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Famous Character Poems by Famous Poets

These are examples of famous Character poems written by some of the greatest and most-well-known modern and classical poets. PoetrySoup is a great educational poetry resource of famous character poems. These examples illustrate what a famous character poem looks like and its form, scheme, or style (where appropriate).

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by Brackenridge, Hugh Henry
...this fair morn 
And boasts her rites mysterious no more; 
Her hidden learning wrapt in symbols strange 
Of hieroglyphic character, engrav'd 
On marble pillar, or the mountain rock, 
Or pyramid enduring many an age. 
She now receives asserted and explain'd 
That holy law, which on mount Sinai writ 
By God's own finger, and to Moses giv'n, 
And to the chosen seed, a rule of life. 
And strict obedience due; but now once more 
Grav'd on the living tablet of the heart, 
An...Read More

by Pope, Alexander
...e explain the Meaning quite away

You then whose Judgment the right Course wou'd steer,
Know well each ANCIENT's proper Character,
His Fable, Subject, Scope in ev'ry Page,
Religion, Country, Genius of his Age:
Without all these at once before your Eyes,
Cavil you may, but never Criticize.
Be Homer's Works your Study, and Delight,
Read them by Day, and meditate by Night,
Thence form your Judgment, thence your Maxims bring,
And trace the Muses upward to their Spring;
Still ...Read More

by Whitman, Walt
...’d to other
A work remains, the work of surpassing all they have done. 

America, curious toward foreign characters, stands by its own at all hazards,
Stands removed, spacious, composite, sound—initiates the true use of precedents, 
Does not repel them, or the past, or what they have produced under their forms, 
Takes the lesson with calmness, perceives the corpse slowly borne from the house, 
Perceives that it waits a little while in the door—that it was fitte...Read More

by Whitman, Walt
Her grandsons raised the flax, and her granddaughters spun it with the distaff and the

The melodious character of the earth, 
The finish beyond which philosophy cannot go, and does not wish to go, 
The justified mother of men....Read More

by Eliot, T S (Thomas Stearns)
...rehearsal, I never could fail.
I'd a voice that would soften the hardest of hearts,
Whether I took the lead, or in character parts.
I have sat by the bedside of poor Little Nell;
When the Curfew was rung, then I swung on the bell.
In the Pantomime season I never fell flat,
And I once understudied Dick Whittington's Cat.
But my grandest creation, as history will tell,
Was Firefrorefiddle, the Fiend of the Fell."

Then, if someone will give him a toothful o...Read More

by Marvell, Andrew
...memory but dull 
And to St Albans too undutiful, 
Nor word nor near relation did revere, 
But asked him bluntly for his character. 
The gravelled Count did with the answer faint-- 
His character was that which thou didst paint-- 
Trusses his baggage and the camp does fly. 
Yet Louis writes and, lest our heart should break, 
Consoles us morally out of Seneque. 

Two letters next unto Breda are sent: 
In cipher one to Harry Excellent; 
The first instructs our (verse...Read More

by Milton, John
...rd faculties, which most excel; 
In outward also her resembling less 
His image who made both, and less expressing 
The character of that dominion given 
O'er other creatures: Yet when I approach 
Her loveliness, so absolute she seems 
And in herself complete, so well to know 
Her own, that what she wills to do or say, 
Seems wisest, virtuousest, discreetest, best: 
All higher knowledge in her presence falls 
Degraded; Wisdom in discourse with her 
Loses discountenanced, and ...Read More

by Drinkwater, John
...n your brain, that you were as the sand
Should cleanse the muddy mirrors of my thought;
I should have read in you the character
Of oracles that quick a thousand lays,
Looked in your eyes, and seen accounted there
Solomons legioned for bewildered praise.
Now have I learnt love as love is. I take
Your hand, and with no inquisition learn
All that your eyes can tell, and that's to make
A little reckoning and brief, then turn
Away, and in my heart I hear a call,
...Read More

by Whitman, Walt
The American contempt for statutes and ceremonies, the boundless impatience of restraint,

The loose drift of character, the inkling through random types, the solidification;
The butcher in the slaughter-house, the hands aboard schooners and sloops, the raftsman,
Lumbermen in their winter camp, day-break in the woods, stripes of snow on the limbs of
 occasional snapping, 
The glad clear sound of one’s own voice, the merry song, the natur...Read More

by Whitman, Walt air, waiting at all times; 
Now it flows unto us—we are rightly charged. 

Here rises the fluid and attaching character; 
The fluid and attaching character is the freshness and sweetness of man and woman;
(The herbs of the morning sprout no fresher and sweeter every day out of the roots of
 than it sprouts fresh and sweet continually out of itself.) 

Toward the fluid and attaching character exudes the sweat of the love of young and old; 
From it fa...Read More

by Whitman, Walt
...nd permanent grandeur of These States must be their
Otherwise there is no real and permanent grandeur:
(Nor character, nor life worthy the name, without Religion; 
Nor land, nor man or woman, without Religion.) 

9What are you doing, young man? 
Are you so earnest—so given up to literature, science, art, amours? 
These ostensible realities, politics, points?
Your ambition or business, whatever it may be? 

It is well—Against such I say not a word—I am their po...Read More

by Nash, Ogden
...In Baltimore there lived a boy.
He wasn't anybody's joy.
Although his name was Jabez Dawes,
His character was full of flaws.

In school he never led his classes,
He hid old ladies' reading glasses,
His mouth was open when he chewed,
And elbows to the table glued.
He stole the milk of hungry kittens,
And walked through doors marked NO ADMITTANCE.
He said he acted thus because
There wasn't any Santa Claus.

Another trick that tickled Ja...Read More

by Wordsworth, William
...." This passage in Milton possesses an excellence far superior to that of mere description: it is spoken in the character of the melancholy Man, and has therefore a dramatic propriety. The Author makes this remark, to rescue himself from the charge of having alluded with levity to a line in Milton: a charge than which none could be more painful to him, except perhaps that of having ridiculed his Bible.]   When he had better far have str...Read More

by Blake, William
...e torment and
insanity. I collected some of their Proverbs: thinking that as
the sayings used in a nation, mark its character, so the Proverbs
of Hell, shew the nature of Infernal wisdom better than any
description of buildings or garments.
When I came home; on the abyss of the five senses, where a
flat sided steep frowns over the present world. I saw a mighty
Devil folded in black clouds, hovering on the sides of the rock,
with cor[PL 7]roding fires he wrote the ...Read More

by Shelley, Percy Bysshe
...ghs up to the smiling air,
And in succession due, did Continent,
Isle, Ocean, & all things that in them wear
The form & character of mortal mould
Rise as the Sun their father rose, to bear
Their portion of the toil which he of old
Took as his own & then imposed on them;
But I, whom thoughts which must remain untold
Had kept as wakeful as the stars that gem
The cone of night, now they were laid asleep,
Stretched my faint limbs beneath the hoary stem
Which an old chestnut flung...Read More

by Eliot, T S (Thomas Stearns)
...surance free"] "cost,
insurance and freight"-Editor.
218. Tiresias, although a mere spectator and not indeed a
is yet the most important personage in the poem, uniting all the rest.
Just as the one-eyed merchant, seller of currants, melts into
the Phoenician Sailor, and the latter is not wholly distinct
from Ferdinand Prince of Naples, so all the women are one woman,
and the two sexes meet in Tiresias. What Tiresias sees, in fact,
is the substance...Read More

by Chaucer, Geoffrey
...says: "The
extraordinary length of it, as well as the vein of pleasantry that
runs through it, is very suitable to the character of the speaker.
The greatest part must have been of Chaucer's own invention,
though one may plainly see that he had been reading the popular
invectives against marriage and women in general; such as the
'Roman de la Rose,' 'Valerius ad Rufinum, De non Ducenda
Uxore,' ('Valerius to Rufinus, on not being ruled by one's wife')
and particularly 'Hi...Read More

by Trumbull, John
...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,
W...Read More

by Swift, Jonathan
And while they toss my name about,
With favour some, and some without,
One, quite indiff'rent in the cause,
My character impartial draws:

"The Dean, if we believe report,
Was never ill-received at court.
As for his works in verse and prose,
I own myself no judge of those;
Nor can I tell what critics thought 'em,
But this I know, all people bought 'em;
As with a moral view designed
To cure the vices of mankind:
And, if he often missed his aim,
The world must own ...Read More

by Patchen, Kenneth
And this time, alas, they did not lie.
And with the death of the child was born a thing that had neither 
the character of a man nor the character of a child, but was a 
horrible and monstrous parody of the two; and it is in this world 
now that the flesh of man’s spirit lies twisted and despoiled under 
the indifferent stars.
When we were here together in a place we did not know, nor one 
O green the bit of warm grass between our teeth. O beaut...Read More

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