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Famous Survival Poems by Famous Poets

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

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by Rilke, Rainer Maria
...nished at his

own deification which placed him there.
Erect and proud he smiles, and quite enjoys
this feat of his survival, willed by choice.

As labourer in the fields he made his start
and through his efforts brought to full fruition
the garden God named Eden. But where was
the hidden path that led to the New Earth?

God would not listen to his endless pleas.
Instead, He threatened him that he shall die.
Yet Adam stood his ground: Eve shall give birth....Read more of this...

by Robinson, Edwin Arlington
For me, if I were drowning or on fire, 
Or that I would not rather have let myself 
Die twice than owe the debt of my survival
To him, though he had lost not even his clothes. 
No, there was nothing right about that fellow; 
And after twenty years to think of him 
I should be quite as helpless now to serve him 
As I was then. I mean—without my story.
Be patient, and you’ll see just what I mean— 
Which is to say, you won’t. But you can listen, 
And that’s its...Read more of this...

by Tebb, Barry wakes me

And I wonder how I am still alive.

"Balance the forces of life and death"

Is the Kleinian recipe for survival.

"It is God’s will, life is meant to test us"

My Christian heritage tells me.

"Life is a vale of soul making"

Keats reminds us.

Insistently the morning traffic hums

As I sip my tea, list calls to make,

Sigh in frustration at unread books.

For solace I look at cards of Haworth

Moorland vistas of unending paths

Cloudscapes on...Read more of this...

by Lewis, C S
...Goodness = what comes next.'
By evolving, Life is solving
All the questions we perplexed.

Oh then! Value means survival-
Value. If our progeny
Spreads and spawns and licks each rival,
That will prove its deity
(Far from pleasant, by our present,
Standards, though it may well be)....Read more of this...

by Berry, Wendell

The poem is important, but
not more than the people
whose survival it serves,

one of the necessities, so they may
speak what is true, and have
the patience for beauty: the weighted

grainfield, the shady street,
the well-laid stone and the changing tree
whose branches spread above.

For want of songs and stories
they have dug away the soil,
paved over what is left,

set up their perfunctory walls
in tribute to...Read more of this...

by Lorde, Audre money. How you labored
in the docks of the Hotel Astor
your bright wife a chambermaid upstairs 
welded love and survival to ambition
as the land of promise withered
crashed the hotel closed
and you peddle dawn-bought apples
from a push-cart on Broadway.

Does an image of return
wealthy and triumphant
warm your chilblained fingers
as you count coins in the Manhattan snow
or is it only Linda
who dreams of home?

When my mother's first-born cries for milk
in the brut...Read more of this...

by Nemerov, Howard good.
Whatever cannot carry its own weight 
Has got to go, and so on; you expect
To hear them talking next about survival
And the values of a free society.
For in the explanations people give
On these occasions there is generally some
Mean-spirited moral point, and everyone
Privately wonders if his neighbors plan
To saw him up before he falls on them.

Maybe a hundred years in sun and shower
Dismantled in a morning and let down
Out of itself a finger at a time
...Read more of this...

by Matthews, William
...chose a climate whose winter
and house whose isolation could be
stern enough to his wrath and pity
as to make them seem survival skills
he'd learned on the job, farming
fifty acres of pasture and woods.
For cash crops he had sweat and doubt
and moralizing rage, those staples
of the barter system. And these swift
and aching summers, like the blackberries
I've been poaching down the road
from the house where no one's home --
acid at first and each little globe
of the be...Read more of this...

by Mueller, Lisel
abandoned, leaning, turning gray. 

Someone always traded
the lonely beauty
of hemlock and stony lakeshore
for survival, packed up his life
and drove off to the city.
In the yards the apple trees
keep hanging on, but the fruit
grows smaller year by year. 

When we come this way again
the trees will have gone wild,
the houses collapsed, not even worth
the human act of breaking in.
Fields will have taken over. 

What we will recognize
is the wind, the s...Read more of this...

by Verhaeren, Emile

Sure, she was one who, being dead, yet brought me.
Miraculous, a strength that comforteth,
And the Viaticum of her survival
Guiding me from the further side of Death.
...Read more of this...

by Bukowski, Charles
...t on the benches and discussed selling real estate left
behind by husbands long ago killed by the pace and stupidity of survival. For it all,
there was peace in the air and we walked about and stretched on the lawns and didn't say
much. It simply felt good being together. I bought a couple of sandwiches, some chips and
drinks and we sat on the sand eating. Then I held Cass and we slept together about an
hour. It was somehow better than lovemaking. Ther...Read more of this...

by Jeffers, Robinson
...ence; we have built the great cities; now
There is no escape. We have gathered vast populations incapable 
 of free survival, insulated
From the strong earth, each person in himself helpless, on all 
 dependent. The circle is closed, and the net
Is being hauled in. They hardly feel the cords drawing, yet 
 they shine already. The inevitable mass-disasters
Will not come in our time nor in our children's, but we 
 and our children
Must watch the net draw narrowe...Read more of this...

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