Vast the Realm of Being Is by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Vast the realm of Being is,
In the waste one nook is his;
Whatsoever hap befalls
In his vision’s narrow walls
He is here to testify.

Note: This poem is in the public domain and can be found here. Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) was an American essayist, philosopher, lecturer, abolitionist, and poet who was the leader of the Transcendalist movement in the mid-19th century. Emerson was a champion of individualism and constant critic of the pressures of society, and his ideas were spread through dozens of published essays throughout the United States.

Winter by Walter De La Mare

Clouded with snow
The cold winds blow,
And shrill on leafless bough
The robin with its burning breast
Alone sings now.

The rayless sun,
Day’s journey done,
Sheds its last ebbing light
On fields in leagues of beauty spread
Unearthly white.

Thick draws the dark,
And spark by spark,
The frost-fires kindle, and soon
Over that sea of frozen foam
Floats the white moon.

Note: This poem is part of the public domain and can be found here. Walter John de la Mare (1873-1956) was an English poet, novelist, and short story writer. He’s best remembered for his works for children, along with his acclaimed selection of psychological horror stories, such as “All Hallows.”

The Prophet by George MacDonald

Speak, Prophet of the Lord! We may not start
To find thee with us in thine ancient dress,
Haggard and pale from some bleak wilderness,
Empty of all save God and thy loud heart,
Nor with like rugged message quick to dart
Into the hideous fiction mean and base;
But yet, O prophet man, we need not less
But more of earnest, though it is thy part
To deal in other words, if thou wouldst smite
The living Mammon, seated, not as then
In bestial quiescence grimly dight,
But robed as priest, and honoured of good men
Yet thrice as much an idol-god as when
He stared at his own feet from morn to night.

Note: This poem is in the public domain and can be found here. George MacDonald (1824-1905) was a Scottish author, poet, and Christian minister. MacDonald was a pioneering fantasy writer and a mentor to fellow writer Lewis Carroll. Along with his fairy tales and works of fiction, MacDonald wrote several works of Christian theology.

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Radio Poem by Bertolt Brecht

You little box, held to me escaping
So that your valves should not break
Carried from house to house to ship from sail to train,
So that my enemies might go on talking to me,
Near my bed, to my pain
The last thing at night, the first thing in the morning,
Of their victories and of my cares,
Promise me not to go silent all of a sudden.

Note: This poem is in the public domain and can be found here. Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) was a German playwright and poet. He was the leading theoretician of “epic theater,” a movement that responded to the harsh political climate of the early to mid-20th century with new political dramas.

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A Dream by William Blake

Once a dream did weave a shade
O’er my angel-guarded bed,
That an emmet lost its way
Where on grass methought I lay.

Troubled, wildered, and forlorn,
Dark, benighted, travel-worn,
Over many a tangle spray,
All heart-broke, I heard her say:

“Oh my children! do they cry,
Do they hear their father sigh?
Now they look abroad to see,
Now return and weep for me.”

Pitying, I dropped a tear:
But I saw a glow-worm near,
Who replied, “What wailing wight
Calls the watchman of the night?

“I am set to light the ground,
While the beetle goes his round:
Follow now the beetle’s hum;
Little wanderer, hie thee home!”

Note: This poem is in the public domain and can be found here. William Blake (1757-1827) was an English poet, painter, mystic, and printmaker. He was largely unrecognized during his life, but Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of poetry and art in the Romantic era.

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The Sea Spirit by Madison Julius Cawein

Ah me! I shall not waken soon
From dreams of such divinity!
A spirit singing ‘neath the moon
To me.

Wild sea-spray driven of the storm
Is not so wildly white as she,
Who beckoned with a foam-white arm
To me.

With eyes dark green, and golden-green
Long locks that rippled drippingly,
Out of the green wave she did lean
To me.

And sang; till Earth and Heaven seemed
A far, forgotten memory,
And more than Heaven in her who gleamed
On me.

Sleep, sweeter than love’s face or home;
And death’s immutability;
And music of the plangent foam,
For me!

Sweep over her! with all thy ships,
With all thy stormy tides, O sea! –
The memory of immortal lips
For me!

Note: This poem is in the public domain and can be found here. Madison Julius Cawein (1865-1914) was a poet from Louisville, Kentucky. A year before his death, Cawein published a poem called “Waste Land” that scholars say may have been the inspiration for T.S. Eliot’s poem The Waste Land.

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When The Shy Star Goes Forth in Heaven by James Joyce

When the shy star goes forth in heaven
All maidenly, disconsolate,
Hear you amid the drowsy even
One who is singing by your gate.
His song is softer than the dew
And he is come to visit you.

O bend no more in revery
When he at eventide is calling.
Nor muse: Who may this singer be
Whose song about my heart is falling?
Know you by this, the lovers chant,
Tis I that am your visitant.

Note: This poem is in the public domain and can be found here. James Joyce (1882-1941) was an Irish novelist, poet, and literary critic who is known mainly for his novels like Ulysses and short-story collection Dubliners. He contributed to the modernist avant-garde movement with his stream of consciousness style, and he’s widely regarded as one of the most influential writers of the 20th century.

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Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost (1922)

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

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.

Note: This Robert Frost poem is part of the public domain and can be found here. Robert Lee Frost (March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963) was an American poet and the only poet in history to receive four Pulitzer Prizes for his poetry.