Best Poems by Classical Poets

Jacques Prevert

Rappelle-toi Barbara
Il pleuvait sans cesse sur Brest ce jour-là
Et tu marchais souriante
Épanouie ravie ruisselante

Evie Shockley

you put this pen
in my hand and you
take the pen from you put this pen

Barbara Guest

On this dry prepared path walk heavy feet.
This is not "dinner music." This is a power structure.

Richard Lovelace

"Come, pretty birds, present your lays,
And learn to chaunt a goddess praise;
Ye wood-nymphs, let your voices be
Employ'd to serve her deity:

Robert William Service

If you had the choice of two women to wed,
(Though of course the idea is quite absurd)
And the first from her heels to her dainty head
Was charming in every sense of the word:

Emily Jane Brontë

A little while, a little while,
The weary task is put away,
And I can sing and I can smile,
Alike, while I have holiday.

Thomas Hardy

Between us now and here -
   Two thrown together
Who are not wont to wear
   Life's flushest feather -

Emily Dickinson


"Faith" is a fine invention
When Gentlemen can see—

Edith Matilda Thomas

Apple-green west and an orange bar,
And the crystal eye of a lone, one star . . .
And, "Child, take the shears and cut what you will,
Frost to-night -- so clear and dead-still."

Robert Browning

Heap cassia, sandal-buds and stripes
Of labdanum, and aloe-balls,
Smeared with dull nard an Indian wipes
From out her hair: such balsam falls

Emily Dickinson


"Heaven" has different Signs—to me—
Sometimes, I think that Noon

Emily Dickinson


"Heaven"—is what I cannot reach!
The Apple on the Tree—

Emily Dickinson


"Houses"—so the Wise Men tell me—
"Mansions"! Mansions must be warm!

Thomas Hardy

I said to Love,
"It is not now as in old days
When men adored thee and thy ways
   All else above;

Emily Dickinson


"I want"—it pleaded—All its life—
I want—was chief it said

A B Banjo Paterson

We see it each day in the paper,
And know that there's mischief in store;
That some unprofessional caper
Has landed a shark on the shore.

Robert Frost

A dented spider like a snow drop white
On a white Heal-all, holding up a moth
Like a white piece of lifeless satin cloth -
Saw ever curious eye so strange a sight? -

Stephen Crane

"It was wrong to do this," said the angel.
"You should live like a flower,
Holding malice like a puppy,
Waging war like a lambkin."

William Carlos Williams

You sullen pig of a man
you force me into the mud
with your stinking ash-cart!

Eugene Field

Last night, whiles that the curfew bell ben ringing,
I heard a moder to her dearie singing
"Lollyby, lolly, lollyby."
And presently that chylde did cease hys weeping,

Emily Jane Brontë

Me thinks this heart should rest awhile
So stilly round the evening falls
The veiled sun sheds no parting smile
Nor mirth nor music wakes my Halls

Roald Dahl

The most important thing we've learned,
So far as children are concerned,
Is never, NEVER, NEVER let
Them near your television set --

Dorothy Parker

Star, that gives a gracious dole,
What am I to choose?
Oh, will it be a shriven soul,
Or little buckled shoes?

Emily Dickinson


"Unto Me?" I do not know you—
Where may be your House?

A B Banjo Paterson

Australia takes her pen in hand
To write a line to you,
To let you fellows understand
How proud we are of you.

Emily Dickinson


"Why do I love" You, Sir?

Alfred Lord Tennyson

There lies a vale in Ida, lovelier
Than all the valleys of Ionian hills.
The swimming vapour slopes athwart the glen,
Puts forth an arm, and creeps from pine to pine,

Kostas Karyotakis

I speak of lives given to the light
of serene love, and while they flow

Kostas Karyotakis

From the depth of good times
our loves greet us bitterly

You’re not in love, you say, and you don’t remember.

Ogden Nash

My fellow man I do not care for.
I often ask me, What's he there for?
The only answer I can find
Is, Reproduction of his kind.

Emily Dickinson

How good—to be alive!

How infinite—to be

Alive—two-fold—The Birth I had

And this—besides, in—Thee!

Tom Clark

Wyatt, with no insurance on his own head,
watching the execution of Anne Boleyn
from his cell in the Tower, while beyond
on Tower Hill her lovers also are executed,

Tom Clark

Wyatt, with no insurance on his own head,
watching the execution of Anne Boleyn
from his cell in the Tower, while beyond
on Tower Hill her lovers also are executed,

reflects upon his wasted virtue and now
redundant innocence, rueful he ever did
let his name be known beyond the door of
his soul or hung his star from fate thrones.

Diane di Prima

I am a shadow crossing ice
I am rusting knife in the water
I am pear tree bitten by frost
I uphold the mountain with my hand

Mirza Ghalib

No, I wasn't meant to love and be loved.
If I'd lived longer, I would have waited longer.

Knowing you are faithless keeps me alive and hungry.

Diane di Prima

she is the wind you never leave behind
black cat you killed in empty lot, she is
smell of the summer weeds, the one who lurks

Anna Akhmatova

Thank you, God: I dream of him more seldom,
And don't see him now in every place,
The white path with clouds has been laden,

Herman Melville

The ribs and terrors in the whale,
Arched over me a dismal gloom,
While all God's sun-lit waves rolled by,
And left me deepening down to doom.

Donald Justice

There is a gold light in certain old paintings
That represents a diffusion of sunlight.
It is like happiness, when we are happy.
It comes from everywhere and from nowhere at once, this light,

Martin Harrison

Thoughts spoken out loud
breath impelled below in the tidal estuary, in the river

in crevice and crevasse both in delight and light
by love and longing desire's invisible fibre

Sandra Fowler

I think you frail blue windows of my thoughts,
Each pane a poem intricately wrought.
Via my faith, they reach your distant sill.
The music of two souls is never still.

Sandra Fowler

You made me love the teachings of Tagore.
My thoughts were mesmerized by your sitar.
I kept the little flowers from India,
Artfully pressed to span a century.

Sandra Fowler

Words will no longer come from you to me,
Handwritten from a land of minarets.
The imagery still lights my afterthoughts,
I wish you a long sunset, poet friend.

Sandra Fowler

Words paint a fragile picture of the dusk.
I think them to a poet far away.
The light shines dim upon my windowpane.
A few tears fall like blue rain in the mind.

Sandra Fowler

Green leaves tap at my window like lost souls.
I trace their signatures upon the glass.
Dawn is only a few quatrains away.
I memorize the fragrance of spring rain.

Sandra Fowler

I was picking flowers and you were praising smoke.
The echoes of that last time linger on.
Birds pieced from the gray quilt of the dusk
Sang mighty wholeness that is ever lost.

Luke Davies

Oh to lie upon her
Her nakedness is all
I simply orchestrated
That horizontal fall

And had no wrong intentions
And cared about no tree
I simply lay with her
And she with me.

It is all Chinese whispers
It all gets told askew
I simply kissed the lips
That kissed the apple dew.

Luke Davies

Across your back
Those freckles strewn
Are every constellation
I have known —

All galaxy and godhead too —
An astronaut would weep
At such a view: as if,
After dreams, in the deep

Heart of dawn, he'd wake
To that expanse, and breathe it in.
Home! O Milky Way!
O milk-white skin!

Bill Knott

-to S.

The light lay in shreds across the bed,
only your waking could make it whole;

Bill Knott

I'm tired of murdering children.
Once, long ago today, they wanted to live;
now I feel Vietnam the place
where rigor mortis is beginning to set-in upon me.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

I know 'tis but a Dream, yet feel more anguish
Than if 'twere Truth. It has been often so:
Must I die under it? Is no one near?

Geet Chaturvedi

Once upon a time, there was a Seed. It had an Earth. They both loved each other. The Seed rollicked and rolled in the lap of the Earth, and wanted to remain there forever. The Earth kept it secure within her arms and would repeatedly urge it to sprout. The Seed was reluctant. The Earth thirsted in fecund heat. One day, it rained and the Seed could not defer its sprouting. Half-heartedly, it put forth shoots and soon thereafter became delightfully absorbed in growing. Mental abstraction is a delightful idyll too. It grew a good deal and rose to a great height. The earth does not grow in height but spreads out. Much as a tree may expand by spreading out, its upward growth is its identity.

They both grew apart. The roots stayed in the ground, so to speak, but to date, who has ever regarded roots as trees? A tree is that which furthers itself away from the earth. If it remained glued, it would be grass. The Tree wishes to go back being a Seed again. The Earth wishes to take back her blessing. It saddens the Tree that it can never again become that single Seed. However, it would certainly turn into a thousand seeds. The Earth would never be able to feel the soft touch of that very same Seed. For her, the Tree would merely be a shadow.

Every single thing in life does not have an obverse to it. Night is not a dark Day, and Day is not a bright Night. Moon not a cold Sun, and Sun not a hot Moon. The Earth and the Sky meet nowhere. Nowhere at all.

I go and stand very near the Tree and whisper, You hear me, you are Seed even now. That very same Seed. Don't let height intoxicate you. Even now you are not grown. You are merely Earth's imagination.

All trees grow in imagination. In memory, they always remain seeds.

Ken Bolton

I wonder how
Gregory does this
these three line

Luke Davies

All that there was was beauty and bluff;
Then a deeper thing grows.
In the coinage of rapture
I will pay you my praise.

You will tell me every story
As we drive; in your eyes
Whole forests will flicker past,
Whole skies, enormous mysteries ...

That beauty can malfunction
Is a given. Love knows
Of all the beauties beyond this.
At every plateau, praise.

Bill Knott

'My age, my beast!' - Osip Mandelstam

On the lips a taste of tolling we are blind
The light drifts like dust over faces

Luke Davies

Idea that earth crunches and body repairs
Is idea conceived in love.
Impatience is the only sin.
We all get fidgety but love

Is the medium in which even
Flickers occur, through which tectonically
The spines of mountains stretch. Here today,
Gone next ice age. Ironically

We're not equipped to deal with this. So
I float through fields of unknowing
Under Spanish clouds, a summer bliss. Oh:
But the Pyrenees still shudder in their glowing.

Luke Davies

It's not that I could sketch the red
Gunwale of the boat
But that what emerges on the other side of red
Could go anywhere: that's what they call art.

Nor that the white swan over near the bulrushes
Flaps up out of the water terrified
By the barn-owl's shriek. Nor that the barn-owl wishes
For anything other than its own hard

Cry to shatter the darkening day.
Not the mist moving into the pines beside the lake.
Though all these things are true in their own way —
Without love I am broke.

Luke Davies

Come let's play mortals Sugar Lee,
That fierce embrace. And all my fear
Of loss, of departure, will dissolve
In the light of your limbs. Come stay an hour,

Or less. And don't trust any technology,
And even the clocks are lying.
The only thing sure is the pleasure we'll know
When we're done with trying

To be polite, to suck all the juice from delay.
The only solution is abandon.
Come I don't care — come you be the pyre;
And I will be the burned one.

Luke Davies

Sugar Lee you are the sun today,
Pervasive light and heat, and I
The valley floor, the birch pine slopes,
The snow-capped peaks, transparent sky

Through which you spread, and oh how
My toes are tingling miles away.
Then let us spread this picnic rug;
Come let's play mortals Sugar Lee.

Come stay a day, come lie an hour,
A lunar month, a solar year;
The world will organise itself the while
I whisper praises in your ear.

Alison Croggon

Whatever drags downward, the heart hampers:
hands softer than dough
may leaven massy weights, o delicate
knucklings of love,

Alison Croggon

there bees were perpetual as meadows asleep in a brooding sun
or a curlew recalled as a mirror of all sadness

Geet Chaturvedi

एक समय की बात है । एक बीज था । उसके पास एक धरती थी । दोनों प्रेम करते थे । बीज, धरती की गोद में लोट-पोट होता,हमेशा वहीं बने रहना चाहता । धरती उसे बांहों में बांधकर रखती थी और बार-बार उससे उग जाने को कहती । बीज अनमना था । धरती आवेग में थी । एक दिन बरसात हो गई और बीज अपने उगने को स्थगित नहीं कर पाया । अनमना उगा और एक दिन उगने में रम गया । अन्यमनस्कता भी रमणीय होती है । ख़ूब उगा और बहुत ऊँचा पहुँच गया। धरती उगती नहीं, फैलती है । पेड़ कितना भी फैल जाए, उसकी उगन उसकी पहचान होती है ।

दोनों बहुत दूर हो गए । कहने को तो जड़ें धरती में रहीं, लेकिन जड़ को किसने पेड़ माना है आज तक? पेड़ तो वह है जो धरती से दूर हुआ । उससे चिपका रहता, तो घास होता ।

पेड़ वापस एक बीज बनना चाहता है । धरती अपना आशीष वापस लेना चाहती है। पेड़ को दुख है कि अब वह वापस कभी वही एक बीज नहीं बन पाएगा । हाँ,हज़ारों बीजों में बदल जाएगा। धरती ठीक उसी बीज का स्पर्श कभी नहीं पा सकेगी। पेड़ उसके लिए महज़ एक परछाईं होगा ।

जीवन में हर चीज़ का विलोम नहीं होता । रात एक अँधेरा दिन नहीं होती, और दिन एक उजली रात नहीं होता । चाँद एक ठँडा सूरज नहीं, और सूरज एक गरम चाँद नहीं है । धरती और आसमान कहीं नहीं मिलते, कहीं भी नहीं ।

मैं पेड़ के बहुत क़रीब जाता हूँ और उससे कहता हूँ, सुनो, तुम अब भी एक बीज हो । वही वाला बीज । क़द के मद में मत आना। तुम अभी भी उगे नहीं हो तुम सिर्फ़ धरती की कल्पना हो

सारे पेड़ कल्पना में उगते हैं । स्मृति में वे हमेशा बीज होते हैं

Mari Evans

and the old women gathered
and sang His praises
resolutely together

Makarand Paranjape

To have designs on another
Degrades oneself;
The old Greek was right,
Platonic love is the best.

Leslie Coulson

Our little hour,—how swift it flies
When poppies flare and lilies smile;
How soon the fleeting minute dies,
Leaving us but a little while

Michael Palmer

As if by saying "morning" on January 8th
the light would be set forward
along the megalophonous shore

Michael Palmer

Ave manes a specter
appeared in my dream

a shade with vulture-bone flute
calling to his dead

Michael Palmer

Chimera, sightless stars have colonized the meadow

Chimera, helicopters are birthing their young into the waves

Language of the waves, Chimera, language

B. R. Dionysius

The first thing Helen says is,
‘If any of you touch me,
it’s assault’.
Their first session

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Love, though for this you riddle me with darts,
And drag me at your chariot till I die, --

Michael Palmer

From the Mercury Fountain, Mahmoud,
flow the tenses: past, present, future;
future-past, first and last, daily acts;
desires; angels of slaughter and syntax;

Thomas Hardy

Long have I framed weak phantasies of Thee,
   O Willer masked and dumb!
   Who makest Life become, -
As though by labouring all-unknowingly,

Ezra Pound

Be in me as the eternal moods
of the bleak wind, and not
As transient things are—
gaiety of flowers.

Joanne Kyger

He is pruning the privet

of sickly sorrow desolation
in loose pieces of air he goes clip clip clip
the green blooming branches fall—‘they’re getting out

Michael Palmer

He stopped part way across the field to
sit down and rest. An eagle
descended from the sky and an angel with the face of death

Erin Mouré

I can t sleep for grief.
I can t sleep for longing.
I can t sleep for wanting happiness!
Mother, how will I live.

Erin Mouré

I ll never master the art of poetry. I
have these words: sadness and tears!

Erin Mouré

I m going to walk to the mountain. As if
we could meet there!

First I must dream the mountain

Erin Mouré

I m not pleading any thread of love
until I see you.

I m not plaiting my hair above
until the sea brings you.

Wilfred Owen

[I saw his round mouth's crimson deepen as it fell],
Like a Sun, in his last deep hour;
Watched the magnificent recession of farewell,
Clouding, half gleam, half glower,

Michael Palmer

In the Empire of Light
the water's completely dry

floating on a surface of itself

Erin Mouré

It was at the fountain where I washed my curls,
Mother, and where I did loosen them
and me
oh lucent

Emily Jane Brontë

Long neglect has worn away
Half the sweet enchanting smile;
Time has turned the bloom to gray;
Mold and damp the face defile.

Hilaire Belloc

The Kings come riding back from the Crusade,
The purple Kings and all their mounted men;
They fill the street with clamorous cavalcade;

Hilaire Belloc

The stranger warmth of the young sun obeying,
Look! little beads of green begin to grow,

Hilaire Belloc

The soldier month, the bulwark of the year,
That never more shall hear such victories told;
He stands apparent with his heaven-high spear,

Hilaire Belloc

Hoar Time about the house betakes him slow,
Seeking an entry for his weariness.
And in that dreadful company distress

Hilaire Belloc

The winter moon has such a quiet car
That all the winter nights are dumb with rest.
She drives the gradual dark with drooping crest,

Hilaire Belloc

It freezes- all across a soundless sky
The birds go home. The governing dark's begun:
The steadfast dark that waits not for a sun;

Hilaire Belloc

Rise up, and do begin the day's adorning;
The Summer dark is but the dawn of day.
The last of sunset fades into the morning,

Hilaire Belloc

The north-cast wind has come from Norroway,
Roaring he came above the white waves' tips!
The foam of the loud sea was on his lips,

Hilaire Belloc

This is the laughing-eyed amongst them all:
My lady's month. A season of young things.
She rules the light with harmony, and brings

Hilaire Belloc

November is that historied Emperor,
Conquered in age, but foot to foot with fate,
Who from his refuge high has heard the roar

Hilaire Belloc

I, from a window where the Meuse is wide,
Looked eastward out to the September night;
The men that in the hopeless battle died
Rose, and deployed, and stationed for the fight;

Muriel Rukeyser

Murmurs from the earth of this land, from the caves and craters,
from the bowl of darkness. Down watercourses of our
dragon childhood, where we ran barefoot.

Bernadette Mayer

name address date
I cannot remember
an eye for an eye
then and there my

this is
your se
cond ch
ance to

h i s t o r y
r e p e a t s
i t s s e l f

and a tooth
for a tooth
is a tooth:

Bernadette Mayer

You jerk you didn't call me up
I haven't seen you in so long
You probably have a fucking tan
& besides that instead of making love tonight
You're drinking your parents to the airport
I'm through with you bourgeois boys
All you ever do is go back to ancestral comforts
Only money can get—even Catullus was rich but

Nowadays you guys settle for a couch
By a soporific color cable t.v. set
Instead of any arc of love, no wonder
The G.I. Joe team blows it every other time

Wake up! It's the middle of the night
You can either make love or die at the hands of the Cobra Commander

Bob Kaufman


Michael Palmer

The order of islands here
If you take it

will I give it back
at two o'clock

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