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Famous Tortoise Poems by Famous Poets

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

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by Moore, Marianne
...rustles in and out of the
 seaweed;
the birds swim through the air at top speed, emitting cat-calls
 as heretofore—
the tortoise-shell scourges about the feet of the cliffs, in motion
 beneath them;
and the ocean, under the pulsation of lighthouses and noise of
 bell-bouys,
advances as usual, looking as if it were not that ocean in which
 dropped things are bound to sink—
in which if they turn and twist, it is neither with volition nor
 consciousness....Read more of this...



by Lawrence, D. H.
...You know what it is to be born alone,
Baby tortoise!
The first day to heave your feet little by little from the shell,
Not yet awake,
And remain lapsed on earth,
Not quite alive.

A tiny, fragile, half-animate bean.

To open your tiny beak-mouth, that looks as if it would never open,

Like some iron door;
To lift the upper hawk-beak from the lower base
And reach your skinny little neck
And ta...Read more of this...

by Dickinson, Emily
...dth of blue!

Write me how many notes there be
In the new Robin's ecstasy
Among astonished boughs --
How many trips the Tortoise makes --
How many cups the Bee partakes,
The Debauchee of Dews!

Also, who laid the Rainbow's piers,
Also, who leads the docile spheres
By withes of supple blue?
Whose fingers string the stalactite --
Who counts the wampum of the night
To see that none is due?

Who built this little Alban House
And shut the windows down so close
My spirit cannot see...Read more of this...

by Wilde, Oscar
...sting the little ripples manfully
Made for the wild-duck's nest, from bough to bough
Hopped the shy finch, and the huge tortoise crept across the
slough.

On the faint wind floated the silky seeds
As the bright scythe swept through the waving grass,
The ouzel-cock splashed circles in the reeds
And flecked with silver whorls the forest's glass,
Which scarce had caught again its imagery
Ere from its bed the dusky tench leapt at the dragon-fly.

But little care had he fo...Read more of this...

by Betjeman, John
...The bells of waiting Advent ring,
The Tortoise stove is lit again
And lamp-oil light across the night
Has caught the streaks of winter rain
In many a stained-glass window sheen
From Crimson Lake to Hookers Green.

The holly in the windy hedge
And round the Manor House the yew
Will soon be stripped to deck the ledge,
The altar, font and arch and pew,
So that the villagers can say
'The church ...Read more of this...



by Smart, Christopher
...with the Worm -- the life of the Lord is in Humiliation, the Spirit also and the truth. 

Let Elihu bless with the Tortoise, which is food for praise and thanksgiving. 

Let Hezekiah praise with the Dromedary -- the zeal for the glory of God is excellence, and to bear his burden is grace. 

Let Zadoc worship with the Mole -- before honour is humility, and he that looketh low shall learn. 

Let Gad with the Adder bless in the simplicity of the preacher and the...Read more of this...

by Marvell, Andrew
...er hopes they rue, 
Themselves dishonoured, and the gods untrue, 
And to each other, helpless couple, moan, 
As the sad tortoise for the sea does groan. 
But most they for their darling Charles complain, 
And were it burnt, yet less would be their pain. 
To see that fatal pledge of sea command 
Now in the ravisher De Ruyter's hand, 
The Thames roared, swooning Medway turned her tide, 
And were they mortal, both for grief had died. 

The court in farthing yet itsel...Read more of this...

by Levine, Philip
...ular lusters
Warmed by much handling. They almost purr.
When the soles of my feet grow cold,
The blue eye of my tortoise will comfort me.
Let me have my copper cooking pots, let my rouge pots
Bloom about me like night flowers, with a good smell.
They will roll me up in bandages, they will store my heart
Under my feet in a neat parcel.
I shall hardly know myself. It will be dark,
And the shine of these small things sweeter than the face of Ishtar....Read more of this...

by Whitman, Walt
...ow, white, playing within me, 
And consider green and violet, and the tufted crown, intentional; 
And do not call the tortoise unworthy because she is not something else; 
And the jay in the woods never studied the gamut, yet trills pretty well to me; 
And the look of the bay mare shames silliness out of me.

14
The wild gander leads his flock through the cool night; 
Ya-honk! he says, and sounds it down to me like an invitation; 
(The pert may suppose it meaning...Read more of this...

by Whittier, John Greenleaf
...ink 
Of the brook are her poor flowers, weed-o'errun, 
Pansy and daffodil, rose and pink. 

A year has gone, as the tortoise goes, 
Heavy and slow; 
And the same rose blows, and the same sun glows, 
And the same brook sings of a year ago. 

There 's the same sweet clover-smell in the breeze; 
And the June sun warm 
Tangles his wings of fire in the trees, 
Setting, as then, over Fernside farm. 

I mind me how with a lover's care 
From my Sunday coat 
I brushed off ...Read more of this...

by Chesterton, G K
...ut the fight,
Like thunder-bolts a-roam,
Like birds about the battle-field,
While Ogier writhed under his shield
Like a tortoise in his dome.

But hate in the buried Ogier
Was strong as pain in hell,
With bare brute hand from the inside
He burst the shield of brass and hide,
And a death-stroke to the Roman's side
Sent suddenly and well.

Then the great statue on the shield
Looked his last look around
With level and imperial eye;
And Mark, the man from Italy,
Fell in t...Read more of this...

by Whittier, John Greenleaf
...e's morning chase,
Of the wild-flower's time and place,
Flight of fowl and habitude
Of the tenants of the wood;
How the tortoise bears his shell,
How the woodchuck digs his cell,
And the ground-mole sinks his well;
How the robin feeds her young,
How the oriole's nest is hung;
Where the whitest lilies blow,
Where the freshest berries grow,
Where the ground-nut trails its vine,
Where the wood-grape's clusters shine;
Of the black wasp's cunning way,
Mason of his walls of clay,
A...Read more of this...

by Marvell, Andrew
...ly their Sea-Nuptials restore.
And how the Hydra of seaven Provinces
Is strangled by our Infant Hercules.
Their Tortoise wants its vainly stretched neck;
Their Navy all our Conquest or our Wreck:
Or, what is left, their Carthage overcome
Would render fain unto our better Rome.
Unless our Senate, lest their Youth disuse,
The War, (but who would) Peace if begg'd refuse.
For now of nothing may our State despair,
Darling of Heaven, and of Men the Care;
Provided th...Read more of this...

by Pope, Alexander
...h the glitt'ring Spoil.
This Casket India's glowing Gems unlocks,
And all Arabia breathes from yonder Box.

The Tortoise here and Elephant unite,
Transform'd to Combs, the speckled and the white.
Here Files of Pins extend their shining Rows,
Puffs, Powders, Patches, Bibles, Billet-doux.
Now awful Beauty puts on all its Arms;
The Fair each moment rises in her Charms, 
Repairs her Smiles, awakens ev'ry Grace,
And calls forth all the Wonders of her Face;
Sees by ...Read more of this...

by Pope, Alexander
...the glitt'ring spoil.
This casket India's glowing gems unlocks,
And all Arabia breathes from yonder box.
The tortoise here and elephant unite,
Transform'd to combs, the speckled and the white.
Here files of pins extend their shining rows,
Puffs, powders, patches, bibles, billet-doux.
Now awful beauty puts on all its arms;
The fair each moment rises in her charms,
Repairs her smiles, awakens ev'ry grace,
And calls forth all the wonders of her face;
S...Read more of this...

by Lawrence, D. H.
...es tinily past her as if she were an old rusty tin.

A mere obstacle,
He veers round the slow great mound of her --
Tortoises always foresee obstacles.

It is no use my saying to him in an emotional voice:
"This is your Mother, she laid you when you were an egg."

He does not even trouble to answer: "Woman, what have I to do with thee?"
He wearily looks the other way,
And she even more wearily looks another way still,
Each with the utmost apathy,
Incognisant,
Unaw...Read more of this...

by Lawrence, D. H.
...es deeper in than we know,
Deeper into life;
Right into the marrow
And through the bone.
Along the back of the baby tortoise
The scales are locked in an arch like a bridge,
Scale-lapping, like a lobster's sections
Or a bee's.

Then crossways down his sides
Tiger-stripes and wasp-bands.

Five, and five again, and five again,
And round the edges twenty-five little ones,
The sections of the baby tortoise shell.

Four, and a keystone;
Four, and a keystone;
Four, a...Read more of this...

by Lawrence, D. H.
...fe's unfathomable dawn,
Far off, so far, like a madness, under the horizon's dawning rim,
Far, far off, far scream.
Tortoise in extremis.
Why were we crucified into sex?
Why were we not left rounded off, and finished in ourselves,
As we began,
As he certainly began, so perfectly alone?

A far, was-it-audible scream,
Or did it sound on the plasm direct?

Worse than the cry of the new-born,
A scream,
A yell,
A shout,
A paean,
A death-agony,
A birth-cry,
A submission,
Al...Read more of this...

by Doty, Mark
...ings
that rise and ripple beneath or above me,
your magnificent neck, eyes the deep mottled autumnal colors
of polished tortoise-- I do not want you ever to die....Read more of this...

by Marvell, Andrew
...unproportion'd dwellings build?
The Beasts are by their Denns exprest:
And Birds contrive an equal Nest;
The low roof'd Tortoises do dwell
In cases fit of Tortoise-shell:
No Creature loves an empty space;
Their Bodies measure out their Place.

But He, superfluously spread,
Demands more room alive then dead.
And in his hollow Palace goes
Where Winds as he themselves may lose.
What need of all this Marble Crust
T'impark the wanton Mose of Dust,
That thinks by Breadt...Read more of this...

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Book: Reflection on the Important Things