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Best Famous Purposeless Poems

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

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Written by Kathleen Raine | Create an image from this poem

Millenial Hymn to Lord Shiva

 Earth no longer
hymns the Creator,
the seven days of wonder,
the Garden is over —
all the stories are told,
the seven seals broken
all that begins
must have its ending,
our striving, desiring,
our living and dying,
for Time, the bringer
of abundant days
is Time the destroyer —
In the Iron Age
the Kali Yuga
To whom can we pray
at the end of an era
but the Lord Shiva,
the Liberator, the purifier?

Our forests are felled,
our mountains eroded,
the wild places
where the beautiful animals
found food and sanctuary
we have desolated,
a third of our seas,
a third of our rivers
we have polluted
and the sea-creatures dying.
Our civilization’s blind progress in wrong courses through wrong choices has brought us to nightmare where what seems, is, to the dreamer, the collective mind of the twentieth century — this world of wonders not divine creation but a big bang of blind chance, purposeless accident, mother earth’s children, their living and loving, their delight in being not joy but chemistry, stimulus, reflex, valueless, meaningless, while to our machines we impute intelligence, in computers and robots we store information and call it knowledge, we seek guidance by dialling numbers, pressing buttons, throwing switches, in place of family our companions are shadows, cast on a screen, bodiless voices, fleshless faces, where was the Garden a Disney-land of virtual reality, in place of angels the human imagination is peopled with foot-ballers film-stars, media-men, experts, know-all television personalities, animated puppets with cartoon faces — To whom can we pray for release from illusion, from the world-cave, but Time the destroyer, the liberator, the purifier? The curse of Midas has changed at a touch, a golden handshake earthly paradise to lifeless matter, where once was seed-time, summer and winter, food-chain, factory farming, monocrops for supermarkets, pesticides, weed-killers birdless springs, endangered species, battery-hens, hormone injections, artificial insemination, implants, transplants, sterilization, surrogate births, contraception, cloning, genetic engineering, abortion, and our days shall be short in the land we have sown with the Dragon’s teeth where our armies arise fully armed on our killing-fields with land-mines and missiles, tanks and artillery, gas-masks and body-bags, our air-craft rain down fire and destruction, our space-craft broadcast lies and corruption, our elected parliaments parrot their rhetoric of peace and democracy while the truth we deny returns in our dreams of Armageddon, the death-wish, the arms-trade, hatred and slaughter profitable employment of our thriving cities, the arms-race to the end of the world of our postmodern, post-Christian, post-human nations, progress to the nihil of our spent civilization.
But cause and effect, just and inexorable law of the universe no fix of science, nor amenable god can save from ourselves the selves we have become — At the end of history to whom can we pray but to the destroyer, the liberator, the purifier? In the beginning the stars sang together the cosmic harmony, but Time, imperceptible taker-away of all that has been, all that will be, our heart-beat your drum, our dance of life your dance of death in the crematorium, our high-rise dreams, Valhalla, Utopia, Xanadu, Shangri-la, world revolution Time has taken, and soon will be gone Cambridge, Princeton and M.
I.
T.
, Nalanda, Athens and Alexandria all for the holocaust of civilization — To whom shall we pray when our vision has faded but the world-destroyer, the liberator, the purifier? But great is the realm of the world-creator, the world-sustainer from whom we come, in whom we move and have our being, about us, within us the wonders of wisdom, the trees and the fountains, the stars and the mountains, all the children of joy, the loved and the known, the unknowable mystery to whom we return through the world-destroyer, — Holy, holy at the end of the world the purging fire of the purifier, the liberator!


Written by Matthew Arnold | Create an image from this poem

Rugby Chapel

 Coldly, sadly descends
The autumn-evening.
The field Strewn with its dank yellow drifts Of wither'd leaves, and the elms, Fade into dimness apace, Silent;--hardly a shout From a few boys late at their play! The lights come out in the street, In the school-room windows;--but cold, Solemn, unlighted, austere, Through the gathering darkness, arise The chapel-walls, in whose bound Thou, my father! art laid.
There thou dost lie, in the gloom Of the autumn evening.
But ah! That word, gloom, to my mind Brings thee back, in the light Of thy radiant vigour, again; In the gloom of November we pass'd Days not dark at thy side; Seasons impair'd not the ray Of thy buoyant cheerfulness clear.
Such thou wast! and I stand In the autumn evening, and think Of bygone autumns with thee.
Fifteen years have gone round Since thou arosest to tread, In the summer-morning, the road Of death, at a call unforeseen, Sudden.
For fifteen years, We who till then in thy shade Rested as under the boughs Of a mighty oak, have endured Sunshine and rain as we might, Bare, unshaded, alone, Lacking the shelter of thee.
O strong soul, by what shore Tarriest thou now? For that force, Surely, has not been left vain! Somewhere, surely afar, In the sounding labour-house vast Of being, is practised that strength, Zealous, beneficent, firm! Yes, in some far-shining sphere, Conscious or not of the past, Still thou performest the word Of the Spirit in whom thou dost live-- Prompt, unwearied, as here! Still thou upraisest with zeal The humble good from the ground, Sternly repressest the bad! Still, like a trumpet, dost rouse Those who with half-open eyes Tread the border-land dim 'Twixt vice and virtue; reviv'st, Succourest!--this was thy work, This was thy life upon earth.
What is the course of the life Of mortal men on the earth?-- Most men eddy about Here and there--eat and drink, Chatter and love and hate, Gather and squander, are raised Aloft, are hurl'd in the dust, Striving blindly, achieving Nothing; and then they die-- Perish;--and no one asks Who or what they have been, More than he asks what waves, In the moonlit solitudes mild Of the midmost Ocean, have swell'd, Foam'd for a moment, and gone.
And there are some, whom a thirst Ardent, unquenchable, fires, Not with the crowd to be spent, Not without aim to go round In an eddy of purposeless dust, Effort unmeaning and vain.
Ah yes! some of us strive Not without action to die Fruitless, but something to snatch From dull oblivion, nor all Glut the devouring grave! We, we have chosen our path-- Path to a clear-purposed goal, Path of advance!--but it leads A long, steep journey, through sunk Gorges, o'er mountains in snow.
Cheerful, with friends, we set forth-- Then on the height, comes the storm.
Thunder crashes from rock To rock, the cataracts reply, Lightnings dazzle our eyes.
Roaring torrents have breach'd The track, the stream-bed descends In the place where the wayfarer once Planted his footstep--the spray Boils o'er its borders! aloft The unseen snow-beds dislodge Their hanging ruin; alas, Havoc is made in our train! Friends, who set forth at our side, Falter, are lost in the storm.
We, we only are left! With frowning foreheads, with lips Sternly compress'd, we strain on, On--and at nightfall at last Come to the end of our way, To the lonely inn 'mid the rocks; Where the gaunt and taciturn host Stands on the threshold, the wind Shaking his thin white hairs-- Holds his lantern to scan Our storm-beat figures, and asks: Whom in our party we bring? Whom we have left in the snow? Sadly we answer: We bring Only ourselves! we lost Sight of the rest in the storm.
Hardly ourselves we fought through, Stripp'd, without friends, as we are.
Friends, companions, and train, The avalanche swept from our side.
But thou woulds't not alone Be saved, my father! alone Conquer and come to thy goal, Leaving the rest in the wild.
We were weary, and we Fearful, and we in our march Fain to drop down and to die.
Still thou turnedst, and still Beckonedst the trembler, and still Gavest the weary thy hand.
If, in the paths of the world, Stones might have wounded thy feet, Toil or dejection have tried Thy spirit, of that we saw Nothing--to us thou wage still Cheerful, and helpful, and firm! Therefore to thee it was given Many to save with thyself; And, at the end of thy day, O faithful shepherd! to come, Bringing thy sheep in thy hand.
And through thee I believe In the noble and great who are gone; Pure souls honour'd and blest By former ages, who else-- Such, so soulless, so poor, Is the race of men whom I see-- Seem'd but a dream of the heart, Seem'd but a cry of desire.
Yes! I believe that there lived Others like thee in the past, Not like the men of the crowd Who all round me to-day Bluster or cringe, and make life Hideous, and arid, and vile; But souls temper'd with fire, Fervent, heroic, and good, Helpers and friends of mankind.
Servants of God!--or sons Shall I not call you? Because Not as servants ye knew Your Father's innermost mind, His, who unwillingly sees One of his little ones lost-- Yours is the praise, if mankind Hath not as yet in its march Fainted, and fallen, and died! See! In the rocks of the world Marches the host of mankind, A feeble, wavering line.
Where are they tending?--A God Marshall'd them, gave them their goal.
Ah, but the way is so long! Years they have been in the wild! Sore thirst plagues them, the rocks Rising all round, overawe; Factions divide them, their host Threatens to break, to dissolve.
--Ah, keep, keep them combined! Else, of the myriads who fill That army, not one shall arrive; Sole they shall stray; in the rocks Stagger for ever in vain, Die one by one in the waste.
Then, in such hour of need Of your fainting, dispirited race, Ye, like angels, appear, Radiant with ardour divine! Beacons of hope, ye appear! Languor is not in your heart, Weakness is not in your word, Weariness not on your brow.
Ye alight in our van! at your voice, Panic, despair, flee away.
Ye move through the ranks, recall The stragglers, refresh the outworn, Praise, re-inspire the brave! Order, courage, return.
Eyes rekindling, and prayers, Follow your steps as ye go.
Ye fill up the gaps in our files, Strengthen the wavering line, Stablish, continue our march, On, to the bound of the waste, On, to the City of God.
Written by Delmore Schwartz | Create an image from this poem

The Ballad Of The Children Of The Czar

 1

The children of the Czar
Played with a bouncing ball

In the May morning, in the Czar's garden,
Tossing it back and forth.
It fell among the flowerbeds Or fled to the north gate.
A daylight moon hung up In the Western sky, bald white.
Like Papa's face, said Sister, Hurling the white ball forth.
2 While I ate a baked potato Six thousand miles apart, In Brooklyn, in 1916, Aged two, irrational.
When Franklin D.
Roosevelt Was an Arrow Collar ad.
O Nicholas! Alas! Alas! My grandfather coughed in your army, Hid in a wine-stinking barrel, For three days in Bucharest Then left for America To become a king himself.
3 I am my father's father, You are your children's guilt.
In history's pity and terror The child is Aeneas again; Troy is in the nursery, The rocking horse is on fire.
Child labor! The child must carry His fathers on his back.
But seeing that so much is past And that history has no ruth For the individual, Who drinks tea, who catches cold, Let anger be general: I hate an abstract thing.
4 Brother and sister bounced The bounding, unbroken ball, The shattering sun fell down Like swords upon their play, Moving eastward among the stars Toward February and October.
But the Maywind brushed their cheeks Like a mother watching sleep, And if for a moment they fight Over the bouncing ball And sister pinches brother And brother kicks her shins, Well! The heart of man in known: It is a cactus bloom.
5 The ground on which the ball bounces Is another bouncing ball.
The wheeling, whirling world Makes no will glad.
Spinning in its spotlight darkness, It is too big for their hands.
A pitiless, purposeless Thing, Arbitrary, and unspent, Made for no play, for no children, But chasing only itself.
The innocent are overtaken, They are not innocent.
They are their father's fathers, The past is inevitable.
6 Now, in another October Of this tragic star, I see my second year, I eat my baked potato.
It is my buttered world, But, poked by my unlearned hand, It falls from the highchair down And I begin to howl And I see the ball roll under The iron gate which is locked.
Sister is screaming, brother is howling, The ball has evaded their will.
Even a bouncing ball Is uncontrollable, And is under the garden wall.
I am overtaken by terror Thinking of my father's fathers, And of my own will.
Written by Henry Lawson | Create an image from this poem

Peter Anderson And Co

 He had offices in Sydney, not so many years ago, 
And his shingle bore the legend `Peter Anderson and Co.
', But his real name was Careless, as the fellows understood -- And his relatives decided that he wasn't any good.
'Twas their gentle tongues that blasted any `character' he had -- He was fond of beer and leisure -- and the Co.
was just as bad.
It was limited in number to a unit, was the Co.
-- 'Twas a bosom chum of Peter and his Christian name was Joe.
'Tis a class of men belonging to these soul-forsaken years: Third-rate canvassers, collectors, journalists and auctioneers.
They are never very shabby, they are never very spruce -- Going cheerfully and carelessly and smoothly to the deuce.
Some are wanderers by profession, `turning up' and gone as soon, Travelling second-class, or steerage (when it's cheap they go saloon); Free from `ists' and `isms', troubled little by belief or doubt -- Lazy, purposeless, and useless -- knocking round and hanging out.
They will take what they can get, and they will give what they can give, God alone knows how they manage -- God alone knows how they live! They are nearly always hard-up, but are cheerful all the while -- Men whose energy and trousers wear out sooner than their smile! They, no doubt, like us, are haunted by the boresome `if' or `might', But their ghosts are ghosts of daylight -- they are men who live at night! Peter met you with the comic smile of one who knows you well, And is mighty glad to see you, and has got a joke to tell; He could laugh when all was gloomy, he could grin when all was blue, Sing a comic song and act it, and appreciate it, too.
Only cynical in cases where his own self was the jest, And the humour of his good yarns made atonement for the rest.
Seldom serious -- doing business just as 'twere a friendly game -- Cards or billiards -- nothing graver.
And the Co.
was much the same.
They tried everything and nothing 'twixt the shovel and the press, And were more or less successful in their ventures -- mostly less.
Once they ran a country paper till the plant was seized for debt, And the local sinners chuckle over dingy copies yet.
They'd been through it all and knew it in the land of Bills and Jims -- Using Peter's own expression, they had been in `various swims'.
Now and then they'd take an office, as they called it, -- make a dash Into business life as `agents' -- something not requiring cash.
(You can always furnish cheaply, when your cash or credit fails, With a packing-case, a hammer, and a pound of two-inch nails -- And, maybe, a drop of varnish and sienna, too, for tints, And a scrap or two of oilcloth, and a yard or two of chintz).
They would pull themselves together, pay a week's rent in advance, But it never lasted longer than a month by any chance.
The office was their haven, for they lived there when hard-up -- A `daily' for a table cloth -- a jam tin for a cup; And if the landlord's bailiff happened round in times like these And seized the office-fittings -- well, there wasn't much to seize -- They would leave him in possession.
But at other times they shot The moon, and took an office where the landlord knew them not.
And when morning brought the bailiff there'd be nothing to be seen Save a piece of bevelled cedar where the tenant's plate had been; There would be no sign of Peter -- there would be no sign of Joe Till another portal boasted `Peter Anderson and Co.
' And when times were locomotive, billiard-rooms and private bars -- Spicy parties at the cafe -- long cab-drives beneath the stars; Private picnics down the Harbour -- shady campings-out, you know -- No one would have dreamed 'twas Peter -- no one would have thought 'twas Joe! Free-and-easies in their `diggings', when the funds began to fail, Bosom chums, cigars, tobacco, and a case of English ale -- Gloriously drunk and happy, till they heard the roosters crow -- And the landlady and neighbours made complaints about the Co.
But that life! it might be likened to a reckless drinking-song, For it can't go on for ever, and it never lasted long.
.
.
.
.
.
Debt-collecting ruined Peter -- people talked him round too oft, For his heart was soft as butter (and the Co.
's was just as soft); He would cheer the haggard missus, and he'd tell her not to fret, And he'd ask the worried debtor round with him to have a wet; He would ask him round the corner, and it seemed to him and her, After each of Peter's visits, things were brighter than they were.
But, of course, it wasn't business -- only Peter's careless way; And perhaps it pays in heaven, but on earth it doesn't pay.
They got harder up than ever, and, to make it worse, the Co.
Went more often round the corner than was good for him to go.
`I might live,' he said to Peter, `but I haven't got the nerve -- I am going, Peter, going -- going, going -- no reserve.
Eat and drink and love they tell us, for to-morrow we may die, Buy experience -- and we bought it -- we're experienced, you and I.
' Then, with a weary movement of his hand across his brow: `The death of such philosophy's the death I'm dying now.
Pull yourself together, Peter; 'tis the dying wish of Joe That the business world shall honour Peter Anderson and Co.
`When you feel your life is sinking in a dull and useless course, And begin to find in drinking keener pleasure and remorse -- When you feel the love of leisure on your careless heart take holt, Break away from friends and pleasure, though it give your heart a jolt.
Shun the poison breath of cities -- billiard-rooms and private bars, Go where you can breathe God's air and see the grandeur of the stars! Find again and follow up the old ambitions that you had -- See if you can raise a drink, old man, I'm feelin' mighty bad -- Hot and sweetened, nip o' butter -- squeeze o' lemon, Pete,' he sighed.
And, while Peter went to fetch it, Joseph went to sleep -- and died With a smile -- anticipation, maybe, of the peace to come, Or a joke to try on Peter -- or, perhaps, it was the rum.
.
.
.
.
.
Peter staggered, gripped the table, swerved as some old drunkard swerves -- At a gulp he drank the toddy, just to brace his shattered nerves.
It was awful, if you like.
But then he hadn't time to think -- All is nothing! Nothing matters! Fill your glasses -- dead man's drink.
.
.
.
.
.
Yet, to show his heart was not of human decency bereft, Peter paid the undertaker.
He got drunk on what was left; Then he shed some tears, half-maudlin, on the grave where lay the Co.
, And he drifted to a township where the city failures go.
Where, though haunted by the man he was, the wreck he yet might be, Or the man he might have been, or by each spectre of the three, And the dying words of Joseph, ringing through his own despair, Peter `pulled himself together' and he started business there.
But his life was very lonely, and his heart was very sad, And no help to reformation was the company he had -- Men who might have been, who had been, but who were not in the swim -- 'Twas a town of wrecks and failures -- they appreciated him.
They would ask him who the Co.
was -- that ***** company he kept -- And he'd always answer vaguely -- he would say his partner slept; That he had a `sleeping partner' -- jesting while his spirit broke -- And they grinned above their glasses, for they took it as a joke.
He would shout while he had money, he would joke while he had breath -- No one seemed to care or notice how he drank himself to death; Till at last there came a morning when his smile was seen no more -- He was gone from out the office, and his shingle from the door, And a boundary-rider jogging out across the neighb'ring run Was attracted by a something that was blazing in the sun; And he found that it was Peter, lying peacefully at rest, With a bottle close beside him and the shingle on his breast.
Well, they analysed the liquor, and it would appear that he Qualified his drink with something good for setting spirits free.
Though 'twas plainly self-destruction -- `'twas his own affair,' they said; And the jury viewed him sadly, and they found -- that he was dead.
Written by Emily Dickinson | Create an image from this poem

From Cocoon forth a Butterfly

 From Cocoon forth a Butterfly
As Lady from her Door
Emerged -- a Summer Afternoon --
Repairing Everywhere --

Without Design -- that I could trace
Except to stray abroad
On Miscellaneous Enterprise
The Clovers -- understood --

Her pretty Parasol be seen
Contracting in a Field
Where Men made Hay --
Then struggling hard
With an opposing Cloud --

Where Parties -- Phantom as Herself --
To Nowhere -- seemed to go
In purposeless Circumference --
As 'twere a Tropic Show --

And notwithstanding Bee -- that worked --
And Flower -- that zealous blew --
This Audience of Idleness
Disdained them, from the Sky --

Till Sundown crept -- a steady Tide --
And Men that made the Hay --
And Afternoon -- and Butterfly --
Extinguished -- in the Sea --


Written by Coventry Patmore | Create an image from this poem

Magna Est Veritas

 Here, in this little Bay, 
Full of tumultuous life and great repose, 
Where, twice a day, 
The purposeless, gay ocean comes and goes, 
Under high cliffs, and far from the huge town, 
I sit me down.
For want of me the world's course will not fail: When all its work is done, the lie shall rot; The truth is great, and shall prevail, When none cares whether it prevail or not.
Written by Hafez | Create an image from this poem

O youth's young cloudlet, O freshness free

O youth’s young cloudlet, O freshness free,
With heart so light on the winds to fly
Or glisten in spray up-scatter’d,—I
Am sad as the full surgings of the sea;
I gave thee birth, thou shalt return to me.

Thy heart is light as the empty wind
Of barren purposeless change,—but I
Am the thought-burden’d slow-searching mind:
I am the agony to form & find;—
The fluxing travail of eternity.


Written by Hafez | Create an image from this poem

O youth's young cloudlet, O freshness free

O youth’s young cloudlet, O freshness free,
With heart so light on the winds to fly
Or glisten in spray up-scatter’d,—I
Am sad as the full surgings of the sea;
I gave thee birth, thou shalt return to me.
Thy heart is light as the empty wind
Of barren purposeless change,—but I
Am the thought-burden’d slow-searching mind:
I am the agony to form & find;—
The fluxing travail of eternity.
Written by Hafez | Create an image from this poem

Play thou on men as on a hárp's stríng

Play thou on men as on a hárp’s stríng:
Though of themselves they lifeless are
In them thy spirit’s music shall ring.

Breathe thou in them as through a reed
Thy soul’s strong message, through them declare
To the dead world thy living need.

They are to thee as the senseless words
That embody thought’s full-felt commands;
Thy passive tools, obedient hands
To serve thy purpose, thy trusty swords:
They shall thy beauteous will express
Though they be graceless & purposeless.

Yea, live thou in men as their life’s will,
So long as life is, & good & ill.