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Famous Silence Poems by Famous Poets

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

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by Dickinson, Emily
...Boots of Lead, again,
Then Space—began to toll,

As all the Heavens were a Bell,
And Being, but an Ear,
And I, and Silence, some strange Race
Wrecked, solitary, here—

And then a Plank in Reason, broke,
And I dropped down, and down—
And hit a World, at every plunge,
And Finished knowing—then—


I'm Nobody! Who are you?
Are you—Nobody—Too?
Then there's a pair of us!
Don't tell! they'd advertise—you know!

How dreary—to be—Somebody!
How public—like a Fr...Read more of this...

by Keats, John
...thy breath of morn,
Far from the fiery noon, and eve's one star,
Sat gray-hair'd Saturn, quiet as a stone,
Still as the silence round about his lair;
Forest on forest hung above his head
Like cloud on cloud. No stir 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: t...Read more of this...

by Alighieri, Dante
 (Either he seemed), obstructing where I ran, 
 Called to me with a voice that few should know, 
 Faint from forgetful silence, "Where ye go, 
 Take heed. Why turn ye from the upward way?" 

 I cried, "Or come ye from warm earth, or they 
 The grave hath taken, in my mortal need 
 Have mercy thou!" 
 He answered, "Shade am I, 
 That once was man; beneath the Lombard sky, 
 In the late years of Julius born, and bred 
 In Mantua, till my youthful steps were led 
 To Rome, ...Read more of this...

by Byron, George (Lord) eye sate something of reproof, 
That kept at least frivolity aloof; 
And things more timid that beheld him near, 
In silence gazed, or whisper'd mutual fear; 
And they the wiser, friendlier few confess'd 
They deem'd him better than his air express'd. 


'Twas strange — in youth all action and all life, 
Burning for pleasure, not averse from strife; 
Woman — the field — the ocean — all that gave 
Promise of gladness, peril of a grave, 
In turn he tried — he ...Read more of this...

by St Vincent Millay, Edna
...Aye, but she?
Your other sister and my other soul
Grave Silence, lovelier
Than the three loveliest maidens, what of her?
Clio, not you,
Not you, Calliope,
Nor all your wanton line,
Not Beauty's perfect self shall comfort me
For Silence once departed,
For her the cool-tongued, her the tranquil-hearted,
Whom evermore I follow wistfully,
Wandering Heaven and Earth and Hell and the four seasons through;
Thalia, not y...Read more of this...

by Wilde, Oscar
...eavens! and to try
Such lofty themes were folly: yet I know
That never felt my heart a nobler glow
Than when I woke the silence of thy street
With clamorous trampling of my horse's feet,
And saw the city which now I try to sing,
After long days of weary travelling.


Adieu, Ravenna! but a year ago,
I stood and watched the crimson sunset glow
From the lone chapel on thy marshy plain:
The sky was as a shield that caught the stain
Of blood and battle from the dyin...Read more of this...

by Whitman, Walt
One is directed by the captain himself against the enemy’s mainmast; 
Two, well served with grape and canister, silence his musketry and clear his

The tops alone second the fire of this little battery, especially the main-top; 
They hold out bravely during the whole of the action.

Not a moment’s cease; 
The leaks gain fast on the pumps—the fire eats toward the powder-magazine. 

One of the pumps has been shot away—it is generally though...Read more of this...

by Chesterton, G K
...ld's desire
`No more of comfort shall ye get,
Save that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher.' "

Then silence sank. And slowly
Arose the sea-land lord,
Like some vast beast for mystery,
He filled the room and porch and sky,
And from a cobwebbed nail on high
Unhooked his heavy sword.

Up on the shrill sea-downs and up
Went Alfred all alone,
Turning but once e'er the door was shut,
Shouting to Eldred over his butt,
That he bring all spears to the woodm...Read more of this...

by Wordsworth, William
...oft, a moment's space,  What time the moon was lost behind a cloud,  Hath heard a pause of silence: till the Moon  Emerging, hath awaken'd earth and sky  With one sensation, and those wakeful Birds  Have all burst forth in choral minstrelsy,  At if one quick and sudden Gale had swept  An hundred airy harps! And she hath watch'd  Many a Nightingale perch giddily...Read more of this...

by Bridges, Robert Seymour and awakening smile;
Whereby the lips in wonder reconcile
Passion with peace, and show desire at rest,--
A grace of silence by the Greek unguesst,
That bloom'd to immortalize the Tuscan style 
When first the angel-song that faith hath ken'd
Fancy pourtray'd, above recorded oath
Of Israel's God, or light of poem pen'd;
The very countenance of plighted troth
'Twixt heaven and earth, where in one moment blend
The hope of one and happiness of both. 

For beauty being th...Read more of this...

by Tennyson, Alfred Lord, 
Brother, I need not tell thee foolish words,-- 
A reckless and irreverent knight was he, 
Now boldened by the silence of his King,-- 
Well, I will tell thee: "O King, my liege," he said, 
"Hath Gawain failed in any quest of thine? 
When have I stinted stroke in foughten field? 
But as for thine, my good friend Percivale, 
Thy holy nun and thou have driven men mad, 
Yea, made our mightiest madder than our least. 
But by mine eyes and by mine ears I swear, 
I will...Read more of this...

by Carroll, Lewis
...o guess.

When at length he sat up and was able to speak,
 His sad story he offered to tell;
And the Bellman cried "Silence! Not even a shriek!"
 And excitedly tingled his bell.

There was silence supreme! Not a shriek, not a scream,
 Scarcely even a howl or a groan,
As the man they called "Ho!" told his story of woe
 In an antediluvian tone.

"My father and mother were honest, though poor--"
 "Skip all that!" cried the Bellman in haste.
"If it once becomes da...Read more of this...

by Wordsworth, William
...  She sees him in his travelling trim;  How quietly her Johnny goes.   The silence of her idiot boy,  What hopes it sends to Betty's heart!  He's at the guide-post—he turns right,  She watches till he's out of sight,  And Betty will not then depart.   Burr, burr—now Johnny's lips they burr,  As loud as any mill, or near it,  Mee...Read more of this...

by Scott, Sir Walter thine accents sleep?
     Mid rustling leaves and fountains murmuring,
        Still must thy sweeter sounds their silence keep,
     Nor bid a warrior smile, nor teach a maid to weep?

     Not thus, in ancient days of Caledon, 10
        Was thy voice mute amid the festal crowd,
     When lay of hopeless love, or glory won,
        Aroused the fearful or subdued the proud.
     At each according pause was heard aloud
        Thine ardent symphony sublime and hi...Read more of this...

by Poe, Edgar Allan
...long I stood there wondering, fearing, 25 
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before; 
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token, 
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, "Lenore?" 
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, "Lenore:" 
Merely this and nothing more. 30 

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning, 
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before. 
"...Read more of this...

by Carroll, Lewis
And every now and then she frowned. 

He gazed upon the sleeping sea,
And joyed in its tranquillity,
And in that silence dead, but she 

To muse a little space did seem,
Then, like the echo of a dream,
Harked back upon her threadbare theme. 

Still an attentive ear he lent
But could not fathom what she meant:
She was not deep, nor eloquent. 

He marked the ripple on the sand:
The even swaying of her hand
Was all that he could understand. 

He saw in dreams ...Read more of this...

by Byron, George (Lord)
...t the mode 
On earth besides; except some grumbling voice, 
Which now and then will make a slight inroad 
Upon decorous silence, few will twice 
Lift up their lungs when fairly overcrow'd; 
And now the bard could plead his own bad cause, 
With all the attitudes of self-applause. 


He said — (I only give the heads) — he said, 
He meant no harm in scribbling; 'twas his way 
Upon all topics; 'twas, besides, his bread, 
Of which he butter'd both sides; 'twould delay 
T...Read more of this...

by Eliot, T S (Thomas Stearns)
Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither
Living nor dead, and I knew nothing, 
Looking into the heart of light, the silence.
Oed' und leer das Meer.
 Madame Sosostris, famous clairvoyante,
Had a bad cold, nevertheless
Is known to be the wisest woman in Europe,
With a wicked pack of cards. Here, said she,
Is your card, the drowned Phoenician Sailor,
(Those are pearls that were his eyes. Look!)
Here is Belladonna, the Lady of the Rocks,
The lady of situation...Read more of this...

by Miller, Alice Duer
...Whitehall deserted. Johnnie and I 
Strolling together, averse to saying good-bye—
Strolling away from some party in silence profound, 
Only far off in Mayfair, piercing, the sound 
Of a footman's whistle—the rhythm of hoofs on wood, 
Further and further away. . . . And now we stood 
On a bridge, where a poet came to keep 
Vigil while all the city lay asleep—
Westminster Bridge, and soon the sun would rise,
And I should see it with my very eyes!
Yes, now it...Read more of this...

by Akhmatova, Anna
...e one more song.
And this song, without my volition,
I will give out for laughter and parable,
For this that the silence of love
Is to me simply unbearable.

x x x

They're on the way, the words of love and freedom,
They're flying faster than the moment flies
And I am in stage fright before singing -
My lips have grown colder than ice.

But soon that place, where, leaning to the windows
The tender birches make dry rustling sound,
The voices wi...Read more of this...

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