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Best Famous Soldier Poems

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

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12
Written by William Shakespeare | Create an image from this poem

All the Worlds a Stage

 All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.
At first, the infant, Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel And shining morning face, creeping like snail Unwillingly to school.
And then the lover, Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad Made to his mistress' eyebrow.
Then a soldier, Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard, Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel, Seeking the bubble reputation Even in the cannon's mouth.
And then the justice, In fair round belly with good capon lined, With eyes severe and beard of formal cut, Full of wise saws and modern instances; And so he plays his part.
The sixth age shifts Into the lean and slippered pantaloon, With spectacles on nose and pouch on side; His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice, Turning again toward childish treble, pipes And whistles in his sound.
Last scene of all, That ends this strange eventful history, Is second childishness and mere oblivion, Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
Written by Robert Pinsky | Create an image from this poem

Impossible To Tell

 to Robert Hass and in memory of Elliot Gilbert


Slow dulcimer, gavotte and bow, in autumn,
Bashõ and his friends go out to view the moon;
In summer, gasoline rainbow in the gutter,

The secret courtesy that courses like ichor
Through the old form of the rude, full-scale joke,
Impossible to tell in writing.
"Bashõ" He named himself, "Banana Tree": banana After the plant some grateful students gave him, Maybe in appreciation of his guidance Threading a long night through the rules and channels Of their collaborative linking-poem Scored in their teacher's heart: live, rigid, fluid Like passages etched in a microscopic cicuit.
Elliot had in his memory so many jokes They seemed to breed like microbes in a culture Inside his brain, one so much making another It was impossible to tell them all: In the court-culture of jokes, a top banana.
Imagine a court of one: the queen a young mother, Unhappy, alone all day with her firstborn child And her new baby in a squalid apartment Of too few rooms, a different race from her neighbors.
She tells the child she's going to kill herself.
She broods, she rages.
Hoping to distract her, The child cuts capers, he sings, he does imitations Of different people in the building, he jokes, He feels if he keeps her alive until the father Gets home from work, they'll be okay till morning.
It's laughter versus the bedroom and the pills.
What is he in his efforts but a courtier? Impossible to tell his whole delusion.
In the first months when I had moved back East From California and had to leave a message On Bob's machine, I used to make a habit Of telling the tape a joke; and part-way through, I would pretend that I forgot the punchline, Or make believe that I was interrupted-- As though he'd be so eager to hear the end He'd have to call me back.
The joke was Elliot's, More often than not.
The doctors made the blunder That killed him some time later that same year.
One day when I got home I found a message On my machine from Bob.
He had a story About two rabbis, one of them tall, one short, One day while walking along the street together They see the corpse of a Chinese man before them, And Bob said, sorry, he forgot the rest.
Of course he thought that his joke was a dummy, Impossible to tell--a dead-end challenge.
But here it is, as Elliot told it to me: The dead man's widow came to the rabbis weeping, Begging them, if they could, to resurrect him.
Shocked, the tall rabbi said absolutely not.
But the short rabbi told her to bring the body Into the study house, and ordered the shutters Closed so the room was night-dark.
Then he prayed Over the body, chanting a secret blessing Out of Kabala.
"Arise and breathe," he shouted; But nothing happened.
The body lay still.
So then The little rabbi called for hundreds of candles And danced around the body, chanting and praying In Hebrew, then Yiddish, then Aramaic.
He prayed In Turkish and Egyptian and Old Galician For nearly three hours, leaping about the coffin In the candlelight so that his tiny black shoes Seemed not to touch the floor.
With one last prayer Sobbed in the Spanish of before the Inquisition He stopped, exhausted, and looked in the dead man's face.
Panting, he raised both arms in a mystic gesture And said, "Arise and breathe!" And still the body Lay as before.
Impossible to tell In words how Elliot's eyebrows flailed and snorted Like shaggy mammoths as--the Chinese widow Granting permission--the little rabbi sang The blessing for performing a circumcision And removed the dead man's foreskin, chanting blessings In Finnish and Swahili, and bathed the corpse From head to foot, and with a final prayer In Babylonian, gasping with exhaustion, He seized the dead man's head and kissed the lips And dropped it again and leaping back commanded, "Arise and breathe!" The corpse lay still as ever.
At this, as when Bashõ's disciples wind Along the curving spine that links the renga Across the different voices, each one adding A transformation according to the rules Of stasis and repetition, all in order And yet impossible to tell beforehand, Elliot changes for the punchline: the wee Rabbi, still panting, like a startled boxer, Looks at the dead one, then up at all those watching, A kind of Mel Brooks gesture: "Hoo boy!" he says, "Now that's what I call really dead.
" O mortal Powers and princes of earth, and you immortal Lords of the underground and afterlife, Jehovah, Raa, Bol-Morah, Hecate, Pluto, What has a brilliant, living soul to do with Your harps and fires and boats, your bric-a-brac And troughs of smoking blood? Provincial stinkers, Our languages don't touch you, you're like that mother Whose small child entertained her to beg her life.
Possibly he grew up to be the tall rabbi, The one who washed his hands of all those capers Right at the outset.
Or maybe he became The author of these lines, a one-man renga The one for whom it seems to be impossible To tell a story straight.
It was a routine Procedure.
When it was finished the physicians Told Sandra and the kids it had succeeded, But Elliot wouldn't wake up for maybe an hour, They should go eat.
The two of them loved to bicker In a way that on his side went back to Yiddish, On Sandra's to some Sicilian dialect.
He used to scold her endlessly for smoking.
When she got back from dinner with their children The doctors had to tell them about the mistake.
Oh swirling petals, falling leaves! The movement Of linking renga coursing from moment to moment Is meaning, Bob says in his Haiku book.
Oh swirling petals, all living things are contingent, Falling leaves, and transient, and they suffer.
But the Universal is the goal of jokes, Especially certain ethnic jokes, which taper Down through the swirling funnel of tongues and gestures Toward their preposterous Ithaca.
There's one A journalist told me.
He heard it while a hero Of the South African freedom movement was speaking To elderly Jews.
The speaker's own right arm Had been blown off by right-wing letter-bombers.
He told his listeners they had to cast their ballots For the ANC--a group the old Jews feared As "in with the Arabs.
" But they started weeping As the old one-armed fighter told them their country Needed them to vote for what was right, their vote Could make a country their children could return to From London and Chicago.
The moved old people Applauded wildly, and the speaker's friend Whispered to the journalist, "It's the Belgian Army Joke come to life.
" I wish I could tell it To Elliot.
In the Belgian Army, the feud Between the Flemings and Walloons grew vicious, So out of hand the army could barely function.
Finally one commander assembled his men In one great room, to deal with things directly.
They stood before him at attention.
"All Flemings," He ordered, "to the left wall.
" Half the men Clustered to the left.
"Now all Walloons," he ordered, "Move to the right.
" An equal number crowded Against the right wall.
Only one man remained At attention in the middle: "What are you, soldier?" Saluting, the man said, "Sir, I am a Belgian.
" "Why, that's astonishing, Corporal--what's your name?" Saluting again, "Rabinowitz," he answered: A joke that seems at first to be a story About the Jews.
But as the renga describes Religious meaning by moving in drifting petals And brittle leaves that touch and die and suffer The changing winds that riffle the gutter swirl, So in the joke, just under the raucous music Of Fleming, Jew, Walloon, a courtly allegiance Moves to the dulcimer, gavotte and bow, Over the banana tree the moon in autumn-- Allegiance to a state impossible to tell.
Written by Langston Hughes | Create an image from this poem

Freedoms Plow

 When a man starts out with nothing,
 When a man starts out with his hands
 Empty, but clean,
 When a man starts to build a world,
He starts first with himself
And the faith that is in his heart-
The strength there,
The will there to build.
First in the heart is the dream- Then the mind starts seeking a way.
His eyes look out on the world, On the great wooded world, On the rich soil of the world, On the rivers of the world.
The eyes see there materials for building, See the difficulties, too, and the obstacles.
The mind seeks a way to overcome these obstacles.
The hand seeks tools to cut the wood, To till the soil, and harness the power of the waters.
Then the hand seeks other hands to help, A community of hands to help- Thus the dream becomes not one man's dream alone, But a community dream.
Not my dream alone, but our dream.
Not my world alone, But your world and my world, Belonging to all the hands who build.
A long time ago, but not too long ago, Ships came from across the sea Bringing the Pilgrims and prayer-makers, Adventurers and booty seekers, Free men and indentured servants, Slave men and slave masters, all new- To a new world, America! With billowing sails the galleons came Bringing men and dreams, women and dreams.
In little bands together, Heart reaching out to heart, Hand reaching out to hand, They began to build our land.
Some were free hands Seeking a greater freedom, Some were indentured hands Hoping to find their freedom, Some were slave hands Guarding in their hearts the seed of freedom, But the word was there always: Freedom.
Down into the earth went the plow In the free hands and the slave hands, In indentured hands and adventurous hands, Turning the rich soil went the plow in many hands That planted and harvested the food that fed And the cotton that clothed America.
Clang against the trees went the ax into many hands That hewed and shaped the rooftops of America.
Splash into the rivers and the seas went the boat-hulls That moved and transported America.
Crack went the whips that drove the horses Across the plains of America.
Free hands and slave hands, Indentured hands, adventurous hands, White hands and black hands Held the plow handles, Ax handles, hammer handles, Launched the boats and whipped the horses That fed and housed and moved America.
Thus together through labor, All these hands made America.
Labor! Out of labor came villages And the towns that grew cities.
Labor! Out of labor came the rowboats And the sailboats and the steamboats, Came the wagons, and the coaches, Covered wagons, stage coaches, Out of labor came the factories, Came the foundries, came the railroads.
Came the marts and markets, shops and stores, Came the mighty products moulded, manufactured, Sold in shops, piled in warehouses, Shipped the wide world over: Out of labor-white hands and black hands- Came the dream, the strength, the will, And the way to build America.
Now it is Me here, and You there.
Now it's Manhattan, Chicago, Seattle, New Orleans, Boston and El Paso- Now it's the U.
S.
A.
A long time ago, but not too long ago, a man said: ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL-- ENDOWED BY THEIR CREATOR WITH CERTAIN UNALIENABLE RIGHTS-- AMONG THESE LIFE, LIBERTY AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS.
His name was Jefferson.
There were slaves then, But in their hearts the slaves believed him, too, And silently too for granted That what he said was also meant for them.
It was a long time ago, But not so long ago at that, Lincoln said: NO MAN IS GOOD ENOUGH TO GOVERN ANOTHER MAN WITHOUT THAT OTHER'S CONSENT.
There were slaves then, too, But in their hearts the slaves knew What he said must be meant for every human being- Else it had no meaning for anyone.
Then a man said: BETTER TO DIE FREE THAN TO LIVE SLAVES He was a colored man who had been a slave But had run away to freedom.
And the slaves knew What Frederick Douglass said was true.
With John Brown at Harper's Ferry, Negroes died.
John Brown was hung.
Before the Civil War, days were dark, And nobody knew for sure When freedom would triumph "Or if it would," thought some.
But others new it had to triumph.
In those dark days of slavery, Guarding in their hearts the seed of freedom, The slaves made up a song: Keep Your Hand On The Plow! Hold On! That song meant just what it said: Hold On! Freedom will come! Keep Your Hand On The Plow! Hold On! Out of war it came, bloody and terrible! But it came! Some there were, as always, Who doubted that the war would end right, That the slaves would be free, Or that the union would stand, But now we know how it all came out.
Out of the darkest days for people and a nation, We know now how it came out.
There was light when the battle clouds rolled away.
There was a great wooded land, And men united as a nation.
America is a dream.
The poet says it was promises.
The people say it is promises-that will come true.
The people do not always say things out loud, Nor write them down on paper.
The people often hold Great thoughts in their deepest hearts And sometimes only blunderingly express them, Haltingly and stumblingly say them, And faultily put them into practice.
The people do not always understand each other.
But there is, somewhere there, Always the trying to understand, And the trying to say, "You are a man.
Together we are building our land.
" America! Land created in common, Dream nourished in common, Keep your hand on the plow! Hold on! If the house is not yet finished, Don't be discouraged, builder! If the fight is not yet won, Don't be weary, soldier! The plan and the pattern is here, Woven from the beginning Into the warp and woof of America: ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL.
NO MAN IS GOOD ENOUGH TO GOVERN ANOTHER MAN WITHOUT HIS CONSENT.
BETTER DIE FREE, THAN TO LIVE SLAVES.
Who said those things? Americans! Who owns those words? America! Who is America? You, me! We are America! To the enemy who would conquer us from without, We say, NO! To the enemy who would divide And conquer us from within, We say, NO! FREEDOM! BROTHERHOOD! DEMOCRACY! To all the enemies of these great words: We say, NO! A long time ago, An enslaved people heading toward freedom Made up a song: Keep Your Hand On The Plow! Hold On! The plow plowed a new furrow Across the field of history.
Into that furrow the freedom seed was dropped.
From that seed a tree grew, is growing, will ever grow.
That tree is for everybody, For all America, for all the world.
May its branches spread and shelter grow Until all races and all peoples know its shade.
KEEP YOUR HAND ON THE PLOW! HOLD ON!
Written by William Butler Yeats | Create an image from this poem

Blood And The Moon

 I

Blessed be this place,
More blessed still this tower;
A bloody, arrogant power
Rose out of the race
Uttering, mastering it,
Rose like these walls from these
Storm-beaten cottages -
In mockery I have set
A powerful emblem up,
And sing it rhyme upon rhyme
In mockery of a time
Half dead at the top.
II Alexandria's was a beacon tower, and Babylon's An image of the moving heavens, a log-book of the sun's journey and the moon's; And Shelley had his towers, thought's crowned powers he called them once.
I declare this tower is my symbol; I declare This winding, gyring, spiring treadmill of a stair is my ancestral stair; That Goldsmith and the Dean, Berkeley and Burke have travelled there.
Swift beating on his breast in sibylline frenzy blind Because the heart in his blood-sodden breast had dragged him down into mankind, Goldsmith deliberately sipping at the honey-pot of his mind, And haughtier-headed Burke that proved the State a tree, That this unconquerable labyrinth of the birds, century after century, Cast but dead leaves to mathematical equality; And God-appointed Berkeley that proved all things a dream, That this pragmatical, preposterous pig of a world, its farrow that so solid seem, Must vanish on the instant if the mind but change its theme; Saeva Indignatio and the labourer's hire, The strength that gives our blood and state magnanimity of its own desire; Everything that is not God consumed with intellectual fire.
III The purity of the unclouded moon Has flung its atrowy shaft upon the floor.
Seven centuries have passed and it is pure, The blood of innocence has left no stain.
There, on blood-saturated ground, have stood Soldier, assassin, executioner.
Whether for daily pittance or in blind fear Or out of abstract hatred, and shed blood, But could not cast a single jet thereon.
Odour of blood on the ancestral stair! And we that have shed none must gather there And clamour in drunken frenzy for the moon.
IV Upon the dusty, glittering windows cling, And seem to cling upon the moonlit skies, Tortoiseshell butterflies, peacock butterflies, A couple of night-moths are on the wing.
Is every modern nation like the tower, Half dead at the top? No matter what I said, For wisdom is the property of the dead, A something incompatible with life; and power, Like everything that has the stain of blood, A property of the living; but no stain Can come upon the visage of the moon When it has looked in glory from a cloud.
Written by William Blake | Create an image from this poem

Auguries Of Innocence

 To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour.
A robin redbreast in a cage Puts all heaven in a rage.
A dove-house filled with doves and pigeons Shudders hell through all its regions.
A dog starved at his master's gate Predicts the ruin of the state.
A horse misused upon the road Calls to heaven for human blood.
Each outcry of the hunted hare A fibre from the brain does tear.
A skylark wounded in the wing, A cherubim does cease to sing.
The game-cock clipped and armed for fight Does the rising sun affright.
Every wolf's and lion's howl Raises from hell a human soul.
The wild deer wandering here and there Keeps the human soul from care.
The lamb misused breeds public strife, And yet forgives the butcher's knife.
The bat that flits at close of eve Has left the brain that won't believe.
The owl that calls upon the night Speaks the unbeliever's fright.
He who shall hurt the little wren Shall never be beloved by men.
He who the ox to wrath has moved Shall never be by woman loved.
The wanton boy that kills the fly Shall feel the spider's enmity.
He who torments the chafer's sprite Weaves a bower in endless night.
The caterpillar on the leaf Repeats to thee thy mother's grief.
Kill not the moth nor butterfly, For the Last Judgment draweth nigh.
He who shall train the horse to war Shall never pass the polar bar.
The beggar's dog and widow's cat, Feed them, and thou wilt grow fat.
The gnat that sings his summer's song Poison gets from Slander's tongue.
The poison of the snake and newt Is the sweat of Envy's foot.
The poison of the honey-bee Is the artist's jealousy.
The prince's robes and beggar's rags Are toadstools on the miser's bags.
A truth that's told with bad intent Beats all the lies you can invent.
It is right it should be so: Man was made for joy and woe; And when this we rightly know Through the world we safely go.
Joy and woe are woven fine, A clothing for the soul divine.
Under every grief and pine Runs a joy with silken twine.
The babe is more than swaddling bands, Throughout all these human lands; Tools were made and born were hands, Every farmer understands.
Every tear from every eye Becomes a babe in eternity; This is caught by females bright And returned to its own delight.
The bleat, the bark, bellow, and roar Are waves that beat on heaven's shore.
The babe that weeps the rod beneath Writes Revenge! in realms of death.
The beggar's rags fluttering in air Does to rags the heavens tear.
The soldier armed with sword and gun Palsied strikes the summer's sun.
The poor man's farthing is worth more Than all the gold on Afric's shore.
One mite wrung from the labourer's hands Shall buy and sell the miser's lands, Or if protected from on high Does that whole nation sell and buy.
He who mocks the infant's faith Shall be mocked in age and death.
He who shall teach the child to doubt The rotting grave shall ne'er get out.
He who respects the infant's faith Triumphs over hell and death.
The child's toys and the old man's reasons Are the fruits of the two seasons.
The questioner who sits so sly Shall never know how to reply.
He who replies to words of doubt Doth put the light of knowledge out.
The strongest poison ever known Came from Caesar's laurel crown.
Nought can deform the human race Like to the armour's iron brace.
When gold and gems adorn the plough To peaceful arts shall Envy bow.
A riddle or the cricket's cry Is to doubt a fit reply.
The emmet's inch and eagle's mile Make lame philosophy to smile.
He who doubts from what he sees Will ne'er believe, do what you please.
If the sun and moon should doubt, They'd immediately go out.
To be in a passion you good may do, But no good if a passion is in you.
The whore and gambler, by the state Licensed, build that nation's fate.
The harlot's cry from street to street Shall weave old England's winding sheet.
The winner's shout, the loser's curse, Dance before dead England's hearse.
Every night and every morn Some to misery are born.
Every morn and every night Some are born to sweet delight.
Some are born to sweet delight, Some are born to endless night.
We are led to believe a lie When we see not through the eye Which was born in a night to perish in a night, When the soul slept in beams of light.
God appears, and God is light To those poor souls who dwell in night, But does a human form display To those who dwell in realms of day.
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 Robert William Service | Create an image from this poem

My Future

 "Let's make him a sailor," said Father,
"And he will adventure the sea.
" "A soldier," said Mother, "is rather What I would prefer him to be.
" "A lawyer," said Father, "would please me, For then he could draw up my will.
" "A doctor," said Mother, "would ease me; Maybe he could give me a pill.
" Said Father: "Lt's make him a curate, A Bishop in gaiters to be.
" Said Mother: "I couldn't endure it To have Willie preaching to me.
" Said Father: ""Let him be a poet; So often he's gathering wool.
" Said Mother with temper: "Oh stow it! You know it, a poet's a fool.
" Said Farther: "Your son is a duffer, A stupid and mischievous elf.
" Said Mother, who's rather a huffer: "That's right - he takes after yourself.
" Controlling parental emotion They turned to me, seeking a cue, And sudden conceived the bright notion To ask what I wanted to do.
Said I: "my ambition is modest: A clown in a circus I'd be, And turn somersaults in the sawdust With audience laughing at me.
" .
.
.
Poor parents! they're dead and decaying, But I am a clown as you see; And though in no circus I'm playing, How people are laughing at me!
Written by George (Lord) Byron | Create an image from this poem

The Tear

 When Friendship or Love
Our sympathies move;
When Truth, in a glance, should appear,
The lips may beguile,
With a dimple or smile,
But the test of affection's a Tear:

Too oft is a smile
But the hypocrite's wile,
To mask detestation, or fear;
Give me the soft sigh,
Whilst the soultelling eye
Is dimm'd, for a time, with a Tear:

Mild Charity's glow,
To us mortals below,
Shows the soul from barbarity clear;
Compassion will melt,
Where this virtue is felt,
And its dew is diffused in a Tear:

The man, doom'd to sail
With the blast of the gale,
Through billows Atlantic to steer,
As he bends o'er the wave
Which may soon be his grave,
The green sparkles bright with a Tear;

The Soldier braves death
For a fanciful wreath
In Glory's romantic career;
But he raises the foe
When in battle laid low,
And bathes every wound with a Tear.
If, with high-bounding pride, He return to his bride! Renouncing the gore-crimson'd spear; All his toils are repaid When, embracing the maid, From her eyelid he kisses the Tear.
Sweet scene of my youth! Seat of Friendship and Truth, Where Love chas'd each fast-fleeting year Loth to leave thee, I mourn'd, For a last look I turn'd, But thy spire was scarce seen through a Tear: Though my vows I can pour, To my Mary no more, My Mary, to Love once so dear, In the shade of her bow'r, I remember the hour, She rewarded those vows with a Tear.
By another possest, May she live ever blest! Her name still my heart must revere: With a sigh I resign, What I once thought was mine, And forgive her deceit with a Tear.
Ye friends of my heart, Ere from you I depart, This hope to my breast is most near: If again we shall meet, In this rural retreat, May we meet, as we part, with a Tear.
When my soul wings her flight To the regions of night, And my corse shall recline on its bier; As ye pass by the tomb, Where my ashes consume, Oh! moisten their dust with a Tear.
Written by William Vaughn Moody | Create an image from this poem

An Ode in Time of Hesitation

 After seeing at Boston the statue of Robert Gould Shaw, killed while storming Fort Wagner, July 18, 1863, at the head of the first enlisted negro regiment, the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts.
I Before the solemn bronze Saint Gaudens made To thrill the heedless passer's heart with awe, And set here in the city's talk and trade To the good memory of Robert Shaw, This bright March morn I stand, And hear the distant spring come up the land; Knowing that what I hear is not unheard Of this boy soldier and his negro band, For all their gaze is fixed so stern ahead, For all the fatal rhythm of their tread.
The land they died to save from death and shame Trembles and waits, hearing the spring's great name, And by her pangs these resolute ghosts are stirred.
II Through street and mall the tides of people go Heedless; the trees upon the Common show No hint of green; but to my listening heart The still earth doth impart Assurance of her jubilant emprise, And it is clear to my long-searching eyes That love at last has might upon the skies.
The ice is runneled on the little pond; A telltale patter drips from off the trees; The air is touched with southland spiceries, As if but yesterday it tossed the frond Of pendant mosses where the live-oaks grow Beyond Virginia and the Carolines, Or had its will among the fruits and vines Of aromatic isles asleep beyond Florida and the Gulf of Mexico.
III Soon shall the Cape Ann children shout in glee, Spying the arbutus, spring's dear recluse; Hill lads at dawn shall hearken the wild goose Go honking northward over Tennessee; West from Oswego to Sault Sainte-Marie, And on to where the Pictured Rocks are hung, And yonder where, gigantic, wilful, young, Chicago sitteth at the northwest gates, With restless violent hands and casual tongue Moulding her mighty fates, The Lakes shall robe them in ethereal sheen; And like a larger sea, the vital green Of springing wheat shall vastly be outflung Over Dakota and the prairie states.
By desert people immemorial On Arizonan mesas shall be done Dim rites unto the thunder and the sun; Nor shall the primal gods lack sacrifice More splendid, when the white Sierras call Unto the Rockies straightway to arise And dance before the unveiled ark of the year, Sounding their windy cedars as for shawms, Unrolling rivers clear For flutter of broad phylacteries; While Shasta signals to Alaskan seas That watch old sluggish glaciers downward creep To fling their icebergs thundering from the steep, And Mariposa through the purple calms Gazes at far Hawaii crowned with palms Where East and West are met, -- A rich seal on the ocean's bosom set To say that East and West are twain, With different loss and gain: The Lord hath sundered them; let them be sundered yet.
IV Alas! what sounds are these that come Sullenly over the Pacific seas, -- Sounds of ignoble battle, striking dumb The season's half-awakened ecstasies? Must I be humble, then, Now when my heart hath need of pride? Wild love falls on me from these sculptured men; By loving much the land for which they died I would be justified.
My spirit was away on pinions wide To soothe in praise of her its passionate mood And ease it of its ache of gratitude.
Too sorely heavy is the debt they lay On me and the companions of my day.
I would remember now My country's goodliness, make sweet her name.
Alas! what shade art thou Of sorrow or of blame Liftest the lyric leafage from her brow, And pointest a slow finger at her shame? V Lies! lies! It cannot be! The wars we wage Are noble, and our battles still are won By justice for us, ere we lift the gage.
We have not sold our loftiest heritage.
The proud republic hath not stooped to cheat And scramble in the market-place of war; Her forehead weareth yet its solemn star.
Here is her witness: this, her perfect son, This delicate and proud New England soul Who leads despisèd men, with just-unshackled feet, Up the large ways where death and glory meet, To show all peoples that our shame is done, That once more we are clean and spirit-whole.
VI Crouched in the sea fog on the moaning sand All night he lay, speaking some simple word From hour to hour to the slow minds that heard, Holding each poor life gently in his hand And breathing on the base rejected clay Till each dark face shone mystical and grand Against the breaking day; And lo, the shard the potter cast away Was grown a fiery chalice crystal-fine Fulfilled of the divine Great wine of battle wrath by God's ring-finger stirred.
Then upward, where the shadowy bastion loomed Huge on the mountain in the wet sea light, Whence now, and now, infernal flowerage bloomed, Bloomed, burst, and scattered down its deadly seed, -- They swept, and died like freemen on the height, Like freemen, and like men of noble breed; And when the battle fell away at night By hasty and contemptuous hands were thrust Obscurely in a common grave with him The fair-haired keeper of their love and trust.
Now limb doth mingle with dissolvèd limb In nature's busy old democracy To flush the mountain laurel when she blows Sweet by the southern sea, And heart with crumbled heart climbs in the rose: -- The untaught hearts with the high heart that knew This mountain fortress for no earthly hold Of temporal quarrel, but the bastion old Of spiritual wrong, Built by an unjust nation sheer and strong, Expugnable but by a nation's rue And bowing down before that equal shrine By all men held divine, Whereof his band and he were the most holy sign.
VII O bitter, bitter shade! Wilt thou not put the scorn And instant tragic question from thine eye? Do thy dark brows yet crave That swift and angry stave -- Unmeet for this desirous morn -- That I have striven, striven to evade? Gazing on him, must I not deem they err Whose careless lips in street and shop aver As common tidings, deeds to make his cheek Flush from the bronze, and his dead throat to speak? Surely some elder singer would arise, Whose harp hath leave to threaten and to mourn Above this people when they go astray.
Is Whitman, the strong spirit, overworn? Has Whittier put his yearning wrath away? I will not and I dare not yet believe! Though furtively the sunlight seems to grieve, And the spring-laden breeze Out of the gladdening west is sinister With sounds of nameless battle overseas; Though when we turn and question in suspense If these things be indeed after these ways, And what things are to follow after these, Our fluent men of place and consequence Fumble and fill their mouths with hollow phrase, Or for the end-all of deep arguments Intone their dull commercial liturgies -- I dare not yet believe! My ears are shut! I will not hear the thin satiric praise And muffled laughter of our enemies, Bidding us never sheathe our valiant sword Till we have changed our birthright for a gourd Of wild pulse stolen from a barbarian's hut; Showing how wise it is to cast away The symbols of our spiritual sway, That so our hands with better ease May wield the driver's whip and grasp the jailer's keys.
VIII Was it for this our fathers kept the law? This crown shall crown their struggle and their ruth? Are we the eagle nation Milton saw Mewing its mighty youth, Soon to possess the mountain winds of truth, And be a swift familiar of the sun Where aye before God's face his trumpets run? Or have we but the talons and the maw, And for the abject likeness of our heart Shall some less lordly bird be set apart? -- Some gross-billed wader where the swamps are fat? Some gorger in the sun? Some prowler with the bat? IX Ah no! We have not fallen so.
We are our fathers' sons: let those who lead us know! 'T was only yesterday sick Cuba's cry Came up the tropic wind, "Now help us, for we die!" Then Alabama heard, And rising, pale, to Maine and Idaho Shouted a burning word.
Proud state with proud impassioned state conferred, And at the lifting of a hand sprang forth, East, west, and south, and north, Beautiful armies.
Oh, by the sweet blood and young Shed on the awful hill slope at San Juan, By the unforgotten names of eager boys Who might have tasted girls' love and been stung With the old mystic joys And starry griefs, now the spring nights come on, But that the heart of youth is generous, -- We charge you, ye who lead us, Breathe on their chivalry no hint of stain! Turn not their new-world victories to gain! One least leaf plucked for chaffer from the bays Of their dear praise, One jot of their pure conquest put to hire, The implacable republic will require; With clamor, in the glare and gaze of noon, Or subtly, coming as a thief at night, But surely, very surely, slow or soon That insult deep we deeply will requite.
Tempt not our weakness, our cupidity! For save we let the island men go free, Those baffled and dislaureled ghosts Will curse us from the lamentable coasts Where walk the frustrate dead.
The cup of trembling shall be drainèd quite, Eaten the sour bread of astonishment, With ashes of the hearth shall be made white Our hair, and wailing shall be in the tent; Then on your guiltier head Shall our intolerable self-disdain Wreak suddenly its anger and its pain; For manifest in that disastrous light We shall discern the right And do it, tardily.
-- O ye who lead, Take heed! Blindness we may forgive, but baseness we will smite.
Written by Charlotte Bronte | Create an image from this poem

The Missionary

 Lough, vessel, plough the British main,
Seek the free ocean's wider plain; 
Leave English scenes and English skies,
Unbind, dissever English ties; 
Bear me to climes remote and strange, 
Where altered life, fast-following change,
Hot action, never-ceasing toil, 
Shall stir, turn, dig, the spirit's soil; 
Fresh roots shall plant, fresh seed shall sow, 
Till a new garden there shall grow, 
Cleared of the weeds that fill it now,­ 
Mere human love, mere selfish yearning, 
Which, cherished, would arrest me yet.
I grasp the plough, there's no returning, Let me, then, struggle to forget.
But England's shores are yet in view, And England's skies of tender blue Are arched above her guardian sea.
I cannot yet Remembrance flee; I must again, then, firmly face That task of anguish, to retrace.
Wedded to home­I home forsake, Fearful of change­I changes make; Too fond of ease­I plunge in toil; Lover of calm­I seek turmoil: Nature and hostile Destiny Stir in my heart a conflict wild; And long and fierce the war will be Ere duty both has reconciled.
What other tie yet holds me fast To the divorced, abandoned past? Smouldering, on my heart's altar lies The fire of some great sacrifice, Not yet half quenched.
The sacred steel But lately struck my carnal will, My life-long hope, first joy and last, What I loved well, and clung to fast; What I wished wildly to retain, What I renounced with soul-felt pain; What­when I saw it, axe-struck, perish­ Left me no joy on earth to cherish; A man bereft­yet sternly now I do confirm that Jephtha vow: Shall I retract, or fear, or flee ? Did Christ, when rose the fatal tree Before him, on Mount Calvary ? 'Twas a long fight, hard fought, but won, And what I did was justly done.
Yet, Helen ! from thy love I turned, When my heart most for thy heart burned; I dared thy tears, I dared thy scorn­ Easier the death-pang had been borne.
Helen ! thou mightst not go with me, I could not­dared not stay for thee ! I heard, afar, in bonds complain The savage from beyond the main; And that wild sound rose o'er the cry Wrung out by passion's agony; And even when, with the bitterest tear I ever shed, mine eyes were dim, Still, with the spirit's vision clear, I saw Hell's empire, vast and grim, Spread on each Indian river's shore, Each realm of Asia covering o'er.
There the weak, trampled by the strong, Live but to suffer­hopeless die; There pagan-priests, whose creed is Wrong, Extortion, Lust, and Cruelty, Crush our lost race­and brimming fill The bitter cup of human ill; And I­who have the healing creed, The faith benign of Mary's Son; Shall I behold my brother's need And selfishly to aid him shun ? I­who upon my mother's knees, In childhood, read Christ's written word, Received his legacy of peace, His holy rule of action heard; I­in whose heart the sacred sense Of Jesus' love was early felt; Of his pure full benevolence, His pitying tenderness for guilt; His shepherd-care for wandering sheep, For all weak, sorrowing, trembling things, His mercy vast, his passion deep Of anguish for man's sufferings; I­schooled from childhood in such lore­ Dared I draw back or hesitate, When called to heal the sickness sore Of those far off and desolate ? Dark, in the realm and shades of Death, Nations and tribes and empires lie, But even to them the light of Faith Is breaking on their sombre sky: And be it mine to bid them raise Their drooped heads to the kindling scene, And know and hail the sunrise blaze Which heralds Christ the Nazarene.
I know how Hell the veil will spread Over their brows and filmy eyes, And earthward crush the lifted head That would look up and seek the skies; I know what war the fiend will wage Against that soldier of the cross, Who comes to dare his demon-rage, And work his kingdom shame and loss.
Yes, hard and terrible the toil Of him who steps on foreign soil, Resolved to plant the gospel vine, Where tyrants rule and slaves repine; Eager to lift Religion's light Where thickest shades of mental night Screen the false god and fiendish rite; Reckless that missionary blood, Shed in wild wilderness and wood, Has left, upon the unblest air, The man's deep moan­the martyr's prayer.
I know my lot­I only ask Power to fulfil the glorious task; Willing the spirit, may the flesh Strength for the day receive afresh.
May burning sun or deadly wind Prevail not o'er an earnest mind; May torments strange or direst death Nor trample truth, nor baffle faith.
Though such blood-drops should fall from me As fell in old Gethsemane, Welcome the anguish, so it gave More strength to work­more skill to save.
And, oh ! if brief must be my time, If hostile hand or fatal clime Cut short my course­still o'er my grave, Lord, may thy harvest whitening wave.
So I the culture may begin, Let others thrust the sickle in; If but the seed will faster grow, May my blood water what I sow ! What ! have I ever trembling stood, And feared to give to God that blood ? What ! has the coward love of life Made me shrink from the righteous strife ? Have human passions, human fears Severed me from those Pioneers, Whose task is to march first, and trace Paths for the progress of our race ? It has been so; but grant me, Lord, Now to stand steadfast by thy word ! Protected by salvation's helm, Shielded by faith­with truth begirt, To smile when trials seek to whelm And stand 'mid testing fires unhurt ! Hurling hell's strongest bulwarks down, Even when the last pang thrills my breast, When Death bestows the Martyr's crown, And calls me into Jesus' rest.
Then for my ultimate reward­ Then for the world-rejoicing word­ The voice from Father­Spirit­Son: " Servant of God, well hast thou done !"
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