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Famous Impossible Poems by Famous Poets

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

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by Plath, Sylvia
...ble motes that tick the years off my life.
You are silver-suited for the occasion. O adding machine-----

Is it impossible for you to let something go and have it go whole?
Must you stamp each piece purple,

Must you kill what you can?
There is one thing I want today, and only you can give it to me.

It stands at my window, big as the sky.
It breathes from my sheets, the cold dead center

Where split lives congeal and stiffen to history.
Let it not come by...Read More



by Auden, Wystan Hugh (W H)
...The Ogre does what ogres can,
Deeds quite impossible for Man,
But one prize is beyond his reach,
The Ogre cannot master Speech:
About a subjugated plain,
Among its desperate and slain,
The Ogre stalks with hands on hips,
While drivel gushes from his lips. ...Read More

by Keats, John
...ll his sorrowing? He sees her not.
But who so stares on him? His sister sure!
Peona of the woods!--Can she endure--
Impossible--how dearly they embrace!
His lady smiles; delight is in her face;
It is no treachery.

 "Dear brother mine!
Endymion, weep not so! Why shouldst thou pine
When all great Latmos so exalt wilt be?
Thank the great gods, and look not bitterly;
And speak not one pale word, and sigh no more.
Sure I will not believe thou hast such store
Of grief,...Read More

by Ginsberg, Allen
...and breasts, 
 until the soul illuminated its hair for a second, 
who crashed through their minds in jail waiting for 
 impossible criminals with golden heads and the 
 charm of reality in their hearts who sang sweet 
 blues to Alcatraz, 
who retired to Mexico to cultivate a habit, or Rocky 
 Mount to tender Buddha or Tangiers to boys 
 or Southern Pacific to the black locomotive or 
 Harvard to Narcissus to Woodlawn to the 
 daisychain or grave, 
who demanded sanity trials a...Read More

by Pinsky, Robert
...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....Read More



by Plath, Sylvia
...'Perspective betrays with its dichotomy:
train tracks always meet, not here, but only
 in the impossible mind's eye;
horizons beat a retreat as we embark
on sophist seas to overtake that mark
 where wave pretends to drench real sky.' 

'Well then, if we agree, it is not odd
that one man's devil is another's god
 or that the solar spectrum is
a multitude of shaded grays; suspense
on the quicksands of ambivalence
 is our life's whole nemesis. 
...Read More

by Tennyson, Alfred Lord
...dness,
And budded bosom-peaks -- who this way runs
Before the rest! -- a satyr, a satyr, see,
Follows; but him I proved impossible
Twy-natured is no nature. Yet he draws
Nearer and nearer, and I scan him now
Beastlier than any phantom of his kind
That ever butted his rough brother-brute
For lust or lusty blood or provender.
I hate, abhor, spit, sicken at him; and she
Loathes him as well; such a precipitate heel,
Fledged as it were with Mercury's ankle-wing,
Whirls her...Read More

by Tebb, Barry
...Sun on a tomb, gold place, small sacred horse’.

I never got over having her in the room, though

Every day she was impossible in a new way,

Stamping her foot like a naughty Enid Blyton child,

Shouting "Poets don’t do arithmetic!"

Or drawing caricatures of me in her book.

Then there were the ‘moments of vision’, her eyes

Dissolving the blank walls and made-up faces,

Genius painfully going through her paces,

The skull she drew, the withered chrysanthemum

And sc...Read More

by Milton, John
...s our delight. How wearisome 
Eternity so spent in worship paid 
To whom we hate! Let us not then pursue, 
By force impossible, by leave obtained 
Unacceptable, though in Heaven, our state 
Of splendid vassalage; but rather seek 
Our own good from ourselves, and from our own 
Live to ourselves, though in this vast recess, 
Free and to none accountable, preferring 
Hard liberty before the easy yoke 
Of servile pomp. Our greatness will appear 
Then most conspicuous when...Read More

by Milton, John
...with one ascent 
Accessible from earth, one entrance high; 
The rest was craggy cliff, that overhung 
Still as it rose, impossible to climb. 
Betwixt these rocky pillars Gabriel sat, 
Chief of the angelick guards, awaiting night; 
About him exercised heroick games 
The unarmed youth of Heaven, but nigh at hand 
Celestial armoury, shields, helms, and spears, 
Hung high with diamond flaming, and with gold. 
Thither came Uriel, gliding through the even 
On a sun-beam, sw...Read More

by Milton, John
...Man, whom death must end? 
Can he make deathless death? That were to make 
Strange contradiction, which to God himself 
Impossible is held; as argument 
Of weakness, not of power. Will he draw out, 
For anger's sake, finite to infinite, 
In punished Man, to satisfy his rigour, 
Satisfied never? That were to extend 
His sentence beyond dust and Nature's law; 
By which all causes else, according still 
To the reception of their matter, act; 
Not to the extent of their own s...Read More

by Brautigan, Richard
...a, " Mr. Norris said. "I've got to

do something. Sometimes I think one of them is named Carl,

 but that's impossible. My third-ex hated the name Carl. "

 "You try some camping and that trout fishing, " the guy

 on the next stool said. "And you'll remember the names of

 Your unborn children. "

 "Carl! Carl! Your mother wants you!" Mr. Norris yelled

 as a kind of joke, then he realized that it wasn't very funny.

 He was getting there....Read More

by Ashbery, John
...meant something,
The small accidents and pleasures
Of the day as it moved gracelessly on,
A housewife doing chores. Impossible now
To restore those properties in the silver blur that is
The record of what you accomplished by sitting down
"With great art to copy all that you saw in the glass"
So as to perfect and rule out the extraneous
Forever. In the circle of your intentions certain spars
Remain that perpetuate the enchantment of self with self:
Eyebeams, muslin, co...Read More

by Whitman, Walt
...here I carry my old delicious burdens; 
I carry them, men and women—I carry them with me wherever I go; 
I swear it is impossible for me to get rid of them; 
I am fill’d with them, and I will fill them in return.) 

2
You road I enter upon and look around! I believe you are not all that is here;
I believe that much unseen is also here. 

Here the profound lesson of reception, neither preference or denial; 
The black with his woolly head, the felon, the diseas’d, the ...Read More

by Carroll, Lewis
...eted by the Bellman himself with the words "and the Man at the Helm shall speak to no one." So remon{-} strance was impossible, and no steering could be done till the next varnishing day. During these bewildering intervals the ship usually sailed backwards. 

As this poem is to some extent connected with the lay of the Jabberwock, let me take this opportunity of answering a question that has often been asked me, how to pronounce "slithy toves." The "i" in "sli...Read More

by Yeats, William Butler
...d or a beast;
But while the moon is rounding towards the full
He follows whatever whim's most difficult
Among whims not impossible, and though scarred.
As with the cat-o'-nine-tails of the mind,
His body moulded from within his body
Grows comelier. Eleven pass, and then
Athene takes Achilles by the hair,
Hector is in the dust, Nietzsche is born,
Because the hero's crescent is the twelfth.
And yet, twice born, twice buried, grow he must,
Before the full moon, helpl...Read More

by Byron, George (Lord)
..., and where he never was before, and never will be again, the following poem would not have been written. It is not impossible that it may be as good as his own, seeing that it cannot, by any species of stupidity, natural or acquired, be worse. The gross flattery, the dull impudence, the renegado intolerance, and impious cant, of the poem by the author if 'Wat Tyler,' are something so stupendous as to form the sublime of himself — containing the quintessence of his ow...Read More

by Chaucer, Geoffrey
...
He knew of them more legends and more lives
Than be of goodde wives in the Bible.
For, trust me well, it is an impossible
That any clerk will speake good of wives,
(*But if* it be of holy saintes' lives) *unless
Nor of none other woman never the mo'.
Who painted the lion, tell it me, who?
By God, if women haddde written stories,
As clerkes have within their oratories,
They would have writ of men more wickedness
Than all the mark of Adam 30 may redress
The childre...Read More

by Plath, Sylvia
...f snow now. I am not at home.
How white these sheets are. The faces have no features.
They are bald and impossible, like the faces of my children,
Those little sick ones that elude my arms.
Other children do not touch me: they are terrible.
They have too many colors, too much life. They are not quiet,
Quiet, like the little emptinesses I carry.

I have had my chances. I have tried and tried.
I have stitched life into me like a rare orga...Read More

by Duffy, Carol Ann
...the moon.

This is pleasurable. Or shall I cross that out and say 
it is sad? In one of the tenses I singing
an impossible song of desire that you cannot hear.

La lala la. See? I close my eyes and imagine the dark hills I would have to cross
to reach you. For I am in love with you

and this is what it is like or what it is like in words....Read More

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