Famous Poems

Famous Poems

Best Classic Poems On Life's Struggles

Since the dawn of civilization, artists of all forms have sought to express the essence of the human condition and the full range of human experience. Poetry has been one of the most common forms of this expression from the ancients until now. These words have an ability to capture the abstract emotions and concrete experiences that have been part of our humanity throughout the ages. Turning to the words of classic poems can help us to clarify and understand our own experiences better by connecting us to those others who have sought to do the same.

27 Poems by Famous Poets

  1. 1. Clinching The Bolt

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    In the poem "Clinching The Bolt" by Edgar A. Guest, the poet reflects on the difference between those who do their work diligently and take pride in their craftsmanship and those who are careless and seek shortcuts. Through the imagery of a bolt that needs an extra turn to be secure, Guest highlights the importance of attention to detail and thoroughness in one's work. The poem contrasts two types of individuals: the slip-shod worker who is eager to finish quickly and the diligent worker who goes the extra mile to ensure the task is completed properly. The poem suggests that the small extra efforts and additional time invested in a task can make a significant difference in the outcome. Guest emphasizes the importance of taking pride in one's work and being thorough, as it ultimately leads to better results and fewer repairs in the long run.

    It needed just an extra turn to make the bolt secure,
    A few more minutes on the job and then the work was sure;
    But he begrudged the extra turn, and when the task was through,
    The man was back for more repairs in just a day or two.

    Two men there are in every place, and one is only fair,
    The other gives the extra turn to every bolt that's there;
    One man is slip-shod in his work and eager to be quit,
    The other never leaves a task until he's sure of it.

    The difference 'twixt good and bad is not so very much,
    A few more minutes at the task, an extra turn or touch,
    A final test that all is right—and yet the men are few
    Who seem to think it worth their while these extra things to do.

    The poor man knows as well as does the good man how to work,
    But one takes pride in every task, the other likes to shirk;
    With just as little as he can, one seeks his pay to earn,
    The good man always gives the bolt that clinching, extra turn.

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  3. 2. Little Things

    • By Julia Abigail Fletcher Carney

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    "Little Things" by Julia Abigail Fletcher Carney (1823-1908) highlights the significance of small actions and moments in shaping our lives and the world around us. The poem begins by emphasizing the cumulative power of little drops of water and grains of sand that ultimately form vast oceans and pleasant lands. Similarly, the little minutes, though seemingly insignificant, contribute to the creation of mighty ages and eternity. The poem then shifts its focus to the impact of little deeds of kindness and words of love, which have the ability to bring happiness to Earth and emulate the harmony of heaven. However, the poem also cautions that little errors can lead the soul astray from the path of virtue and into sin. Overall, the poem celebrates the transformative potential of seemingly small things, encouraging readers to recognize the importance of their actions and choices in shaping their lives and the world they inhabit.

    Little drops of water,
        Little grains of sand,
    Make the mighty ocean
        And the pleasant land.

    Thus the little minutes,
        Humble though they be,
    Make the mighty ages
        Of eternity.

    So our little errors
        Lead the soul away
    From the path of virtue
        Far in sin to stray.

    Little deeds of kindness,
        Little words of love,
    Help to make earth happy
        Like the heaven above.

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  5. 3. The Sin Of Omission

    • By Margaret E. Sangster

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    "The Sin of Omission" by Margaret E. Sangster is a poignant reflection on the regrets that stem from missed opportunities for kindness and compassion. Through the use of evocative language and emotional imagery, the poem emphasizes the significance of actions not taken. With a consistent rhyme scheme and rhythmic flow, Sangster effectively conveys the weight of these omitted gestures, encouraging readers to consider the impact of their choices on both themselves and others.

    It isn't the thing you do, dear,
        It's the thing you leave undone
    That gives you a bit of a heartache
        At the setting of the sun.
    The tender word forgotten;
        The letter you did not write;
    The flowers you did not send, dear,
        Are your haunting ghosts at night.

    The stone you might have lifted
        Out of a brother's way;
    The bit of hearthstone counsel
        You were hurried too much to say;
    The loving touch of the hand, dear,
        The gentle, winning tone
    Which you had no time nor thought for
        With troubles enough of your own.

    Those little acts of kindness
        So easily out of mind,
    Those chances to be angels
        Which we poor mortals find—
    They come in night and silence,
        Each sad, reproachful wraith,
    When hope is faint and flagging
        And a chill has fallen on faith.

    For life is all too short, dear,
        And sorrow is all too great,
    To suffer our slow compassion
        That tarries until too late;
    And it isn't the thing you do, dear,
        It's the thing you leave undone
    Which gives you a bit of a heartache
        At the setting of the sun.

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  6. 4. The Bridge

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    Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "The Bridge" weaves a vivid scene using poetic techniques. The poem paints a picture of standing on a bridge at midnight as clocks chime. It employs vivid imagery, such as the moon rising over the city and its reflection in the water, creating a serene and almost mystical atmosphere. It also uses metaphor, with the moon resembling a "golden goblet," and symbolism, as the bridge becomes a symbol of life's journey. The poem explores themes of longing, change, and the passage of time, evoking a sense of nostalgia and the enduring nature of human experience.

    I stood on the bridge at midnight,
        As the clocks were striking the hour,
    And the moon rose o'er the city,
        Behind the dark church tower.

    I saw her bright reflection
        In the waters under me,
    Like a golden goblet falling
        And sinking into the sea.

    And far in the hazy distance
        Of that lovely night in June,
    The blaze of the flaming furnace
        Gleamed redder than the moon.

    Among the long, black rafters
        The wavering shadows lay,
    And the current that came from the ocean
        Seemed to lift and bear them away;

    As, sweeping and eddying through them,
        Rose the belated tide,
    And, streaming into the moonlight,
        The seaweed floated wide.

    And like those waters rushing
        Among the wooden piers,
    A flood of thoughts came o'er me
        That filled my eyes with tears

    How often, oh, how often,
        In the days that had gone by,
    I had stood on that bridge at midnight
        And gazed on that wave and sky!

    How often, oh, how often,
        I had wished that the ebbing tide
    Would bear me away on its bosom
        O'er the ocean wild and wide.

    For my heart was hot and restless,
        And my life was full of care,
    And the burden laid upon me
        Seemed greater than I could bear.

    But now it has fallen from me,
        It is buried in the sea;
    And only the sorrow of others
        Throws its shadow over me.

    Yet, whenever I cross the river
        On its bridge with wooden piers,
    Like the odor of brine from the ocean
        Comes the thought of other years.

    And I think how many thousands
        Of care-encumbered men,
    Each bearing his burden of sorrow,
        Have crossed the bridge since then.

    I see the long procession
        Still passing to and fro,
    The young heart hot and restless,
        And the old, subdued and slow!

    And forever and forever,
        As long as the river flows,
    As long as the heart has passions,
        As long as life has woes;

    The moon and its broken reflection
        And its shadows shall appear
    As the symbol of love in heaven,
        And its wavering image here.

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  7. 5. The Old Mill

    • By J. R. Eastwood

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    The Old Mill's by J. R. Eastwood captures the essence of a century-long journey through the life of a mill, using poignant imagery and repetition to convey the constancy of nature's rhythms amidst the passage of time. Through the mill's enduring presence, the poem reminds us of the unchanging beauty of the world, the cycle of generations, and the eternal embrace of love and faith.

    One hundred years the mill has stood:
    One hundred years the dashing flood
    Has turned the wheel with roaring sound,
    Through foaming waters, round and round.

    One hundred years: and overhead
    The same broad roof of blue is spread;
    And in the meadows, bright and green,
    The miller's children still are seen.

    And thus the world is still the same:
    The sunset clouds are turned to flame;
    And while we live, and when we die,
    The lark still carols in the sky.

    And others rise to fill our place;
    We sleep, and others run the race:
    And earth beneath and skies above
    Are still the same; and God is love.

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  8. 6. My Wage

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    This poem encourages us to get the most out of life and push the boundaries. Famous poet Jessie B. Rittenhouse encourages us not to become complacent. We need to keep pushing forward. Sometimes we aim too low, and where you aim, you will hit.

    I bargained with Life for a penny,
    And Life would pay no more,
    However I begged at evening
    When I counted my scanty store;

    For Life is a just employer,
    He gives you what you ask,
    But once you have set the wages,
    Why, you must bear the task.

    I worked for a menial's hire,
    Only to learn, dismayed,
    That any wage I had asked of Life,
    Life would have paid.

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  9. 7. Life Is Fine

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    In this poem, the speaker is considering giving up on life, but he can’t go through with it. He finds that since he hasn’t died, he has something to live for. This poem has a strong sense of structure. It’s made up of single lines and quatrains with the ABCB rhyme scheme.

    I went down to the river,
    I set down on the bank.
    I tried to think but couldn't,
    So I jumped in and sank.

    I came up once and hollered!
    I came up twice and cried!
    If that water hadn't a-been so cold
    I might've sunk and died.

         But it was      Cold in that water!      It was cold!

    I took the elevator
    Sixteen floors above the ground.
    I thought about my baby
    And thought I would jump down.

    I stood there and I hollered!
    I stood there and I cried!
    If it hadn't a-been so high
    I might've jumped and died.

        But it was      High up there!      It was high!

    So since I'm still here livin',
    I guess I will live on.
    I could've died for love—
    But for livin' I was born

    Though you may hear me holler,
    And you may see me cry—
    I'll be dogged, sweet baby,
    If you gonna see me die.

       Life is fine!      Fine as wine!      Life is fine!

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  10. 8. On Good And Evil

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    And one of the elders of the city said, Speak to us of Good and Evil.
    And he answered:

    Of the good in you I can speak, but not of the evil.
    For what is evil but good tortured by its own hunger and thirst?
    Verily when good is hungry it seeks food even in dark caves, and when it thirsts it drinks even of dead waters.

    You are good when you are one with yourself.
    Yet when you are not one with yourself you are not evil.
    For a divided house is not a den of thieves; it is only a divided house.
    And a ship without rudder may wander aimlessly among perilous isles yet sink not to the bottom.

    You are good when you strive to give of yourself.
    Yet you are not evil when you seek gain for yourself.
    For when you strive for gain you are but a root that clings to the earth and sucks at her breast.
    Surely the fruit cannot say to the root, “Be like me, ripe and full and ever giving of your abundance.”
    For to the fruit giving is a need, as receiving is a need to the root.

    You are good when you are fully awake in your speech,
    Yet you are not evil when you sleep while your tongue staggers without purpose.
    And even stumbling speech may strengthen a weak tongue.

    You are good when you walk to your goal firmly and with bold steps.
    Yet you are not evil when you go thither limping.
    Even those who limp go not backward. But you who are strong and swift, see that you do not limp before the lame, deeming it kindness.

    You are good in countless ways, and you are not evil when you are not good,
    You are only loitering and sluggard.
    Pity that the stags cannot teach swiftness to the turtles.

    In your longing for your giant self lies your goodness: and that longing is in all of you.
    But in some of you that longing is a torrent rushing with might to the sea, carrying the secrets of the hillsides and the songs of the forest.
    And in others it is a flat stream that loses itself in angles and bends and lingers before it reaches the shore.
    But let not him who longs much say to him who longs little, “Wherefore are you slow and halting?”
    For the truly good ask not the naked, “Where is your garment?” nor the houseless, “What has befallen your house?”

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  11. 9. Ozymandias

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    "Ozymandias" is a poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley that explores the theme of the transience of power and the inevitable decline of all human empires. The poem describes a traveler who encounters the ruins of a statue in the desert, which once depicted a mighty ruler named Ozymandias (believed to be a reference to the Egyptian pharaoh Ramses II). However, the statue is now broken and deteriorated, with only the legs and a shattered visage remaining. Despite the ruler's boastful inscription declaring his greatness and power, the passage of time has rendered him and his empire insignificant and forgotten. Through this narrative, Shelley conveys the idea that no matter how powerful or imposing a leader may seem in their own time, they are ultimately subject to the ravages of time and will be forgotten by future generations.

    I met a traveller from an antique land
    Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
    Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
    Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
    And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
    Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
    Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
    The hand that mock'd them and the heart that fed;
    And on the pedestal these words appear:
    'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
    Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
    Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
    Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
    The lone and level sands stretch far away;"

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  12. 10. All The World's A Stage

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    William Shakespeare (1564-1616) is regarded by many as one of the greatest poets/playwrights in history. This poem is an excerpt from his play "As You Like It." The poem compares the world to a stage and life to a play, and catalogs seven stages in a man's life: infant, schoolboy, lover, soldier, justice, aging man, and finally facing imminent death. The poem suggests that each stage in a man's life calls upon him to play another role.

    All the world's a stage,
    And all the men and women merely players:
    They have their exits and their entrances;
    And one man in his time plays many parts,
    His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
    Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
    And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
    And shining morning face, creeping like snail
    Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
    Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
    Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
    Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
    Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
    Seeking the bubble reputation
    Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,
    In fair round belly with good capon lined,
    With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
    Full of wise saws and modern instances;
    And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
    Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,
    With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
    His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
    For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
    Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
    And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
    That ends this strange eventful history,
    Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
    Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

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  13. 11. I, Too

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    Langston Hughes (1902-1967) settled in Harlem, New York, in 1924 and was a prominent figure of the Harlem Renaissance. In this poem, he wrote of the reality that faced many in the black community and how they were regarded as “less than” by other people. The poem ends with the hope that one day it would be different. He shared the expectation that those who looked down on them would be ashamed.

    I, too, sing America.

    I am the darker brother.
    They send me to eat in the kitchen
    When company comes,
    But I laugh,
    And eat well,
    And grow strong.

    Tomorrow,
    I’ll be at the table
    When company comes.
    Nobody’ll dare
    Say to me,
    “Eat in the kitchen,"
    Then.

    Besides,
    They’ll see how beautiful I am
    And be ashamed—

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  14. 12. The Door Of Dreams

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    The poem "The Door of Dreams" by Jessie Belle Rittenhouse explores the theme of missed opportunities and the transformative power of seizing the right moment. The narrator reflects on their past hesitations and missed chances to explore the possibilities presented by the Door of Dreams. The open door symbolizes opportunities and aspirations that the narrator has previously overlooked. However, on one fateful day, the narrator discovers that the door is open, and this time, they encounter someone, "You," standing there. This encounter signifies a turning point where the narrator decides to take a chance and step through the door. The poem uses vivid imagery to convey the allure of the Door of Dreams and the significance of encountering someone who inspires them to take action. The repetition of the open door motif emphasizes the recurring opportunities in life, urging readers not to miss their chance for personal growth and fulfillment

    I often passed the Door of Dreams
        But never stepped inside,
    Though sometimes, with surprise, I saw
        The door was open wide.

    I might have gone forever by,
        As I had done before,
    But one day, when I passed, I saw
        You standing in the door.

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  15. 13. Let America Be America Again

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    For many people, it has been a struggle to attain the American dream. Langston Hughes (1902-1967) shares how many groups of people have not been able to experience the America that people dream it to be. They have struggled for freedom and equality. Langston Hughes himself experienced the difficulty of living out his dream of being a writer because it was difficult to earn money in that profession. Although this poem has a very somber feel, hope is presented at the end. Many of the lines in this poem use alliteration (multiple words beginning with the same sound).

    Let America be America again.
    Let it be the dream it used to be.
    Let it be the pioneer on the plain
    Seeking a home where he himself is free.

    (America never was America to me.)

    Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
    Let it be that great strong land of love
    Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
    That any man be crushed by one above.

    (It never was America to me.)

    O, let my land be a land where Liberty
    Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
    But opportunity is real, and life is free,
    Equality is in the air we breathe.

    (There's never been equality for me,
    Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

    Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
    And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

    I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
    I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
    I am the red man driven from the land,
    I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
    And finding only the same old stupid plan
    Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

    I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
    Tangled in that ancient endless chain
    Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
    Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
    Of work the men! Of take the pay!
    Of owning everything for one's own greed!

    I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
    I am the worker sold to the machine.
    I am the Negro, servant to you all.
    I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
    Hungry yet today despite the dream.
    Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
    I am the man who never got ahead,
    The poorest worker bartered through the years.

    Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
    In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
    Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
    That even yet its mighty daring sings
    In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
    That's made America the land it has become.
    O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
    In search of what I meant to be my home—
    For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
    And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
    And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
    To build a "homeland of the free."

    The free?

    Who said the free?  Not me?
    Surely not me?  The millions on relief today?
    The millions shot down when we strike?
    The millions who have nothing for our pay?
    For all the dreams we've dreamed
    And all the songs we've sung
    And all the hopes we've held
    And all the flags we've hung,
    The millions who have nothing for our pay—
    Except the dream that's almost dead today.

    O, let America be America again—
    The land that never has been yet—
    And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
    The land that's mine—the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME—
    Who made America,
    Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
    Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
    Must bring back our mighty dream again.

    Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
    The steel of freedom does not stain.
    From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
    We must take back our land again,
    America!

    O, yes,
    I say it plain,
    America never was America to me,
    And yet I swear this oath—
    America will be!

    Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
    The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
    We, the people, must redeem
    The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
    The mountains and the endless plain—
    All, all the stretch of these great green states—
    And make America again!

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  16. 14. Loss And Gain

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    In "Loss and Gain" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the poet employs the poetic technique of juxtaposition to compare what has been lost with what has been gained. This technique highlights the contrast between the two and creates a reflective tone. Longfellow acknowledges the moments of defeat or missed opportunities and conveys a sense of humility. The poem ultimately suggests that what may seem like a loss can, in fact, be a hidden victory, emphasizing the idea that even in defeat, there is the potential for a positive turn of events.

         When I compare
    What I have lost with what I have gained,
    What I have missed with what attained,
      Little room do I find for pride.

         I am aware
    How many days have been idly spent;
    How like an arrow the good intent
      Has fallen short or been turned aside.

         But who shall dare
    To measure loss and gain in this wise?
    Defeat may be victory in disguise;
      The lowest ebb is the turn of the tide.

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  17. 15. Undergrowth

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    In "Undergrowth" by Douglas Malloch, the poem highlights the idea that it's often the small, overlooked things in life that can have a significant impact. The speaker compares the obstacles in life to undergrowth on a trail. They suggest that it's not the towering trees that impede progress, but rather the pesky vines that trip and hinder one's journey. The poem extends this metaphor to personal challenges, emphasizing that it's not always the biggest burdens that lead to defeat. Instead, it's the unnoticed faults or harmful habits that can unexpectedly derail one's path. The poem serves as a reminder to pay attention to the seemingly insignificant aspects of life, as they can have a greater influence than anticipated

    It ain't the trees that block the trail,
        It ain't the ash or pine;
    For, if you fall or if you fail,
        It was some pesky vine
    That tripped you up, that threw you down,
        That caught you unawares:
    The big things you can walk aroun'—
        But watch the way for snares.

    In life it ain't the biggest things
        That make the hardest load;
    It ain't the burden big that brings
        Defeat upon the road.
    Some fault you hardly knew you had
        May hurt more than you think—
    Some little habit that is bad
        May put you on the blink.

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  18. 16. Harlem

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    We all dream of what we want to experience in life, but what happens when those dreams are put on hold or ignored? That’s what Langston Hughes attempts to answer in this poem. None of the possibilities are positive, making the reader realize the importance of pursuing dreams. Langston Hughes was a key contributor during the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s. He wrote many poems about what life was like for African Americans.

    What happens to a dream deferred?

          Does it dry up
          like a raisin in the sun?
          Or fester like a sore—
          And then run?
          Does it stink like rotten meat?
          Or crust and sugar over—
          like a syrupy sweet?

          Maybe it just sags
          like a heavy load.

          Or does it explode?

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  19. 17. Aerialist

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    Sylvia Plath lived in both the United States and England during her life. Most of the poems written by Plath were crafted in the last months of her life. This poem was written on her 30th birthday, just a few months before her death in 1963.

    Each night, this adroit young lady
    Lies among sheets
    Shredded fine as snowflakes
    Until dream takes her body
    From bed to strict tryouts
    In tightrope acrobatics.
    Nightly she balances
    Cat-clever on perilous wire
    In a gigantic hall,
    Footing her delicate dances
    To whipcrack and roar
    Which speak her maestro's will.
    Gilded, coming correct
    Across that sultry air,
    She steps, halts, hung
    In dead center of her act
    As great weights drop all about her
    And commence to swing.
    Lessoned thus, the girl
    Parries the lunge and menace
    Of every pendulum;
    By deft duck and twirl
    She draws applause; bright harness
    Bites keen into each brave limb
    Then, this tough stint done, she curtsies
    And serenely plummets down
    To traverse glass floor
    And get safe home; but, turning with trained eyes,
    Tiger-tamer and grinning clown
    Squat, bowling black balls at her.
    Tall trucks roll in
    With a thunder like lions; all aims
    And lumbering moves

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  20. 18. Beat! Beat! Drums!

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    Walt Whitman was known as the founding father of American poetry. This poem was first published in 1861, the year the Civil War began. Although this poem depicts life during wartime in the 1860s, it shows a broad picture of how war changes the everyday lives of communities. No matter the time period, war impacts people in many ways.

    Beat! beat! drums!—blow! bugles! blow!
    Through the windows—through doors—burst like a ruthless force,
    Into the solemn church, and scatter the congregation,
    Into the school where the scholar is studying,
    Leave not the bridegroom quiet—no happiness must he have now with his bride,
    Nor the peaceful farmer any peace, ploughing his field or gathering his grain,
    So fierce you whirr and pound you drums—so shrill you bugles blow.

    Beat! beat! drums!—blow! bugles! blow!
    Over the traffic of cities—over the rumble of wheels in the streets;
    Are beds prepared for sleepers at night in the houses? no sleepers must sleep in those beds,
    No bargainers’ bargains by day—no brokers or speculators—would they continue?
    Would the talkers be talking? would the singer attempt to sing?
    Would the lawyer rise in the court to state his case before the judge?
    Then rattle quicker, heavier drums—you bugles wilder blow.

    Beat! beat! drums!—blow! bugles! blow!
    Make no parley—stop for no expostulation,
    Mind not the timid—mind not the weeper or prayer,
    Mind not the old man beseeching the young man,
    Let not the child’s voice be heard, nor the mother’s entreaties,
    Make even the trestles to shake the dead where they lie awaiting the hearses,
    So strong you thump O terrible drums—so loud you bugles blow.

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  21. 19. The Star-Spangled Banner

    • By Francis Scott Key

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    "The Star-Spangled Banner," the US National Anthem, was composed by Francis Scott Key, who was deeply moved by the sight of the American flag soaring victoriously over Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. Key quickly penned the initial verse on a letter's back, capturing his emotions. He meticulously crafted four verses that embody American resilience and pride, using rhetorical questions and vivid imagery to engage readers emotionally and visually. Repetition, like "O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave," creates a rhythmic unity, while symbolism, such as the "star-spangled banner," signifies the enduring American spirit. The poem's progression mirrors the nation's journey, and exclamation marks intensify its urgency. Through these techniques, Key's anthem becomes a powerful expression of history, unity, and values.

    O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
    What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming,
    Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight
    O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming?
    And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
    Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there,
    O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
    O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

    On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep
    Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
    What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
    As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
    Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
    In full glory reflected now shines in the stream,
    ’Tis the star-spangled banner - O long may it wave
    O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

    And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,
    That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
    A home and a Country should leave us no more?
    Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.
    No refuge could save the hireling and slave
    From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
    And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
    O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

    O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
    Between their lov’d home and the war’s desolation!
    Blest with vict’ry and peace may the heav’n rescued land
    Praise the power that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!
    Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
    And this be our motto - “In God is our trust,”
    And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
    O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

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  22. 20. Theme For English B

    Famous Poem

    This poem, published in 1949, is told from the perspective of a young black student who, through a class assignment, takes a look at how he relates and doesn’t relate to his white professor. He is searching for how his experiences can compare to those of his white classmates. However, it goes beyond the issue of race. Any human who has struggled with identity can connect with this poem written by an influential leader of the Harlem Renaissance.

    The instructor said,

          Go home and write
          a page tonight.
          And let that page come out of you—
          Then, it will be true.

    I wonder if it’s that simple?
    I am twenty-two, colored, born in Winston-Salem.   
    I went to school there, then Durham, then here   
    to this college on the hill above Harlem.   
    I am the only colored student in my class.   
    The steps from the hill lead down into Harlem,   
    through a park, then I cross St. Nicholas,   
    Eighth Avenue, Seventh, and I come to the Y,   
    the Harlem Branch Y, where I take the elevator   
    up to my room, sit down, and write this page:

    It’s not easy to know what is true for you or me   
    at twenty-two, my age. But I guess I’m what
    I feel and see and hear, Harlem, I hear you.
    hear you, hear me—we two—you, me, talk on this page.   
    (I hear New York, too.) Me—who?

    Well, I like to eat, sleep, drink, and be in love.   
    I like to work, read, learn, and understand life.   
    I like a pipe for a Christmas present,
    or records—Bessie, bop, or Bach.
    I guess being colored doesn’t make me not like
    the same things other folks like who are other races.   
    So will my page be colored that I write?   
    Being me, it will not be white.
    But it will be
    a part of you, instructor.
    You are white—
    yet a part of me, as I am a part of you.
    That’s American.
    Sometimes perhaps you don’t want to be a part of me.   
    Nor do I often want to be a part of you.
    But we are, that’s true!
    As I learn from you,
    I guess you learn from me—
    although you’re older—and white—
    and somewhat more free.

    This is my page for English B.

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