17 Of The Most Powerful Excerpts From Poetry


by Amanda Patterson

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This article has 40 comments

  1. Elsabé van der Merwe

    Two of my favourites are from CS Lewis:

    1. Joys that Sting (I can’t choose an excerpt -it’s the poem as a whole that’s so striking):

    Oh doe not die, says Donne, for I shall hate All women so. How false the sentence rings.

    Women? But in a life made desolate It is the joys once shared that have the stings.

    To take the old walks alone, or not at all, To order one pint where I ordered two, To think of, and then not to make, the small Time-honoured joke (senseless to all but you);

    To laugh (oh, one’ll laugh), to talk upon Themes that we talked upon when you were there, To make some poor pretence of going on, Be kind to one’s old friends, and seem to care, While no one (O God) through the years will say The simplest, common word just your way.

    2. Epitaph for Helen-Joy Davidman (will post separately).

  2. Elsabé van der Merwe

    CS Lewis – Epitaph for Helen-Joy Davidman:

    Here the whole world (stars, water, air,
    And field, and forest, as they were
    Reflected in a single mind)
    Like cast off clothes was left behind
    In ashes, yet with hopes that she,
    Re-born from holy poverty,
    In lenten lands, hereafter may
    Resume them on her Easter Day

  3. Emily

    The caged bird sings
    with a fearful trill
    of things unknown
    but longed for still
    and his tune in heard
    on a distant hill
    for the caged bird
    sings for freedom

    Maya Angelou

  4. Dee

    So live that when thy summons comes to join
    The innumerable caravan that moves
    To that mysterious realm, where each shall take
    His chamber in the silent halls of death,
    Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
    Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed
    By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave
    Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
    About him and lies down to pleasant dreams.”
    – William Cullen Bryant, Thanotopsis

  5. Kathy

    A Magic Moment I Remember

    A magic moment I remember:
    I raised my eyes and you were there.
    A fleeting vision, the quintessence
    Of all that’s beautiful and rare.

    I pray to mute despair and anguish
    To vain pursuits the world esteems,
    Long did I near your soothing accents,
    Long did your features haunt my dreams.

    Time passed- A rebel storm-blast scattered
    The reveries that once were mine
    And I forgot your soothing accents,
    Your features gracefully divine.

    In dark days of enforced retirement
    I gazed upon grey skies above
    With no ideals to inspire me,
    No one to cry for, live for, love.

    Then came a moment of renaissance,
    I looked up- you again are there,
    A fleeting vision, the quintessence
    Of all that`s beautiful and rare.

    Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin (1799 – 1837)

  6. Peter Chabanowich

    These poignant snippets, ah! All crushed, milled hearts. Do they await my
    baker’s hands?
    p

  7. Christine Evans

    Breathes there a man with soul so dead
    who never to himself hath said:
    “This is my own, my native land”?
    Whose heart hath ne’er within him burned
    As home his footsteps he hath turned,
    from wandering on a foreign strand?
    If such there breathe, go mark him well;
    For him no minstrel raptures swell;
    High though his titles, proud his name,
    Boundless his wealth as wish can claim;
    Despite those titles, power and pelf,
    The wretch concentered all in self,
    Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
    And, doubly dying, shall go down
    to the vile dust from whence he sprung,
    Unwept, unhonored, and unsung.

    “Love of Country” Sir Walter Scott

  8. Christine Evans

    I must go down to the seas again, to the
    lonely sea and the sky,
    And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer
    her by;

    “Sea Fever” John Masefield

  9. Christine Evans

    one more…

    Death comes with a crawl, or comes with a pounce,
    And whether he’s slow or spry,
    It isn’t the fact that you’re dead that counts,
    But only, how did you die?

    “How Did You Die?” Edmund Vance Cooke

  10. Deryn Plutsick

    What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
    I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
    Under my head till morning; but the rain
    Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
    Upon the glass and listen for reply,
    And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
    For u remembered lads that not again
    Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.
    Thus in the winter stands the lonely tree,
    Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
    Yet knows its boughs more silent than before;
    I cannot say what loves have come and gone,
    I only know that summer sang in me
    A little while, that in me sings no more.
    Edna St. Vincent Millay

  11. Peter Chabanowich

    And so, I weep, as did they. Born on blood-drenched soil – nay! from it.
    p

  12. Michelle Wallace

    Some beautiful snippets shared above…

    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!
    Kipling

    I wandered lonely as a cloud
    That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
    When all at once I saw a crowd,
    A host, of golden daffodils;
    Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
    Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
    Wordsworth

    DEATH be not proud, though some have called thee
    Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so…
    Donne

    It matters not how strait the gate,
    How charged with punishments the scroll,
    I am the master of my fate:
    I am the captain of my soul.

  13. Laurel Connell

    Mastered by desire impulsive
    By a mighty inward urging
    I am ready now for singing
    Ready to begin the chanting
    Of our nation’s ancient folksong.
    Kalevala

  14. Ed DeCaria

    “Dreams” by Langston Hughes:

    Hold fast to dreams
    For if dreams die
    Life is a broken-winged bird
    That cannot fly.

    Hold fast to dreams
    For when dreams go
    Life is a barren field
    Frozen with snow

  15. Karen Lannan

    BY ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING
    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.
    I love thee to the level of every day’s
    Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
    I love thee freely, as men strive for right;
    I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
    I love thee with the passion put to use
    In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
    I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
    With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
    Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
    I shall but love thee better after death.

  16. Brinestone

    Wave of sorrow,
    Do not drown me now.
    I see the island
    Up ahead somehow.

    I see the island,
    and its sands are fair.
    Wave of sorrow,
    Take me there.

    Langston Hughes

  17. Richie

    An awakening..beautiful words and phrases..to sooth my soul this Sunday morning..

  18. Amanda Patterson

    Thank you for sharing your favourite excerpts. I am so pleased that you enjoyed the post.

  19. Thomas Crofton

    Loss of a Child
    By Thomas Crofton

    When did it become so gray
    Now winter, no more summer’s day
    The rose so pink and deeply red
    Once danced around inside my head
    With shimmering colors, vibrant, bright
    Has somehow turned to darkest night.
    Alas how once the sun did shine
    To warm the flower and the vine
    My thoughts return to yesterday
    When we use to run and play
    Where hope, the ember, warm and bright
    Could still drive out the darkest night.

  20. Gordon

    Walt Whitman
    O me! O Life!

    What good amid these O me! O life!
    Answer

    That life exists and identify.
    And the wonderful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.

  21. sally moore

    over beach….oh love let us be true to one another…..matthew arnold

  22. Karen

    There lies the port, the vessel puffs her sail:
    There gloom the dark broad seas. My mariners,
    Souls that have tol’d and wrought, and thought with me-
    That ever with a frolic welcome took
    The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
    Free hearts, free foreheads – you and I are old;
    Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;
    Death closes all: but something ere the end,
    Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
    Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
    -Tennyson

  23. Peach

    My favorite one is from William Wordsworth’s Ode on Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood:

    What though the radiance which was once so bright
    Be now for ever taken from my sight,
    Though nothing can bring back the hour
    Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
    We will grieve not, rather find
    Strength in what remains behind;

  24. sarah reuter

    Love these, Susan!
    May I add one?
    when the world is mud luscious and puddle wonderful
    and betty and isabel come running from hopscotch and jump rope,
    it is spring!
    etc.

  25. *Jacqueline Rocker

    These words brought me back to first love,mortality, hope,freedom and great and small moments of mind and beauty

  26. rae

    Another of Edna St. Vincent Millay’s poems, “The Coin” contains the words:
    “Oh better than the minting of a new crowned king [a coin]
    Is the safe kept memory of a lovely thing.”
    The poem itself is short, but very pithy.

  27. ISK

    A little Robert Frost wouldn’t hurt…

    “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…”

    Or

    “The rain to the wind said,
    You push and I’ll pelt.
    They so smote the garden bed
    That the flowers actually knelt,
    And lay lodged -though not dead.
    …I know how the flowers felt.”

  28. regina waldeck

    marvelous collection ! BRAVO EVERYONE !!!

  29. Mark Taylor

    The Neruda-Bukowski-Oliver sequence is quite moving.
    When I thought of what lines move me, I realized many come from the lyrics of our greatest songwriters. A few examples:

    Like your smile
    And your fingertips
    Like the way that you move your lips
    I like the cool way you look at me
    Everything about you is bringing me
    Misery.
    —Bob Dylan

    Once I was your heart’s desire
    Now I am the ape hunkered by the fire
    With my knuckles dragging through the mire
    You float by so majestically.
    You’re my north, my south, my east, my west
    You are the girl that I love best
    With an army of tanks bursting from your chest
    I wave my little white flag at thee.
    —Nick Cave (perhaps in response to Auden?)

    It was deep into his fiery heart
    he took the dust of Joan of Arc
    and then she clearly understood
    if he was fire, oh, then she must be wood
    I saw her wince, I saw her cry
    I saw the glory in her eye
    Myself I long for love and light
    but must it come so cruel, and oh so bright?
    —Leonard Cohen

    Oh the last I heard she’s sleeping rough back on the Derby beat
    White Horse in her hip pocket and a wolfhound at her feet
    And they say she even married once, a man named Romany Brown
    But even a gypsy caravan was too much settling down
    And they say her flower is faded now, hard weather and hard booze
    But maybe that’s just the price you pay for the chains you refuse
    Oh she was a rare thing, fine as a bee’s wing
    And I miss her more than ever words could say
    If I could just taste all of her wildness now
    If I could hold her in my arms today
    Well I wouldn’t want her any other way
    —Richard Thompson

    Arithmetic Arithmetock
    I turn the hands back on the clock
    How does the ocean rock the boat
    How did the razor find my throat
    The only strings that hold me here
    Are tangled up around the pier
    —Tom Waits

  30. Andre Rabie

    I love this

  31. Meribeth

    So so beautiful. A perfect collection.

  32. Amanda Patterson

    Thank you for sharing your favourite lines and for your lovely feedback. I appreciate it.

  33. Meagan

    Poe…
    But we loved with a love that was more than love—
    I and my Annabel Lee—

  34. Barbara

    This is the way the world ends
    This the way the world ends
    This is the way the world ends
    Not with a BÀNG ……
    …… but a whimper …..
    TS Eliot

  35. KHEagle

    From Pippa Passes by Robert Browning. . . .

    The year’s at the spring,
    And day’s at the morn;
    Morning’s at seven;
    The hill-side’s dew-pearled;
    The lark’s on the wing;
    The snail’s on the thorn;
    God’s in His heaven—
    All’s right with the world!

  36. DL Kirkwood

    Oh Amanda, I have lived Auden’s poem, and will never more give of myself 100%. One of my favorite poets the start of just one of his songs…

    Anthem by Leonard Cohen

    The birds they sang
    at the break of day
    Start again
    I heard them say
    Don’t dwell on what
    has passed away
    or what is yet to be.
    Ah the wars they will
    be fought again
    The holy dove
    She will be caught again
    bought and sold
    and bought again
    the dove is never free.

    Ring the bells that still can ring
    Forget your perfect offering
    There is a crack in everything
    That’s how the light gets in.

  37. Lee Millay

    Quite by chance I tripped and stumbled, here you are! I am humbled by these gifts you’ve given me, beauty I so rarely see. That’s a wrap. xox, Lee

  38. Lori Taylor

    Sonnet XXIX (Shakespeare)

    When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes
    I all alone beweep my outcast state,
    And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
    And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
    Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
    Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
    Desiring this man’s art, and that man’s scope,
    With what I most enjoy contented least;
    Yet in these thoughts my self almost despising,
    Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
    Like to the lark at break of day arising
    From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
    For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
    That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

  39. Emmanuel

    I’m a fan of African poetry as it really depicts life and struggles. The beauty and ugliness one faces when growing up. The hustle can’t of course be left out as well.

  40. Maria Belen Salvosa Viñas-Paruan

    I do love poetry a lot…picturing in your mind while reading beautiful poetries…

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