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Famous Sparse Poems by Famous Poets

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

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by Bishop, Elizabeth
...oats of mail,
with small iridescent flies crawling on them.
Up on the little slope behind the houses,
set in the sparse bright sprinkle of grass,
is an ancient wooden capstan,
cracked, with two long bleached handles
and some melancholy stains, like dried blood,
where the ironwork has rusted.
The old man accepts a Lucky Strike.
He was a friend of my grandfather.
We talk of the decline in the population
and of codfish and herring
while he waits for a...Read More

by Levine, Philip
...'ve walked by the same building year after year in late evening 
when the swallows were settling noiselessly in the few sparse trees
beside the unused canal. I've come when the winter snow 
blinded the distant brooding sky. I've come just after dawn, 
I've come in spring, in autumn, in rain, and he was never there....Read More

by Tebb, Barry
...s down


And I was too old for teddy,

Watching him go tied with a bow

To the back of the bin lorry,

His hair as sparse as snow

Around the gaslamp’s glow.


Dip, dip, dip

My blue ship

Sailing on the water

Like a cup and saucer

Dip, dip, dip


By the Hilton Hotel

I sat down and wept:

They were burning the sleepers

Under the rusting crane

Making a pyre so hot and red

I thought the very air had bled.


This is no land for me

I...Read More

by Pound, Ezra
...y return in October
Boat fades in silver; slowly;
Sun blaze alone on the river.

Where wine flag catches the sunset
Sparse chimneys smoke in the cross light

Comes then snow scur on the river
And a world is covered with jade
Small boat floats like a lanthorn,
The flowing water closts as with cold. And at San Yin
they are a people of leisure.

Wild geese swoop to the sand-bar,
Clouds gather about the hole of the window
Broad water; geese line out with the autumn
Ro...Read More

by Po, Li
...The fields are chill, the sparse rain has stopped;
The colours of Spring teem on every side.
With leaping fish the blue pond is full;
With singing thrushes the green boughs droop.
The flowers of the field have dabbled their powdered cheeks;
The mountain grasses are bent level at the waist.
By the bamboo stream the last fragment of cloud
Blown by the wind slowly scatters a...Read More

by Parker, Dorothy water or wine;
This living, this living, this living
Was never a project of mine.
Oh, hard is the struggle, and sparse is
The gain of the one at the top,
For art is a form of catharsis,
And love is a permanent flop,
And work is the province of cattle,
And rest's for a clam in a shell,
So I'm thinking of throwing the battle-
Would you kindly direct me to hell?...Read More

by Lowell, Robert,
he cannot bend his back.

On a thousand small town New England greens,
the old white churches hold their air
of sparse, sincere rebellion; frayed flags
quilt the graveyards of the Grand Army of the Republic. 

The stone statues of the abstract Union Soldier
grow slimmer and younger each year--
wasp-waisted, they doze over muskets
and muse through their sideburns . . .

Shaw's father wanted no monument
except the ditch,
where his son's body was thrown
a...Read More

by Levine, Philip

No one can begin anew 
naming by turn beast, fowl, 
and bush with the exact word. 
Beyond the fence the sparse wood Yields; 
light enters; nighthawk, owl, 
and weasel have fled. To know 
the complete absence of fear, 
not to fear what is not there 

becomes the end, the last brute 
quiver of instinct. One moves, 
or tries to move, among facts, 
naming one's self and one's acts 
as if they were real. Dead leaves 
cling to the branch, and the root 
g...Read More

by Bogan, Louise
...Come, let us tell the weeds in ditches
How we are poor, who once had riches,
And lie out in the sparse and sodden
Pastures that the cows have trodden,
The while an autumn night seals down
The comforts of the wooden town.

Come, let us counsel some cold stranger
How we sought safety, but loved danger.
So, with stiff walls about us, we
Chose this more fragile boundary:
Hills, where light poplars, the firm oak,
Loosen into a little smoke....Read More

by Crumey, Andrew
...In a cafe, once more I heard
Your voice - those sparse and frugal notes.
Do they not say that you spoke your native Greek
With an English accent?

Briefest of visions: eyes meet across the cafe;
A man of about my age - eyelids heavy,
Perhaps from recent pleasures.
I begin the most innocent of conversations.

Again I see that image;
Ancient delight of flesh
Against guiltless flesh.
Sweeter ...Read More

by Ondaatje, Michael
...s never in fields
but is sucking the pith out of grass.
I have noticed the very leaves from flower decorations
grow sparse in their week long performance in our house.
The garden is a dust bowl.

On our last day in Eden as we walked out
she nibbled the leaves at her breasts and crotch.
But there's none to touch
none to equal
the Chlorophyll Kiss...Read More

by Ammons, A R
...After a long
the raindrops
started so
the bumblebee flew
them home...Read More

by Doolittle, Hilda
...Rose, harsh rose, 
marred and with stint of petals, 
meagre flower, thin, 
sparse of leaf, 

more precious 
than a wet rose 
single on a stem -- 
you are caught in the drift. 

Stunted, with small leaf, 
you are flung on the sand, 
you are lifted 
in the crisp sand 
that drives in the wind. 

Can the spice-rose 
drip such acrid fragrance 
hardened in a leaf?...Read More

by Levine, Philip their thatched huts 
 The crazed wood rats 
 By the thousand; grouse, spotted quail 
 Abandoning the hills 
 For the sparse trail 
 On which, exposed, I also packed. 

 Six weeks. I went back down 
 Through my own woods 
 Afraid of what I knew they'd done. 
 There, there, an A&P, 
 And not a tree 
 For Miles, and mammoth hills of goods. 

 Fat men in uniforms, 
 Young men in aprons 
 With one face shouting, "He is mad!" 
 I answered: "I am Lincoln, 
 Aaron ...Read More

by Petrarch, Francesco
...SONNET I. Voi, ch' ascoltate in rime sparse il suono. HE CONFESSES THE VANITY OF HIS PASSION  Ye who in rhymes dispersed the echoes hearOf those sad sighs with which my heart I fedWhen early youth my mazy wanderings led,Fon...Read More

by Fu, Du
... Tie stick already wither and fall Pumpkin leaf become sparse Lucky bear fruit white flower finish Better take leave green vine eliminate Autumn insect sound not go Dusk sparrow think what Cold thing now lie waste Human life also have beginning  The sticks I tied already wither and fall, The pumpkin leaves are getting sparse and thin. It's lucky...Read More

by Warren, Robert Penn
..., in first dark, and heard
The great geese hoot northward.

I could not see them, there being no moon
And the stars sparse.I heard them.

I did not know what was happening in my heart.

It was the season before the elderberry blooms,
Therefore they were going north.

The sound was passing northward....Read More

by Atwood, Margaret
...knives in salute.

Then there's the two
of us. This word
is far too short for us, it has only
four letters, too sparse
to fill those deep bare
vacuums between the stars
that press on us with their deafness.
It's not love we don't wish
to fall into, but that fear.
this word is not enough but it will
have to do. It's a single
vowel in this metallic
silence, a mouth that says
O again and again in wonder
and pain, a breath, a finger
grip on a cliffside. Yo...Read More

by Wylie, Elinor
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 winter, like the sleep of death....Read More

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