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Famous Banjo Poems by Famous Poets

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

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by Laurence Dunbar, Paul
...u' to tek my way back home.
I done see de Crystal Palace, an' I 's hyeahd dey string-band play,
But I has n't seen no banjos layin' nowhahs roun' dis way.
Jes' gin ol' Jim Bowles a banjo, an' he 'd not go very fu',
'Fo' he 'd outplayed all dese fiddlers, wif dey flourish and dey stir.
Evahbiddy dat I 's met wif has been monst'ous kin an' good;
But I t'ink I 'd lak it better to be down in Jones's wood,
Where we ust to have sich frolics, Lucy, you an' me an' Nelse,
Doug...Read More



by Service, Robert William
...Some carol of the banjo, to its measure keeping time;
Of viol or of lute some make a song.
My battered old accordion, you're worthy of a rhyme,
You've been my friend and comforter so long.
Round half the world I've trotted you, a dozen years or more;
You've given heaps of people lots of fun;
You've set a host of happy feet a-tapping on the floor . . .
Alas...Read More

by Whitman, Walt
...moor’d at night-fall, in their boats, under shelter of high
 banks, 
Some of the younger men dance to the sound of the banjo or fiddle—others sit on the
 gunwale,
 smoking and talking;
Late in the afternoon, the mocking-bird, the American mimic, singing in the Great Dismal
 Swamp—there are the greenish waters, the resinous odor, the plenteous moss, the
 cypress
 tree,
 and the juniper tree; 
—Northward, young men of Mannahatta—the target company from an excursion
 returning
...Read More

by Kipling, Rudyard
...comforts, all bought from 'is pay --
But there aren't much comfort 'andy on ten deaths a day.

Our Chaplain's got a banjo, an' a skinny mule 'e rides,
An' the stuff 'e says an' sings us, Lord, it makes us split our sides!
With 'is black coat-tails a-bobbin' to Ta-ra-ra Boom-der-ay!
'E's the proper kind o' padre for ten deaths a day.

An' Father Victor 'elps 'im with our Roman Catholicks --
He knows an 'eap of Irish songs an' rummy conjurin' tricks;
An' the two they wo...Read More

by Lindley, John
...mi Mammy
for a state I’ve never seen.
I’m the bona fide Minstrel Man
whose blackface won’t wash clean.

I’m the banjo playing Sambo
with a fixed and manic grin.
I’m the South’s defiant answer
that the Yankees didn’t win.


I’m the inconvenient nigrah
that no one can let go.
I’m the cutesy picaninny
with my hair tied up in bows.

I’m the funny little shoeshine boy.
I’m the convict on the run;
the ****** in the woodpile 
when the cotton pickin’s done...Read More



by Bukowski, Charles
...alone

for even 
at the most terrible
moments
humor
is my 
companion.

I am a dog walking
backwards

I am a broken
banjo

I am a telephone wire
strung up in
Toledo, Ohio

I am a man
eating a meal
this night
in the month of
September.

put your sympathy
aside.
they say
water held up
Christ:
to come
through
you better be
nearly as
lucky....Read More

by Kipling, Rudyard
...e of 'im:
 'E squatted in the scrub an' 'ocked our 'orses,
'E cut our sentries up at Suakim,
 An' 'e played the cat an' banjo with our forces.
 So 'ere's to you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, at your 'ome in the Soudan;
 You're a pore benighted 'eathen but a first-class fightin' man;
 We gives you your certificate, an' if you want it signed
 We'll come an' 'ave a romp with you whenever you're inclined.

We took our chanst among the Khyber 'ills,
 The Boers knocked us silly at a mile,
...Read More

by Sandburg, Carl
...IT’S a jazz affair, drum crashes and cornet razzes
The trombone pony neighs and the tuba jackass snorts.
The banjo tickles and titters too awful.
The chippies talk about the funnies in the papers.
 The cartoonists weep in their beer.
 Ship riveters talk with their feet
 To the feet of floozies under the tables.
A quartet of white hopes mourn with interspersed snickers:
 “I got the blues.
 I got the blues.
 I got the blues.”
And … as we s...Read More

by Dickinson, Emily
...heir Pods of Flame --

Wild flowers -- kindle in the Woods --
The Brooks slam -- all the Day --
No Black bird bates his Banjo --
For passing Calvary --

Auto da Fe -- and Judgment --
Are nothing to the Bee --
His separation from His Rose --
To Him -- sums Misery --...Read More

by Kipling, Rudyard
...to Mandalay . . .

When the mist was on the rice-fields an' the sun was droppin' slow,
She'd git 'er little banjo an' she'd sing "Kulla-lo-lo!"
With 'er arm upon my shoulder an' 'er cheek agin' my cheek
We useter watch the steamers an' the hathis pilin' teak.
 Elephints a-pilin' teak
 In the sludgy, squdgy creek,
 Where the silence 'ung that 'eavy you was 'arf afraid to speak!
 On the road to Mandalay . . .

But that's all shove be'ind me -- long a...Read More

by Hayden, Robert
...(For Maia and Julie) 

Drifting night in the Georgia pines, 
coonskin drum and jubilee banjo. 
Pretty Malinda, dance with me. 

Night is juba, night is congo. 
Pretty Malinda, dance with me. 

Night is an African juju man 
weaving a wish and a weariness together 
to make two wings. 

O fly away home fly away 

Do you remember Africa? 

O cleave the air fly away home 

My gran, he flew back to Africa, 
just spread his arms a...Read More

by Walcott, Derek
...on't
Have these claws to reap their waist,
But I know "do more" from "don't"
Since the grave cry out "Make haste!"
This banjo world have one string
And all man does dance to that tune:
That love is a place in the bush
With music grieving from far,
As you look past her shoulder and see
Like her one tear afterwards

The falling of a fixed star.
Yound men does bring love to disgrace
With remorseful, regretful words,
When flesh upon flesh was the tune
Since the first cloud ra...Read More

by Sandburg, Carl
...n the sun.. . .
The story lags.
The story has no connections.
The story is nothing but a lot of banjo plinka planka plunks.

The roan horse is young and will learn: the roan horse buckles into harness and feels the foam on the collar at the end of a haul: the roan horse points four legs to the sky and rolls in the red clover: the roan horse has a rusty jag of hair between the ears hanging to a white star between the eyes.. . .
In Bu...Read More

by Service, Robert William
...ough, we've waited. Come on, Mike, play up the Blues."
And Maloney hesitated, but he didn't dare refuse.
So banjo and piano, and guitar and saxophone
Contended with the shrilling of the chanter and the drone;
And the women's ears were muffled, so infernal was the din,
But MacPherson was unruffled, for he knew that he would win.
Then two bright boys jazzed round him, and they sought to play the clown,
But MacPherson jolted sideways, and the Sassenachs went down...Read More

by Sexton, Anne
...plates, 
angel-like, 
folding in their sad wing, 
animal sad, 
and only the night before 
there they were 
playing the banjo. 
Once more the day's light comes 
with its immense sun, 
its mother trucks, 
its engines of amputation. 
Whereas last night 
the cock knew its way home, 
as stiff as a hammer, 
battering in with all 
its awful power. 
That theater. 
Today it is tender, 
a small bird, 
as soft as a baby's hand. 
She is the house. 
He is the stee...Read More

by Bukowski, Charles
...day long
here comes another night of no sleep
here comes the phone wringing the wrong tone
here comes a termite with a banjo
here comes a flagpole with blank eyes
here comes a a cat and a dog wearing nylons
here comes a machine gun saying
here comes bacon burning in the pan
here comes a voice saying something dull
here comes a newspaper stuffed with small red birds
with flat brown beaks
here comes a **** carrying a torch
a grenade
a deathly love
here comes a victory carrying...Read More

by Lindsay, Vachel
...onlit veils of foam.
A candle shines from one lone cabin home.
The waves reflect it like a drunken star.

A banjo and a hymn are heard afar.
No solace on the lazy shore excels
The Duke's blue castle with its steamer-bells.
The floor is running water, and the roof
The stars' brocade with cloudy warp and woof.

And on past sorghum fields the current swings.
To Christian Jim the Mississippi sings.
This prankish wave-swept barque has won its place,...Read More

by Hardy, Thomas
...
Nor one to call a God-obeyer 
In certain details we could spare, 
But rather was a debonair 
Shrewd bandit, skilled as banjo-player: 
That Solomon sang the fleshly Fair, 
And gave the Church no thought whate'er; 
That Esther with her royal wear, 
And Mordecai, the son of Jair, 
And Joshua's triumphs, Job's despair, 
And Balaam's ass's bitter blare; 
Nebuchadnezzar's furnace-flare, 
And Daniel and the den affair, 
And other stories rich and rare, 
Were writ to make old doctri...Read More

by Laurence Dunbar, Paul
...is fiddle on de she'f;
Mockin'-bird quit tryin' to whistle,
'Cause he jes' so shamed hisse'f.
Folks a-playin' on de banjo
Draps dey fingahs on de strings--
Bless yo' soul--fu'gits to move 'em,
When Malindy sings.

She jes' spreads huh mouf and hollahs,
"Come to Jesus," twell you hyeah
Sinnahs' tremblin' steps and voices,
Timid-lak a-drawin' neah;
Den she tu'ns to "Rock of Ages,"
Simply to de cross she clings,
An' you fin' yo' teahs a-drappin'
When Malindy sings.

...Read More

by Frost, Robert
...tree and shake you down."
Grim silence on my part as I sank lower,
My small wrists stretching till they showed the banjo strings.
"Why, if she isn't serious about it!
Hold tight awhile till I think what to do.
I'll bend the tree down and let you down by it."
I don't know much about the letting down;
But once I felt ground with my stocking feet
And the world came revolving back to me,
I know I looked long at my curled-up fingers,
Before I straightened them and...Read More

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