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Famous Slate Poems by Famous Poets

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

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by Tebb, Barry
...d far

Less dear.


There were pigeons on the roof

So still I thought they were stone

Grey and brown and slate-blue

Beeston’s gargoyles

Made me think of you.


So far away I thought of you

On a morning like this forty

Years ago I was waiting at the

Corner of Falmouth Place

And you came running and my heart

Was still as the sun as you spun

On the tips of your toes and the rose

In your hair is everywhere

And your laughter is Spring, eternal...Read More

by Betjeman, John
...n buds burst into white

And gorse turns tawny orange, seen beside
Pale drifts of primroses cascading wide
To where the slate falls sheer into the tide.

More than in gardened Surrey, nature spills
A wealth of heather, kidney-vetch and squills
Over these long-defended Cornish hills.

A gun-emplacement of the latest war
Looks older than the hill fort built before
Saxon or Norman headed for the shore.

And in the shadowless, unclouded glare
Deep blue above us fades ...Read More

by Yeats, William Butler
But now I have grown nothing, knowing all.
Ah! Druid, Druid, how great webs of sorrow
Lay hidden in the small slate-coloured thing!...Read More

by Carroll, Lewis
...far behind-- 
That blissful and innocent state-- 
The sound so exactly recalled to his mind 
A pencil that squeaks on a slate! 

"'Tis the voice of the Jubjub!" he suddenly cried. 
(This man, that they used to call "Dunce.") 
"As the Bellman would tell you," he added with pride, 
"I have uttered that sentiment once. 

"'Tis the note of the Jubjub! Keep count, I entreat; 
You will find I have told it you twice. 
'Tis the song of the Jubjub! The proof is comple...Read More

by Tennyson, Alfred Lord
...ath not the good wind, damsel, changed again?' 
'Nay, not a point: nor art thou victor here. 
There lies a ridge of slate across the ford; 
His horse thereon stumbled--ay, for I saw it. 

'"O Sun" (not this strong fool whom thou, Sir Knave, 
Hast overthrown through mere unhappiness), 
"O Sun, that wakenest all to bliss or pain, 
O moon, that layest all to sleep again, 
Shine sweetly: twice my love hath smiled on me." 

What knowest thou of lovesong or of love? 
Na...Read More

by Taylor, Jane
..."I think I want some pies this morning," 
Said Dick, stretching himself and yawning; 
So down he threw his slate and books,
And saunter'd to the pastry-cook's. 

And there he cast his greedy eyes
Round on the jellies and the pies,
So to select, with anxious care,
The very nicest that was there. 

At last the point was thus decided:
As his opinion was divided
'Twixt pie and jelly, being loth
Either to leave, he took them both. 

Now Richard never could...Read More

by Ashbery, John
...ld abandon its song, and the Magdalena
The jungle flowers, the Tagus
Would still flow serenely, and the Ohio
Abrade its slate banks. The tan Euphrates would
Sidle silently across the world. The Yukon
Was choked with ice, but the Susquehanna still pushed
Bravely along. The Dee caught the day's last flares
Like the Pilcomayo's carrion rose.
The Peace offered eternal fragrance
Perhaps, but the Mackenzie churned livid mud
Like tan chalk-marks. Near where
The B...Read More

by Bishop, Elizabeth
...ere everything seems to happen in waves,

and most of the jokes you just can't catch, 
like dirty words rubbed off a slate,
and the songs are loud but somehow dim
and it gets so teribly late,

and coming out of the brownstone house
to the gray sidewalk, the watered street,
one side of the buildings rises with the sun
like a glistening field of wheat.

--Wheat, not oats, dear. I'm afraid
if it's wheat it's none of your sowing, 
nevertheless I'd like to kn...Read More

by Masters, Edgar Lee
...rn in a cottage near the grist-mill,
Reared in the mansion there on the hill,
With its spires, bay-windows, and roof of slate.
How proud my mother was of the mansion!
How proud of father's rise in the world!
And how my father loved and watched us,
And guarded our happiness.
But I believe the house was a curse,
For father's fortune was little beside it;
And when my husband found he had married
A girl who was really poor,
He taunted me with the spires,
And called the ho...Read More

by Lowell, Amy
How the slates of the roof sparkle in the sun, 
over there, over there,
beyond the high wall! How quietly the Seine runs in loops 
and windings,
over there, over there, sliding through the green countryside! Like 
of the line, stately with canvas, the tall clouds pass along the 
over the glittering roof, over the trees, over the looped and curving 
river....Read More

by Tebb, Barry
...t never will.

"Oh to break loose" Lowell’s magic lines

Entice me still but slimy Fenton had to have his will

And slate it in the NYB, arguing that panetone

Isn’t tin foil as Lowell thought. James you are a dreadful bore,

A pedantic creep like hundreds more, five A4 pages

Of sniping and nit-picking for how many greenbacks?

A thousand or two I’d guess, they couldn’t pay you less

For churning out such a king-size mess

But not even you can spoil this afternoon

O...Read More

by Heaney, Seamus off each other
So that the ocean on one side is wild
With foam and glitter, and inland among stones
The surface of a slate-grey lake is lit
By the earthed lightening of flock of swans,
Their feathers roughed and ruffling, white on white,
Their fully-grown headstrong-looking heads
Tucked or cresting or busy underwater.
Useless to think you'll park or capture it
More thoroughly. You are neither here nor there,
A hurry through which known and strange things pass
As bi...Read More

by García Lorca, Federico
...oes not drink.

And while she tells them, weeping,
of her strange adventure,
the wind furiously gnashes
against the slate roof tiles....Read More

by Aiken, Conrad
And lights wink out through the windows, one by one.
A clamor of frosty sirens mourns at the night.
Pale slate-grey clouds whirl up from the sunken sun.

And the wandering one, the inquisitive dreamer of dreams,
The eternal asker of answers, stands in the street,
And lifts his palms for the first cold ghost of rain.
The purple lights leap down the hill before him.
The gorgeous night has begun again.

'I will ask them all, I will ask them all the...Read More

by Carroll, Lewis
...far behind--
 That blissful and innocent state--
The sound so exactly recalled to his mind
 A pencil that squeaks on a slate!

"'Tis the voice of the Jubjub!" he suddenly cried.
 (This man, that they used to call "Dunce.")
"As the Bellman would tell you," he added with pride,
 "I have uttered that sentiment once.

"'Tis the note of the Jubjub! Keep count, I entreat;
 You will find I have told it you twice.
Tis the song of the Jubjub! The proof is complete,
 I...Read More

by Tennyson, Alfred Lord
...through stately theatres 
Benched crescent-wise. In each we sat, we heard 
The grave Professor. On the lecture slate 
The circle rounded under female hands 
With flawless demonstration: followed then 
A classic lecture, rich in sentiment, 
With scraps of thunderous Epic lilted out 
By violet-hooded Doctors, elegies 
And quoted odes, and jewels five-words-long 
That on the stretched forefinger of all Time 
Sparkle for ever: then we dipt in all 
That treats of whatsoev...Read More

by Lawrence, D. H.
...cing head,
Four and one makes five, which is the clue to all mathematics.

The Lord wrote it all down on the little slate
Of the baby tortoise.
Outward and visible indication of the plan within,
The complex, manifold involvednes,s of an individual creature
Plotted out
On this small bird, this rudiment,
This little dome, this pediment
Of all creation,
This slow one....Read More

by Betjeman, John
And the pheasant and the rabbit lay torn open at the throat.

But when a storm was at its height,
And feathery slate was black in rain,
And tamarisks were hung with light
And golden sand was brown again,
Spring tide and blizzard would unite
And sea come flooding up the lane.
Waves full of treasure then were roaring up the beach,
Ropes round our mackintoshes, waders warm and dry,
We waited for the wreckage to come swirling into reach,
Ralph, Vasey, Alistair, Biddy...Read More

by Wylie, Elinor
...capes drawn in pearly monotones. 
There's something in my very blood that owns 
Bare hills, cold silver on a sky of slate, 
A thread of water, churned to milky spate 
Streaming through slanted pastures fenced with stones.

I love those skies, thin blue or snowy gray, 
Those fields sparse-planted, rendering meagre sheaves; 
That spring, briefer than apple-blossom's breath, 
Summer, so much too beautiful to stay, 
Swift autumn, like a bonfire of leaves, 
And sleepy wint...Read More

by Plath, Sylvia
...pickle jug.
A creel of eels, all ripples.
Jumpy as a Mexican bean.
Right, like a well-done sum.
A clean slate, with your own face on....Read More

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