Pre-20th Century Poems

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

The Doubt of Future Foes

By Queen Elizabeth I

The doubt of future foes exiles my present joy,
And wit me warns to shun such snares as threaten mine annoy;
For falsehood now doth flow, and subjects’ faith doth ebb, . . .

Dover Beach

By Matthew Arnold

The sea is calm tonight.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light . . .

Early Affection

By George Moses Horton

I lov’d thee from the earliest dawn,
     When first I saw thy beauty’s ray,
And will, until life’s eve comes on, . . .

Echo

By Christina Rossetti

Come to me in the silence of the night;
   Come in the speaking silence of a dream;
Come with soft rounded cheeks and eyes as bright . . .

England in 1819

By Percy Bysshe Shelley

An old, mad, blind, despised, and dying King;
Princes, the dregs of their dull race, who flow
Through public scorn,—mud from a muddy spring; . . .

Envy

By Mary Lamb

This rose-tree is not made to bear
The violet blue, nor lily fair,
   Nor the sweet mignionet: . . .

Epilogue

By Robert Browning

At the midnight in the silence of the sleep-time,
When you set your fancies free,
Will they pass to where—by death, fools think, imprisoned— . . .

Epistle to Mrs. Tyler

By Christopher Smart

It ever was allow’d, dear Madam,   
Ev’n from the days of father Adam,   
Of all perfection flesh is heir to,    . . .

Epitaph

By Katherine Philips

What on Earth deserves our trust?
Youth and Beauty both are dust.
Long we gathering are with pain, . . .

Epitaph on the Lady Mary Villiers

By Thomas Carew

This little vault, this narrow room,
Of Love, and Beauty, is the tomb;
The dawning beam that gan to clear . . .