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Famous Donkey Poems by Famous Poets

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

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by Holmes, Oliver Wendell
...m the vampire and the condor,
From the gust upon the river,
From the sudden earthquake shiver,
From the trip of mule or donkey,
From the midnight howling monkey,
From the stroke of knife or dagger,
From the puma and the jaguar,
From the horrid boa-constrictor
That has scared us in the picture,
From the Indians of the Pampas
Who would dine upon their grampas,
From every beast and vermin
That to think of sets us squirmin',
From every snake that tries on
The traveller his p'ison...Read more of this...

by Ferlinghetti, Lawrence
...its the great Bush pilot
And now its the Chameleon Kid
and he keeps changing the logo on his captains cap
and now its a donkey and now an elephant
and now some kind of donkephant
And now we recognize two of the crew
who took out a contract on America
and one is a certain gringo wretch
who's busy monkeywrenching
crucial parts of the engine
and its life-support systems
and they got a big fat hose
to siphon off the fuel to privatized tanks
And all the while we just sit there
in ...Read more of this...

by Tebb, Barry
...rday morning

Is the smell of freedom

How the bounds may grow

Slowly slowly as I go.

“Rag-bone rag-bone

White donkey stone”

Auntie Nellie scoured

Her door step, polished

The brass knocker

Till I saw my face

Bunched like a fist

Complete with goggles

Grinning like a monkey

In a mile of mirrors.


Every door step had a stop

A half-stone iron weight

To hold it back and every 

Step was edged with donkey

Stone in yellow or white

From the ragman o...Read more of this...

by Tebb, Barry
...tly the touch and his palette

Was right for the chiaroscuro of the back-to-backs;

He got the particular yellow of the donkey-stoned

Steps and the waxed scarlet rinds of the Edam our

Mothers bought up at the Maypole.

There was a heat haze over Accommodation Road

And in it we saw the oases of Kandinsky

And listened to camels’ bells

And tasted the dates of the abundant palms.


There was a boat deep-delved

Sitting in the water

There was the sun of spr...Read more of this...

by Kipling, Rudyard
"But I must go on with the service
 For such as care to attend."

The altar-lamps were lighted, --
 An old marsh-donkey came,
Bold as a guest invited,
 And stared at the guttering flame.

The storm beat on at the windows,
 The water splashed on the floor,
And a wet, yoke-weary bullock
 Pushed in through the open door.

"How do I know what is greatest,
 How do I know what is least?
That is My Father's business,"
 Said Eddi, Wilfrid's priest.

"But -- three a...Read more of this...

by Plath, Sylvia
...In Benidorm there are melons,
Whole donkey-carts full

Of innumerable melons,
Ovals and balls,

Bright green and thumpable
Laced over with stripes

Of turtle-dark green.
Chooose an egg-shape, a world-shape,

Bowl one homeward to taste
In the whitehot noon :

Cream-smooth honeydews,
Pink-pulped whoppers,

Bump-rinded cantaloupes
With orange cores.

Each wedge wears a studding
Of blanche...Read more of this...

by Sexton, Anne
...brains that rot here
like black bananas.
Hearts have grown as flat as dinner plates.

Anne, Anne,
flee on your donkey,
flee this sad hotel,
ride out on some hairy beast,
gallop backward pressing
your buttocks to his withers,
sit to his clumsy gait somehow.
Ride out
any old way you please!
In this place everyone talks to his own mouth.
That's what it means to be crazy.
Those I loved best died of it—
the fool's disease....Read more of this...

by Gregory, Rg
courtesan to fashion and today's 
ploy - advertisement's gold gimmick
slave of beat and rhythm - dead but
much loved donkey in the hearts of all
who learned di-dah di-dah at school
and have been stuck in the custard since

plaything political-tool pop-
star's goo - poetry's been made to garb
itself in all these rags and riches
this age applauds the eye - is one 
of outward exploration - the earth
(in life) and universe (in fiction)
are there for scurrying over - haste
is e...Read more of this...

by Sexton, Anne 
as it slides in, a sovereign. How can I pray> 
It is panting; it is an odor with a face 
like the skin of a donkey. It laps my sores. 
It is hurt, I think, as a I touch its little head. 
It bleeds. I have forgiven murderers and whores 
and now must wait like old Jonah, not dead 
nor alive, stroking a clumsy animal. A rat. 
His teeth test me; he waits like a good cook, 
knowing his own ground. I forgive him that, 
as I forgave my Judas t...Read more of this...

by Meredith, George
I was a lad not wide from here:
Couldn't I whip off the bale from the wicket?
Like an old world those days appear!
Donkey, sheep, geese, and thatch'd ale-house--I know them!
They are old friends of my halts, and seem,
Somehow, as if kind thanks I owe them:
Juggling don't hinder the heart's esteem.

Juggling's no sin, for we must have victual:
Nature allows us to bait for the fool.
Holding one's own makes us juggle no little;
But, to increase it, hard juggling's t...Read more of this...

by Bishop, Elizabeth once
for an orange or a piece of candy.

Twined in wisps of fog,
I see you all up there
along with Formoso, the donkey,
who brays like a pump gone dry,
then suddenly stops.
—All just standing, staring
off into fog and space.
Or coming down at night,
in silence, except for hoofs,
in dim moonlight, the horse
or Formoso stumbling after.
Between us float a few
big, soft, pale-blue,
sluggish fireflies,
the jellyfish of the air...

Patch upon patch u...Read more of this...

by Paterson, Andrew Barton

He sold for a hundred and thirty, 
Because of a gallop he had 
One morning with Bluefish and Bertie. 
And donkey-licked both of 'em bad. 
And when the old horse had departed, 
The life on the station grew tame; 
The race-track was dull and deserted, 
The boys had gone back on the game. 

* * * * * 

The winter rolled by, and the station 
Was green with the garland of Spring; 
A spirit of glad exultation 
Awoke in each animate thing; 
And all the old love...Read more of this...

by Levertov, Denise
..., wind
conversing with rain, ocean with rock, stuttering
of fire to coal--then something tethered
in us, hobbled like a donkey on its patch
of gnawed grass and thistles, breaks free.
No one discovers
just where we've been, when we're caught up again
into our own sphere (where we must
return, indeed, to evolve our destinies)
--but we have changed, a little....Read more of this...

by Sexton, Anne> 
So I will go now 
without old age or disease, 
wildly but accurately, 
knowing my best route, 
carried by that toy donkey I rode all these years, 
never asking, “Where are we going?” 
We were riding (if I'd only known) 
to this. 

Dear friend, 
please do not think 
that I visualize guitars playing 
or my father arching his bone. 
I do not even expect my mother's mouth. 
I know that I have died before— 
once in November, once in June. 
How strange to choos...Read more of this...

by Williams, C K
..., their heads pull off; the 
underroofing crumbles.
Even the battered little furnace, roaring along as patient as a donkey, 
chokes and clogs,
a dense, malignant smoke shoots up, and someone has to fiddle with a 
cock, then hammer it,
before the gush and stench will deintensify, the dark, Dantean broth 
wearily subside.
In its crucible, the stuff looks bland, like licorice, spill it, though, on 
your boots or coveralls,
it sears, and everything is permeated with it, t...Read more of this...

by Chesterton, G K
...When forests walked and fishes flew 
And figs grew upon thorn, 
Some moment when the moon was blood, 
Then, surely, I was born. 

With monstrous head and sickening bray 
And ears like errant wings— 
The devil's walking parody 
Of all four-footed things: 

The battered outlaw of the earth 
Of ancient crooked will; 
Scourge, beat, deride me—I am dumb— 
I...Read more of this...

by Kipling, Rudyard
...orders for to take the bastes below;
He dragged them all together by the horn an' hide an' feather,
 An' all excipt the Donkey was agreeable to go.

Thin Noah spoke him fairly, thin talked to him sevarely,
 An' thin he cursed him squarely to the glory av the Lord: --
"Divil take the ass that bred you, and the greater ass that fed you --
 Divil go wid you, ye spalpeen!" an' the Donkey went aboard.

But the wind was always failin', an' 'twas most onaisy sailin',
 An' th...Read more of this...

by Jarrell, Randall
...e hills 
With their camels--they ask directions, and have pointed out 
By a man kneeling, the true way; the ox 
And the donkey, two heads in the manger 
So much greater than a human head, who also adore; 
Even the offerings, a sheaf of wheat, 
A jar and a glass of flowers, are absolutely still 
In natural concentration, as they take their part 
In the salvation of the natural world. 
The time of the world concentrates 
On this one instant: far off in the rocks 
You can se...Read more of this...

by Plath, Sylvia
...o come, later,

Into our bad dreams, their menace
Not guns, not abuses,

But a thin silence.
Wrapped in flea-ridded donkey skins,

Empty of complaint, forever
Drinking vinegar from tin cups: they wore

The insufferable nimbus of the lot-drawn
Scapegoat. But so thin,

So weedy a race could not remain in dreams,
Could not remain outlandish victims

In the contracted country of the head
Any more than the old woman in her mud hut could

Keep from cutting fat meat
Out of t...Read more of this...

by Khosrow, Amir
...Why was the king thirsty?
Why was the donkey sad?...Read more of this...

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Book: Reflection on the Important Things