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Famous Dead Poems by Famous Poets

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

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by Whitman, Walt
AS I sat alone, by blue Ontario’s shore, 
As I mused of these mighty days, and of peace return’d, and the dead that return no
A Phantom, gigantic, superb, with stern visage, accosted me; 
Chant me the poem, it said, that comes from the soul of America—chant me
 carol of victory; 
And strike up the marches of Libertad—marches more powerful yet;
And sing me before you go, the song of the throes of Democracy. 

(Democracy—the destin’d conqueror—yet...Read More

by Wilde, Oscar
...quisite indolence
That all the chiding of more prudent Truth
Seemed the thin voice of jealousy, - O hence
Thou huntress deadlier than Artemis!
Go seek some other quarry! for of thy too perilous bliss.

My lips have drunk enough, - no more, no more, 
Though Love himself should turn his gilded prow
Back to the troubled waters of this shore
Where I am wrecked and stranded, even now
The chariot wheels of passion sweep too near,
Hence! Hence! I pass unto a life more barren, ...Read More

by Keats, John
...of air was there,
Not so much life as on a summer's day
Robs not one light seed from the feather'd grass,
But where the dead leaf fell, there did it rest.
A stream went voiceless by, still deadened more
By reason of his fallen divinity
Spreading a shade: the Naiad 'mid her reeds
Press'd her cold finger closer to her lips.

 Along the margin-sand large foot-marks went,
No further than to where his feet had stray'd,
And slept there since. Upon the sodden ground
His ...Read More

by Alighieri, Dante
...npausing haste. 
 A fluttering ensign all their guide, they chased 
 Themselves for ever. I had not thought the dead, 
 The whole world's dead, so many as these. I saw 
 The shadow of him elect to Peter's seat 
 Who made the great refusal, and the law, 
 The unswerving law that left them this retreat 
 To seal the abortion of their lives, became 
 Illumined to me, and themselves I knew, 
 To God and all his foes the futile crew 
 How hateful in their everlasting s...Read More

by Byron, George (Lord)
..., but more than should have been. 
Why gazed he so upon the ghastly head 
Which hands profane had gather'd from the dead, 
That still beside his open'd volume lay, 
As if to startle all save him away? 
Why slept he not when others were at rest? 
Why heard no music, and received no guest? 
All was not well, they deem'd — but where the wrong? 
Some knew perchance — but 'twere a tale too long; 
And such besides were too discreetly wise, 
To more than hint their knowledge in ...Read More

by Wordsworth, William
...Oh! press me with thy little hand;  It loosens something at my chest;  About that tight and deadly band  I feel thy little fingers press'd.  The breeze I see is in the tree;  It comes to cool my babe and me.   Oh! love me, love me, little boy!  Thou art thy mother's only joy;  And do not dread the waves below,  When o'er the sea-rock's edge we g...Read More

by Whitman, Walt
...the pressure upon the seat—the cool gurgling by the
 and hair. 

O the fireman’s joys! 
I hear the alarm at dead of night,
I hear bells—shouts!—I pass the crowd—I run! 
The sight of the flames maddens me with pleasure. 

O the joy of the strong-brawn’d fighter, towering in the arena, in perfect condition,
 conscious of power, thirsting to meet his opponent. 

O the joy of that vast elemental sympathy which only the human Soul is capable of
 and...Read More

by Frost, Robert
...s thinking
He’ll make a case of it if he succeeds,
But keep still if he fails.”

“Keep still all over.
He’ll be deaddead and buried.”

“Such a trouble!
Not but I’ve every reason not to care
What happens to him if it only takes
Some of the sanctimonious conceit
Out of one of those pious scalawags.”

“Nonsense to that! You want to see him safe.”

“You like the runt.”

“Don’t you a little?”

I don’t like what he’s doing, which is what
You like, an...Read More

by Whitman, Walt
...millions of suns
You shall no longer take things at second or third hand, nor look through the
 eyes of the dead, nor feed on the spectres in books; 
You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me: 
You shall listen to all sides, and filter them from yourself. 

I have heard what the talkers were talking, the talk of the beginning and the
But I do not talk of the beginning or the end. 

There was never any more inceptio...Read More

by Whitman, Walt
...ou, I believe you have imparted to yourselves, and now would
 impart the
 same secretly to me; 
From the living and the dead I think you have peopled your impassive surfaces, and the
 thereof would be evident and amicable with me. 

The earth expanding right hand and left hand, 
The picture alive, every part in its best light, 
The music falling in where it is wanted, and stopping where it is not wanted,
The cheerful voice of the public road—the gay fresh senti...Read More

by Chesterton, G K
...Alfred's eyes,
We know he saw athwart the wreck
The sign that hangs about your neck,
Where One more than Melchizedek
Is dead and never dies.

Therefore I bring these rhymes to you
Who brought the cross to me,
Since on you flaming without flaw
I saw the sign that Guthrum saw
When he let break his ships of awe,
And laid peace on the sea.

Do you remember when we went
Under a dragon moon,
And `mid volcanic tints of night
Walked where they fought the unknown fight
And saw...Read More

by Bridges, Robert Seymour
...much-wrong'd son. 

Is all this glory, I said, another's praise?
Are these heroic triumphs things of old,
And do I dead upon the living gaze?
Or rather doth the mind, that can behold
The wondrous beauty of the works and days,
Create the image that her thoughts enfold? 

Rejoice, ye dead, where'er your spirits dwell,
Rejoice that yet on earth your fame is bright;
And that your names, remember'd day and night,
Live on the lips of those that love you well.
'Tis ye th...Read More

by Carroll, Lewis
 When the jailer informed them, with tears,
Such a sentence would have not the slightest effect,
 As the pig had been dead for some years.

The Judge left the Court, looking deeply disgusted:
 But the Snark, though a little aghast,
As the lawyer to whom the defence was intrusted,
 Went bellowing on to the last.

Thus the Barrister dreamed, while the bellowing seemed
 To grow every moment more clear:
Till he woke to the knell of a furious bell,
 Which the Bellman ran...Read More

by Wordsworth, William
...pony moves his legs,  In Johnny's left hand you may see,  The green bough's motionless and dead:  The moon that shines above his head  Is not more still and mute than he.   His heart it was so full of glee,  That till full fifty yards were gone,  He quite forgot his holly whip,  And all his skill in horsemanship,  Oh! happy, happy, happy John.<...Read More

by Blake, William

In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.

Drive your cart and your plow over the bones of 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 bec...Read More

by Carroll, Lewis

Till, like a silent water-mill,
When summer suns have dried the rill,
She reached a full stop, and was still. 

Dead calm succeeded to the fuss,
As when the loaded omnibus
Has reached the railway terminus: 

When, for the tumult of the street,
Is heard the engine's stifled beat,
The velvet tread of porters' feet. 

With glance that ever sought the ground,
She moved her lips without a sound,
And every now and then she frowned. 

He gazed upon the sleeping sea,
...Read More

by Shelley, Percy Bysshe
...s amid crimson air
And whilst the sleeping tempest gathers might
Doth, as a herald of its coming, bear
The ghost of her dead Mother, whose dim form
Bends in dark ether from her infant's chair,
So came a chariot on the silent storm
Of its own rushing splendour, and a Shape
So sate within as one whom years deform
Beneath a dusky hood & double cape
Crouching within the shadow of a tomb,
And o'er what seemed the head, a cloud like crape,
Was bent a dun & faint etherial gloom
Temp...Read More

by Byron, George (Lord)
...his birth, as bare 
As the mere million's base unmarried clay — 
Yet all his spices but prolong decay. 


He's dead — and upper earth with him has done; 
He's buried; save the undertaker's bill, 
Or lapidary scrawl, the world is gone 
For him, unless he left a German will: 
But where's the proctor who will ask his son? 
In whom his qualities are reigning still, 
Except that household virtue, most uncommon, 
Of constancy to a bad, ugly woman. 


'God save th...Read More

by Eliot, T S (Thomas Stearns)
...ere, et cum illi pueri dicerent:
Sibylla ti theleis; respondebat illa: apothanein thelo."

 April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade,
And went on in...Read More

by Akhmatova, Anna places,
I do not on grey ashes count my sorrow,
And the skewed arrow of the clock face
Does not look to me like a deadly arrow.
How past over the heart is losing power!
Freedom is near. I will forgive all yet,
Watching, as ray of sun runs up and down
The springtime vine that with spring rain is wet.

x x x

He was jealous, fearful and tender,
He loved me like God's only light,
And that she not sing of the past times
He killed my bird colored...Read More

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