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pieces of great poetry
beautiful words from poems

The following are bits and pieces of the Brain Candy collector's favorite poems, accumulated through the years. In the case of some shorter works, the entire poem is included.


A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread - and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness -
Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!
- - - -Edward Fitzgerald "The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam"

A robin red breast in a cage
Puts all heaven in a rage.
- - - -William Blake "Auguries of Innocence"

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by frost.
- - - -J. R. R. Tolkien "Lord of the Rings"

And all shall be well
And all manner of things shall be well.
When the tongues of flame are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire,
And the fire and the rose are one.
- - - -T. S. Eliot "Four Quartets"

And the night shall be filled with music,
And the cares that infest the day
Shall fold their tents like Arabs,
And silently steal away.
- - - -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

And with tears of blood he cleansed the hand,
The hand that held the steel:
For only blood can wipe out blood,
And only tears can heal.
- - - -Oscar Wilde "The Ballad of Reading Gaol"

At evening casual flocks of pigeons make
Ambiguous undulations as they sink
Downward to darkness, on extended wings.
- - - -Wallace Stevens "Sunday Morning"

Beauty never slumbers;
All is in her name;
But the rose remembers
The dust from which it came.
- - - -Edna St. Vincent Millay

Before the beginning of years
There came to the making of man
Time, with a gift of tears;
Grief, with a glass that ran;
Pleasure, with pain for leaven;
Summer, with flowers that fell;
Remembrance, fallen from heaven,
And madness risen from hell;
Strength without hands to smite;
Love that endures for a breath;
Night, the shadow of light,
And Life, the shadow of death.
- - - -Algernon Charles Swinburne "Atalanta in Calydon" (1865)

But Fear and the Muse in turn guard the place
Where the banished poet has gone
And the night that comes with quickened pace
Is ignorant of dawn.
- - - -Anna Akhmatova

But if you ever come to a road where danger
Or guilt or anguish or shame's to share.
Be good to the lad who loves you true,
And the soul that was born to die for you
And whistle and I'll be there
- - - -A. E. Housman

By the time you swear you're his,
Shivering and sighing,
And he vows his passion is
Infinite, undying -
Lady make note of this:
One of you is lying.
- - - -Dorothy Parker "Unfortunate Coincidence"

Come away, O human child!
to the waters and the wild
with a faery, hand in hand,
for the world's more full of weeping
than you can understand...
- - - W. B. Yeats

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
- - -Dylan Thomas

Drink to me only with thine eyes,
And I will pledge with mine;
Or leave a kiss but in the cup
And I'll not look for wine.
- - - -Ben Johnson "To Celia"

Every Night and every Morn
Some to Misery are born.
Every Morn and every Night
Some are born to Sweet Delight,
Some are born to Endless Night.
- - - -William Blake "Auguries of Innocence"

For the crown of our life as it closes
Is darkness, the fruit there of dust;
No thorns go as deep as the rose's,
And love is more cruel than lust.
Time turns the old days to derision,
Our loves into corpses or wives;
And marriage and death and division
Make barren our lives.
- - - -Algernon Charles Swinburne "Dolores" (1866)

For this is Wisdom; to love, to live
To take what fate, or the Gods may give.
To ask no question, to make no prayer,
To kiss the lips and caress the hair,
Speed passion's ebb as you greet its flow
To have, - to hold - and - in time, - let go!
- - - -Laurence Hope

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Times is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles today,
Tomorrow will be dying.
- - - -Robert Herrick "To the Virgins to Make Much of Time"

Girl with the burning golden eyes,
And red-bird song, and snowy throat:
I bring you gold and silver moons,
And diamond stars, and mists that float.
I bring you moons and snowy clouds,
I bring you prarie skies to-night
To feebly praise your golden eyes
And red-bird song, and throat so white.
- - - -Vachel Lindsay "To Gloriana"

God wrote His loveliest poem on the day
He made the first silver poplar tree,
And set it high upon a pale-gold hill
For all the new enchanted earth to see.
- - - -Grace Noll (Mrs. Norman H. Crowell)

Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be.
The last of life, for which the first was made.
- - - -Robert Browning "'Rabbi Ben Ezra"

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
- - - -William Butler Yeats

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.
- - - -W. H. Auden

Her beauty was sold for an old man's gold,
She's a bird in a gilded cage.
- - - -Arthur J. Lamb

Her eyes the glowworm lend thee,
The shooting stars attend thee;
And the elves also,
Whose little eyes glow
Like the sparks of fire, befriend thee.
- - - -Robert Herrick "The Night Piece to Julia"

Here are fruits, flowers, leaves and branches,
And here is my heart which beats only for you.
- - - -Paul Verlaine "Romances sans Paroles"

I give her sadness and the gift of pain,
a new moon madness and a love of rain.
- - - -Dorothy Parker "The Godmother"

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
- - - -Elizabeth Barrett Browning "Sonnets from the Portuguese"

I believe that if i should die,
and you were to walk near my grave,
from the very depths of the earth
I would hear your footsteps.
- - - -Benito Perez Galdos

I do not want a plain box, I want a sarcophagus
With tigery stripes, and a face on it
Round as the moon, to stare up.
I want to be looking at them when they come
Picking among the dumb minerals, the roots.
I see them already-the pale, star-distance faces.
Now they are nothing, they are not even babies.
I imagine them without fathers or mothers, like the first gods.
They will wonder if I was important.
- - - -Sylvia Plath "Last Words"

I have loved many, the more and the few -
I have loved many that I might love you.
- - - -Grace Fallow Norton

I loved you in the morning, our kisses deep and warm,
your hair upon the pillow like a sleepy, golden storm,
yes many loved before us, I know we are not new,
in city and in forest they smiled like me and you,
but now it's come to distances and both of us must try,
your eyes are soft with sorrow,
Hey, that's no way to say goodbye.
- - - - Leonard Cohen "Hey That's No Way to Say Good-bye"

I shall go the way of the open sea,
To the lands I knew before you came,
And the cool ocean breezes shall blow from me
The memory of your name.
- - - -Laurence Hope

I walked beside the evening sea
And dreamed a dream that could not be;
The waves that plunged along the shore
Said only: "Dreamer, dream no more!"
- - - -George William Curtis

I want to die while you love me,
While yet you hold me fair,
While laughter lies upon my lips,
And lights are in my hair.
- - - - Georgia Douglas Johnson

I was born to catch dragons in their dens
And pick flowers
To tell tales and laugh away the morning
To drift and dream like a lazy stream
And walk barefoot across sunshine days.
- - - - James Kavanaugh "Sunshine Days and Foggy Nights"

I've lived to bury my desires,
And see my dreams corrode with rust;
Now all that's left are fruitless fires
That burn my empty heart to dust.
- - - -Aleksandr Pushkin

If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were loved by wife, then thee.
If every wife was happy with a man,
Compare with me ye women if you can.
- - - -Anne Bradstreet "To My Dearest and Loving Husband," 1678

If I could take your troubles
I would toss them into the sea,
But all these things I'm finding
Are impossible for me.
I cannot build a mountain
Or catch a rainbow fair,
But let me be what I know best,
A friend that is always there.
- - - -Khahlil Gibran "A True Friend"

If wild my breast and sore my pride,
I bask in dreams of suicide,
if cool my heart and high my head
I think "How lucky are the dead"
- - - -Dorothy Parker "Mortal Thoughts"

In Xanadu did Kublai Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
- - - -Samuel Taylor Coleridge "Kubla Khan"

Ink runs from the corners of my mouth.
There is no happiness like mine.
I have been eating poetry.
- - - -Mark Strand

It's easy, perhaps to die for a dream
With banners unfurled - and be forgiving!
It's the hardest part to follow the gleam
When scorned by the world - and go on living!
- - - -Myra Brooks Welch

Know'st thou the land where the lemon-trees bloom,
Where the gold orange glows in the deep thicket's gloom,
Where a wind ever soft from the blue heaven blows,
And the groves are of laurel and myrtle and rose!
- - - -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe "Wilhelm Meister"

Know ye the land where the cypress and myrtle
Are emblems of deeds that are done in their clime?
Where the rage of the vulture, the love of the turtle,
Now melt into sorrow, now madden to crime!
- - - -Lord Byron, "The Bride of Abydos"

Life, like a dome of many-colored glass,
Stains the white radiance of eternity.
- - - -Percy Bysshe Shelley "Adonais"

Look for me by moonlight;
Watch for me by moonlight;
I'll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way!
- - - -Alfred Noyes "The Highwayman"

Love is not all: It is not meat nor drink
Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain,
Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink
and rise and sink and rise and sink again.
Love cannot fill the thickened lung with breath
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;
Yet many a man is making friends with death
even as I speak, for lack of love alone.
It well may be that in a difficult hour,
pinned down by need and moaning for release
or nagged by want past resolutions power,
I might be driven to sell you love for peace,
Or trade the memory of this night for food.
It may well be. I do not think I would.
- - - -Edna St. Vincent Millay

Love me sweet
With all thou art
Feeling, thinking, seeing;
Love me in the
Lightest part,
Love me in full
- - - - Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Love rules the court, the camp, the grove,
And men below, and saints above:
For love is heaven, and heaven is love.
- - - -Walter Scott

Music I heard with you was more than music,
And bread I broke with you was more than bread.
Now that I am without you, all is so desolate;
And all that once was so beautiful is dead.
- - - -Conrad Aiken "Bread and Music"

Music, when soft voices die,
Vibrates in the memory;
Odors, when sweet violets sicken,
Live within the sense they quicken.

Rose leaves, when the rose is dead,
Are heaped for the beloved's bed;
And so thy thoughts, when thou art gone,
Love itself shall slumber on.
- - - -Percy Bysshe Shelley "Music, When Soft Voices Die"

My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But, ah, my foes, and, oh, my friends -
it gives a lovely light.
- - - Edna St. Vincent Millay "First Fig"

My love came back to me
Under the November tree
Shelterless and dim.
He put his hand upon my shoulder,
He did not think me strange or older,
Nor I, him.
- - Frances Cornford "All Souls' Night"

Of all the trees that grow so fair Old England to adorn,
Greater are none beneath the Sun
Than Oak, and Ash and Thorn.
- - - -Rudyard Kipling "A Tree Song"

One had a lovely face,
And two or three had charm,
But charm and face were in vain.
Because the mountain grass
Cannot keep the form
Where the mountain hare has lain.
- - - -William Butler Yeats "Memory"

Reach high, for stars lie hidden in your soul.
Dream deep, for every dream precedes the goal.
- - - -Ralph Vaull Starr

Rest not! Life is sweeping by; go and dare before you die.
Something mighty and sublime, leave behind to conquer time.
- - - -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date.
- - - -William Shakespeare "Sonnet 18"

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellow'd to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
- - - -Lord Byron "She Walks in Beauty"

Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing,
Only a signal shown, and a distant voice in the darkness.
So on the ocean of life we pass and speak one another.
Only a look and a voice; then darkness again and a silence.
- - - -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow "Tales of a Wayside Inn"

Some reckon their age by years,
Some measure their life by art;
But some tell their days by the flow of their tears
And their lives by the moans of their hearts.
- - - -Abram Joseph Ryan

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
- - - -Robert Frost "Fire and Ice"

Such a morning it is when love
leans through geranium windows
and calls with a cockerel's tongue.

When red-haired girls scamper like roses
over the rain-green grass,
and the sun drips honey.
- - - -Laurie Lee

Sweet springtime is my time is your time is our time
for springtime
is love time
and viva sweet love.
- - - -e e cummings

Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow-
Your are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.
- - - -Edgar Allen Poe "A Dream Within A Dream"

The air is like a butterfly
With frail blue wings.
The happy earth looks at the sky
And sings.
- - - -Joyce Kilmer "Joy"

The day is done, and the darkness
Falls from the wings of night,
As a feather is wafted downward
From an eagle in his flight.
- - - -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow "The Day Is Done"

The holiest of all holidays are those
Kept by ourselves in silence and apart;
The secret anniversaries of the heart.
- - - -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.
- - - -J.R.R. Tolkien

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
- - - -Robert Frost "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"

These bursting yellow pears I hold,
In burning hands so lately cold,
My quiet autumn day confound;
I feel my fingers pressing round
In quick delight - old thoughts renew...
Ah, who's to say when summer's through?
- - - E. F. Weisslitz

They are not long, the days of wine and roses:
Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, then closes
Within a dream.
- - - -Ernest Dowson "Vitae Summa Brevis Spem Nos Vetat Incohare Longham"

They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon.
- - - -Edward Lear "The Owl and the Pussycat"

This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.
- - - -T. S. Eliot "The Hollow Men"

Thou art gone from my gaze like a beautiful dream,
And I seek thee in vain by the meadow and stream.
- - - -George Linley "Thou Art Gone"

Though they go mad they shall be sane.
Though they sink through the sea, they shall rise again.
Though lovers be lost, love shall not,
And death shall have no dominion.
- - - -Dylan Thomas

Time does not bring relief; you all have lied
Who told me time would ease me of my pain!
I miss him in the weeping of the rain;
I want him at the shrinking of the tide;
The old snows melt from every mountain-side,
And last year's leaves are smoke in every lane;
But last year's bitter loving must remain
Heaped on my heart, and my old thoughts abide.
There are a hundred places where I fear
To go, -- so with his memory they brim.
And entering with relief some quiet place
Where never fell his boot or shone his face
I say, "There is no memory of him here!"
And so stand stricken, so remembering him.
- - - -Edna St. Vincent Millay "Time Does Not Bring Relief" 1917

Trusty, dusky, vivid, true,
With eyes of gold and bramble-dew,
Steel-true and blade-straight,
The great artificer made my mate.
- - - -Robert Louis Stevenson "My Wife"

Twice or thrice I loved thee
Before I knew thy face or name
So in a voice, so in shapeless flame,
Angels affect us oft , and worshipped be
- - - -John Donne "Air and Angels"

Two souls with but a single thought,
Two hearts that beat as one.
- - - -Maria Lovell "Ingomar the Barbarian"

We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world forever, it seems.
- - - -Arthur O'Shaughnessy

Western wind, when wilt thou blow,
The small rain down can rain?
Christ, if my love were in my arms
And I in my bed again!
- - - -Oxford Book of 16th Century Verse

What matters Death, if Freedom be not dead?
No flags are fair, if Freedom's flag be furled.
Who fights for Freedom, goes with joyful tread
To meet the fires of Hell against him hurled.
- - - -Joyce Kilmer "The Peacemaker"

When I am dead, my dearest,
Sing no sad songs for me:
Plant thou no roses at my head,
Nor shady cypress tree.
Be the green grass above me
With showers and dewdrops wet:
And if thou wilt, remember
And if thou wilt, forget.
- - - -Christina Rossetti "Song"

When the tea is brought at five o'clock
And all the neat curtains are drawn with care,
The little black cat with bright green eyes
Is suddenly purring there.
- - - -Harold Monro "Milk for the Cat"

Years steal
Fire from the mind as vigour from the limb,
And life's enchanted cup but sparkles near the brim.
- - - -Lord Byron "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage"


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