English Poems

 BEAUTIFUL ENGLISH POEMS 

Ozymandias, Kubla Khan, Auguries of Innocence, Invictus, Sea-Fever, Daffodils, The Tyger, Endymion, To Autumn, Ode to a Nightingale, The Lady of Shalott, To My Wife, The Skye Boat Song, Raindrops, The Primrose Wood, My Lady Greensleeves, A Red, Red Rose, Auld Lang Syne.

OZYMANDIAS   by Percy B. Shelley    (1792-1822) 

  

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 shatter’d visage lies, whose frown 

And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command 

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read 

Which yet survive, stamp’d 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. 


 

KUBLA KHAN       

by Samuel Taylor Coleridge  

1772-1834

(first verse given here) 

  

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan 

A stately pleasure-dome decree: 

Where Alph, the sacred river, ran 

Through caverns measureless to man 

     down to a sunless sea. 

So twice five miles of fertile ground 

With walls and towers were girdled round: 

And here were gardens bright with sinuous rills, 

Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree; 

And here were forests ancient as the hills, 

Enfolding sunny spots of greenery. 

 


AUGURIES OF INNOCENCE  by William Blake  1757-1827 

  

To see a world in a grain of sand 

And a Heaven in a wild flower, 

Hold infinity in the palm of your hand 

And eternity in an hour. 

  

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 sweet delight, 

Some are born to endless night. 

We are led to believe a lie 

When we see not through the eye 

Which was born in a night to perish in a night 

When the Soul slept in beams of Light. 

God appears and God is Light 

To those poor Souls who dwell in night, 

But does a human form display 

To those who dwell in realms of day.


INVICTUS  by W.E. Henley, 1888   

  

Out of the night that covers me, 

Black as the Pit from pole to pole, 

I thank whatever gods may be 

For my unconquerable soul. 

  

In the fell clutch of circumstance 

I have not winced nor cried aloud. 

Under the bludgeonings of chance 

My head is bloody, but unbowed. 

  

Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms but the Horror of the shade, 

And yet the menace of the years 

Finds, and shall find me, unafraid. 

  

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. 

                                                      

William Ernest Henley was the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s pirate character, Long John Silver.  He was crippled by tuberculosis as a child.  In later years he was a successful journalist and poet, and a close friend of Robert Louis Stevenson.  Born in Gloucester, England,  he lived from 1849-1903. 

 



SEA-FEVER by John Masefield   

  

I must go down to the sea again, 

to the lonely sea and the sky, 

And all I ask is a tall ship 

and a star to steer her by, 

And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song 

and the white sail’s shaking 

And a grey mist on the sea’s face 

and a grey dawn breaking. 

  

I must go down to the seas again 

For the call of the running tide 

Is a wild call, and a clear call 

That may not be denied.


DAFFODILS    by William Wordsworth  1770-1850 

  

I wander’d 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. 

  

Continuous as the stars that shine 

And twinkle on the Milky Way, 

They stretch’d in never-ending line 

Along the margin of a bay: 

Ten thousand saw I at a glance, 

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance. 

  

The waves beside them danced, but they 

Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:

A poet could not but be gay, 

In such a jocund company: 

I gazed and gazed but little thought 

What wealth the show to me had brought. 

  

For oft, when on my couch I lie 

In vacant or in pensive mood, 

They flash upon that inward eze 

Which is the bliss of solitude; 

And then my heart with pleasure fills, 

And dances with the daffodils. 

  

 

THE TYGER  by  William Blake   1757-1827 

  

Tyger! Tyger! 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?  And 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? 

  

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright 

In the forests of the night, 

What immortal hand or eye 

Dare frame thy fearful symmetry? 

 

From ENDYMION by John Keats  1795-1821

(first 5 lines given here) 

  

A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:

Its loveliness increases, it will never 

Pass into nothingness; but still will keep 

A bower quiet for us, and a sleep 

Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.  

 

 

 TO AUTUMN by JOHN KEATS  

(the first verse given here)

 

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness!

Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;

Conspiring with him how to load and bless

With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;

To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,

And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;

To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells

With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,

And still more, later flowers for the bees,

Until they think warm days will never cease,

For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Ode to a Nightingale  

(one verse given here) by John Keats

Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!

No hungry generations tread thee down;

The voice I hear this passing night was heard

In ancient days by emperor and clown:

Perhaps the self-same song that found a path

Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,

She stood in tears amid the alien corn;

The same that ofttimes hath

Charm'd magic casements, opening on the foam

Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.

THE LADY OF SHALOTT

 by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809 - 1892)

 

 Long fields of barley and of rye,

 That clothe the wold and meet the sky;

 And through the field the road runs by

 To many-tower'd Camelot;

 And up and down the people go,

 Gazing where the lilies blow

 Round an island there below,

 The island of Shalott.

 

 (This poem is in four parts and this is the first verse)

 

TO MY WIFE

 With a copy of my poems by Oscar Wilde (1856 -1900)

 

 I can write no stately poem

 As a prelude to my lay;

 From a poet to a poem

 I would dare to say.

 

 For if of these fallen petals

 One to you seem fair,

 Love will waft it till it settles

 On your hair.

 

 And when wind and winter harden

 All the loveless land,

 It will whisper of the garden,

 You will understand.

 

 

  SKYE BOAT SONG  

by Sir Harold Boulton  (1859 - 1935)

 

Speed bonnie boat like a bird on the wing,

    'Onward!' the sailors cry;

Carry the lad that's born to be King,

Over the sea to Skye.

Loud the winds howl, loud the waves roar,

    Thunderclaps rend the air;

Baffled our foes stand by the shore,

    Follow they will not dare.

            Refrain.

Though the waves leap, soft shall ye sleep,

    Ocean's a royal bed.

Rocked in the deep Flora will keep

    Watch by your weary head.

          Refrain.

Many's the lad fought on that day

    Well the claymore could wield,

When the night came silently lay

    Dead on Culloden's field.

          Refrain.

Burned are our homes, exile and death

    Scatter the loyal men;

Yet, ere the sword cool in the sheath,

    Charlie will come again.

 

RAINDROPS

 Raindrops, falling on the ground, 

With a soft delicious sound; 

Falling, falling, falling fast, 

Pouring from the eaves at last. 

  

Raindrops sinking through the earth,

Saving it from drought and dearth; 

Lying on the grass like dew, 

Giving Nature graces new. 

  

Raindrops weighing down the flowers,

Dripping off the trees in showers; 

Turning green leaves into brown, 

Making brown leaves flutter down. 

  

Raindrops, cooling earth and air, 

Freshening all things far and near; 

Coming after sunshine blest, 

As after worktime cometh rest. 

  

                   

 THE PRIMROSE WOOD    

by Agnes Rous Howell 

  

There is a little wood half hid away, 

Close to the river-side, which well I know! 

Thither will you and I together go, 

And spend in idleness the live-long day. 

There, thickly covering the mossy ground, 

Making soft carpet for our weary feet, 

And shedding all around their perfume sweet, 

The starry primrose clustering will be found. 

There hyacinths their graceful heads uprear, 

And violets, whose fragrance scents the air. 

There may we hear the nightingale’s sweet song, 

And watch the river as it flows along; 

There, folded in wild flowers, lie down to rest, 

Until the sun sinks slowly in the west.   

MY LADY GREENSLEEVES 

  

Alas! My love, you do me wrong o:p>

 To cast me off discourteously; 

And I have loved you so long, 

 Delighting in your company. 

  

 Greensleeves was all my joy! 

 Greensleeves was my delight! 

 Greensleeves was my heart of gold! 

  And who but my Lady Greensleeves! 

           

I bought thee petticoats of the best, 

     The cloth so fine as fine as might be; 

I gave thee jewels for thy chest, 

     And all this cost I spent on thee. 

  

  Greensleeves, etc. 

  

The smock of silk, both fair and white, 

     With gold embroidered gorgeously; 

Thy petticoat of sandal right: 

     And these I bought thee gladly. 

  

 Greensleeves, etc. 

  

The gown was of the grassy green, 

     The sleeves of satin hanging by; 

Which made thee be our harvest queen: 

     And yet thou wouldest not love me! 

  

  Greensleeves, etc. 

  

Greensleeves now farewell! Adieu! 

  God I pray to prosper thee! 

For I am still thy lover true: 

     Come once again and love me! 

  

 Greensleeves was all my joy! 

  Greensleeves was my delight! 

 Greensleeves was my heart of gold! 

 And who but my Lady Greensleeve 

  

                                                     Anonymous             

 

 

 A RED, RED ROSE  

 by Robert Burns  1759 - 1796 

 

O My Luve’s like a red, red rose o:p>

     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, 

     Tho��?it were ten thousand mile. 

 

AULD LANG SYNE  

by Robert Burns  1759 ��?1796

 

Should auld acquaintance be forgot, o:p>

     And never brought to min��? 

Should auld acquaintance be forgot, 

     And auld lang syne? 

  

For auld lang syne, my dear. 

     For auld lang syne, 

We’ll tak a cup o��?kindness yet, 

     For auld lang syne. 

  

We twa hae run about the braes, 

     And pu’d the gowans fine; 

But we’ve wandered mony a weary foot

     Sin��?auld lang syne. 

  

We twa hae paidled i��?the burn, 

     From morning sun till dine; 

But seas between us braid hae roared

     Sin��?auld lang syne. 

  

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere,

     And gie’s a hand o��?thine; 

And we’ll tak a right guid-willie waught, 

     For auld lang syne. 

  

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp,

     And surely I’ll be mine; 

And we’ll tak a cup o’kindness yet      

 For auld lang syne. 

SKYE BOAT SONG  by Sir Harold Boulton  (1859 - 1935)

 

Speed bonnie boat like a bird on the wing,

    'Onward!' the sailors cry;

Carry the lad that's born to be King,

Over the sea to Skye.

Loud the winds howl, loud the waves roar,

    Thunderclaps rend the air;

Baffled our foes stand by the shore,

    Follow they will not dare.

            Refrain.

Though the waves leap, soft shall ye sleep,

    Ocean's a royal bed.

Rocked in the deep Flora will keep

    Watch by your weary head.

          Refrain.

Many's the lad fought on that day

    Well the claymore could wield,

When the night came silently lay

    Dead on Culloden's field.

          Refrain.

Burned are our homes, exile and death

    Scatter the loyal men;

Yet, ere the sword cool in the sheath,

    Charlie will come again.