Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Favorite Poems

  1. Feb 15, 2005 #1
    So what is everyone's favorite poem? Come on, you know you have one...
    I'll go first. :shy:

    After All
    by Henry Lawson
    The brooding ghosts of Australian night have gone from the bush and town;
    My spirit revives in the morning breeze,
    though it died when the sun went down;
    The river is high and the stream is strong,
    and the grass is green and tall,
    And I fain would think that this world of ours is a good world after all.

    The light of passion in dreamy eyes, and a page of truth well read,
    The glorious thrill in a heart grown cold of the spirit I thought was dead,
    A song that goes to a comrade's heart, and a tear of pride let fall --
    And my soul is strong! and the world to me is a grand world after all!

    Let our enemies go by their old dull tracks,
    and theirs be the fault or shame
    (The man is bitter against the world who has only himself to blame);
    Let the darkest side of the past be dark, and only the good recall;
    For I must believe that the world, my dear, is a kind world after all.

    It well may be that I saw too plain, and it may be I was blind;
    But I'll keep my face to the dawning light,
    though the devil may stand behind!
    Though the devil may stand behind my back, I'll not see his shadow fall,
    But read the signs in the morning stars of a good world after all.

    Rest, for your eyes are weary, girl -- you have driven the worst away --
    The ghost of the man that I might have been is gone from my heart to-day;
    We'll live for life and the best it brings till our twilight shadows fall;
    My heart grows brave, and the world, my girl, is a good world after all.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 16, 2005 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    For some (to me) strange reason, I'm very fond of Southey's Inchcape Rock...in a "this is the first toy I played with" sort of way.

    That's not my favorite poem, though...really can't pick just one.
  4. Feb 16, 2005 #3
    Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner :biggrin:
  5. Feb 16, 2005 #4


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Mary had a little lamb,
    And it was always gruntin'
    She tied it to a five-bar gate
    And kicked it's little....
  6. Feb 16, 2005 #5


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    "George Gray," from Spoon River Anthology. It's the epitaph of a fictional character.

    I have studied many times
    The marble which was chiseled for me—
    A boat with a furled sail at rest in a harbor.
    In truth it pictures not my destination
    But my life.
    For love was offered me and I shrank from its disillusionment;
    Sorrow knocked at my door, but I was afraid;
    Ambition called to me, but I dreaded the chances.
    Yet all the while I hungered for meaning in my life.
    And now I know that we must lift the sail
    And catch the winds of destiny
    Wherever they drive the boat.
    To put meaning in one’s life may end in madness,
    But life without meaning is the torture
    Of restlessness and vague desire—
    It is a boat longing for the sea and yet afraid.
  7. Feb 16, 2005 #6
    I don't know if I have a single favorite. I like Keats "La Belle Dame Sans Merci" and Poe's "Raven", among many others. I guess my favorite today, would be:

    "Lady Lazarus", Sylvia Plath (as remembered by Mentat)

    I have done it again.
    One year in every ten
    I manage it ----

    A sort of walking miracle, my skin
    Bright as a Nazi lampshade,
    My right foot

    A paperweight,
    My face a featureless, fine
    Jew linen.

    Peel off the napkin
    O my enemy.
    Do I terrify? ----

    The nose, the eye pits, the full set of teeth?
    The sour breath
    Will vanish in a day.

    Soon, soon the flesh
    The grave cave ate will be
    At home on me

    And I a smiling woman.
    I am only thirty.
    And like the cat I have nine times to die.

    This is Number Three.
    What a trash
    To annihilate each decade.

    What a million filaments.
    The peanut-crunching crowd
    Shoves in to see

    Them unwrap me hand and foot ----
    The big strip tease.
    Gentleman, ladies

    These are my hands
    My knees.
    I may be skin and bone,

    Nevertheless, I am the same, identical woman.
    The first time it happened I was ten.
    It was an accident.

    The second time I meant
    To last it out and not come back at all.
    I rocked shut

    As a seashell.
    They had to call and call
    And pick the worms off me like sticky pearls.

    Is an art, like everything else.
    I do it exceptionally well.

    I do it so it feels like hell.
    I do it so it feels real.
    I guess you could say I've a call.

    It's easy enough to do it in a cell.
    It's easy enough to do it and stay put.
    It's the theatrical

    Comeback in broad day
    To the same place, the same face, the same brute
    Amused shout:

    'A miracle!'
    That knocks me out.
    There is a charge

    For the eyeing my scars, there is a charge
    For the hearing of my heart ---
    It really goes.

    And there is a charge, a very large charge
    For a word or a touch
    Or a bit of blood

    Or a piece of my hair or my clothes.
    So, so, Herr Doktor.
    So, Herr Enemy.

    I am your opus,
    I am your valuable,
    The pure gold baby

    That melts to a shriek.
    I turn and burn.
    Do not think I underestimate your great concern.

    Ash, ash ---
    You poke and stir.
    Flesh, bone, there is nothing there ----

    A cake of soap,
    A wedding ring,
    A gold filling.

    Herr God, Herr Lucifer

    Out of the ash
    I rise with my red hair
    And I eat men like air.
  8. Feb 17, 2005 #7

    Math Is Hard

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I am also a Plath fan. "Mad Girl's Love Song" was my favorite.

    My most beloved poem from childhood was The Highwayman.

    And I love everything ever written by T.S. Eliot.
  9. Feb 18, 2005 #8
    Excellent. I only posted "Lady Lazarus" because I memorized it :smile:.

    Another one I really like and have memorized (note: I'm not typically a Shakespeare fan...this is pretty much the only thing I've ever really like by him):

    Sonnet 116
    Let me not to the marriage of true minds
    Admit impediments. Love is not love
    Which alters when it alteration finds
    Or bends with the remover to remove.
    Oh, no. It is an ever-fixe'd mark
    That looks on tempests and is never shaken.
    It is the star to every wandering bark,
    Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
    Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
    Within its bending sickle's compass come.
    Love alters not with its brief hours and weeks,
    But bears it out e'en to the edge of doom.
    If this be error and upon me proved,
    I never writ nor no man ever loved.
  10. Feb 18, 2005 #9


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    My heart leaps up when I behold
    A rainbow in the sky,
    So it was when my life began,
    so it is now I am a man.
    Or strike me dead,
    For the child is father to the man.
    And if I could wish my days to be
    wrapped round and round in natural piety.

    Something like that anyway . . . Wordsworth you know.
    There's a line in it with profound consequences. Know it?
  11. Feb 18, 2005 #10


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor


    In your light I learn how to love.
    In your beauty, how to make poems.
    You dance inside my chest,
    where no one sees you,
    but sometimes I do,
    and that sight becomes this art.

    Thou and I - Rumi

    Joyful the moment when we sat in the bower, Thou and I;
    In two forms and with two faces - with one soul, Thou and I.

    The colour of the garden and the song of the birds give the elixir of immortality
    The instant we come into the orchard, Thou and I.

    The stars of Heaven come out to look upon us -
    We shall show the moon herself to them, Thou and I.

    Thou and I, with no 'Thou' or 'I', shall become one through our tasting;
    Happy, safe from idle talking, Thou and I.

    The spirited parrots of heaven will envy us -
    Wen we shall laugh in such a way, Thou and I.

    This is stranger, that Thou and I, in this corner here...
    Are both in one breath here and there - Thou and I.
  12. Feb 20, 2005 #11


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    If, by Rudyard Kipling.

    If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
    If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
    If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
    Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
    And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

    If you can dream -- and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think -- and not make thoughts your aim;
    If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two imposters just the same;
    If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
    Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools;

    If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
    And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
    If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
    And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

    If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    Or walk with kings -- nor lose the common touch,
    If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
    If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds' worth of distance run --
    Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
    And -- which is more -- you'll be a Man, my son!
  13. Feb 20, 2005 #12
    I just rediscovered this one last night (long story)...

    Empties Coming Back
    by Angelo De Ponciano
    Have you ever sat by the railroad track
    and watched the emptys cuming back?
    lumbering along with a groan and a whine--
    smoke strung out in a long gray line
    belched from the panting injun's stack
    --just emptys cuming back.

    I have -- and to me the emptys seem
    like dreams I sometimes dream--
    of a girl -- or munney -- or maybe fame--
    my dreams have all returned the same,
    swinging along the homebound track--
    just emptys cuming back.
  14. Feb 20, 2005 #13
    The Calf Path
    By Sam Walter Foss


    One day, through the primeval wood,
    A calf walked home, as good calves should;


    But made a trail all bent askew,
    A crooked trail as all calves do.
    Since then three hundred years have fled,
    And, I infer, the calf is dead.
    But still he left behind his trail,
    And thereby hangs my moral tale.
    The trail was taken up next day,
    By a lone dog that passed that way.
    And then a wise bell-wether sheep,
    Pursued the trail o'er vale and steep;
    And drew the flock behind him too,
    As good bell-wethers always do.
    And from that day, o'er hill and glade.
    Through those old woods a path was made.


    And many men wound in and out,
    And dodged, and turned, and bent about;
    And uttered words of righteous wrath,
    Because 'twas such a crooked path.
    But still they followed - do not laugh -
    The first migrations of that calf.
    And through this winding wood-way stalked,
    Because he wobbled when he walked.


    This forest path became a lane,
    that bent, and turned, and turned again.
    This crooked lane became a road,
    Where many a poor horse with his load,
    Toiled on beneath the burning sun,
    And traveled some three miles in one.
    And thus a century and a half,
    They trod the footsteps of that calf.


    The years passed on in swiftness fleet,
    The road became a village street;
    And this, before men were aware,
    A city's crowded thoroughfare;
    And soon the central street was this,
    Of a renowned metropolis;
    And men two centuries and a half,
    Trod in the footsteps of that calf.


    Each day a hundred thousand rout,
    Followed the zigzag calf about;
    And o'er his crooked journey went,
    The traffic of a continent.
    A Hundred thousand men were led,
    By one calf near three centuries dead.
    They followed still his crooked way,
    And lost one hundred years a day;
    For thus such reverence is lent,
    To well established precedent.


    A moral lesson this might teach,
    Were I ordained and called to preach;
    For men are prone to go it blind,
    Along the calf-paths of the mind;
    And work away from sun to sun,
    To do what other men have done.
    They follow in the beaten track,
    And out and in, and forth and back,
    And still their devious course pursue,
    To keep the path that others do.
    They keep the path a sacred groove,
    Along which all their lives they move.
    But how the wise old wood gods laugh,
    Who saw the first primeval calf!
    Ah! many things this tale might teach -
    But I am not ordained to preach.
  15. Feb 20, 2005 #14
    I second Mad Girl's Love Song:

    "I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;
    I lift my lids and all is born again.
    (I think I made you up inside my head.)

    The stars go waltzing out in blue and red,
    And arbitrary blackness gallops in:
    I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

    I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed
    And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.
    (I think I made you up inside my head.)

    God topples from the sky, hell's fires fade:
    Exit seraphim and Satan's men:
    I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

    I fancied you'd return the way you said,
    But I grow old and I forget your name.
    (I think I made you up inside my head.)

    I should have loved a thunderbird instead;
    At least when spring comes they roar back again.
    I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.
    (I think I made you up inside my head.)"
  16. Feb 21, 2005 #15
    "The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever."

    ~ (Psalm 23, KJV), God. :wink:
  17. Feb 21, 2005 #16
    The Lovesong Of J Alfred Prufrock, by TS Eliot is my favorite of all, but this poem of more reaonable length, is also something special to me.

    The Song of Wandering Aengus

    I went out to the hazel wood,
    Because a fire was in my head,
    And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
    And hooked a berry to a thread;
    And when white moths were on the wing,
    And moth-like stars were flickering out,
    I dropped the berry in a stream
    And caught a little silver trout.

    When I had laid it on the floor
    I went to blow the fire aflame,
    But something rustled on the floor,
    And some one called me by my name:
    It had become a glimmering girl
    With apple blossom in her hair
    Who called me by my name and ran
    And faded through the brightening air.

    Though I am old with wandering
    Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
    I will find out where she has gone,
    And kiss her lips and take her hands;
    And walk among long dappled grass,
    And pluck till time and times are done
    The silver apples of the moon,
    The golden apples of the sun.

    -- William Butler Yeats
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?

Similar Discussions: Favorite Poems
  1. Physics Poem! (Replies: 6)

  2. Philosophical Poems (Replies: 4)

  3. Villanelle poem (Replies: 0)

  4. Favorite Poem (Replies: 24)