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Famous Witness Poems by Famous Poets

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

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by Shakespeare, William fluxive eyes,
And often kiss'd, and often 'gan to tear:
Cried 'O false blood, thou register of lies,
What unapproved witness dost thou bear!
Ink would have seem'd more black and damned here!'
This said, in top of rage the lines she rents,
Big discontent so breaking their contents.

A reverend man that grazed his cattle nigh--
Sometime a blusterer, that the ruffle knew
Of court, of city, and had let go by
The swiftest hours, observed as they flew--
Towards this afflicte...Read more of this...

by Poe, Edgar Allan
Of beautiful Gomorrah! O, the wave
Is now upon thee- but too late to save!

Sound loves to revel in a summer night:
Witness the murmur of the grey twilight
That stole upon the ear, in Eyraco,
Of many a wild star-gazer long ago-
That stealeth ever on the ear of him
Who, musing, gazeth on the distance dim,
And sees the darkness coming as a cloud-
Is not its form- its voice- most palpable and loud?

But what is this?- it cometh, and it brings
A music with it- 'tis the rush o...Read more of this...

by Robinson, Edwin Arlington
...Fear, like a living fire that only death 
Might one day cool, had now in Avon’s eyes 
Been witness for so long of an invasion 
That made of a gay friend whom we had known 
Almost a memory, wore no other name
As yet for us than fear. Another man 
Than Avon might have given to us at least 
A futile opportunity for words 
We might regret. But Avon, since it happened, 
Fed with his unrevealing reticence
The fire of death we saw that horribly 
...Read more of this...

by Keats, John
He with his wand light touch'd, and heavenward
Swifter than sight was gone--even before
The teeming earth a sudden witness bore
Of his swift magic. Diving swans appear
Above the crystal circlings white and clear;
And catch the cheated eye in wild surprise,
How they can dive in sight and unseen rise--
So from the turf outsprang two steeds jet-black,
Each with large dark blue wings upon his back.
The youth of Caria plac'd the lovely dame
On one, and felt himself in...Read more of this...

by Hugo, Victor
...proud majesty; 
 Unto itself belonging this remained. 
 Often a castle was thus self-sustained 
 And equalled towns; witness in Lombardy 
 Crama, and Plato too in Tuscany, 
 And in Apulia Barletta;—each one 
 Was powerful as a town, and dreaded none. 
 Corbus ranked thus; its precincts seemed to hold 
 The reflex of its mighty kings of old; 
 Their great events had witness in these walls, 
 Their marriages were here and funerals, 
 And mostly here it was that they ...Read more of this...

by Sexton, Anne on my skin. 
I am a fortunate lady. 
I've gotten out of my pouch 
and my teeth are glad 
and my heart, that witness, 
beats well at the thought. 

Oh body, be glad. 
You are good goods. 


Middle-class lady, 
you make me smile. 
You dig a hole 
and come out with a sunburn. 
If someone hands you a glass of water 
you start constructing a sailboat. 
If someone hands you a candy wrapper, 
you take it to the book binder. 
Pocketa-pocketa...Read more of this...

by Marvell, Andrew
...ithout breaking, venomed juice convey, 
Or how a mortal poison she may draw 
Out of the cordial meal of the cacao. 
Witness, ye stars of night, and thou the pale 
Moon, that o'ercame with the sick steam didst fail; 
Ye neighboring elms, that your green leaves did shed, 
And fawns that from the womb abortive fled; 
Not unprovoked, she tries forbidden arts, 
But in her soft breast love's hid cancer smarts, 
While she resoloves, at once, Sidney's disgrace 
And her self scorn...Read more of this...

by Anonymous,
...lost daughter Prosperine.
But the Goddess found no refuge,
Found no kindly welcome there,
And no temple bearing witness
To the worship of the gods.

From the fields and from the vineyards
Came no fruit to deck the feasts,
Only flesh of blood-stained victims
Smouldered on the alter-fires,
And where'er the grieving goddess
Turns her melancholy gaze,
Sunk in vilest degradation
Man his loathsomeness displays.

Would he purge his soul from vileness
And...Read more of this...

by Milton, John
...n your notes his praise. 
Ye that in waters glide, and ye that walk 
The earth, and stately tread, or lowly creep; 
Witness if I be silent, morn or even, 
To hill, or valley, fountain, or fresh shade, 
Made vocal by my song, and taught his praise. 
Hail, universal Lord, be bounteous still 
To give us only good; and if the night 
Have gathered aught of evil, or concealed, 
Disperse it, as now light dispels the dark! 
So prayed they innocent, and to their thoughts 
Firm...Read more of this...

by Milton, John
...d unite. 
Why shouldst not thou like sense within thee feel 
When I am present, and thy trial choose 
With me, best witness of thy virtue tried? 
So spake domestick Adam in his care 
And matrimonial love; but Eve, who thought 
Less attributed to her faith sincere, 
Thus her reply with accent sweet renewed. 
If this be our condition, thus to dwell 
In narrow circuit straitened by a foe, 
Subtle or violent, we not endued 
Single with like defence, wherever met; 
How are...Read more of this...

by Milton, John
...ell humble; and, embracing them, besought 
His peace, and thus proceeded in her plaint. 
Forsake me not thus, Adam! witness Heaven 
What love sincere, and reverence in my heart 
I bear thee, and unweeting have offended, 
Unhappily deceived! Thy suppliant 
I beg, and clasp thy knees; bereave me not, 
Whereon I live, thy gentle looks, thy aid, 
Thy counsel, in this uttermost distress, 
My only strength and stay: Forlorn of thee, 
Whither shall I betake me, where subsist? 
W...Read more of this...

by Milton, John>

Chor: In seeking just occasion to provoke
The Philistine, thy Countries Enemy,
Thou never wast remiss, I hear thee witness:
Yet Israel still serves with all his Sons. 

Sam: That fault I take not on me, but transfer
On Israel's Governours, and Heads of Tribes,
Who seeing those great acts which God had done
Singly by me against their Conquerours
Acknowledg'd not, or not at all consider'd
Deliverance offerd : I on th' other side
Us'd no ambition to commend my deeds,
Th...Read more of this...

by Whitman, Walt
...d I see in my own days where I sweated through fog with linguists and
I have no mockings or arguments—I witness and wait. 

I believe in you, my Soul—the other I am must not abase itself to you; 
And you must not be abased to the other.

Loafe with me on the grass—loose the stop from your throat; 
Not words, not music or rhyme I want—not custom or lecture, not even the
Only the lull I like, the hum of your valved voice. 

I min...Read more of this...

by Sexton, Anne
...or my twenty-five years of hanging on
by my teeth as I once saw at Ringling Brothers.
The gray room:
Judge, lawyer, witness
and me and invisible Skeezix,
and all the other torn
enduring the bewilderments
of their division.

Your daisies have come
on the day of my divorce.
They arrive like round yellow fish,
sucking with love at the coral of our love.
Yet they wait,
in their short time,
like little utero half-borns,
half killed, thin and bone soft.
They bre...Read more of this...

by Byron, George (Lord)
...uque, [10] 
And mounting featly for the mead, 
With Maugrabee [11] and Mamaluke, 
His way amid his Delis took, [12] 
To witness many an active deed 
With sabre keen, or blunt jerreed. 
The Kislar only and his Moors 
Watch well the Haram's massy doors. 


His head was leant upon his hand, 
His eye look'd o'er the dark blue water 
That swiftly glides and gently swells 
Between the winding Dardanelles; 
But yet he saw nor sea nor strand, 
Nor even his Pacha's tu...Read more of this...

by Scott, Sir Walter
...use like warrior's lance,
     'Tis hard for such to view, unfurled,
     The curtain of the future world.
     Yet, witness every quaking limb,
     My sunken pulse, mine eyeballs dim,
     My soul with harrowing anguish torn,
     This for my Chieftain have I borne!—
     The shapes that sought my fearful couch
     A human tongue may ne'er avouch;
     No mortal man—save he, who, bred
     Between the living and the dead,
     Is gifted beyond nature's law
    ...Read more of this...

by Chaucer, Geoffrey
...e so great a wickedness.

For they had seen her ever virtuous,
And loving Hermegild right as her life:
Of this bare witness each one in that house,
Save he that Hermegild slew with his knife:
This gentle king had *caught a great motife* *been greatly moved
Of this witness, and thought he would inquere by the evidence*
Deeper into this case, the truth to lear.* *learn

Alas! Constance, thou has no champion,
Nor fighte canst thou not, so well-away!
But he that starf for...Read more of this...

by Blake, William
...ause of him? turn away 
the law from the woman taken in adultery? steal the labor of others 
to support him? bear false witness when he omitted making a defence 
before Pilate? covet when he pray'd for his disciples, and when he 
bid them shake off the dust of their feet against such as refused to
lodge them? I tell you, no virtue can exis without breaking these 
ten commandments: Jesus was all virtue and acted from im[PL 24]pulse: 
not from rules.
When he had so spoken: ...Read more of this...

by Chaucer, Geoffrey
...A wise wife, if that she can* her good, *knows
Shall *beare them on hand* the cow is wood, *make them believe*
And take witness of her owen maid
Of their assent: but hearken how I said.
"Sir olde kaynard,10 is this thine array?
Why is my neigheboure's wife so gay?
She is honour'd *over all where* she go'th, *wheresoever
I sit at home, I have no *thrifty cloth.* *good clothes*
What dost thou at my neigheboure's house?
Is she so fair? art thou so amorous?
What rown'st* ...Read more of this...

by Akhmatova, Anna
...y nearing night,
We are walking shoulder to shoulder,
You are pensive and I am quiet

We'll walk into church, we'll witness
The singing, the wedding, the cross,
Not seeing each other, we'll exit..
Why are things not working for us?

Or we'll sit on the pressed-down snow
In a cemetery, lightly sigh,
And you with your stick paint the palace
Where together we'll be for all time.


You won't hear about him any longer,
You won't hear ...Read more of this...

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Book: Shattered Sighs