous unrest)

And then each pigeon spread its milky van,
The bright car soared into the dawning sky,
And like a cloud the aerial caravan
Passed over the AEgean silently,
Till the faint air was troubled with the song
From the wan mouths that call on bleeding Thammuz all night long.

But when the doves had reached their wonted goal
Where the wide stai...Read More

by Milosz, Czeslaw
...your words speak not through their meanings
But through them against whom they are used.

Fashion your weapon from ambiguous words.
Consign clear words to lexical limbo.

Judge no words before the clerks have checked
In their card index by whom they were spoken.

The voice of passion is better than the voice of reason.
The passionless cannot change history.

6
Love no country: countries soon disappear
Love no city: cities are soon rubble.

Throw a...Read More



by Swinburne, Algernon Charles
...ngs high with pinions vibrating
Whereto the light and darkness cling,
Dividing the dim season thus,
And shakes from one ambiguous wing
Shadow, and one is luminous,
And day falls from it; so the past
Torments the future to the last.

And we that cannot hear or see
The sounds and lights of liberty,
The witness of the naked God
That treads on burning hours unshod
With instant feet unwounded; we
That can trace only where he trod
By fire in heaven or storm at sea,
Not know the...Read More

by Tessimond, A S J
...ore,
Shell in a shell.

Useless to produce their path to infinity
Or turn it to a moral symbol,
For their flight is ambiguous, upwards or downwards as you please;
Their fountain is frozen,
Their concertina is silent....Read More

by Tebb, Barry
...thinks of the spectre’

Or ‘the spectre is thinking of her’, either way

She is afraid; I marvel at a tongue so readily ambiguous,

Lying across her forked thigh.



I buy rum for her ‘many parents’, for her

One cheap dress a month suffices; in return

She gathers fish and wild-fruit from the blue

Mountain groves where no white man walks.

Once when I fished from the long canoes

A fish caught the hook in its lower jaw, laughing

I learnt this meant my vahine was un...Read More

by Ginsberg, Allen
...ant eyes, meat for the 
 Synagogue cast on the pavement, 
who vanished into nowhere Zen New Jersey leaving a 
 trail of ambiguous picture postcards of Atlantic 
 City Hall, 
suffering Eastern sweats and Tangerian bone-grind- 
 ings and migraines of China under junk-with- 
 drawal in Newark's bleak furnished room, 
who wandered around and around at midnight in the 
 railroad yard wondering where to go, and went, 
 leaving no broken hearts, 
who lit cigarettes in boxcars boxcar...Read More

by Robinson, Edwin Arlington
...t a beard, 
If what you say men say of him be true— 
Nor yet for sudden war.” 

Gawaine, for a moment,
Met then the ambiguous gaze of Dagonet, 
And, making nothing of it, looked abroad 
As if at something cheerful on all sides, 
And back again to the fool’s unasking eyes: 
“Well, Dagonet, if Merlin would have peace,
Let Merlin stay away from Brittany,” 
Said he, with admiration for the man 
Whom Folly called a fool: “And we have known him; 
We knew him once when he knew e...Read More

by Milton, John
...ht had disincumbered Heaven, 
The great hierarchal standard was to move; 
Tells the suggested cause, and casts between 
Ambiguous words and jealousies, to sound 
Or taint integrity: But all obeyed 
The wonted signal, and superiour voice 
Of their great Potentate; for great indeed 
His name, and high was his degree in Heaven; 
His countenance, as the morning-star that guides 
The starry flock, allured them, and with lies 
Drew after him the third part of Heaven's host. 
Me...Read More

by Milton, John
...inted stand 
Do as you have in charge, and briefly touch 
What we propound, and loud that all may hear! 
So scoffing in ambiguous words, he scarce 
Had ended; when to right and left the front 
Divided, and to either flank retired: 
Which to our eyes discovered, new and strange, 
A triple mounted row of pillars laid 
On wheels (for like to pillars most they seemed, 
Or hollowed bodies made of oak or fir, 
With branches lopt, in wood or mountain felled,) 
Brass, iron, stony mou...Read More

by Milton, John
...rom his mould 
Behemoth biggest born of earth upheaved 
His vastness: Fleeced the flocks and bleating rose, 
As plants: Ambiguous between sea and land 
The river-horse, and scaly crocodile. 
At once came forth whatever creeps the ground, 
Insect or worm: those waved their limber fans 
For wings, and smallest lineaments exact 
In all the liveries decked of summer's pride 
With spots of gold and purple, azure and green: 
These, as a line, their long dimension drew, 
Streaki...Read More

by Milton, John
...That hath been thy craft,
By mixing somewhat true to vent more lies.
But what have been thy answers? what but dark,
Ambiguous, and with double sense deluding,
Which they who asked have seldom understood,
And, not well understood, as good not known?
Who ever, by consulting at thy shrine,
Returned the wiser, or the more instruct
To fly or follow what concerned him most, 
And run not sooner to his fatal snare?
For God hath justly given the nations up
To thy delusions; justly...Read More

by Plath, Sylvia
...urk
in its explicit folds? or when the window,
blind with steam, will not admit the dark
which shrouds our prospects in ambiguous shadow?

Twenty years ago, the familiar tub
bred an ample batch of omens; but now
water faucets spawn no danger; each crab
and octopus -- scrabbling just beyond the view,
waiting for some accidental break
in ritual, to strike -- is definitely gone;
the authentic sea denies them and will pluck
fantastic flesh down to the honest bone.

We take th...Read More

by Crowley, Aleister
...inth! Ay!
Smitten to death by Apollo.
Swift, O maiden moon,
Send thy ray-dews after;
Turn the dolorous tune
To soft ambiguous laughter! 

Mourn, O Maenads, mourn!
Surely your comfort is over:
All we laugh at you lorn.
Ours are the poppies and clover!
O that mouth and eyes,
Mischevious, male, alluring!
O that twitch of the thighs
Dorian past enduring!

Where is wisdom now?
Where the sage and his doubt?
Surely the sweat of the brow
Hath driven the demon out.
Surely ...Read More

by Swinburne, Algernon Charles
...n her lips the breath was blown as fire,
And through her flushed veins leapt the liquid life,
And with sore passion and ambiguous strife
The new birth rent her and the new desire,
The will to live, the competence to be,
The sense to hearken and the soul to see.

And the third prophet standing by her grave
Stretched forth his hand and touched her, and her eyes
Opened as sudden suns in heaven might rise,
And her soul caught from his the faith to save;
Faith above creeds, fa...Read More

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