English poems

Let Me Not to the Marriage of True Minds” (Sonnet 116), by William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
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.
Percy Bysshe Shelley: Song to the Men of England<br /> (published by Mrs. Mary Shelley in The Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley in 1839)

XXXIX.
What is Freedom?—ye can tell
That which slavery is, too well—
For its very name has grown
To an echo of your own.
XL.
’Tis to work and have such pay
As just keeps life from day to day
In your limbs, as in a cell
For the tyrants’ use to dwell,

Wherefore feed and clothe and save
From the cradle to the grave
Those ungrateful drones who would
Drain your sweat—nay, drink your blood?

Sow seed—but let no tyrant reap:
Find wealth—let no imposter heap:
Weave robes—let not the idle wear:
Forge arms—in your defence to bear.

William Shakespeare, The Fair Youth, Sonnet 5

“Unthrifty loveliness why dost thou spend,
Upon thy self thy beauty’s legacy?
Nature’s bequest gives nothing but doth lend,
And being frank she lends to those are free:
Then beauteous niggard why dost thou abuse,
The bounteous largess given thee to give?
Profitless usurer why dost thou use
So great a sum of sums yet canst not live?
For having traffic with thy self alone,
Thou of thy self thy sweet self dost deceive,
Then how when nature calls thee to be gone,
What acceptable audit canst thou leave?
Thy unused beauty must be tombed with thee,
Which used lives th’ executor to be.”

William Shakespeare, The Fair Youth, Sonnet 5

Elizabeth Barret Browning, Sonnets from the Portuguese, Sonnet 43

“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 everyday’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
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.”

– Elizabeth Barret Browning, Sonnets from the Portuguese, Sonnet 43

Robert Burns, For a' That and a' That
A prince can mak a belted knight,
A marquis, duke, an' a' that;
But an honest man's aboon his might,
Guid faith he mauna fa' that!
For a' that, an' a' that,
Their dignities, an' a' that,
The pith o' sense, an' pride o' worth,
Are higher rank than a' that.
Then let us pray that come it may,
As come it will for a' that,
That sense and worth, o'er a' the earth,
May bear the gree, an' a' that.
For a' that, an' a' that,
It's coming yet, for a' that,
That man to man, the warld o'er,
Shall brothers be for a' that.
- Robert Burns, For a' That and a' That
Shelley's famous love poetry-by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)
Love's Philosophy

The fountains mingle with the river,

And the rivers with the ocean,

The winds of heaven mix forever

With a sweet emotion;

Nothing in the world is single;

All things by law divine

In one another's being mingle;--

Why not I with thine?



See the mountains kiss high heaven

And the waves clasp one another

No sister flower would be forgiven

If it disdained its brother;

And sunlight clasps the earth,

And the moonbeams kiss the sea;

What are all these kissings worth

If thou kiss not me?


Here is another example of Shelley's famous love poetry:

When the Lamp Is Shattered

When the lamp is shattered

The light in the dust lies dead

When the cloud is scattered

The rainbow's glory is shed.

When the lute is broken,

Sweet tones are remembered not.

When the lips have spoken,

Loved accents are soon forgot.



As music and splendour

Survive not the lamp and the lute.

The heart's echoes render

No song when the spirit is mute--

No song but sad dirges,

Like the wind through a ruined cell,

Or the mournful surges

That ring the dead seaman's knell.



When hearts have once mingled

Love first leaves the well-built nest.

The weak one is singled

To endure what it once possessed.

Oh Love! who bewailest

The frailty of all things here,

Why choose you the frailest

For your cradle, your home, and your bier?



Its passions will rock thee

As the storms rock the ravens on high.

Bright reason will mock thee,

Like the sun from a wintry sky.

From thy nest every rafter

Will rot, and thine eagle home

Leave thee naked to laughter,

When leaves fall and cold winds come.


Music, When Soft Voices Die is yet another example of Shelley's famous love poetry.

Music, When Soft Voices Die

Music, when soft voices die,

Vibrates in the memory --

Odours, when sweet violets sicken,

Live within the sense they quicken.



Rose leaves, when the rose is dead,

Are heap'd for the beloved's bed;

And so thy thoughts when thou are gone,

Love itself shall slumber on.

"The Invitation" is the final example of famous love poetry from Percy Bysshe Shelley:

The Invitation

Best and brightest, come away,

Fairer far than this fair day,

Which, like thee, to those in sorrow

Comes to bid a sweet good-morrow

To the rough year just awake

In its cradle on the brake.

The brightest hour of unborn Spring

Through the Winter wandering,

Found, it seems, the halcyon morn

To hoar February born;

Bending from Heaven, in azure mirth,

It kissed the forehead of the earth,

And smiled upon the silent sea,

And bade the frozen streams be free,

And waked to music all their fountains,

And breathed upon the frozen mountains,

And like a prophetess of May

Strewed flowers upon the barren way,

Making the wintry world appear

Like one on whom thou smilest, dear.



Away, away, from men and towns,

To the wild wood and the downs -

To the silent wilderness

Where the soul need not repress

Its music, lest it should not find

An echo in another's mind,

While the touch of Nature's art

Harmonizes heart to heart.



Radiant Sister of the Day

Awake! arise! and come away!

To the wild woods and the plains,

To the pools where winter rains

Image all their roof of leaves,

Where the pine its garland weaves

Of sapless green, and ivy dun,

Round stems that never kiss the sun,

Where the lawns and pastures be

And the sandhills of the sea,

Where the melting hoar-frost wets

The daisy-star that never sets,

And wind-flowers and violets

Which yet join not scent to hue

Crown the pale year weak and new;

When the night is left behind

In the deep east, dim and blind,

And the blue noon is over us,

And the multitudinous

Billows murmur at our feet,

Where the earth and ocean meet,

And all things seem only one

In the universal Sun.

Some may well say the best was chosen to be the last offering! Percy Bysshe Shelley certainly made his mark on famous love poetry. In his lifetime, his name and reputation was anathema to many, especially the rich and monied political class from which ironically he came. But he can take solace from his immortality through poetry and literature. He endures till this day, while many of his adversaries have since vanished in the mist of history.

Like his most famous poem, "Ozymandias", they too trumpeted:

"Look on my works, ye mighty and despair!...

and similarly,

"Nothing beside remains.

Round the decay

Of that colossal wreck,

boundless and bare,

The lone and level sands

stretch far away."


Thus ends Shelley's famous love poetry.
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