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Famous Rack Poems by Famous Poets

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

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by Thomas, Dylan
...n dew;
My veins flowed with the Eastern weather;
Ungotten I knew night and day.

As yet ungotten, I did suffer;
The rack of dreams my lily bones
Did twist into a living cipher,
And flesh was snipped to cross the lines
Of gallow crosses on the liver
And brambles in the wringing brains.

My throat knew thirst before the structure
Of skin and vein around the well
Where words and water make a mixture
Unfailing till the blood runs foul;
My heart knew love, my belly hunger;...Read More



by Browning, Robert
...e, not to bend 
If the Church bid them?--brother Newman asks. 
Up with the Immaculate Conception, then-- 
On to the rack with faith!--is my advice. 
Will not that hurry us upon our knees, 
Knocking our breasts, "It can't be--yet it shall! 
"Who am I, the worm, to argue with my Pope? 
"Low things confound the high things!" and so forth. 
That's better than acquitting God with grace 
As some folk do. He's tried--no case is proved, 
Philosophy is lenient--he may ...Read More

by Wilde, Oscar
...tched the young swains his frolic playmates bring
The firstling of their little flock, and the shy shepherd fling

The crackling salt upon the flame, or hang
His studded crook against the temple wall
To Her who keeps away the ravenous fang
Of the base wolf from homestead and from stall;
And then the clear-voiced maidens 'gan to sing,
And to the altar each man brought some goodly offering,

A beechen cup brimming with milky foam,
A fair cloth wrought with cunning imagery
Of ho...Read More

by Lawrence, D. H.
...rue, and the living darkness of the blood of man is purpling with violets,
if the violets are coming out from under the rack of men, winter-rotten and fallen,
we shall have spring.
Pray not to die on this Pisgah blossoming with violets.
Pray to live through.
If you catch a whiff of violets from the darkness of the shadow of man
it will be spring in the world,
it will be spring in the world of the living;
wonderment organising itself, heralding itself with the viol...Read More

by Plath, Sylvia
...r>
And then I knew what to do.
I made a model of you,
A man in black with a Meinkampf look 

And a love of the rack and the screw.
And I said I do, I do.
So daddy, I'm finally through.
The black telephone's off at the root,
The voices just can't worm through. 

If I've killed one man, I've killed two---
The vampire who said he was you
And drank my blood for a year,
Seven years, if you want to know.
Daddy, you can lie back now. 

Th...Read More



by Keats, John
...a heath, through many a woodland dun,
Through buried paths, where sleepy twilight dreams
The summer time away. One track unseams
A wooded cleft, and, far away, the blue
Of ocean fades upon him; then, anew,
He sinks adown a solitary glen,
Where there was never sound of mortal men,
Saving, perhaps, some snow-light cadences
Melting to silence, when upon the breeze
Some holy bark let forth an anthem sweet,
To cheer itself to Delphi. Still his feet
Went swift beneath the m...Read More

by Hugo, Victor
...nes who 'neath Heaven's vault at night 
 Raise suppliant hands. His lance loved not the plight 
 Of mouldering in the rack, of no avail, 
 His battle-axe slipped from supporting nail 
 Quite easily; 'twas ill for action base 
 To come so near that he the thing could trace. 
 The steel-clad champion death drops all around 
 As glaciers water. Hero ever found 
 Eviradnus is kinsman of the race 
 Of Amadys of Gaul, and knights of Thrace, 
 He smiles at age. For he who ...Read More

by Keats, John
...ied with new woes,
Unus'd to bend, by hard compulsion bent
His spirit to the sorrow of the time;
And all along a dismal rack of clouds,
Upon the boundaries of day and night,
He stretch'd himself in grief and radiance faint.
There as he lay, the Heaven with its stars
Look'd down on him with pity, and the voice
Of Coelus, from the universal space,
Thus whisper'd low and solemn in his ear:
"O brightest of my children dear, earth-born
And sky-engendered, son of mysteries
All ...Read More

by Hughes, Langston
...ica!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain--
All, all the stretch of these great green states--
And make America again!...Read More

by Emerson, Ralph Waldo
...aid.

Ere yet the summoning voice was still,
I turned to Cheshire's haughty hill.
From the fixed cone the cloud-rack flowed
Like ample banner flung abroad
Round about, a hundred miles,
With invitation to the sea, and to the bordering isles.

In his own loom's garment drest,
By his own bounty blest,
Fast abides this constant giver,
Pouring many a cheerful river;
To far eyes, an aërial isle,
Unploughed, which finer spirits pile,
Which morn and crimson evening paint
...Read More

by Whitman, Walt
...O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done, The ship has weather'd every rack, 
the prize we sought is won, The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting, 
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring; But O heart! heart! heart! 
O the bleeding drops of red, Where on the deck my Captain lies, Fallen cold and dead. 
O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells; Rise up- for you the flag ...Read More

by Wilde, Oscar
...s;
As the rich corn-fields rise to red and gold
From these brown lands, now stiff with Winter's cold;
As from the storm-rack comes a perfect star!

O much-loved city! I have wandered far
From the wave-circled islands of my home;
Have seen the gloomy mystery of the Dome
Rise slowly from the drear Campagna's way,
Clothed in the royal purple of the day:
I from the city of the violet crown
Have watched the sun by Corinth's hill go down,
And marked the 'myriad laughter' of the sea...Read More

by Swinburne, Algernon Charles
...r,
Say to my spirit, "Take
Thy trumpet too, and make
A rallying music in the void night's ear,
Till the storm lose its track,
And all the night go back;
Till, as through sleep false life knows true life near,
Thou know the morning through the night,
And through the thunder silence, and through darkness light."



I set the trumpet to my lips and blow.
The height of night is shaken, the skies break,
The winds and stars and waters come and go
By fits of breath and light...Read More

by Carroll, Lewis
...>

It felt that, in spite of all possible pains,
 It had somehow contrived to lose count,
And the only thing now was to rack its poor brains
 By reckoning up the amount.

"Two added to one--if that could but be done,"
 It said, "with one's fingers and thumbs!"
Recollecting with tears how, in earlier years,
 It had taken no pains with its sums.

"The thing can be done," said the Butcher, "I think.
 The thing must be done, I am sure.
The thing shall be done! Bri...Read More

by Dryden, John
...on they forswore, 
Thus men are raised by factions and decried, 
And rogue and saint distinguished by their side; 
They rack even Scripture to confess their cause 
And plead a call to preach in spite of laws. 
But that's no news to the poor injured page, 
It has been used as ill in every age, 
And is constrained with patience all to take, 
For what defence can Greek and Hebrew make? 
Happy who can this talking trumpet seize, 
They make it speak whatever sense they please!...Read More

by Killigrew, Anne
...; no Thought does start
Aside, but tends to its appointed Part, 
No Respite to himself from Cares he gives, 
But on the Rack of Expectation lives. 
If crost, the Torment cannot be exprest, 
Which boyles within his agitated Breast. 
Musick is harsh, all Mirth is an offence, 
The Choicest Meats cannot delight his Sense, 

Hard as the Earth he feels his Downy Bed,
His Pillow stufft with Thornes, that bears his Head, 
He rolls from side to side, in vain seeks Rest;
For if...Read More

by Wordsworth, William
...appy woman go,  Whatever star is in the skies,  Whatever wind may blow?"  Nay rack your brain—'tis all in vain,  I'll tell you every thing I know;  But to the thorn and to the pond  Which is a little step beyond,  I wish that you would go:  Perhaps when you are at the place  You something of her tale may trace. XI.   I...Read More

by Petrarch, Francesco
.../SPAN>In some dread moment, by the fates assign'd,Shall pass away, nor leave a rack behind;And Time's revolving wheels shall lose at lastThe speed that spins the future and the past;And, sovereign of an undisputed throne,Awful eternity shall reign alone.Then every darksome veil shall fleet awayRead More

by Shelley, Percy Bysshe
...ersal Pan, 'tis said, was there.
And, though none saw him,--through the adamant
Of the deep mountains, through the trackless air,
And through those living spirits like a want,--
He passed out of his everlasting lair
Where the quick heart of the great world doth pant,
And felt that wondrous Lady all alone,--
And she felt him upon her emerald throne.

And every Nymph of stream and spreading tree,
And every Shepherdess of Ocean's flocks
Who drives her white waves over th...Read More

by Swift, Jonathan
...rophy won;
Rather than thus be overtopped,
Would you not wish his laurels cropped?
Dear honest Ned is in the gout,
Lies racked with pain, and you without:
How patiently you hear him groan!
How glad the case is not your own!

What poet would not grieve to see
His breth'ren write as well as he?
But rather than they should excel,
He wished his rivals all in hell.

Her end when Emulation misses,
She turns to Envy, stings, and hisses:
The strongest friendship yields to pride,
...Read More

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