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Great Short Poems

Great Short Poems

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by Paul Negri

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This outstanding anthology of short verse offers poetry lovers an impressive sampling of more than 150 masterpieces spanning over 400 years of English and American literary history. Although short in length (the longest are 24 lines, most 16 lines or less), these poems are long on beauty, power, imagination, and originality.
Included are such memorable


This outstanding anthology of short verse offers poetry lovers an impressive sampling of more than 150 masterpieces spanning over 400 years of English and American literary history. Although short in length (the longest are 24 lines, most 16 lines or less), these poems are long on beauty, power, imagination, and originality.
Included are such memorable compositions as John Donne's "Death Be Not Proud," Shakespeare's "When, in Disgrace with Fortune and Men's Eyes," "On His Blindness" by John Milton, William Blake's "The Tyger," Wordsworth's "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud," Byron's "She Walks in Beauty," Shelley's "Ozymandias," as well as works by Alfred Lord Tennyson, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Gerard Manly Hopkins, Amy Lowell, William Butler Yeats, Robert Frost, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Langston Hughes, Dylan Thomas, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and many others.
Attractive and inexpensive, this compilation of carefully chosen verse contains many of the most loved, most anthologized poems in the English language. Students, teachers, and any lover of great poetry will treasure this splendid collection.
Includes three selections from the Common Core State Standards Initiative: "The Road Not Taken," "Loveliest of Trees," and "Ozymandias."

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Great Short Poems

By Paul Negri

Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 2000 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-11028-8


    Sir Walter Ralegh (1554—1618)

    Even Such Is Time

    Even such is time that takes in trust
    Our youth, our joys, our all we have,
    And pays us but with age and dust,
    Who in the dark and silent grave,
    When we have wandered all our ways,
    Shuts up the story of our days.
    But from this earth, this grave, this dust,
    My God shall raise me up, I trust.

    William Shakespeare (1564—1616)

    Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day?

    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;
    Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
    And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
    And every fair from fair sometime declines,
    By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd:
    But thy eternal summer shall not fade
    Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
    Nor shall Death brag thou wand'rest in his shade,
    When in eternal lines to time thou growest'
    So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
    So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

    When, in Disgrace with Fortune and Men's Eyes

    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 myself 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.

    Let Me Not to the Marriage of True Minds

    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.
    O, no! it is an ever-fixed mark
    That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
    It is the star to every wand'ring bark,
    Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
    Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
    Within his bending sickle's compass come;
    Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
    But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
    If this be error and upon me proved,
    I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

    John Donne (1572-1631)

    Death, Be Not Proud

    Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
    Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
    For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow
    Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
    From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
    Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,

    And soonest our best men with thee do go,
    Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.
    Thou'rt slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
    And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell;
    And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
    And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then?
    One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
    And death shall be no more: Death, thou shalt die.

    Ben Jonson (1572—1637)

    Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes

    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.
    The thirst that from the soul doth rise
    Doth ask a drink divine;
    But might I of Jove's nectar sup,
    I would not change for thine.
    I sent thee late a rosy wreath,
    Not so much honoring thee
    As giving it a hope that there
    It could not withered be.
    But thou thereon didst only breathe,
    And sent'st it back to me;
    Since when it grows, and smells, I swear,
    Not of itself, but thee.

    John Webster (1580?—1634)

    A Dirge

    Call for the robin-redbreast and the wren,
    Since o'er shady groves they hover,
    And with leaves and flowers do cover
    The friendless bodies of unburied men.
    Call unto his funeral dole
    The ant, the field-mouse, and the mole,
    To rear him hillocks that shall keep him warm,
    And (when gay tombs are robb'd) sustain no harm;
    But keep the wolf far thence, that's foe to men,
    For with his nails he'll dig them up again.

    Robert Herrick (1591—1674)

    To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time

    Gather ye rose-buds while ye may,
    Old Time is still a-flying;
    And this same flower that smiles today,
    Tomorrow will be dying.

    The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
    The higher he's a-getting,
    The sooner will his race be run,
    And nearer he's to setting.

    That age is best which is the first,
    When youth and blood are warmer;
    But being spent, the worse, and worst
    Times, still succeed the former.

    Then be not coy, but use your time,
    And while ye may, go marry;
    For having lost but once your prime,
    You may for ever tarry.

    Upon Julia's Clothes

    Whenas in silks my Julia goes,
    Then, then, methinks, how sweetly flows
    That liquefaction of her clothes.

    Next, when I cast mine eyes and see
    That brave vibration each way free,
    O how that glittering taketh me!

    Francis Quarles (1592-1644)

    On the World

    The world's an inn; and I her guest.
    I eat; I drink; I take my rest.
    My hostess, nature, does deny me
    Nothing, wherewith she can supply me;
    Where, having stayed a while, I pay
    Her lavish bills, and go my way.

    Thomas Carew (1595—1639)

    The Unfading Beauty

    He that loves a rosy cheek,
    Or a coral lip admires,
    Or from star-like eyes doth seek
    Fuel to maintain his fires:
    As old Time makes these decay,
    So his flames must waste away.

    But a smooth and steadfast mind,
    Gentle thoughts and calm desires,
    Hearts with equal love combined,
    Kindle never-dying fires.
    Where these are not, I despise
    Lovely cheeks or lips or eyes.

    John Milton (1608—1674)

    On His Blindness

    When I consider how my light is spent,
    Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
    And that one talent which is death to hide
    Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
    To serve therewith my Maker, and present
    My true account, lest he returning chide,
    "Doth God exact day labor, light denied?"
    I fondly ask; by Patience, to prevent
    That murmur, soon replies: "God doth not need
    Either man's work or his own gifts; who best
    Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
    Is kingly: thousands at his bidding speed
    And post o'er land and ocean without rest.
    They also serve who only stand and wait."

    Sir John Suckling (1609—1642)

    Why So Pale and Wan, Fond Lover?

    Why so pale and wan, fond lover?
    Prithee, why so pale?
    Will, when looking well can't move her,
    Looking ill prevail?
    Prithee, why so pale?

    Why so dull and mute, young sinner?
    Prithee, why so mute?
    Will, when speaking well can't win her,
    Saying nothing do't?
    Prithee, why so mute?

    Quit, quit, for shame; this will not move,
    This cannot take her.
    If of herself she will not love,
    Nothing can make her:
    The devil take her!

    Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672)

    To My Dear and Loving Husband

    If ever two were one, then surely we.
    If ever man were loved by wife, then thee;
    If ever wife was happy in a man,
    Compare with me, ye women, if you can.
    I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold,
    Or all the riches that the East doth hold.
    My love is such that rivers cannot quench,
    Nor aught but love from thee give recompense.
    Thy love is such I can no way repay;
    The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray.
    Then while we live, in love let's so persever,
    That when we live no more we may live ever.

    Richard Lovelace (1618-1658)

    To Lucasta, Going to the Wars

    Tell me not, Sweet, I am unkind
    That from the nunnery
    Of thy chaste breast and quiet mind,
    To war and arms I fly.

    True, a new mistress now I chase,
    The first foe in the field;
    And with a stronger faith embrace
    A sword, a horse, a shield.

    Yet this inconstancy is such
    As you too shall adore;
    I could not love thee, Dear, so much,
    Loved I not Honour more.

    Sir George Etherege (1635—1691)

    To a Lady Asking Him How Long He Would Love Her

    It is not, Celia, in our power
    To say how long our love will last;
    It may be we within this hour
    May lose those joys we now do taste;
    The Blessed, that immortal be,
    From change in love are only free.

    Then since we mortal lovers are,
    Ask not how long our love will last;
    But while it does, let us take care
    Each minute be with pleasure past:
    Were it not madness to deny
    To live because we're sure to die?

    Matthew Prior (1664—1721)

    A Reasonable Affliction

    On his death-bed poor Lubin lies:
    His spouse is in despair;
    With frequent cries, and mutual sighs,
    They both express their care.

    "A different cause," says Parson Sly,
    "The same effect may give:
    Poor Lubin fears that he may die;
    His wife, that he may live."

    Alexander Pope (1688-1744)

    Ode on Solitude

    Happy the man, whose wish and care
    A few paternal acres bound,
    Content to breathe his native air

    In his own ground.

    Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread,
    Whose flocks supply him with attire,
    Whose trees in summer yield him shade,

    In winter fire.

    Blest, who can unconcern'dly find
    Hours, days, and years slide soft away,
    In health of body, peace of mind,

    Quiet by day.

    Sound sleep by night; study and ease,
    Together mixt; sweet recreation:
    And innocence, which most does please

    With meditation.

    Thus let me live, unseen, unknown,
    Thus unlamented let me die,
    Steal from the world, and not a stone

    Tell where I lie.

    John Gay (1688—1732)


    O ruddier than the cherry!
    O sweeter than the berry!
    O nymph more bright
    Than moonshine night,
    Like kidlings blithe and merry!
    Ripe as the melting cluster!
    No lily has such lustre;
    Yet hard to tame
    As raging flame,
    And fierce as storms that bluster!

    Oliver Goldsmith (c. 1730-1774)

    When Lovely Woman Stoops to Folly

    When lovely woman stoops to folly,
    And finds too late that men betray,
    What charm can soothe her melancholy,
    What art can wash her guilt away?

    The only art her guilt to cover,
    To hide her shame from every eye,
    To give repentance to her lover,
    And wring his bosom—is to die.

    George Crabbe (1754-1832)

    A Marriage Ring

    The ring, so worn as you behold,
    So thin, so pale, is yet of gold:
    The passion such it was to prove—
    Worn with life's care, love yet was love.

    William Blake (1757-1827)

    The Tiger

    Tiger, Tiger, burning bright
    In the forests of the night;
    What immortal hand or eye,
    Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

    In what distant deeps or skies
    Burnt the fire of thine eyes!
    On what wings dare he aspire?
    What the hand, dare seize the fire?

    And what shoulder, & what art,
    Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
    And when thy heart began to beat,
    What dread hand? & what dread feet?

    What the hammer? what the chain?
    In what furnace was thy brain?
    What the anvil? what dread grasp
    Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

    When the stars threw down their spears
    And water'd heaven with their tears:
    Did he smile his work to see?
    Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

    Tiger, Tiger, burning bright,
    In the forests of the night:
    What immortal hand or eye,
    Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

    Mock On, Mock On, Voltaire, Rousseau

    Mock on, mock on, Voltaire, Rousseau;
    Mock on, mock on, 'Tis all in vain.
    You throw the sand against the wind,
    And the wind blows it back again.

    And every sand becomes a Gem
    Reflected in the beams divine;
    Blown back, they blind the mocking Eye,
    But still in Israel's paths they shine.
    The Atoms of Democritus
    And Newton's Particles of light
    Are sands upon the Red sea shore,
    Where Israel's tents do shine so bright.

    The Sick Rose

    O Rose, thou art sick!
    The invisible worm
    That flies in the night,
    In the howling storm,
    Has found out thy bed
    Of crimson joy:
    And his dark secret love
    Does thy life destroy.

    Robert Burns (1759-1796)

    A Red, Red Rose

    O my Luve's like a red, red rose,
    That's newly sprung in June:
    O my Luve's like the melodie
    That's sweetly played in tune!

    As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
    So deep in luve am I;
    And I will luve thee still, my dear,
    Till a' the seas gang dry.

    Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear,
    And the rocks melt wi' the sun;
    I will luve thee still, my dear,
    While the sands o' life shall run.

    And fare thee weel, my only Luve,
    And fare thee weel a while!
    And I will come again, my Luve,
    Though it were ten thousand mile.


Excerpted from Great Short Poems by Paul Negri. Copyright © 2000 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Great Short Poems 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
ShuGunGao More than 1 year ago
Negri This book has many good short poems by many writers. I enjoyed most of the poems very much. I recommend this book for reading out loud.