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Famous System Poems by Famous Poets

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

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by Bukowski, Charles a file
you have created on an
IBM Personal Computer.
both Kaypro and Osborne computers use
the CP/M operating system
but can't read each other's
for they format (write
on) discs in different
the Tandy 2000 runs MS-DOS but
can't use most programs produced for
the IBM Personal Computer
unless certain
bits and bytes are
but the wind still blows over
and in the Spring
the turkey buzzard struts and
flounces before his
hens....Read More

by Poe, Edgar Allan
...g by,
And the red winds are withering in the sky:-

"What tho 'in worlds which sightless cycles run,
Linked to a little system, and one sun-
Where all my love is folly and the crowd
Still think my terrors but the thunder cloud,
The storm, the earthquake, and the ocean-wrath-
(Ah! will they cross me in my angrier path?)
What tho' in worlds which own a single sun
The sands of Time grow dimmer as they run,
Yet thine is my resplendency, so given
To bear my secrets thro' the upper...Read More

by Estep, Maggie
The strobe light is illuminating my pubic unicorn. Madonna's song Borderline
is pumping through the club's speaker system for the 5th time tonight:
And suddenly, I start to wonder: What does that mean anyway? 



Screw me so much my eyes pop out, I go blind, end up walking down 2nd Avenue
crazy, horny, naked and blind? What?

There's a glitch in the tape and it start...Read More

by Ferlinghetti, Lawrence
and one is a certain gringo wretch
who's busy monkeywrenching
crucial parts of the engine
and its life-support systems
and they got a big fat hose
to siphon off the fuel to privatized tanks
And all the while we just sit there
in the passenger seats
without parachutes
listening to all the news that's fit to air
over the one-way PA system
about how the contract on America
is really good for us etcetera
As all the while the plane lumbers on
into its postmodern
manifest ...Read More

by Nash, Ogden
...the genuine Cold Colossal; 
The Cold of which researchers dream, 
The Perfect Cold, the Cold Supreme. 
This honored system humbly holds 
The Super-cold to end all colds; 
The Cold Crusading for Democracy; 
The Führer of the Streptococcracy. 

Bacilli swarm within my portals 
Such as were ne'er conceived by mortals, 
But bred by scientists wise and hoary 
In some Olympic laboratory; 
Bacteria as large as mice, 
With feet of fire and heads of ice 
Who never interrupt fo...Read More

by Pope, Alexander
...only in our own. 
He, who thro' vast immensity can pierce, 
See worlds on worlds compose one universe, 
Observe how system into system runs, 
What other planets circle other suns, 
What vary'd being peoples ev'ry star, 
May tell why Heav'n has made us as we are. 
But of this frame the bearings, and the ties, 
The strong connections, nice dependencies, 
Gradations just, has thy pervading soul 
Look'd thro'? or can a part contain the whole? 
Is the great chain, that dra...Read More

by Cohen, Leonard
...They sentenced me to twenty years of boredom 
For trying to change the system from within 
I'm coming now, I'm coming to reward them 
First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin.
I'm guided by a signal in the heavens 
I'm guided by this birthmark on my skin 
I'm guided by the beauty of our weapons 
First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin.
I'd really like to live beside you, baby 
I love your body and your spirit a...Read More

by Gregory, Rg
night skies with flashing bountifuls
of way-out stars - poetry has to be
in service to this want (is fed
into the system gracelessly)
there can be no standing-still or
stopping-by no take a little time

and see what blossoms here - we're into
poetry in motion and all that ****
and i can accept it all - what stirs
the surface of the ocean ignores
the depths - what talks the hindlegs off
the day can't murder dreams - that's not
to say the depths and dreams aren't there
fo...Read More

by Schiller, Friedrich von followers' band boldly and readily swear?
Cannot I ever attain to true peace, excepting through knowledge,
Or is the system upheld only by fortune and law?
Must I distrust the gently-warning impulse, the precept
That thou, Nature, thyself hast in my bosom impressed,
Till the schools have affixed to the writ eternal their signet,
Till a mere formula's chain binds down the fugitive soul?
Answer me, then! for thou hast down into these deeps e'en descended,--
Out of the moulde...Read More

by Thoreau, Henry David throbbing pulse its start. 

I will not doubt for evermore, 
Nor falter from a steadfast faith, 
For thought the system be turned o'er, 
God takes not back the word which once He saith. 

I will not doubt the love untold 
Which not my worth nor want has bought, 
Which wooed me young, and woos me old, 
And to this evening hath me brought. 

My memory I'll educate 
To know the one historic truth, 
Remembering to the latest date 
The only true and sole immortal yo...Read More

by Shakur, Tupac
...ut lady liberty needs glasses
and so does mrs justice by her side
both the broads r blind as bats
stumbling thru the system
justice bumbed into mutulu and
trippin on geronimo pratt
but stepped right over oliver
and his crooked partner ronnie
justice stubbed her big toe on mandela
and liberty was misquoted by the indians
slavery was a learning phase
forgotten with out a verdict
while justice is on a rampage
4 endangered surviving black males
i mean really if anyo...Read More

by Paterson, Andrew Barton
...een and gold 
But now, alas, are grim and ashen grey. 
The drowsy schoolboy wakened up from sleep, 
First stays his system with substantial food, 
Then off for school with tasks half understood, 
Alas, alas, that cribs should be so cheap! 

The journey down to town -- 'twere long to tell 
The storm and riot of the rabble rout; 
The wild Walpurgis revel in and out 
That made the ferry boat a floating hell. 

What time the captive locusts fairly roared: 
And bulldog ant...Read More

by Ginsberg, Allen
 United States of North America, Western Hemi-
of planet Earth six months and fourteen days around
 our Solar System in a Spiral Galaxy
the local year after Dominion of the last God nineteen 
 hundred seventy eight
Completed as yellow hazed dawn clouds brighten East,
 Denver city white below
Blue sky transparent rising empty deep & spacious to a 
 morning star high over the balcony 
above some autos sat with wheels to curb downhill 
 from Flatiron's jagged pine ridg...Read More

by Service, Robert William
...two neighbors who never would speak!
I knew that full well like a devil in hell he was hatching out, early and late,
A system to bear through the frost-spangled air the warm, crimson waves of his hate.
I only could peer and shudder and fear--'twas ever so ghastly and still;
But I knew over there in his lonely despair he was plotting me terrible ill.
I knew that he nursed a malice accurst, like the blast of a winnowing flame;
I pleaded aloud for a shield, for a shroud...Read More

by Blake, William
And particularly they studied the genius of each city &
country. placing it under its mental deity.
Till a system was formed, which some took advantage of &
enslav'd the vulgar by attempting to realize or abstract the
mental deities from their objects: thus began Priesthood.
Choosing forms of worship from poetic tales.
And at length they pronounced that the Gods had orderd such 
Thus men forgot that All deities reside in the human breast.
...Read More

by Tennyson, Alfred Lord
Without you; with you, whole; and of those halves 
You worthiest; and howe'er you block and bar 
Your heart with system out from mine, I hold 
That it becomes no man to nurse despair, 
But in the teeth of clenched antagonisms 
To follow up the worthiest till he die: 
Yet that I came not all unauthorized 
Behold your father's letter.' 
On one knee 
Kneeling, I gave it, which she caught, and dashed 
Unopened at her feet: a tide of fierce 
Invective seemed to wait beh...Read More

by Tennyson, Alfred Lord
...f the vale! half opened bell of the woods! 
Sole comfort of my dark hour, when a world 
Of traitorous friend and broken system made 
No purple in the distance, mystery, 
Pledge of a love not to be mine, farewell; 
These men are hard upon us as of old, 
We two must part: and yet how fain was I 
To dream thy cause embraced in mine, to think 
I might be something to thee, when I felt 
Thy helpless warmth about my barren breast 
In the dead prime: but may thy mother prove 
As tru...Read More

by Hecht, Anthony
...un to see
What it is that they resemble. One by one,
They stand there like magnificent enlargements
Of the vascular system of the human brain.
I see them there like huge discarnate minds,
Lost in their meditative silences.
The trunks, branches and twigs compose the vessels
That feed and nourish vast immortal thoughts.
So I've assigned them names. There, near the path,
Is the great brain of Beethoven, and Kepler
Haunts the wide spaces of that mountain ash.<...Read More

by Byron, George (Lord)
...rward to subsequent collections.

1. See "Life of H Kirk White"

2. King Alfonso, speaking of the Ptolomean system said, that "had he been consulted at the creation of the world, he would have spared the Maker some absurdities."

3. See Aubrey's account of the apparition which disappeared "with a curious perfume and a melodious twang;" or see the Antiquary, Vol. I.

4. A drowned body lies at the body till rotten; it then floats, as most people ...Read More

by Amichai, Yehuda
...heard them say to me.
I'm a person with a complex plumbing of the soul,
Sophisticated instruments of feeling and a system
Of controlled memory at the end of the twentieth century,
But with an old body from ancient times
And with a God even older than my body.
I'm a person for the surface of the earth.
Low places, caves and wells
Frighten me. Mountain peaks
And tall buildings scare me.
I'm not like an inserted fork,
Not a cutting knife, not a stuck spoon.<...Read More

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