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Famous Sign Poems by Famous Poets

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

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by Crowley, Aleister's revolving riddle:
I could write verse, and you could play the fiddle,
While, as for love, the sun went through the signs,
And not a star but told him how love twines
A wreath for every decanate, degree,
Minute and second, linked eternally
In chains of flowers that never fading are,
Each one as sempiternal as a star.

Let me go back to your last birthday. Then
I was already your one man of men
Appointed to complete you, and fulfil
From everlasting the eternal will...Read More

by Brackenridge, Hugh Henry
...h her vot'ries skill'd, 
In potent charm, or spell of magic pow'r; 
In augury, by voice, or flight of birds, 
Or boding sign at morn, or noon, or eve, 
Portent and prodigy and omen dire. 
Each oracle by Demon, or the craft 
Of priests, made vocal, can declare no more 
Of high renown, and victory secure, 
To kings low prostrate at their bloody shrines. 
No more with vain uncertainty perplex 
Mistaken worshippers, or give unseen 
Response ambiguous in some mystic sound,...Read More

by Wilde, Oscar sing,
How long the last kiss was, how fond and late his lingering.

The moon was girdled with a crystal rim,
The sign which shipmen say is ominous
Of wrath in heaven, the wan stars were dim,
And the low lightening east was tremulous
With the faint fluttering wings of flying dawn,
Ere from the silent sombre shrine his lover had withdrawn.

Down the steep rock with hurried feet and fast
Clomb the brave lad, and reached the cave of Pan,
And heard the goat-foot snoring...Read More

by Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth
...of children.


Now had the season returned, when the nights grow colder and longer,
And the retreating sun the sign of the Scorpion enters.
Birds of passage sailed through the leaden air, from the ice-bound,
Desolate northern bays to the shores of tropical islands,
Harvests were gathered in; and wild with the winds of September
Wrestled the trees of the forest, as Jacob of old with the angel.
All the signs foretold a winter long and inclement.
Bees, with ...Read More

by Wilde, Oscar
Some other head must wear that aureole,
For I am hers who loves not any man
Whose white and stainless bosom bears the sign Gorgonian.

Let Venus go and chuck her dainty page,
And kiss his mouth, and toss his curly hair,
With net and spear and hunting equipage
Let young Adonis to his tryst repair,
But me her fond and subtle-fashioned spell
Delights no more, though I could win her dearest citadel.

Ay, though I were that laughing shepherd boy
Who from Mount Ida saw th...Read More

by Keats, John
...rage and passion; even as
I see them, on the mortal world beneath,
In men who die.---This is the grief, O son!
Sad sign of ruin, sudden dismay, and fall!
Yet do thou strive; as thou art capable,
As thou canst move about, an evident God;
And canst oppose to each malignant hour
Ethereal presence:---I am but a voice;
My life is but the life of winds and tides,
No more than winds and tides can I avail:---
But thou canst.---Be thou therefore in the van
Of circumstance; ye...Read More

by Alighieri, Dante
...ed trains 
 That past me whirled unending, vainly led 
 Nowhither, in useless and unpausing 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 k...Read More

by Byron, George (Lord)
...unded good and ill, 
And half mistook for fate the acts of will: 
Too high for common selfishness, he could 
At times resign his own for others' good, 
But not in pity, not because he ought, 
But in some strange perversity of thought, 
That sway'd him onward with a secret pride 
To do what few or none would do beside; 
And this same impulse would, in tempting time, 
Mislead his spirit equally to crime; 
So much he soar'd beyond, or sunk beneath 
The men with whom he felt cond...Read More

by St Vincent Millay, Edna
Which even now, behold, the friendly mumbling rain erases,
And the inarticulate snow,
Leaving at last of her least signs and traces
None whatsoever, nor whither she is vanished from these places.
"She will love well," I said,
"If love be of that heart inhabiter,
The flowers of the dead;
The red anemone that with no sound
Moves in the wind, and from another wound
That sprang, the heavily-sweet blue hyacinth,
That blossoms underground,
And sallow poppies, will be dear ...Read More

by Milton, John
...this I never passed) have dreamed, 
If dreamed, not, as I oft am wont, of thee, 
Works of day past, or morrow's next design, 
But of offence and trouble, which my mind 
Knew never till this irksome night: Methought, 
Close at mine ear one called me forth to walk 
With gentle voice; I thought it thine: It said, 
'Why sleepest thou, Eve? now is the pleasant time, 
'The cool, the silent, save where silence yields 
'To the night-warbling bird, that now awake 
'Tunes sweetest his...Read More

by Ashbery, John
...ut through the eyes
And still return safely to its nest? The surface
Of the mirror being convex, the distance increases
Significantly; that is, enough to make the point
That the soul is a captive, treated humanely, kept
In suspension, unable to advance much farther
Than your look as it intercepts the picture.
Pope Clement and his court were "stupefied"
By it, according to Vasari, and promised a commission
That never materialized. The soul has to stay where it is,
Even...Read More

by Whitman, Walt
...hopeful green stuff woven.

Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord, 
A scented gift and remembrancer, designedly dropt,
Bearing the owner’s name someway in the corners, that we may see and
 remark, and say, Whose? 

Or I guess the grass is itself a child, the produced babe of the vegetation. 

Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic; 
And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow zones, 
Growing among black folks as among white;
Kanuck, ...Read More

by Chesterton, G K
...d the dense arrows drive.

Lady, by one light only
We look from 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 volcan...Read More

by Byron, George (Lord)
...te'er it was the sire forgot; 
Or if remember'd, mark'd it not; 
Thrice clapp'd his hands, and call'd his steed, [9] 
Resign'd his gem-adorn'd chibouque, [10] 
And mounting featly for the mead, 
With Maugrabee [11] and Mamaluke, 
His way amid his Delis took, [12] 
To witness many an active deed 
With sabre keen, or blunt jerreed. 
The Kislar only and his Moors 
Watch well the Haram's massy doors. 


His head was leant upon his hand, 
His eye look'd o'er the d...Read More

by Masefield, John
...imney pots and folk blown blind, 
And puddles glimmering in my mind, 
And chinking glass from windows banging, 
And inn signs swung like people hanging, 
And in my heart the drink unpriced, 
The burning cataracts of Christ.

I did not think, I did not strive, 
The deep peace burnt my me alive; 
The bolted door had broken in, 
I knew that I had done with sin. 
I knew that Christ had given me birth 
To brother all the souls on earth, 
And every bird and every beast 
Sho...Read More

by Tennyson, Alfred Lord
...d, Galahad," said the King, "for such 
As thou art is the vision, not for these. 
Thy holy nun and thou have seen a sign-- 
Holier is none, my Percivale, than she-- 
A sign to maim this Order which I made. 
But ye, that follow but the leader's bell" 
(Brother, the King was hard upon his knights) 
"Taliessin is our fullest throat of song, 
And one hath sung and all the dumb will sing. 
Lancelot is Lancelot, and hath overborne 
Five knights at once, and every younge...Read More

by Carroll, Lewis
...Tropics, Zones, and Meridian Lines?"
So the Bellman would cry: and the crew would reply
 "They are merely conventional signs!

"Other maps are such shapes, with their islands and capes!
 But we've got our brave Captain to thank
(So the crew would protest) "that he's bought us the best--
 A perfect and absolute blank!"

This was charming, no doubt; but they shortly found out
 That the Captain they trusted so well
Had only one notion for crossing the ocean,
 And that was to ti...Read More

by Scott, Sir Walter
...That youthful maidens wont to fly.

     On his bold visage middle age
     Had slightly pressed its signet sage,
     Yet had not quenched the open truth
     And fiery vehemence of youth;
     Forward and frolic glee was there,
     The will to do, the soul to dare,
     The sparkling glance, soon blown to fire,
     Of hasty love or headlong ire.
     His limbs were cast in manly could
     For hardy sports or contest bold;
     And though in pe...Read More

by Poe, Edgar Allan
...sp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore!" 95 
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore." 

"Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!" I shrieked, upstarting: 
"Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore! 
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken! 
Leave my loneliness unbroken! quit the bust above my door! 100 
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!" 
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore.<...Read More

by Shelley, Percy Bysshe
...and Mars.

Ten times the Mother of the Months had ben
Her bow beside the folding-star, and bidden
With that bright sign the billows to indent
The sea-deserted sand--(like children chidden,
At her command they ever came and went)--
Since in that cave a dewy splendor hidden
Took shape and motion. With the living form
Of this embodied Power the cave grew warm.

A lovely Lady garmented in light
From her own beauty: deep her eyes as are
Two openings of unfathomable ni...Read More

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