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Famous City Poems by Famous Poets

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

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by Shakespeare, William
...eir contents.

A reverend man that grazed his cattle nigh--
Sometime a blusterer, that the ruffle knew
Of court, of city, and had let go by
The swiftest hours, observed as they flew--
Towards this afflicted fancy fastly drew,
And, privileged by age, desires to know
In brief the grounds and motives of her woe.

So slides he down upon his grained bat,
And comely-distant sits he by her side;
When he again desires her, being sat,
Her grievance with his hearing to divide:
...Read More

by Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth
Sat in his elbow-chair, and watched how the flames and the smoke-wreaths
Struggled together like foes in a burning city. Behind him,
Nodding and mocking along the wall, with gestures fantastic,
Darted his own huge shadow, and vanished away into darkness.
Faces, clumsily carved in oak, on the back of his arm-chair
Laughed in the flickering light, and the pewter plates on the dresser
Caught and reflected the flame, as shields of armies the sunshine.
Fragments o...Read More

by Ginsberg, Allen
...the pavement, 
who vanished into nowhere Zen New Jersey leaving a 
 trail of ambiguous picture postcards of Atlantic 
 City Hall, 
suffering Eastern sweats and Tangerian bone-grind- 
 ings and migraines of China under junk-with- 
 drawal in Newark's bleak furnished room, 
who wandered around and around at midnight in the 
 railroad yard wondering where to go, and went, 
 leaving no broken hearts, 
who lit cigarettes in boxcars boxcars boxcars racketing 
 through snow toward ...Read More

by Sexton, Anne
...are here to worship, 
to worship the terror of the rain, 
the mud and all its people, 
the body itself, 
working like a city, 
the night and its slow blood 
the autumn sky, mary blue. 
but more than that, 
to worship the question itself, 
though the buildings burn 
and the big people topple over in a faint. 
Bring a flashlight, Ms. Dog, 
and look in every corner of the brain 
and ask and ask and ask 
until the kingdom, 
however *****,
will come....Read More

by Alighieri, Dante
...e. His chase 
 He shall not cease, nor any cowering-place 
 Her fear shall find her, till he drive her back, 
 From city to city exiled, from wrack to wrack 
 Slain out of life, to find the native hell 
 Whence envy loosed her. 
 For thyself were
 To follow where I lead, and thou shalt see 
 The spirits in pain, and hear the hopeless woe, 
 The unending cries, of those whose only plea 
 Is judgment, that the second death to be 
 Fall quickly. Further shalt ...Read More

by Frost, Robert
...d her self-seeking, fitful though it was,
May still have been what led her on to read,
And think a little, and get some city schooling.
She learned shorthand, whatever shorthand may
Have had to do with it--she sometimes wondered.
So, till she found herself in a strange place
For the name Maple to have brought her to,
Taking dictation on a paper pad
And, in the pauses when she raised her eyes,
Watching out of a nineteenth story window
An airship laboring with unshiplik...Read More

by Frost, Robert
...not because
The place is silent all day long, nor yet
Because it boasts a whisky still—because
It set out once to be a city and still
Is only corners, crossroads in a wood).
And I remember one whose name appeared
Between the pictures on a movie screen
Election night once in Franconia,
When everything had gone Republican
And Democrats were sore in need of comfort:
Easton goes Democratic, Wilson 4
Hughes 2. And everybody to the saddest
Laughed the loud laugh the big la...Read More

by Wilde, Oscar
...old was turned.

O how my heart with boyish passion burned,
When far away across the sedge and mere
I saw that Holy City rising clear,
Crowned with her crown of towers! - On and on
I galloped, racing with the setting sun,
And ere the crimson after-glow was passed,
I stood within Ravenna's walls at last!


How strangely still! no sound of life or joy
Startles the air; no laughing shepherd-boy
Pipes on his reed, nor ever through the day
Comes the glad sound of chi...Read More

by Whitman, Walt

Trippers and askers surround me; 
People I meet—the effect upon me of my early life, or the ward and city I
 live in, or the nation, 
The latest dates, discoveries, inventions, societies, authors old and new,
My dinner, dress, associates, looks, compliments, dues, 
The real or fancied indifference of some man or woman I love, 
The sickness of one of my folks, or of myself, or ill-doing, or loss or lack of
 money, or depressions or exaltations; 
Battl...Read More

by Whitman, Walt
...heap up what is call’d riches, 
You shall scatter with lavish hand all that you earn or achieve,
You but arrive at the city to which you were destin’d—you hardly settle yourself to
 satisfaction, before you are call’d by an irresistible call to depart, 
You shall be treated to the ironical smiles and mockings of those who remain behind you; 
What beckonings of love you receive, you shall only answer with passionate kisses of
You shall not allow the hold of those w...Read More

by Chesterton, G K
...hizzing plate in play.

And held two arms up rigidly,
And roared to all the Danes:
"Fallen is Rome, yea, fallen
The city of the plains!

"Shall no man born remember,
That breaketh wood or weald,
How long she stood on the roof of the world
As he stood on my shield.

"The new wild world forgetteth her
As foam fades on the sea,
How long she stood with her foot on Man
As he with his foot on me.

"No more shall the brown men of the south
Move like the ants in lines,
To...Read More

by Bridges, Robert Seymour
...thout blame. 

Say who be these light-bearded, sunburnt faces
In negligent and travel-stain'd array,
That in the city of Dante come to-day,
Haughtily visiting her holy places?
O these be noble men that hide their graces,
True England's blood, her ancient glory's stay,
By tales of fame diverted on their way
Home from the rule of oriental races. 
Life-trifling lions these, of gentle eyes
And motion delicate, but swift to fire
For honour, passionate where duty lies,
M...Read More

by Tennyson, Alfred Lord
...forth, for thou shalt see what I have seen, 
And break through all, till one will crown thee king 
Far in the spiritual city:" and as she spake 
She sent the deathless passion in her eyes 
Through him, and made him hers, and laid her mind 
On him, and he believed in her belief. 

`Then came a year of miracle: O brother, 
In our great hall there stood a vacant chair, 
Fashioned by Merlin ere he past away, 
And carven with strange figures; and in and out 
The figures, like ...Read More

by Chaucer, Geoffrey
...that town,
While that the siege thereabouten lay.
And yet the olde Creon, wellaway!
That lord is now of Thebes the city,
Fulfilled of ire and of iniquity,
He for despite, and for his tyranny,
To do the deade bodies villainy*, *insult
Of all our lorde's, which that been y-slaw, *slain
Hath all the bodies on an heap y-draw,
And will not suffer them by none assent
Neither to be y-buried, nor y-brent*, *burnt
But maketh houndes eat them in despite."
And with that word, w...Read More

by Scott, Sir Walter
...e and loud huzza.
     And ever James was bending low
     To his white jennet's saddle-bow,
     Doffing his cap to city dame,
     Who smiled and blushed for pride and shame.
     And well the simperer might be vain,—
     He chose the fairest of the train.
     Gravely he greets each city sire,
     Commends each pageant's quaint attire,
     Gives to the dancers thanks aloud,
     And smiles and nods upon the crowd,
     Who rend the heavens with their acclaims...Read More

by Blake, William
...the dead.
The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.

Prudence is a rich ugly old maid courted by Incapacity.
He who desires but acts not, breeds pestilence. 

The cut worm forgives the plow.

Dip him in the river who loves water.

A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees.
He whose face gives no light, shall never become a star.
Eternity is in love with the productions of time. 
The busy bee has no time for sorrow.
The...Read More

by Eliot, T S (Thomas Stearns)
...f you see dear Mrs. Equitone,
Tell her I bring the horoscope myself:
One must be so careful these days.
 Unreal City, 
Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,
A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,
I had not thought death had undone so many.
Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled,
And each man fixed his eyes before his feet.
Flowed up the hill and down King William Street,
To where Saint Mary Woolnoth kept the hours
With a dead sound on the final stroke ...Read More

by Miller, Alice Duer
...hed in a shower 
The changing of the guard.
And I said, what a pity,
To have just a week to spend,
When London is a city
Whose beauties never end!

When the sun shines on England, it atones 
For low-hung leaden skies, and rain and dim 
Moist fogs that paint the verdure on her stones 
And fill her gentle rivers to the brim. 
When the sun shines on England, shafts of light 
Fall on far towers and hills and dark old trees, 
And hedge-bound meadows of a green as brigh...Read More

by Plath, Sylvia which hurtle the visitations,
The visitations, the manifestations, the startled faces.
I am the center of an atrocity.
What pains, what sorrows must I be mothering?

Can such innocence kill and kill? It milks my life.
The trees wither in the street. The rain is corrosive.
I taste it on my tongue, and the workable horrors,
The horrors that stand and idle, the slighted godmothers
With their hearts that tick and tick, with their satchels of instruments.Read More

by Akhmatova, Anna
...nal parting's moment,
Lay down and waited for her grace
That was not known yet as torment.

x x x

This city by the fearsome river
Was my crib blessed and dear
And a solemn wedding bed
Which the garlands for the head
Your young cherubs held above -
A city loved with bitter love.

The subject of my prayers
Were you, moody, calm, and austere.
There first the groom came to me
Having shown me the pathway holy,
And that sad muse of mine
Led me l...Read More

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