Great Poems Made Small
The Charge of the Light Brigade (Alfred, Lord Tennyson)
Not given to reasoning why,
not choosing to make a reply,
though someone had blundered
on rode the six hundred
and did what they did, which was die.
Ode On Intimations Of Immortality (Wordsworth)
When I was a boy, I was happy,
a dad to my very own pappy,
but when I grew old
the world struck me cold
and sometimes I felt downright crappy.
But as I grew wiser I learned
inside me God’s torches still burned,
and so now and then
I felt joyful again
as all the good feeling returned.
Let Me Not To The Marriage of True Minds (William Shakespeare)
To the marriage of true minds admit
no impediment; no, not one bit!
Prove that I lie
and you’ve also proved I
never loved, and what’s more, never writ.
Ozzie Redux (Ozymandias, by Percy Shelley)
On a pedestal huge and Ionic
stood an emperor’s statue, iconic.
His carved words said “I’m
gonna last for all time,”
but the statue was broken. Ironic.
Ode On A Grecian Urn (John Keats)
They live on a vase, no words spoken,
each figure an image, a token.
If beauty is truth
there’s no end to youth
until this damn Grecian Urn’s broken.
La Belle Dame Sans Merci (John Keats)
La belle dame I kissed in the grot
seemed perfect at first. She was not.
Our passion was deep
but she lulled me to sleep
then left me alone on this spot.
The moral, I’m sure you’ll agree:
la belle dame was lacking merci,
and no one should daily
be loitering palely.
Oh learn from what happened to me!
The Iliad (Homer)
Achilles and Hector would grumble,
“Why, gods, won’t the city walls tumble?“
Imagine their joy
when the morons of Troy
were deaf to the horse belly’s rumble.
Or was it they thought, “indigestion,“
dismissing Cassandra’s suggestion
that maybe they should
put their ears to the wood,
if only to settle the question?
The Odyssey (Homer)
A warrier known as Ulysses
went off, disappointing his Mrs.,
for twenty long years,
and she, through her tears,
refused all the suitors her kisses.
Or did she? Some gossipers claim
Penelope, being a dame,
lacking men’s armor
let one or two charm her,
besmirching her husband’s good name.
But no, she consumed the years sitting.
And waiting. And knitting and knitting.
Her suitors unwitting,
her nightly unknitting
postponed all their suits, as was fitting.
How Do I Love Thee? (Elizabeth Browning)
How do I love thee? My list:
up down and sideways. The gist
is “every which way.“
What more can I say?
I’ll love thee when I don’t exist.
One Art (Elizabeth Bishop)
My darling, the fine art of losing
isn’t difficult, hard or confusing.
Easy to master,
it was no disaster
to lose you, but wasn’t amusing.