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Best Famous Satire Poems

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

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Written by John Trumbull | Create an image from this poem

To A Young Lady

 In vain, fair Maid, you ask in vain,
My pen should try th' advent'rous strain,
And following truth's unalter'd law,
Attempt your character to draw.
I own indeed, that generous mind That weeps the woes of human kind, That heart by friendship's charms inspired, That soul with sprightly fancy fired, The air of life, the vivid eye, The flowing wit, the keen reply-- To paint these beauties as they shine, Might ask a nobler pen than mine.
Yet what sure strokes can draw the Fair, Who vary, like the fleeting air, Like willows bending to the force, Where'er the gales direct their course, Opposed to no misfortune's power, And changing with the changing hour.
Now gaily sporting on the plain, They charm the grove with pleasing strain; Anon disturb'd, they know not why, The sad tear trembles in their eye: Led through vain life's uncertain dance, The dupes of whim, the slaves of chance.
From me, not famed for much goodnature, Expect not compliment, but satire; To draw your picture quite unable, Instead of fact accept a Fable.
One morn, in Æsop's noisy time, When all things talk'd, and talk'd in rhyme, A cloud exhaled by vernal beams Rose curling o'er the glassy streams.
The dawn her orient blushes spread, And tinged its lucid skirts with red, Wide waved its folds with glitt'ring dies, And gaily streak'd the eastern skies; Beneath, illumed with rising day, The sea's broad mirror floating lay.
Pleased, o'er the wave it hung in air, Survey'd its glittering glories there, And fancied, dress'd in gorgeous show, Itself the brightest thing below: For clouds could raise the vaunting strain, And not the fair alone were vain.
Yet well it knew, howe'er array'd, That beauty, e'en in clouds, might fade, That nothing sure its charms could boast Above the loveliest earthly toast; And so, like them, in early dawn Resolved its picture should be drawn, That when old age with length'ning day Should brush the vivid rose away, The world should from the portrait own Beyond all clouds how bright it shone.
Hard by, a painter raised his stage, Far famed, the Copley[1] of his age.
So just a form his colours drew, Each eye the perfect semblance knew; Yet still on every blooming face He pour'd the pencil's flowing grace; Each critic praised the artist rare, Who drew so like, and yet so fair.
To him, high floating in the sky Th' elated Cloud advanced t' apply.
The painter soon his colours brought, The Cloud then sat, the artist wrought; Survey'd her form, with flatt'ring strictures, Just as when ladies sit for pictures, Declared "whatever art can do, My utmost skill shall try for you: But sure those strong and golden dies Dipp'd in the radiance of the skies, Those folds of gay celestial dress, No mortal colours can express.
Not spread triumphal o'er the plain, The rainbow boasts so fair a train, Nor e'en the morning sun so bright, Who robes his face in heav'nly light.
To view that form of angel make, Again Ixion would mistake,[2] And justly deem so fair a prize, The sovereign Mistress of the skies," He said, and drew a mazy line, With crimson touch his pencils shine, The mingling colours sweetly fade, And justly temper light and shade.
He look'd; the swelling Cloud on high With wider circuit spread the sky, Stretch'd to the sun an ampler train, And pour'd new glories on the main.
As quick, effacing every ground, His pencil swept the canvas round, And o'er its field, with magic art, Call'd forth new forms in every part.
But now the sun, with rising ray, Advanced with speed his early way; Each colour takes a differing die, The orange glows, the purples fly.
The artist views the alter'd sight, And varies with the varying light; In vain! a sudden gust arose, New folds ascend, new shades disclose, And sailing on with swifter pace, The Cloud displays another face.
In vain the painter, vex'd at heart, Tried all the wonders of his art; In vain he begg'd, her form to grace, One moment she would keep her place: For, "changing thus with every gale, Now gay with light, with gloom now pale, Now high in air with gorgeous train, Now settling on the darken'd main, With looks more various than the moon; A French coquette were drawn as soon.
" He spoke; again the air was mild, The Cloud with opening radiance smiled; With canvas new his art he tries, Anew he joins the glitt'ring dies; Th' admiring Cloud with pride beheld Her image deck the pictured field, And colours half-complete adorn The splendor of the painted morn.
When lo, the stormy winds arise, Deep gloom invests the changing skies; The sounding tempest shakes the plain, And lifts in billowy surge the main.
The Cloud's gay dies in darkness fade, Its folds condense in thicker shade, And borne by rushing blasts, its form With lowering vapour joins the storm.
Written by John Trumbull | Create an image from this poem

The Owl And The Sparrow

 In elder days, in Saturn's prime,
Ere baldness seized the head of Time,
While truant Jove, in infant pride,
Play'd barefoot on Olympus' side,
Each thing on earth had power to chatter,
And spoke the mother tongue of nature.
Each stock or stone could prate and gabble, Worse than ten labourers of Babel.
Along the street, perhaps you'd see A Post disputing with a Tree, And mid their arguments of weight, A Goose sit umpire of debate.
Each Dog you met, though speechless now, Would make his compliments and bow, And every Swine with congees come, To know how did all friends at home.
Each Block sublime could make a speech, In style and eloquence as rich, And could pronounce it and could pen it, As well as Chatham in the senate.
Nor prose alone.
--In these young times, Each field was fruitful too in rhymes; Each feather'd minstrel felt the passion, And every wind breathed inspiration.
Each Bullfrog croak'd in loud bombastic, Each Monkey chatter'd Hudibrastic; Each Cur, endued with yelping nature, Could outbark Churchill's[2] self in satire; Each Crow in prophecy delighted, Each Owl, you saw, was second-sighted, Each Goose a skilful politician, Each *** a gifted met'physician, Could preach in wrath 'gainst laughing rogues, Write Halfway-covenant Dialogues,[3] And wisely judge of all disputes In commonwealths of men or brutes.
'Twas then, in spring a youthful Sparrow Felt the keen force of Cupid's arrow: For Birds, as Æsop's tales avow, Made love then, just as men do now, And talk'd of deaths and flames and darts, And breaking necks and losing hearts; And chose from all th' aerial kind, Not then to tribes, like Jews, confined The story tells, a lovely Thrush Had smit him from a neigh'bring bush, Where oft the young coquette would play, And carol sweet her siren lay: She thrill'd each feather'd heart with love, And reign'd the Toast of all the grove.
He felt the pain, but did not dare Disclose his passion to the fair; For much he fear'd her conscious pride Of race, to noble blood allied.
Her grandsire's nest conspicuous stood, Mid loftiest branches of the wood, In airy height, that scorn'd to know Each flitting wing that waved below.
So doubting, on a point so nice He deem'd it best to take advice.
Hard by there dwelt an aged Owl, Of all his friends the gravest fowl; Who from the cares of business free, Lived, hermit, in a hollow tree; To solid learning bent his mind, In trope and syllogism he shined, 'Gainst reigning follies spent his railing; Too much a Stoic--'twas his failing.
Hither for aid our Sparrow came, And told his errand and his name, With panting breath explain'd his case, Much trembling at the sage's face; And begg'd his Owlship would declare If love were worth a wise one's care.
The grave Owl heard the weighty cause, And humm'd and hah'd at every pause; Then fix'd his looks in sapient plan, Stretch'd forth one foot, and thus began.
"My son, my son, of love beware, And shun the cheat of beauty's snare; That snare more dreadful to be in, Than huntsman's net, or horse-hair gin.
"By others' harms learn to be wise," As ancient proverbs well advise.
Each villany, that nature breeds, From females and from love proceeds.
'Tis love disturbs with fell debate Of man and beast the peaceful state: Men fill the world with war's alarms, When female trumpets sound to arms; The commonwealth of dogs delight For beauties, as for bones, to fight.
Love hath his tens of thousands slain, And heap'd with copious death the plain: Samson, with ***'s jaw to aid, Ne'er peopled thus th'infernal shade.
"Nor this the worst; for he that's dead, With love no more will vex his head.
'Tis in the rolls of fate above, That death's a certain cure for love; A noose can end the cruel smart; The lover's leap is from a cart.
But oft a living death they bear, Scorn'd by the proud, capricious fair.
The fair to sense pay no regard, And beauty is the fop's reward; They slight the generous hearts' esteem, And sigh for those, who fly from them.
Just when your wishes would prevail, Some rival bird with gayer tail, Who sings his strain with sprightlier note, And chatters praise with livelier throat, Shall charm your flutt'ring fair one down, And leave your choice, to hang or drown.
Ev'n I, my son, have felt the smart; A Pheasant won my youthful heart.
For her I tuned the doleful lay,[4] For her I watch'd the night away; In vain I told my piteous case, And smooth'd my dignity of face; In vain I cull'd the studied phrase, And sought hard words in beauty's praise.
Her, not my charms nor sense could move, For folly is the food of love.
Each female scorns our serious make, "Each woman is at heart a rake.
"[5] Thus Owls in every age have said, Since our first parent-owl was made; Thus Pope and Swift, to prove their sense, Shall sing, some twenty ages hence; Then shall a man of little fame, One ** **** sing the same.
Written by Czeslaw Milosz | Create an image from this poem

Child of Europe

 1
We, whose lungs fill with the sweetness of day.
Who in May admire trees flowering Are better than those who perished.
We, who taste of exotic dishes, And enjoy fully the delights of love, Are better than those who were buried.
We, from the fiery furnaces, from behind barbed wires On which the winds of endless autumns howled, We, who remember battles where the wounded air roared in paroxysms of pain.
We, saved by our own cunning and knowledge.
By sending others to the more exposed positions Urging them loudly to fight on Ourselves withdrawing in certainty of the cause lost.
Having the choice of our own death and that of a friend We chose his, coldly thinking: Let it be done quickly.
We sealed gas chamber doors, stole bread Knowing the next day would be harder to bear than the day before.
As befits human beings, we explored good and evil.
Our malignant wisdom has no like on this planet.
Accept it as proven that we are better than they, The gullible, hot-blooded weaklings, careless with their lives.
2 Treasure your legacy of skills, child of Europe.
Inheritor of Gothic cathedrals, of baroque churches.
Of synagogues filled with the wailing of a wronged people.
Successor of Descartes, Spinoza, inheritor of the word 'honor', Posthumous child of Leonidas Treasure the skills acquired in the hour of terror.
You have a clever mind which sees instantly The good and bad of any situation.
You have an elegant, skeptical mind which enjoys pleasures Quite unknown to primitive races.
Guided by this mind you cannot fail to see The soundness of the advice we give you: Let the sweetness of day fill your lungs For this we have strict but wise rules.
3 There can be no question of force triumphant We live in the age of victorious justice.
Do not mention force, or you will be accused Of upholding fallen doctrines in secret.
He who has power, has it by historical logic.
Respectfully bow to that logic.
Let your lips, proposing a hypothesis Not know about the hand faking the experiment.
Let your hand, faking the experiment No know about the lips proposing a hypothesis.
Learn to predict a fire with unerring precision Then burn the house down to fulfill the prediction.
4 Grow your tree of falsehood from a single grain of truth.
Do not follow those who lie in contempt of reality.
Let your lie be even more logical than the truth itself So the weary travelers may find repose in the lie.
After the Day of the Lie gather in select circles Shaking with laughter when our real deeds are mentioned.
Dispensing flattery called: perspicacious thinking.
Dispensing flattery called: a great talent.
We, the last who can still draw joy from cynicism.
We, whose cunning is not unlike despair.
A new, humorless generation is now arising It takes in deadly earnest all we received with laughter.
5 Let your words speak not through their meanings But through them against whom they are used.
Fashion your weapon from ambiguous words.
Consign clear words to lexical limbo.
Judge no words before the clerks have checked In their card index by whom they were spoken.
The voice of passion is better than the voice of reason.
The passionless cannot change history.
6 Love no country: countries soon disappear Love no city: cities are soon rubble.
Throw away keepsakes, or from your desk A choking, poisonous fume will exude.
Do not love people: people soon perish.
Or they are wronged and call for your help.
Do not gaze into the pools of the past.
Their corroded surface will mirror A face different from the one you expected.
7 He who invokes history is always secure.
The dead will not rise to witness against him.
You can accuse them of any deeds you like.
Their reply will always be silence.
Their empty faces swim out of the deep dark.
You can fill them with any feature desired.
Proud of dominion over people long vanished, Change the past into your own, better likeness.
8 The laughter born of the love of truth Is now the laughter of the enemies of the people.
Gone is the age of satire.
We no longer need mock.
The sensible monarch with false courtly phrases.
Stern as befits the servants of a cause, We will permit ourselves sycophantic humor.
Tight-lipped, guided by reasons only Cautiously let us step into the era of the unchained fire.
Written by Sharon Olds | Create an image from this poem

The Space Heater

 On the then-below-zero day, it was on,
near the patients' chair, the old heater
kept by the analyst's couch, at the end,
like the infant's headstone that was added near the foot
of my father's grave.
And it was hot, with the almost laughing satire of a fire's heat, the little coils like hairs in Hell.
And it was making a group of sick noises- I wanted the doctor to turn it off but I couldn't seem to ask, so I just stared, but it did not budge.
The doctor turned his heavy, soft palm outward, toward me, inviting me to speak, I said, "If you're cold-are you cold? But if it's on for me.
.
.
" He held his palm out toward me, I tried to ask, but I only muttered, but he said, "Of course," as if I had asked, and he stood up and approached the heater, and then stood on one foot, and threw himself toward the wall with one hand, and with the other hand reached down, behind the couch, to pull the plug out.
I looked away, I had not known he would have to bend like that.
And I was so moved, that he would act undignified, to help me, that I cried, not trying to stop, but as if the moans made sentences which bore some human message.
If he would cast himself toward the outlet for me, as if bending with me in my old shame and horror, then I would rest on his art-and the heater purred, like a creature or the familiar of a creature, or the child of a familiar, the father of a child, the spirit of a father, the healing of a spirit, the vision of healing, the heat of vision, the power of heat, the pleasure of power.
Written by John Dryden | Create an image from this poem

To the Memory of Mr. Oldham

Farewell, too little, and too lately known,
Whom I began to think and call my own:
For sure our souls were near allied, and thine
Cast in the same poetic mold with mine.
One common note on either lyre did strike, And knaves and fools we both abhorred alike.
To the same goal did both our studies drive; The last set out the soonest did arrive.
Thus Nisus fell upon the slippery place, While his young friend performed and won the race.
O early ripe! to thy abundant store What could advancing age have added more? It might (what nature never gives the young) Have taught the numbers of thy native tongue.
But satire needs not those, and wit will shine Through the harsh cadence of a rugged line: A noble error, and but seldom made, When poets are by too much force betrayed.
Thy generous fruits, though gathered ere their prime, Still showed a quickness, and maturing time But mellows what we write to the dull sweets of rhyme.
Once more, hail and farewell; farewell, thou young, But ah too short, Marcellus of our tongue; Thy brows with ivy, and with laurels bound; But fate and gloomy night encompass thee around.
Written by William Shakespeare | Create an image from this poem

Sonnet C

 Where art thou, Muse, that thou forget'st so long
To speak of that which gives thee all thy might?
Spend'st thou thy fury on some worthless song,
Darkening thy power to lend base subjects light?
Return, forgetful Muse, and straight redeem
In gentle numbers time so idly spent;
Sing to the ear that doth thy lays esteem
And gives thy pen both skill and argument.
Rise, resty Muse, my love's sweet face survey, If Time have any wrinkle graven there; If any, be a satire to decay, And make Time's spoils despised every where.
Give my love fame faster than Time wastes life; So thou prevent'st his scythe and crooked knife.
Written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe | Create an image from this poem

CELEBRITY

 [A satire on his own Sorrows of Werther.
] ON bridges small and bridges great Stands Nepomucks in ev'ry state, Of bronze, wood, painted, or of stone, Some small as dolls, some giants grown; Each passer must worship before Nepomuck, Who to die on a bridge chanced to have the ill luck, When once a man with head and ears A saint in people's eyes appears, Or has been sentenced piteously Beneath the hangman's hand to die, He's as a noted person prized, In portrait is immortalized.
Engravings, woodcuts, are supplied, And through the world spread far and wide.
Upon them all is seen his name, And ev'ry one admits his claim; Even the image of the Lord Is not with greater zeal ador'd.
Strange fancy of the human race! Half sinner frail, half child of grace We see HERR WERTHER of the story In all the pomp of woodcut glory.
His worth is first made duly known, By having his sad features shown At ev'ry fair the country round; In ev'ry alehouse too they're found.
His stick is pointed by each dunce "The ball would reach his brain at once!" And each says, o'er his beer and bread: "Thank Heav'n that 'tis not we are dead!" 1815.
*
Written by Victor Hugo | Create an image from this poem

SATIRE ON THE EARTH

 ("Une terre au flanc maigre.") 
 
 {Bk. III. xi., October, 1840.} 


 A clod with rugged, meagre, rust-stained, weather-worried face, 
 Where care-filled creatures tug and delve to keep a worthless race; 
 And glean, begrudgedly, by all their unremitting toil, 
 Sour, scanty bread and fevered water from the ungrateful soil; 
 Made harder by their gloom than flints that gash their harried hands, 
 And harder in the things they call their hearts than wolfish bands, 
 Perpetuating faults, inventing crimes for paltry ends, 
 And yet, perversest beings! hating Death, their best of friends! 
 Pride in the powerful no more, no less than in the poor; 
 Hatred in both their bosoms; love in one, or, wondrous! two! 
 Fog in the valleys; on the mountains snowfields, ever new, 
 That only melt to send down waters for the liquid hell, 
 In which, their strongest sons and fairest daughters vilely fell! 
 No marvel, Justice, Modesty dwell far apart and high, 
 Where they can feebly hear, and, rarer, answer victims' cry. 
 At both extremes, unflinching frost, the centre scorching hot; 
 Land storms that strip the orchards nude, leave beaten grain to rot; 
 Oceans that rise with sudden force to wash the bloody land, 
 Where War, amid sob-drowning cheers, claps weapons in each hand. 
 And this to those who, luckily, abide afar— 
 This is, ha! ha! a star! 


 




Written by Sir Thomas Wyatt | Create an image from this poem

Satire II:The Country Mouse and the Town Mouse

 MY mother's maids, when they did sew and spin, 
They sang sometime a song of the field mouse, 
That for because her livelood was but thin [livelihood] 
Would needs go seek her townish sister's house.
She thought herself endured to much pain: The stormy blasts her cave so sore did souse That when the furrows swimmed with the rain She must lie cold and wet in sorry plight, And, worse than that, bare meat there did remain To comfort her when she her house had dight: Sometime a barleycorn, sometime a bean, For which she labored hard both day and night In harvest time, whilst she might go and glean.
And when her store was 'stroyed with the flood, Then well away, for she undone was clean.
Then was she fain to take, instead of food, Sleep if she might, her hunger to beguile.
"My sister," qoth she, "hath a living good, And hence from me she dwelleth not a mile.
In cold and storm she lieth warm and dry In bed of down, and dirt doth not defile Her tender foot, she laboreth not as I.
Richly she feedeth and at the rich man's cost, And for her meat she needs not crave nor cry.
By sea, by land, of the delicates the most Her cater seeks and spareth for no peril.
She feedeth on boiled, baken meat, and roast, And hath thereof neither charge nor travail.
And, when she list, the liquor of the grape Doth goad her heart till that her belly swell.
" And at this journey she maketh but a jape: [joke] So forth she goeth, trusting of all this wealth With her sister her part so for to shape That, if she might keep herself in health, To live a lady while her life doth last.
And to the door now is she come by stealth, And with her foot anon she scrapeth full fast.
The other for fear durst not well scarce appear, Of every noise so was the wretch aghast.
"Peace," quoth the town mouse, "why speakest thou so loud?" And by the hand she took her fair and well.
"Welcome," quoth she, "my sister, by the rood.
" She feasted her that joy is was to tell The fare they had; they drank the wine so clear; And as to purpose now and then it fell She cheered her with: "How, sister, what cheer?" Amids this joy there fell a sorry chance, That, wellaway, the stranger bought full dear The fare she had.
For as she looks, askance, Under a stool she spied two steaming eyes In a round head with sharp ears.
In France was never mouse so feared, for though the unwise [afraid] Had not yseen such a beast before, Yet had nature taught her after her guise To know her foe and dread him evermore.
The town mouse fled; she knew whither to go.
The other had no shift, but wondrous sore Feared of her life, at home she wished her, though.
And to the door, alas, as she did skip (Th' heaven it would, lo, and eke her chance was so) At the threshold her silly foot did trip, And ere she might recover it again The traitor cat had caught her by the hip And made her there against her will remain That had forgotten her poor surety, and rest, For seeming wealth wherein she thought to reign.
Alas, my Poynz, how men do seek the best [a friend of Wyatt] And find the worst, by error as they stray.
And no marvel, when sight is so opprest And blind the guide.
Anon out of the way Goeth guide and all in seeking quiet life.
O wretched minds, there is no gold that may Grant that ye seek, no war, no peace, no strife, No, no, although thy head was hoopt with gold, [crowned] Sergeant with mace, haubert, sword, nor knife Cannot repulse the care that follow should.
Each kind of life hath with him his disease: Live in delight even as thy lust would, [as you would desire] And thou shalt find when lust doth most thee please It irketh strait and by itself doth fade.
A small thing it is that may thy mind appease.
None of ye all there is that is so mad To seek grapes upon brambles or breers, [briars] Not none I trow that hath his wit so bad To set his hay for conies over rivers, [snares for rabbits] Ne ye set not a drag net for an hare.
[nor] And yet the thing that most is your desire Ye do misseek with more travail and care.
Make plain thine heart, that it be not notted With hope or dread, and see thy will be bare >From all effects whom vice hath ever spotted.
Thyself content with that is thee assigned, And use it well that is to thee allotted, Then seek no more out of thyself to find The thing that thou hast sought so long before, For thou shalt find it sitting in thy mind.
Mad, if ye list to continue your sore, Let present pass, and gape on time to come, And deep yourself in travail more and more.
Henceforth, my Poynz, this shall be all and some: These wretched fools shall have nought else of me.
But to the great God and to His high doom* [judgment] None other pain pray I for them to be But, when the rage doth lead them from the right, That, looking backward, Virtue they may see Even as She is, so goodly fair and bright.
And whilst they clasp their lusts in arms across Grant them, good Lord, as Thou mayst of Thy might, To fret inward for losing such a loss.
Written by William Shakespeare | Create an image from this poem

Sonnet 100: Where art thou Muse that thou forgetst so long

 Where art thou, Muse, that thou forget'st so long
To speak of that which gives thee all thy might?
Spend'st thou thy fury on some worthless song,
Darkening thy power to lend base subjects light?
Return, forgetful Muse, and straight redeem
In gentle numbers time so idly spent;
Sing to the ear that doth thy lays esteem,
And gives thy pen both skill and argument.
Rise, resty Muse, my love's sweet face survey If time have any wrinkle graven there; If any, be a satire to decay, And make time's spoils despisèd everywhere.
Give my love fame faster than Time wastes life; So thou prevent'st his scythe and crooked knife.
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