25 Lines and Fewer


ONLY poems listed here or in the current printed anthology are eligible for the current Poetry Out Loud competition. More information here.


By Sara Teasdale

Life has loveliness to sell,
All beautiful and splendid things,
Blue waves whitened on a cliff, . . .

Battle-Hymn of the Republic

By Julia Ward Howe

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord:
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fatal lightning of his terrible swift sword: . . .


By Mark Turcotte

Back when I used to be Indian
I am standing outside the
pool hall with my sister. . . .

'Be Music, Night'

By Kenneth Patchen

Be music, night,
That her sleep may go
Where angels have their pale tall choirs . . .

Beautiful Wreckage

By W.D. Ehrhart

What if I didn’t shoot the old lady
running away from our patrol,
or the old man in the back of the head, . . .


By James Wright

The moon drops one or two feathers into the field.   
The dark wheat listens.
Be still. . . .

Bells for John Whiteside’s Daughter

By John Crowe Ransom

There was such speed in her little body,   
And such lightness in her footfall,   
It is no wonder her brown study . . .


By William Lisle Bowles

Whose was that gentle voice, that, whispering sweet,
      Promised methought long days of bliss sincere!
      Soothing it stole on my deluded ear, . . .

The Birth of John Henry

By Melvin B. Tolson

The night John Henry is born an ax
            of lightning splits the sky,
and a hammer of thunder pounds the earth, . . .

A Birthday

By Christina Rossetti

My heart is like a singing bird
                  Whose nest is in a water'd shoot;
My heart is like an apple-tree . . .