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Best Famous Narrative Poems

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

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12
Written by Edgar Allan Poe | Create an image from this poem

The Raven

ONCE upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, 
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,¡ª 
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, 
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"'T is some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door; 5 Only this and nothing more.
" Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;¡ªvainly I had sought to borrow From my books surcease of sorrow¡ªsorrow for the lost Lenore, 10 For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore: Nameless here for evermore.
And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain Thrilled me¡ªfilled me with fantastic terrors never felt before; So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating 15 "'T is some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door, Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door: This it is and nothing more.
" Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer, "Sir," said I, "or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore; 20 But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping, And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door, That I scarce was sure I heard you"¡ªhere I opened wide the door:¡ª Darkness there and nothing more.
Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing, 25 Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before; But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token, And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, "Lenore?" This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, "Lenore:" Merely this and nothing more.
30 Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning, Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
"Surely," said I, "surely that is something at my window lattice; Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore; Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore: 35 'T is the wind and nothing more.
" Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter, In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he; But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door, 40 Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door: Perched, and sat, and nothing more.
Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,¡ª "Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure no craven, 45 Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore: Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!" Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore.
" Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly, Though its answer little meaning¡ªlittle relevancy bore; 50 For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door, Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door, With such name as "Nevermore.
" But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only 55 That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered, not a feather then he fluttered, Till I scarcely more than muttered,¡ª"Other friends have flown before; On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before.
" Then the bird said, "Nevermore.
" 60 Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken, "Doubtless," said I, "what it utters is its only stock and store, Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore: Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore 65 Of 'Never¡ªnevermore.
' But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling, Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door; Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore, 70 What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore Meant in croaking "Nevermore.
" This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core; This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining 75 On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamplight gloated o'er, But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o'er She shall press, ah, nevermore! Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer Swung by seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
80 "Wretch," I cried, "thy God hath lent thee¡ªby these angels he hath sent thee Respite¡ªrespite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!" Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore.
" Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore.
" "Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil! prophet still, if bird or devil! 85 Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore, Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted¡ª On this home by Horror haunted¡ªtell me truly, I implore: Is there¡ªis there balm in Gilead?¡ªtell me¡ªtell me, I implore!" Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore.
" 90 "Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil¡ªprophet still, if bird or devil! By that Heaven that bends above us, by that God we both adore, Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn, It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore: Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore!" 95 Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore.
" "Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!" I shrieked, upstarting: "Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore! Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken! Leave my loneliness unbroken! quit the bust above my door! 100 Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!" Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore.
" And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door; And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming, 105 And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor: And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor Shall be lifted¡ªnevermore!
Written by William Cowper | Create an image from this poem

The Castaway

 Obscurest night involv'd the sky,
Th' Atlantic billows roar'd,
When such a destin'd wretch as I,
Wash'd headlong from on board,
Of friends, of hope, of all bereft,
His floating home for ever left.
No braver chief could Albion boast Than he with whom he went, Nor ever ship left Albion's coast, With warmer wishes sent.
He lov'd them both, but both in vain, Nor him beheld, nor her again.
Not long beneath the whelming brine, Expert to swim, he lay; Nor soon he felt his strength decline, Or courage die away; But wag'd with death a lasting strife, Supported by despair of life.
He shouted: nor his friends had fail'd To check the vessel's course, But so the furious blast prevail'd, That, pitiless perforce, They left their outcast mate behind, And scudded still before the wind.
Some succour yet they could afford; And, such as storms allow, The cask, the coop, the floated cord, Delay'd not to bestow.
But he (they knew) nor ship, nor shore, Whate'er they gave, should visit more.
Nor, cruel as it seem'd, could he Their haste himself condemn, Aware that flight, in such a sea, Alone could rescue them; Yet bitter felt it still to die Deserted, and his friends so nigh.
He long survives, who lives an hour In ocean, self-upheld; And so long he, with unspent pow'r, His destiny repell'd; And ever, as the minutes flew, Entreated help, or cried--Adieu! At length, his transient respite past, His comrades, who before Had heard his voice in ev'ry blast, Could catch the sound no more.
For then, by toil subdued, he drank The stifling wave, and then he sank.
No poet wept him: but the page Of narrative sincere; That tells his name, his worth, his age, Is wet with Anson's tear.
And tears by bards or heroes shed Alike immortalize the dead.
I therefore purpose not, or dream, Descanting on his fate, To give the melancholy theme A more enduring date: But misery still delights to trace Its semblance in another's case.
No voice divine the storm allay'd, No light propitious shone; When, snatch'd from all effectual aid, We perish'd, each alone: But I beneath a rougher sea, And whelm'd in deeper gulfs than he.
Written by Connie Wanek | Create an image from this poem

Coloring Book

 Each picture is heartbreakingly banal,
a kitten and a ball of yarn,
a dog and bone.
The paper is cheap, easily torn.
A coloring book's authority is derived from its heavy black lines as unalterable as the ten commandments within which minor decisions are possible: the dog black and white, the kitten gray.
Under the picture we find a few words, a title, perhaps a narrative, a psalm or sermon.
But nowhere do we come upon a blank page where we might justify the careless way we scribbled when we were tired and sad and could bear no more.
Written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow | Create an image from this poem

Paul Revere's Ride

Listen, my children, and you shall hear 
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere, 
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five: 
Hardly a man is now alive 
Who remembers that famous day and year.
He said to his friend, "If the British march By land or sea from the town to-night, Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry-arch Of the North-Church-tower, as a signal-light,-- One if by land, and two if by sea; And I on the opposite shore will be, Ready to ride and spread the alarm Through every Middlesex village and farm, For the country-folk to be up and to arm.
" Then he said "Good night!" and with muffled oar Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore, Just as the moon rose over the bay, Where swinging wide at her moorings lay The Somerset, British man-of-war: A phantom ship, with each mast and spar Across the moon, like a prison-bar, And a huge black hulk, that was magnified By its own reflection in the tide.
Meanwhile, his friend, through alley and street Wanders and watches with eager ears, Till in the silence around him he hears The muster of men at the barrack door, The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet, And the measured tread of the grenadiers Marching down to their boats on the shore.
Then he climbed to the tower of the church, Up the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread, To the belfry-chamber overhead, And startled the pigeons from their perch On the sombre rafters, that round him made Masses and moving shapes of shade,-- By the trembling ladder, steep and tall, To the highest window in the wall, Where he paused to listen and look down A moment on the roofs of the town, And the moonlight flowing over all.
Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead, In their night-encampment on the hill, Wrapped in silence so deep and still That he could hear, like a sentinel's tread, The watchful night-wind, as it went Creeping along from tent to tent, And seeming to whisper, "All is well!" A moment only he feels the spell Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread Of the lonely belfry and the dead; For suddenly all his thoughts are bent On a shadowy something far away, Where the river widens to meet the bay, -- A line of black, that bends and floats On the rising tide, like a bridge of boats.
Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride, Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride, On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
Now he patted his horse's side, Now gazed on the landscape far and near, Then impetuous stamped the earth, And turned and tightened his saddle-girth; But mostly he watched with eager search The belfry-tower of the old North Church, As it rose above the graves on the hill, Lonely and spectral and sombre and still.
And lo! as he looks, on the belfry's height, A glimmer, and then a gleam of light! He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns, But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight A second lamp in the belfry burns! A hurry of hoofs in a village-street, A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark, And beneath from the pebbles, in passing, a spark Struck out by a steed that flies fearless and fleet: That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light, The fate of a nation was riding that night; And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight, Kindled the land into flame with its heat.
He has left the village and mounted the steep, And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep, Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides; And under the alders, that skirt its edge, Now soft on the sand, now load on the ledge, Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.
It was twelve by the village clock When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
He heard the crowing of the ****, And the barking of the farmer's dog, And felt the damp of the river-fog, That rises when the sun goes down.
It was one by the village clock, When he galloped into Lexington.
He saw the gilded weathercock Swim in the moonlight as he passed, And the meeting-house windows, blank and bare, Gaze at him with a spectral glare, As if they already stood aghast At the bloody work they would look upon.
It was two by the village clock, When be came to the bridge in Concord town.
He heard the bleating of the flock, And the twitter of birds among the trees, And felt the breath of the morning breeze Blowing over the meadows brown.
And one was safe and asleep in his bed Who at the bridge would be first to fall, Who that day would be lying dead, Pierced by a British musket-ball.
You know the rest.
In the books you have read, How the British Regulars fired and fled,-- How the farmers gave them ball for ball, From behind each fence and farmyard-wall, Chasing the red-coats down the lane, Then crossing the fields to emerge again Under the trees at the turn of the road, And only pausing to fire and load.
So through the night rode Paul Revere; And so through the night went his cry of alarm To every Middlesex village and farm,-- A cry of defiance, and not of fear, A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door, And a word that shall echo forevermore! For, borne on the night-wind of the Past, Through all our history, to the last, In the hour of darkness and peril and need, The people will waken and listen to hear The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed, And the midnight message of Paul Revere.
Written by Louise Gluck | Create an image from this poem

Odysseus Decision

 The great man turns his back on the island.
Now he will not die in paradise nor hear again the lutes of paradise among the olive trees, by the clear pools under the cypresses.
Time begins now, in which he hears again that pulse which is the narrative sea, ar dawn when its pull is stongest.
What has brought us here will lead us away; our ship sways in the tined harbor water.
Now the spell is ended.
Giove him back his life, sea that can only move forward.
Written by Mark Doty | Create an image from this poem

The Ancient World

 Today the Masons are auctioning 
their discarded pomp: a trunk of turbans, 
gemmed and ostrich-plumed, and operetta costumes 
labeled inside the collar "Potentate" 
and "Vizier.
" Here their chairs, blazoned with the Masons' sign, huddled like convalescents, lean against one another on the grass.
In a casket are rhinestoned poles the hierophants carried in parades; here's a splendid golden staff some ranking officer waved, topped with a golden pyramid and a tiny, inquisitive sphinx.
No one's worn this stuff for years, and it doesn't seem worth buying; where would we put it? Still, I want that staff.
I used to love to go to the library -- the smalltown brick refuge of those with nothing to do, really, 'Carnegie' chiseled on the pediment above columns that dwarfed an inconsequential street.
Embarrassed to carry the same book past the water fountain's plaster centaurs up to the desk again, I'd take The Wonders of the World to the Reading Room where Art and Industry met in the mural on the dome.
The room smelled like two decades before I was born, when the name carved over the door meant something.
I never read the second section, "Wonders of the Modern World"; I loved the promise of my father's blueprints, the unfulfilled turquoise schemes, but in the real structures you could hardly imagine a future.
I wanted the density of history, which I confused with the smell of the book: Babylon's ziggurat tropical with ferns, engraved watercourses rippling; the Colossus of Rhodes balanced over the harbormouth on his immense ankles.
Athena filled one end of the Parthenon, in an "artist's reconstruction", like an adult in a dollhouse.
At Halicarnassus, Mausolus remembered himself immensely, though in the book there wasn't even a sketch, only a picture of huge fragments.
In the pyramid's deep clockworks, did the narrow tunnels mount toward the eye of God? That was the year photos were beamed back from space; falling asleep I used to repeat a new word to myself, telemetry, liking the way it seemed to allude to something storied.
The earth was whorled marble, at that distance.
Even the stuck-on porticoes and collonades downtown were narrative, somehow, but the buildings my father engineered were without stories.
All I wanted was something larger than our ordinary sadness -- greater not in scale but in context, memorable, true to a proportioned, subtle form.
Last year I knew a student, a half mad boy who finally opened his arms with a razor, not because he wanted to die but because he wanted to design something grand on his own body.
Once he said, When a child realizes his parents aren't enough, he turns to architecture.
I think I know what he meant.
Imagine the Masons parading, one of them, in his splendid get-up, striding forward with the golden staff, above his head Cheops' beautiful shape -- a form we cannot separate from the stories about the form, even if we hardly know them, even if it no longer signifies, if it only shines.
Written by Mark Doty | Create an image from this poem

The Embrace

 You weren't well or really ill yet either;
just a little tired, your handsomeness
tinged by grief or anticipation, which brought
to your face a thoughtful, deepening grace.
I didn't for a moment doubt you were dead.
I knew that to be true still, even in the dream.
You'd been out—at work maybe?— having a good day, almost energetic.
We seemed to be moving from some old house where we'd lived, boxes everywhere, things in disarray: that was the story of my dream, but even asleep I was shocked out of narrative by your face, the physical fact of your face: inches from mine, smooth-shaven, loving, alert.
Why so difficult, remembering the actual look of you? Without a photograph, without strain? So when I saw your unguarded, reliable face, your unmistakable gaze opening all the warmth and clarity of you—warm brown tea—we held each other for the time the dream allowed.
Bless you.
You came back so I could see you once more, plainly, so I could rest against you without thinking this happiness lessened anything, without thinking you were alive again.
Written by Robert Browning | Create an image from this poem

The Glove

 (PETER RONSARD _loquitur_.
) ``Heigho!'' yawned one day King Francis, ``Distance all value enhances! ``When a man's busy, why, leisure ``Strikes him as wonderful pleasure: `` 'Faith, and at leisure once is he? ``Straightway he wants to be busy.
``Here we've got peace; and aghast I'm ``Caught thinking war the true pastime.
``Is there a reason in metre? ``Give us your speech, master Peter!'' I who, if mortal dare say so, Ne'er am at loss with my Naso, ``Sire,'' I replied, ``joys prove cloudlets: ``Men are the merest Ixions''--- Here the King whistled aloud, ``Let's ``---Heigho---go look at our lions!'' Such are the sorrowful chances If you talk fine to King Francis.
And so, to the courtyard proceeding, Our company, Francis was leading, Increased by new followers tenfold Before be arrived at the penfold; Lords, ladies, like clouds which bedizen At sunset the western horizon.
And Sir De Lorge pressed 'mid the foremost With the dame he professed to adore most.
Oh, what a face! One by fits eyed Her, and the horrible pitside; For the penfold surrounded a hollow Which led where the eye scarce dared follow, And shelved to the chamber secluded Where Bluebeard, the great lion, brooded.
The King bailed his keeper, an Arab As glossy and black as a scarab,*1 And bade him make sport and at once stir Up and out of his den the old monster.
They opened a hole in the wire-work Across it, and dropped there a firework, And fled: one's heart's beating redoubled; A pause, while the pit's mouth was troubled, The blackness and silence so utter, By the firework's slow sparkling and sputter; Then earth in a sudden contortion Gave out to our gaze her abortion.
Such a brute! Were I friend Clement Marot (Whose experience of nature's but narrow, And whose faculties move in no small mist When he versifies David the Psalmist) I should study that brute to describe you _Illim Juda Leonem de Tribu_.
One's whole blood grew curdling and creepy To see the black mane, vast and heapy, The tail in the air stiff and straining, The wide eyes, nor waxing nor waning, As over the barrier which bounded His platform, and us who surrounded The barrier, they reached and they rested On space that might stand him in best stead: For who knew, he thought, what the amazement, The eruption of clatter and blaze meant, And if, in this minute of wonder, No outlet, 'mid lightning and thunder, Lay broad, and, his shackles all shivered, The lion at last was delivered? Ay, that was the open sky o'erhead! And you saw by the flash on his forehead, By the hope in those eyes wide and steady, He was leagues in the desert already, Driving the flocks up the mountain, Or catlike couched hard by the fountain To waylay the date-gathering negress: So guarded he entrance or egress.
``How he stands!'' quoth the King: ``we may well swear, (``No novice, we've won our spurs elsewhere ``And so can afford the confession,) ``We exercise wholesome discretion ``In keeping aloof from his threshold; ``Once hold you, those jaws want no fresh hold, ``Their first would too pleasantly purloin ``The visitor's brisket or surloin: ``But who's he would prove so fool-hardy? ``Not the best man of Marignan, pardie!'' The sentence no sooner was uttered, Than over the rails a glove flattered, Fell close to the lion, and rested: The dame 'twas, who flung it and jested With life so, De Lorge had been wooing For months past; he sat there pursuing His suit, weighing out with nonchalance Fine speeches like gold from a balance.
Sound the trumpet, no true knight's a tarrier! De Lorge made one leap at the barrier, Walked straight to the glove,---while the lion Neer moved, kept his far-reaching eye on The palm-tree-edged desert-spring's sapphire, And the musky oiled skin of the Kaffir,--- Picked it up, and as calmly retreated, Leaped back where the lady was seated, And full in the face of its owner Flung the glove.
``Your heart's queen, you dethrone her? ``So should I!''---cried the King---``'twas mere vanity, ``Not love, set that task to humanity!'' Lords and ladies alike turned with loathing From such a proved wolf in sheep's clothing.
Not so, I; for I caught an expression In her brow's undisturbed self-possession Amid the Court's scoffing and merriment,--- As if from no pleasing experiment She rose, yet of pain not much heedful So long as the process was needful,--- As if she had tried in a crucible, To what ``speeches like gold'' were reducible, And, finding the finest prove copper, Felt the smoke in her face was but proper; To know what she had _not_ to trust to, Was worth all the ashes and dust too.
She went out 'mid hooting and laughter; Clement Marot stayed; I followed after, And asked, as a grace, what it all meant? If she wished not the rash deed's recalment? ``For I''---so I spoke---``am a poet: ``Human nature,---behoves that I know it!'' She told me, ``Too long had I heard ``Of the deed proved alone by the word: ``For my love---what De Lorge would not dare! ``With my scorn---what De Lorge could compare! ``And the endless descriptions of death ``He would brave when my lip formed a breath, ``I must reckon as braved, or, of course, ``Doubt his word---and moreover, perforce, ``For such gifts as no lady could spurn, ``Must offer my love in return.
``When I looked on your lion, it brought ``All the dangers at once to my thought, ``Encountered by all sorts of men, ``Before he was lodged in his den,--- ``From the poor slave whose club or bare hands ``Dug the trap, set the snare on the sands, ``With no King and no Court to applaud, ``By no shame, should he shrink, overawed, ``Yet to capture the creature made shift, ``That his rude boys might laugh at the gift, ``---To the page who last leaped o'er the fence ``Of the pit, on no greater pretence ``Than to get back the bonnet he dropped, ``Lest his pay for a week should be stopped.
``So, wiser I judged it to make ``One trial what `death for my sake' ``Really meant, while the power was yet mine, ``Than to wait until time should define ``Such a phrase not so simply as I, ``Who took it to mean just `to die.
' ``The blow a glove gives is but weak: ``Does the mark yet discolour my cheek? ``But when the heart suffers a blow, ``Will the pain pass so soon, do you know?'' I looked, as away she was sweeping, And saw a youth eagerly keeping As close as he dared to the doorway.
No doubt that a noble should more weigh His life than befits a plebeian; And yet, had our brute been Nemean--- (I judge by a certain calm fervour The youth stepped with, forward to serve her) ---He'd have scarce thought you did him the worst turn If you whispered ``Friend, what you'd get, first earn!'' And when, shortly after, she carried Her shame from the Court, and they married, To that marriage some happiness, maugre The voice of the Court, I dared augur.
For De Lorge, he made women with men vie, Those in wonder and praise, these in envy; And in short stood so plain a head taller That he wooed and won .
.
.
how do you call her? The beauty, that rose in the sequel To the King's love, who loved her a week well.
And 'twas noticed he never would honour De Lorge (who looked daggers upon her) With the easy commission of stretching His legs in the service, and fetching His wife, from her chamber, those straying Sad gloves she was always mislaying, While the King took the closet to chat in,--- But of course this adventure came pat in.
And never the King told the story, How bringing a glove brought such glory, But the wife smiled---``His nerves are grown firmer: ``Mine he brings now and utters no murmur.
'' _Venienti occurrite morbo!_ With which moral I drop my theorbo.
*1 A beetle.
Written by Alfred Lord Tennyson | Create an image from this poem

The Charge of the Light Brigade

Half a league, half a league, 
Half a league onward, 
All in the valley of Death 
Rode the six hundred.
"Forward, the Light Brigade! Charge for the guns!" he said: Into the valley of Death Rode the six hundred.
"Forward, the Light Brigade!" Was there a man dismayed? Not though the soldier knew Some one had blundered: Their's not to make reply, Their's not to reason why, Their's but to do and die: Into the valley of Death Rode the six hundred.
Cannon to right of them, Cannon to left of them, Cannon in front of them Volleyed and thundered; Stormed at with shot and shell, Boldly they rode and well, Into the jaws of Death, Into the mouth of Hell Rode the six hundred.
Flashed all their sabres bare, Flashed as they turned in air Sabring the gunners there, Charging an army, while All the world wondered: Plunged in the battery-smoke Right through the line they broke; Cossack and Russian Reeled from the sabre-stroke Shattered and sundered.
Then they rode back, but not, Not the six hundred.
Cannon to right of them, Cannon to left of them, Cannon behind them Volleyed and thundered; Stormed at with shot and shell, While horse and hero fell, They that had fought so well Came through the jaws of Death Back from the mouth of Hell, All that was left of them, Left of six hundred.
When can their glory fade? O the wild charge they made! All the world wondered.
Honour the charge they made! Honour the Light Brigade, Noble six hundred!
Written by John Greenleaf Whittier | Create an image from this poem

The Norsemen ( From Narrative and Legendary Poems )

 GIFT from the cold and silent Past! 
A relic to the present cast, 
Left on the ever-changing strand 
Of shifting and unstable sand, 
Which wastes beneath the steady chime 
And beating of the waves of Time! 
Who from its bed of primal rock 
First wrenched thy dark, unshapely block? 
Whose hand, of curious skill untaught, 
Thy rude and savage outline wrought? 
The waters of my native stream 
Are glancing in the sun's warm beam; 
From sail-urged keel and flashing oar 
The circles widen to its shore; 
And cultured field and peopled town 
Slope to its willowed margin down.
Yet, while this morning breeze is bringing The home-life sound of school-bells ringing, And rolling wheel, and rapid jar Of the fire-winged and steedless car, And voices from the wayside near Come quick and blended on my ear,-- A spell is in this old gray stone, My thoughts are with the Past alone! A change! -- The steepled town no more Stretches along the sail-thronged shore; Like palace-domes in sunset's cloud, Fade sun-gilt spire and mansion proud: Spectrally rising where they stood, I see the old, primeval wood; Dark, shadow-like, on either hand I see its solemn waste expand; It climbs the green and cultured hill, It arches o'er the valley's rill, And leans from cliff and crag to throw Its wild arms o'er the stream below.
Unchanged, alone, the same bright river Flows on, as it will flow forever! I listen, and I hear the low Soft ripple where its water go; I hear behind the panther's cry, The wild-bird's scream goes thrilling by, And shyly on the river's brink The deer is stooping down to drink.
But hard! -- from wood and rock flung back, What sound come up the Merrimac? What sea-worn barks are those which throw The light spray from each rushing prow? Have they not in the North Sea's blast Bowed to the waves the straining mast? Their frozen sails the low, pale sun Of Thulë's night has shone upon; Flapped by the sea-wind's gusty sweep Round icy drift, and headland steep.
Wild Jutland's wives and Lochlin's daughters Have watched them fading o'er the waters, Lessening through driving mist and spray, Like white-winged sea-birds on their way! Onward they glide, -- and now I view Their iron-armed and stalwart crew; Joy glistens in each wild blue eye, Turned to green earth and summer sky.
Each broad, seamed breast has cast aside Its cumbering vest of shaggy hide; Bared to the sun and soft warm air, Streams back the Northmen's yellow hair.
I see the gleam of axe and spear, A sound of smitten shields I hear, Keeping a harsh and fitting time To Saga's chant, and Runic rhyme; Such lays as Zetland's Scald has sung, His gray and naked isles among; Or mutter low at midnight hour Round Odin's mossy stone of power.
The wolf beneath the Arctic moon Has answered to that startling rune; The Gael has heard its stormy swell, The light Frank knows its summons well; Iona's sable-stoled Culdee Has heard it sounding o'er the sea, And swept, with hoary beard and hair, His altar's foot in trembling prayer! 'T is past, -- the 'wildering vision dies In darkness on my dreaming eyes! The forest vanishes in air, Hill-slope and vale lie starkly bare; I hear the common tread of men, And hum of work-day life again; The mystic relic seems alone A broken mass of common stone; And if it be the chiselled limb Of Berserker or idol grim, A fragment of Valhalla's Thor, The stormy Viking's god of War, Or Praga of the Runic lay, Or love-awakening Siona, I know not, -- for no graven line, Nor Druid mark, nor Runic sign, Is left me here, by which to trace Its name, or origin, or place.
Yet, for this vision of the Past, This glance upon its darkness cast, My spirit bows in gratitude Before the Giver of all good, Who fashioned so the human mind, That, from the waste of Time behind, A simple stone, or mound of earth, Can summon the departed forth; Quicken the Past to life again, The Present lose in what hath been, And in their primal freshness show The buried forms of long ago.
As if a portion of that Thought By which the Eternal will is wrought, Whose impulse fills anew with breath The frozen solitude of Death, To mortal mind were sometimes lent, To mortal musing sometimes sent, To whisper -- even when it seems But Memory's fantasy of dreams -- Through the mind's waste of woe and sin, Of an immortal origin!
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