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Famous Sink Or Swim Poems by Famous Poets

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

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by Burns, Robert
...r and o’er.

They filled up a darksome pit
 With water to the brim;
They heaved in John Barleycorn,
 There let him sink or swim.

They laid him out upon the floor,
 To work him farther woe;
And still, as signs of life appear’d,
 They toss’d him to and fro.

They wasted, o’er a scorching flame,
 The marrow of his bones;
But a miller us’d him worst of all,
 For he crush’d him between two stones.

And they hae taen his very heart’s blood,
 And drank it round ...Read More

by Burns, Robert

Says black Joan frae Crichton Peel,
 A Carlin stoor and grim.
“The auld Gudeman or young Gudeman,
 For me may sink or swim;

For fools will prate o’ right or wrang,
 While knaves laugh them to scorn;
But the Soger’s friends hae blawn the best,
 So he shall bear the horn.”

Then whisky Jean spak owre her drink,
 “Ye weel ken, kimmers a’,
The auld gudeman o’ London court,
 His back’s been at the wa’;

“And mony a friend that kiss’d his caup
 Is now a fremit wig...Read More

by Whitman, Walt
...é entire floats on thy keel, O ship—is
 steadied by
 thy spars; 
With thee Time voyages in trust—the antecedent nations sink or swim with thee; 
With all their ancient struggles, martyrs, heroes, epics, wars, thou bear’st the
Theirs, theirs as much as thine, the destination-port triumphant: 
—Steer, steer with good strong hand and wary eye, O helmsman—thou carryest great
Venerable, priestly Asia sails this day with thee, 
And royal, feudal Eu...Read More

by Tennyson, Alfred Lord
Strangled, but straining even his uttermost 
Cast, and so hurled him headlong o'er the bridge 
Down to the river, sink or swim, and cried, 
'Lead, and I follow.' 

But the damsel said, 
'I lead no longer; ride thou at my side; 
Thou art the kingliest of all kitchen-knaves. 

'"O trefoil, sparkling on the rainy plain, 
O rainbow with three colours after rain, 
Shine sweetly: thrice my love hath smiled on me." 

'Sir,--and, good faith, I fain had added--Knight...Read More

by Rossetti, Christina
...'s wan looking-glass.

Who set their will upon a whim
Clung to through good and ill,
Are wrecked alike whether they sink or swim,
Or hit or miss their will.

All things are vain that wax and wane,
For which we waste our breath;
Love only doth not wane and is not vain,
Love only outlives death.

A singing lark rose toward the sky,
Circling he sang amain;
He sang, a speck scarce visible sky-high,
And then he sank again.

A second like a sunlit spark
Flashed sing...Read More

by Burns, Robert
...o'er and o'er.

They filled up a darksome pit
With water to the brim;
They heaved in John Barleycorn,
There let him sink or swim.

They laid him out upon the floor,
To work him farther woe,
And still, as signs of life appeared,
They tossed him to and fro.

They wasted, o'er a scorching flame,
The marrow of his bones;
But a miller used him worst of all,
For he crushed him 'tween two stones.

And they hae ta'en his very heart's blood,
And drank it round and roun...Read More

by Whittier, John Greenleaf
...m a sinking wreck,
With his own town's-people on her deck!
'Lay by! lay by!' they called to him.
Back he answered, 'Sink or swim!
Brag of your catch of fish again!'
And off he sailed through the fog and rain!
Old Floyd Ireson, for his hard heart,
Tarred and feathered and carried in a cart
By the women of Marblehead!

Fathoms deep in dark Chaleur
That wreck shall lie forevermore.
Mother and sister, wife and maid,
Looked from the rocks of Marblehead
Over the moaning and...Read More

by Kipling, Rudyard
...ur bit,
 An' we want to get 'ome to our tea!

Yes, It an' 'Er an' 'Im,
 Which often makes me think
The married man must sink or swim
 An' -- 'e can't afford to sink!
Oh, 'Im an' It an' 'Er
 Since Adam an' Eve began!
So I'd rather fight with the bacheler
 An' be nursed by the married man!...Read More

by Gordon, Adam Lindsay
...Hold hard, Ned! Lift me down once more, and lay me in the shade. 
Old man, you've had your work cut out to guide 
Both horses, and to hold me in the saddle when I swayed, 
All through the hot, slow, sleepy, silent ride. 
The dawn at "Moorabinda" was a mist rack dull and dense, 
The sun-rise was a sullen, sluggish lamp; 
I was dozing in the gateway ...Read More

by Kipling, Rudyard
...ur glory.
But if he finds you and you find him.
The rest of the world don't matter;
For the Thousandth Man will sink or swim
With you in any water.

You can use his purse with no more talk
Than he uses yours for his spendings,
And laugh and meet in your daily walk
As though there had been no lendings.
Nine hundred and ninety-nine of 'em call
For silver and gold in their dealings;
But the Thousandth Man h's worth 'em all,
Because you can show him your feelings....Read More

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