Contemporary Literature

Poems from Dead Poets Society

“A list of poems from Dead Poets Society

Robert Frost (1874–1963)  

The Road Not Taken


TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;


Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,


And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.


I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.


Robert Herrick (1591–1674)

209. To the Virgins


GATHER ye rose-buds while ye may,

  Old Time is still a-flying:

And this same flower that smiles to-day,

  To-morrow 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.

Walt Whitman (1819–1892).  Leaves of Grass.  1900.

193. O Captain! My Captain!

O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;


The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;


The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,


While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:


    But O heart! heart! heart!

      O the bleeding drops of red,


        Where on the deck my Captain lies,


          Fallen cold and dead.



O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;


Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills;

For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding;


For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;

    Here Captain! dear father!


      This arm beneath your head;


        It is some dream that on the deck,

          You’ve fallen cold and dead.


My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;


My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;


The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;


From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;

    Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!


      But I, with mournful tread,


        Walk the deck my Captain lies,


          Fallen cold and dead.

Ulysses - Alfred Tennyson

 It little profits that an idle king,

 By this still hearth, among these barren crags,

 Match'd with an aged wife, I mete and dole

 Unequal laws unto a savage race,

 That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.

 I cannot rest from travel; I will drink

 Life to the lees. All times I have enjoy'd

 Greatly, have suffer'd greatly, both with those

 That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when

 Thro' scudding drifts the rainy Hyades

 Vext the dim sea. I am become a name;

 For always roaming with a hungry heart

 Much have I seen and known,-- cities of men

 And manners, climates, councils, governments,

 Myself not least, but honor'd of them all,--

 And drunk delight of battle with my peers,

 Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.

 I am a part of all that I have met;

 Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'

 Gleams that untravell'd world whose margin fades

 For ever and for ever when I move.

 How dull it is to pause, to make an end,

 To rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use!

 As tho' to breathe were life! Life piled on life

 Were all too little, and of one to me

 Little remains; but every hour is saved

 From that eternal silence, something more,

 A bringer of new things; and vile it were

 For some three suns to store and hoard myself,

 And this gray spirit yearning in desire

 To follow knowledge like a sinking star,

 Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.

 This is my son, mine own Telemachus,

 to whom I leave the sceptre and the isle,--

 Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfill

 This labor, by slow prudence to make mild

 A rugged people, and thro' soft degrees

 Subdue them to the useful and the good.

 Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere

 Of common duties, decent not to fail

 In offices of tenderness, and pay

 Meet adoration to my household gods,

 When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.

 There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail;

 There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners,

 Souls that have toil'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 honor 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.

 The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks;

 The long day wanes; the slow moon climbs; the deep

 Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends.

 'T is not too late to seek a newer world.

 Push off, and sitting well in order smite

 The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds

 To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths

 Of all the western stars, until I die.

 It may be that the gulfs will wash us down;

 It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,

 And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.

 Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'

 We are not now that strength which in old days

 Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are,--

 One equal temper of heroic hearts,

 Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will

 To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Shall I Compare Thee To A Summer's Day?

William Shakespeare

 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:

 Sometimes too hot the eye of heaven shines,

 And often is his gold complexion dimmed;

 And every fair from fair sometimes declines,

 By chance or nature's changing course untrimmed;

 But thy eternal summer shall not fade,

 Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st;

 Nor shall death brag thou wander'st in his shade,

 When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st:

 So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,

 So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

George Gordon Byron, Lord Byron. 1788–1824

600. She walks in Beauty


SHE walks in beauty, like the night


  Of cloudless climes and starry skies;


And all that 's best of dark and bright


  Meet in her aspect and her eyes:


Thus mellow'd to that tender light

  Which heaven to gaudy day denies.


One shade the more, one ray the less,


  Had half impair'd the nameless grace


Which waves in every raven tress,


  Or softly lightens o'er her face;

Where thoughts serenely sweet express


  How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.


And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,


  So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,


The smiles that win, the tints that glow,

  But tell of days in goodness spent,


A mind at peace with all below,


  A heart whose love is innocent!


If we shadows have offended,

Think but this, and all is mended,

That you have but slumber'd here

While these visions did appear.

And this weak and idle theme,

No more yielding but a dream,

Gentles, do not reprehend:

if you pardon, we will mend:

And, as I am an honest Puck,

If we have unearned luck

Now to 'scape the serpent's tongue,

We will make amends ere long;

Else the Puck a liar call;

So, good night unto you all.

Give me your hands, if we be friends,

And Robin shall restore amends.