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Best Famous List Poems

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

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Written by Robert Frost | Create an image from this poem

My November Guest

 My Sorrow, when she's here with me,
Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
She walks the sodden pasture lane.
Her pleasure will not let me stay.
She talks and I am fain to list: She's glad the birds are gone away, She's glad her simple worsted grady Is silver now with clinging mist.
The desolate, deserted trees, The faded earth, the heavy sky, The beauties she so ryly sees, She thinks I have no eye for these, And vexes me for reason why.
Not yesterday I learned to know The love of bare November days Before the coming of the snow, But it were vain to tell he so, And they are better for her praise.


Written by Thomas Campbell | Create an image from this poem

Ode to Winter

 When first the fiery-mantled sun 
His heavenly race begun to run; 
Round the earth and ocean blue, 
His children four the Seasons flew.
First, in green apparel dancing, The young Spring smiled with angel grace; Rosy summer next advancing, Rushed into her sire's embrace:- Her blue-haired sire, who bade her keep For ever nearest to his smile, On Calpe's olive-shaded steep, On India's citron-covered isles: More remote and buxom-brown, The Queen of vintage bowed before his throne, A rich pomegranate gemmed her gown, A ripe sheaf bound her zone.
But howling Winter fled afar, To hills that prop the polar star, And lives on deer-borne car to ride With barren darkness at his side, Round the shore where loud Lofoden Whirls to death the roaring whale, Round the hall where runic Odin Howls his war-song to the gale; Save when adown the ravaged globe He travels on his native storm, Deflowering Nature's grassy robe, And trampling on her faded form:- Till light's returning lord assume The shaft the drives him to his polar field, Of power to pierce his raven plume And crystal-covered shield.
Oh, sire of storms! whose savage ear The Lapland drum delights to hear, When frenzy with her blood-shot eye Implores thy dreadful deity, Archangel! power of desolation! Fast descending as thou art, Say, hath mortal invocation Spells to touch thy stony heart? Then, sullen Winter, hear my prayer, And gently rule the ruined year; Nor chill the wanders bosom bare, Nor freeze the wretch's falling tear;- To shuddering Want's unmantled bed Thy horror-breathing agues cease to lead, And gently on the orphan head Of innocence descend.
- But chiefly spare, O king of clouds! The sailor on his airy shrouds; When wrecks and beacons strew the steep, And specters walk along the deep.
Milder yet thy snowy breezes Pour on yonder tented shores, Where the Rhine's broad billow freezes, Or the Dark-brown Danube roars.
Oh, winds of winter! List ye there To many a deep and dying groan; Or start, ye demons of the midnight air, At shrieks and thunders louder than your own.
Alas! Even unhallowed breath May spare the victim fallen low; But man will ask no truce of death,- No bounds to human woe.
Written by Emanuel Xavier | Create an image from this poem

THE DEATH OF ART

 “Reading well is one of the great pleasures that solitude can afford you.
” -critic Harold Bloom, who first called slam poetry "the death of art.
” I am not a poet.
I want to be rich and buy things for my family.
Besides, I am sort of popular and can honestly say I’ve had a great sex life.
I am not a poet.
Georgia O' Keefe paintings do absolutely nothing for me.
I do not feel oppressed or depressed and no longer have anything to say about the President.
I am not a poet.
I do not like being called an "activist" because it takes away from those that are out on the streets protesting and fighting for our rights.
I am not a poet.
I eat poultry and fish and suck way too much dick to be considered a vegetarian.
I am not a poet.
I would most likely give my *** up in prison before trying to save it with poetry .
.
.
and I’d like it! Heck, I’d probably be inspired.
I am not a poet.
I may value peace but I will not simply use a pen to unleash my anger.
I would **** somebody up if I had to.
I am not a poet.
I may have been abused and had a difficult life but I don’t want pity.
I believe laughter and love heals.
I am not a poet.
I am not dying.
I write a lot about AIDS and how it has affected my life but, despite the rumors, I am not positive.
Believe it or not, weight loss amongst sexually active gay men could still be a choice.
I am not a poet.
I do not get Kerouac or honestly care much for Bukowski.
I am not a poet.
I don’t spend my weekends reading and writing.
I like to go out and party.
I like to have a few cocktails but I do not have a drinking problem regardless of what borough, city or state I may wake up in.
I am not a poet.
I don’t need drugs to open up my imagination.
I've been a dealer and had a really bad habit but that was long before I started writing.
I am not a poet.
I can seriously only tolerate about half an hour of spoken word before I start tuning out and thinking about my grocery list or what my cats are up to.
I am not a poet.
I only do poetry events if I know there will be cute guys there and I always carry business cards.
I am not a poet according to the scholars and academics and Harold Bloom.
I only write to masturbate my mind.
After all, fucking yourself is one of the great pleasures that solitude can afford you.
I am not a poet.
I am only trying to get attention and convince myself that poetry can save lives when my words simply and proudly contribute to “the death of art.
Written by Anna Akhmatova | Create an image from this poem

Requiem

 Not under foreign skies
 Nor under foreign wings protected -
 I shared all this with my own people
 There, where misfortune had abandoned us.
[1961] INSTEAD OF A PREFACE During the frightening years of the Yezhov terror, I spent seventeen months waiting in prison queues in Leningrad.
One day, somehow, someone 'picked me out'.
On that occasion there was a woman standing behind me, her lips blue with cold, who, of course, had never in her life heard my name.
Jolted out of the torpor characteristic of all of us, she said into my ear (everyone whispered there) - 'Could one ever describe this?' And I answered - 'I can.
' It was then that something like a smile slid across what had previously been just a face.
[The 1st of April in the year 1957.
Leningrad] DEDICATION Mountains fall before this grief, A mighty river stops its flow, But prison doors stay firmly bolted Shutting off the convict burrows And an anguish close to death.
Fresh winds softly blow for someone, Gentle sunsets warm them through; we don't know this, We are everywhere the same, listening To the scrape and turn of hateful keys And the heavy tread of marching soldiers.
Waking early, as if for early mass, Walking through the capital run wild, gone to seed, We'd meet - the dead, lifeless; the sun, Lower every day; the Neva, mistier: But hope still sings forever in the distance.
The verdict.
Immediately a flood of tears, Followed by a total isolation, As if a beating heart is painfully ripped out, or, Thumped, she lies there brutally laid out, But she still manages to walk, hesitantly, alone.
Where are you, my unwilling friends, Captives of my two satanic years? What miracle do you see in a Siberian blizzard? What shimmering mirage around the circle of the moon? I send each one of you my salutation, and farewell.
[March 1940] INTRODUCTION [PRELUDE] It happened like this when only the dead Were smiling, glad of their release, That Leningrad hung around its prisons Like a worthless emblem, flapping its piece.
Shrill and sharp, the steam-whistles sang Short songs of farewell To the ranks of convicted, demented by suffering, As they, in regiments, walked along - Stars of death stood over us As innocent Russia squirmed Under the blood-spattered boots and tyres Of the black marias.
I You were taken away at dawn.
I followed you As one does when a corpse is being removed.
Children were crying in the darkened house.
A candle flared, illuminating the Mother of God.
.
.
The cold of an icon was on your lips, a death-cold sweat On your brow - I will never forget this; I will gather To wail with the wives of the murdered streltsy (1) Inconsolably, beneath the Kremlin towers.
[1935.
Autumn.
Moscow] II Silent flows the river Don A yellow moon looks quietly on Swanking about, with cap askew It sees through the window a shadow of you Gravely ill, all alone The moon sees a woman lying at home Her son is in jail, her husband is dead Say a prayer for her instead.
III It isn't me, someone else is suffering.
I couldn't.
Not like this.
Everything that has happened, Cover it with a black cloth, Then let the torches be removed.
.
.
Night.
IV Giggling, poking fun, everyone's darling, The carefree sinner of Tsarskoye Selo (2) If only you could have foreseen What life would do with you - That you would stand, parcel in hand, Beneath the Crosses (3), three hundredth in line, Burning the new year's ice With your hot tears.
Back and forth the prison poplar sways With not a sound - how many innocent Blameless lives are being taken away.
.
.
[1938] V For seventeen months I have been screaming, Calling you home.
I've thrown myself at the feet of butchers For you, my son and my horror.
Everything has become muddled forever - I can no longer distinguish Who is an animal, who a person, and how long The wait can be for an execution.
There are now only dusty flowers, The chinking of the thurible, Tracks from somewhere into nowhere And, staring me in the face And threatening me with swift annihilation, An enormous star.
[1939] VI Weeks fly lightly by.
Even so, I cannot understand what has arisen, How, my son, into your prison White nights stare so brilliantly.
Now once more they burn, Eyes that focus like a hawk, And, upon your cross, the talk Is again of death.
[1939.
Spring] VII THE VERDICT The word landed with a stony thud Onto my still-beating breast.
Nevermind, I was prepared, I will manage with the rest.
I have a lot of work to do today; I need to slaughter memory, Turn my living soul to stone Then teach myself to live again.
.
.
But how.
The hot summer rustles Like a carnival outside my window; I have long had this premonition Of a bright day and a deserted house.
[22 June 1939.
Summer.
Fontannyi Dom (4)] VIII TO DEATH You will come anyway - so why not now? I wait for you; things have become too hard.
I have turned out the lights and opened the door For you, so simple and so wonderful.
Assume whatever shape you wish.
Burst in Like a shell of noxious gas.
Creep up on me Like a practised bandit with a heavy weapon.
Poison me, if you want, with a typhoid exhalation, Or, with a simple tale prepared by you (And known by all to the point of nausea), take me Before the commander of the blue caps and let me glimpse The house administrator's terrified white face.
I don't care anymore.
The river Yenisey Swirls on.
The Pole star blazes.
The blue sparks of those much-loved eyes Close over and cover the final horror.
[19 August 1939.
Fontannyi Dom] IX Madness with its wings Has covered half my soul It feeds me fiery wine And lures me into the abyss.
That's when I understood While listening to my alien delirium That I must hand the victory To it.
However much I nag However much I beg It will not let me take One single thing away: Not my son's frightening eyes - A suffering set in stone, Or prison visiting hours Or days that end in storms Nor the sweet coolness of a hand The anxious shade of lime trees Nor the light distant sound Of final comforting words.
[14 May 1940.
Fontannyi Dom] X CRUCIFIXION Weep not for me, mother.
I am alive in my grave.
1.
A choir of angels glorified the greatest hour, The heavens melted into flames.
To his father he said, 'Why hast thou forsaken me!' But to his mother, 'Weep not for me.
.
.
' [1940.
Fontannyi Dom] 2.
Magdalena smote herself and wept, The favourite disciple turned to stone, But there, where the mother stood silent, Not one person dared to look.
[1943.
Tashkent] EPILOGUE 1.
I have learned how faces fall, How terror can escape from lowered eyes, How suffering can etch cruel pages Of cuneiform-like marks upon the cheeks.
I know how dark or ash-blond strands of hair Can suddenly turn white.
I've learned to recognise The fading smiles upon submissive lips, The trembling fear inside a hollow laugh.
That's why I pray not for myself But all of you who stood there with me Through fiercest cold and scorching July heat Under a towering, completely blind red wall.
2.
The hour has come to remember the dead.
I see you, I hear you, I feel you: The one who resisted the long drag to the open window; The one who could no longer feel the kick of familiar soil beneath her feet; The one who, with a sudden flick of her head, replied, 'I arrive here as if I've come home!' I'd like to name you all by name, but the list Has been removed and there is nowhere else to look.
So, I have woven you this wide shroud out of the humble words I overheard you use.
Everywhere, forever and always, I will never forget one single thing.
Even in new grief.
Even if they clamp shut my tormented mouth Through which one hundred million people scream; That's how I wish them to remember me when I am dead On the eve of my remembrance day.
If someone someday in this country Decides to raise a memorial to me, I give my consent to this festivity But only on this condition - do not build it By the sea where I was born, I have severed my last ties with the sea; Nor in the Tsar's Park by the hallowed stump Where an inconsolable shadow looks for me; Build it here where I stood for three hundred hours And no-one slid open the bolt.
Listen, even in blissful death I fear That I will forget the Black Marias, Forget how hatefully the door slammed and an old woman Howled like a wounded beast.
Let the thawing ice flow like tears From my immovable bronze eyelids And let the prison dove coo in the distance While ships sail quietly along the river.
[March 1940.
Fontannyi Dom] FOOTNOTES 1 An elite guard which rose up in rebellion against Peter the Great in 1698.
Most were either executed or exiled.
2 The imperial summer residence outside St Petersburg where Ahmatova spent her early years.
3 A prison complex in central Leningrad near the Finland Station, called The Crosses because of the shape of two of the buildings.
4 The Leningrad house in which Ahmatova lived.
Written by Alfred Lord Tennyson | Create an image from this poem

The Mermaid

 I

Who would be
A mermaid fair,
Singing alone,
Combing her hair
Under the sea,
In a golden curl
With a comb of pearl,
On a throne?

II

I would be a mermaid fair;
I would sing to myself the whole of the day;
With a comb of pearl I would comb my hair;
And still as I comb'd I would sing and say,
'Who is it loves me? who loves not me?'
I would comb my hair till my ringlets would fall
 Low adown, low adown,
From under my starry sea-bud crown
 Low adown and around,
And I should look like a fountain of gold
 Springing alone
 With a shrill inner sound
 Over the throne
 In the midst of the hall;
Till that great sea-snake under the sea
From his coiled sleeps in the central deeps
Would slowly trail himself sevenfold
Round the hall where I sate, and look in at the gate
With his large calm eyes for the love of me.
And all the mermen under the sea Would feel their immortality Die in their hearts for the love of me.
III But at night I would wander away, away, I would fling on each side my low-flowing locks, And lightly vault from the throne and play With the mermen in and out of the rocks; We would run to and fro, and hide and seek, On the broad sea-wolds in the crimson shells, Whose silvery spikes are nighest the sea.
But if any came near I would call and shriek, And adown the steep like a wave I would leap From the diamond-ledges that jut from the dells; For I would not be kiss'd by all who would list Of the bold merry mermen under the sea.
They would sue me, and woo me, and flatter me, In the purple twilights under the sea; But the king of them all would carry me, Woo me, and win me, and marry me, In the branching jaspers under the sea.
Then all the dry-pied things that be In the hueless mosses under the sea Would curl round my silver feet silently, All looking up for the love of me.
And if I should carol aloud, from aloft All things that are forked, and horned, and soft Would lean out from the hollow sphere of the sea, All looking down for the love of me.
Written by Ezra Pound | Create an image from this poem

The Seafarer

 (From the early Anglo-Saxon text) 

May I for my own self song's truth reckon,
Journey's jargon, how I in harsh days
Hardship endured oft.
Bitter breast-cares have I abided, Known on my keel many a care's hold, And dire sea-surge, and there I oft spent Narrow nightwatch nigh the ship's head While she tossed close to cliffs.
Coldly afflicted, My feet were by frost benumbed.
Chill its chains are; chafing sighs Hew my heart round and hunger begot Mere-weary mood.
Lest man know not That he on dry land loveliest liveth, List how I, care-wretched, on ice-cold sea, Weathered the winter, wretched outcast Deprived of my kinsmen; Hung with hard ice-flakes, where hail-scur flew, There I heard naught save the harsh sea And ice-cold wave, at whiles the swan cries, Did for my games the gannet's clamour, Sea-fowls, loudness was for me laughter, The mews' singing all my mead-drink.
Storms, on the stone-cliffs beaten, fell on the stern In icy feathers; full oft the eagle screamed With spray on his pinion.
Not any protector May make merry man faring needy.
This he little believes, who aye in winsome life Abides 'mid burghers some heavy business, Wealthy and wine-flushed, how I weary oft Must bide above brine.
Neareth nightshade, snoweth from north, Frost froze the land, hail fell on earth then Corn of the coldest.
Nathless there knocketh now The heart's thought that I on high streams The salt-wavy tumult traverse alone.
Moaneth alway my mind's lust That I fare forth, that I afar hence Seek out a foreign fastness.
For this there's no mood-lofty man over earth's midst, Not though he be given his good, but will have in his youth greed; Nor his deed to the daring, nor his king to the faithful But shall have his sorrow for sea-fare Whatever his lord will.
He hath not heart for harping, nor in ring-having Nor winsomeness to wife, nor world's delight Nor any whit else save the wave's slash, Yet longing comes upon him to fare forth on the water.
Bosque taketh blossom, cometh beauty of berries, Fields to fairness, land fares brisker, All this admonisheth man eager of mood, The heart turns to travel so that he then thinks On flood-ways to be far departing.
Cuckoo calleth with gloomy crying, He singeth summerward, bodeth sorrow, The bitter heart's blood.
Burgher knows not -- He the prosperous man -- what some perform Where wandering them widest draweth.
So that but now my heart burst from my breast-lock, My mood 'mid the mere-flood, Over the whale's acre, would wander wide.
On earth's shelter cometh oft to me, Eager and ready, the crying lone-flyer, Whets for the whale-path the heart irresistibly, O'er tracks of ocean; seeing that anyhow My lord deems to me this dead life On loan and on land, I believe not That any earth-weal eternal standeth Save there be somewhat calamitous That, ere a man's tide go, turn it to twain.
Disease or oldness or sword-hate Beats out the breath from doom-gripped body.
And for this, every earl whatever, for those speaking after -- Laud of the living, boasteth some last word, That he will work ere he pass onward, Frame on the fair earth 'gainst foes his malice, Daring ado, .
.
.
So that all men shall honour him after And his laud beyond them remain 'mid the English, Aye, for ever, a lasting life's-blast, Delight mid the doughty.
Days little durable, And all arrogance of earthen riches, There come now no kings nor Cæsars Nor gold-giving lords like those gone.
Howe'er in mirth most magnified, Whoe'er lived in life most lordliest, Drear all this excellence, delights undurable! Waneth the watch, but the world holdeth.
Tomb hideth trouble.
The blade is layed low.
Earthly glory ageth and seareth.
No man at all going the earth's gait, But age fares against him, his face paleth, Grey-haired he groaneth, knows gone companions, Lordly men are to earth o'ergiven, Nor may he then the flesh-cover, whose life ceaseth, Nor eat the sweet nor feel the sorry, Nor stir hand nor think in mid heart, And though he strew the grave with gold, His born brothers, their buried bodies Be an unlikely treasure hoard.
Written by Rudyard Kipling | Create an image from this poem

To the True Romance

 Thy face is far from this our war,
 Our call and counter-cry,
I shall not find Thee quick and kind,
 Nor know Thee till I die,
Enough for me in dreams to see
 And touch Thy garments' hem:
Thy feet have trod so near to God
 I may not follow them.
Through wantonness if men profess They weary of Thy parts, E'en let them die at blasphemy And perish with their arts; But we that love, but we that prove Thine excellence august, While we adore discover more Thee perfect, wise, and just.
Since spoken word Man's Spirit stirred Beyond his belly-need, What is is Thine of fair design In thought and craft and deed; Each stroke aright of toil and fight, That was and that shall be, And hope too high, wherefore we die, Has birth and worth in Thee.
Who holds by Thee hath Heaven in fee To gild his dross thereby, And knowledge sure that he endure A child until he die -- For to make plain that man's disdain Is but new Beauty's birth -- For to possess in loneliness The joy of all the earth.
As Thou didst teach all lovers speech And Life all mystery, So shalt Thou rule by every school Till love and longing die, Who wast or yet the Lights were set, A whisper in the Void, Who shalt be sung through planets young When this is clean destroyed.
Beyond the bounds our staring rounds, Across the pressing dark, The children wise of outer skies Look hitherward and mark A light that shifts, a glare that drifts, Rekindling thus and thus, Not all forlorn, for Thou hast borne Strange tales to them of us.
Time hath no tide but must abide The servant of Thy will; Tide hath no time, for to Thy rhyme The ranging stars stand still -- Regent of spheres that lock our fears, Our hopes invisible, Oh 'twas certes at Thy decrees We fashioned Heaven and Hell! Pure Wisdom hath no certain path That lacks thy morning-eyne, And captains bold by Thee controlled Most like to Gods design; Thou art the Voice to kingly boys To lift them through the fight, And Comfortress of Unsuccess, To give the dead good-night -- A veil to draw 'twixt God His Law And Man's infirmity, A shadow kind to dumb and blind The shambles where we die; A rule to trick th' arithmetic Too base of leaguing odds -- The spur of trust, the curb of lust, Thou handmaid of the Gods! O Charity, all patiently Abiding wrack and scaith! O Faith, that meets ten thousand cheats Yet drops no jot of faith! Devil and brute Thou dost transmute To higher, lordlier show, Who art in sooth that lovely Truth The careless angels know! Thy face is far from this our war, Our call and counter-cry, I may not find Thee quick and kind, Nor know Thee till I die.
Yet may I look with heart unshook On blow brought home or missed -- Yet may I hear with equal ear The clarions down the List; Yet set my lance above mischance And ride the barriere -- Oh, hit or miss, how little 'tis, My Lady is not there!


Written by Jack Prelutsky | Create an image from this poem

Bleezers Ice Cream

 I am Ebenezer Bleezer,
I run BLEEZER'S ICE CREAM STORE,
there are flavors in my freezer
you have never seen before,
twenty-eight divine creations
too delicious to resist,
why not do yourself a favor,
try the flavors on my list:

COCOA MOCHA MACARONI
TAPIOCA SMOKED BALONEY
CHECKERBERRY CHEDDAR CHEW
CHICKEN CHERRY HONEYDEW
TUTTI-FRUTTI STEWED TOMATO
TUNA TACO BAKED POTATO
LOBSTER LITCHI LIMA BEAN
MOZZARELLA MANGOSTEEN
ALMOND HAM MERINGUE SALAMI
YAM ANCHOVY PRUNE PASTRAMI
SASSAFRAS SOUVLAKI HASH
SUKIYAKI SUCCOTASH
BUTTER BRICKLE PEPPER PICKLE
POMEGRANATE PUMPERNICKEL
PEACH PIMENTO PIZZA PLUM
PEANUT PUMPKIN BUBBLEGUM
BROCCOLI BANANA BLUSTER
CHOCOLATE CHOP SUEY CLUSTER
AVOCADO BRUSSELS SPROUT
PERIWINKLE SAUERKRAUT
COTTON CANDY CARROT CUSTARD
CAULIFLOWER COLA MUSTARD
ONION DUMPLING DOUBLE DIP
TURNIP TRUFFLE TRIPLE FLIP
GARLIC GUMBO GRAVY GUAVA
LENTIL LEMON LIVER LAVA
ORANGE OLIVE BAGEL BEET
WATERMELON WAFFLE WHEAT

I am Ebenezer Bleezer,
I run BLEEZER'S ICE CREAM STORE,
taste a flavor from my freezer,
you will surely ask for more.
Written by Edgar Allan Poe | Create an image from this poem

Tamerlane

 Kind solace in a dying hour!
Such, father, is not (now) my theme-
I will not madly deem that power
Of Earth may shrive me of the sin
Unearthly pride hath revell'd in-
I have no time to dote or dream:
You call it hope- that fire of fire!
It is but agony of desire:
If I can hope- Oh God! I can-
Its fount is holier- more divine-
I would not call thee fool, old man,
But such is not a gift of thine.
Know thou the secret of a spirit Bow'd from its wild pride into shame.
O yearning heart! I did inherit Thy withering portion with the fame, The searing glory which hath shone Amid the jewels of my throne, Halo of Hell! and with a pain Not Hell shall make me fear again- O craving heart, for the lost flowers And sunshine of my summer hours! The undying voice of that dead time, With its interminable chime, Rings, in the spirit of a spell, Upon thy emptiness- a knell.
I have not always been as now: The fever'd diadem on my brow I claim'd and won usurpingly- Hath not the same fierce heirdom given Rome to the Caesar- this to me? The heritage of a kingly mind, And a proud spirit which hath striven Triumphantly with human kind.
On mountain soil I first drew life: The mists of the Taglay have shed Nightly their dews upon my head, And, I believe, the winged strife And tumult of the headlong air Have nestled in my very hair.
So late from Heaven- that dew- it fell (Mid dreams of an unholy night) Upon me with the touch of Hell, While the red flashing of the light From clouds that hung, like banners, o'er, Appeared to my half-closing eye The pageantry of monarchy, And the deep trumpet-thunder's roar Came hurriedly upon me, telling Of human battle, where my voice, My own voice, silly child!- was swelling (O! how my spirit would rejoice, And leap within me at the cry) The battle-cry of Victory! The rain came down upon my head Unshelter'd- and the heavy wind Rendered me mad and deaf and blind.
It was but man, I thought, who shed Laurels upon me: and the rush- The torrent of the chilly air Gurgled within my ear the crush Of empires- with the captive's prayer- The hum of suitors- and the tone Of flattery 'round a sovereign's throne.
My passions, from that hapless hour, Usurp'd a tyranny which men Have deem'd, since I have reach'd to power, My innate nature- be it so: But father, there liv'd one who, then, Then- in my boyhood- when their fire Burn'd with a still intenser glow, (For passion must, with youth, expire) E'en then who knew this iron heart In woman's weakness had a part.
I have no words- alas!- to tell The loveliness of loving well! Nor would I now attempt to trace The more than beauty of a face Whose lineaments, upon my mind, Are- shadows on th' unstable wind: Thus I remember having dwelt Some page of early lore upon, With loitering eye, till I have felt The letters- with their meaning- melt To fantasies- with none.
O, she was worthy of all love! Love- as in infancy was mine- 'Twas such as angel minds above Might envy; her young heart the shrine On which my every hope and thought Were incense- then a goodly gift, For they were childish and upright- Pure- as her young example taught: Why did I leave it, and, adrift, Trust to the fire within, for light? We grew in age- and love- together, Roaming the forest, and the wild; My breast her shield in wintry weather- And when the friendly sunshine smil'd, And she would mark the opening skies, I saw no Heaven- but in her eyes.
Young Love's first lesson is- the heart: For 'mid that sunshine, and those smiles, When, from our little cares apart, And laughing at her girlish wiles, I'd throw me on her throbbing breast, And pour my spirit out in tears- There was no need to speak the rest- No need to quiet any fears Of her- who ask'd no reason why, But turn'd on me her quiet eye! Yet more than worthy of the love My spirit struggled with, and strove, When, on the mountain peak, alone, Ambition lent it a new tone- I had no being- but in thee: The world, and all it did contain In the earth- the air- the sea- Its joy- its little lot of pain That was new pleasure- the ideal, Dim vanities of dreams by night- And dimmer nothings which were real- (Shadows- and a more shadowy light!) Parted upon their misty wings, And, so, confusedly, became Thine image, and- a name- a name! Two separate- yet most intimate things.
I was ambitious- have you known The passion, father? You have not: A cottager, I mark'd a throne Of half the world as all my own, And murmur'd at such lowly lot- But, just like any other dream, Upon the vapour of the dew My own had past, did not the beam Of beauty which did while it thro' The minute- the hour- the day- oppress My mind with double loveliness.
We walk'd together on the crown Of a high mountain which look'd down Afar from its proud natural towers Of rock and forest, on the hills- The dwindled hills! begirt with bowers, And shouting with a thousand rills.
I spoke to her of power and pride, But mystically- in such guise That she might deem it nought beside The moment's converse; in her eyes I read, perhaps too carelessly- A mingled feeling with my own- The flush on her bright cheek, to me Seem'd to become a queenly throne Too well that I should let it be Light in the wilderness alone.
I wrapp'd myself in grandeur then, And donn'd a visionary crown- Yet it was not that Fantasy Had thrown her mantle over me- But that, among the rabble- men, Lion ambition is chained down- And crouches to a keeper's hand- Not so in deserts where the grand- The wild- the terrible conspire With their own breath to fan his fire.
Look 'round thee now on Samarcand! Is not she queen of Earth? her pride Above all cities? in her hand Their destinies? in all beside Of glory which the world hath known Stands she not nobly and alone? Falling- her veriest stepping-stone Shall form the pedestal of a throne- And who her sovereign? Timour- he Whom the astonished people saw Striding o'er empires haughtily A diadem'd outlaw! O, human love! thou spirit given On Earth, of all we hope in Heaven! Which fall'st into the soul like rain Upon the Siroc-wither'd plain, And, failing in thy power to bless, But leav'st the heart a wilderness! Idea! which bindest life around With music of so strange a sound, And beauty of so wild a birth- Farewell! for I have won the Earth.
When Hope, the eagle that tower'd, could see No cliff beyond him in the sky, His pinions were bent droopingly- And homeward turn'd his soften'd eye.
'Twas sunset: when the sun will part There comes a sullenness of heart To him who still would look upon The glory of the summer sun.
That soul will hate the ev'ning mist, So often lovely, and will list To the sound of the coming darkness (known To those whose spirits hearken) as one Who, in a dream of night, would fly But cannot from a danger nigh.
What tho' the moon- the white moon Shed all the splendour of her noon, Her smile is chilly, and her beam, In that time of dreariness, will seem (So like you gather in your breath) A portrait taken after death.
And boyhood is a summer sun Whose waning is the dreariest one- For all we live to know is known, And all we seek to keep hath flown- Let life, then, as the day-flower, fall With the noon-day beauty- which is all.
I reach'd my home- my home no more For all had flown who made it so.
I pass'd from out its mossy door, And, tho' my tread was soft and low, A voice came from the threshold stone Of one whom I had earlier known- O, I defy thee, Hell, to show On beds of fire that burn below, A humbler heart- a deeper woe.
Father, I firmly do believe- I know- for Death, who comes for me From regions of the blest afar, Where there is nothing to deceive, Hath left his iron gate ajar, And rays of truth you cannot see Are flashing thro' Eternity- I do believe that Eblis hath A snare in every human path- Else how, when in the holy grove I wandered of the idol, Love, Who daily scents his snowy wings With incense of burnt offerings From the most unpolluted things, Whose pleasant bowers are yet so riven Above with trellis'd rays from Heaven, No mote may shun- no tiniest fly- The lightning of his eagle eye- How was it that Ambition crept, Unseen, amid the revels there, Till growing bold, he laughed and leapt In the tangles of Love's very hair?
Written by John Donne | Create an image from this poem

Self-Love

 He that cannot choose but love,
And strives against it still,
Never shall my fancy move,
For he loves 'gainst his will;
Nor he which is all his own,
And can at pleasure choose,
When I am caught he can be gone,
And when he list refuse.
Nor he that loves none but fair, For such by all are sought; Nor he that can for foul ones care, For his judgement then is nought; Nor he that hath wit, for he Will make me his jest or slave; Nor a fool, for when others.
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, He can neither.
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; Nor he that still his Mistress pays, For she is thralled therefore; Nor he that pays not, for he says Within She's worth no more.
Is there then no kind of men Whom I may freely prove? I will vent that humour then In mine own self-love.
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