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Poems That Might Have Changed The World

Poetry

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#1
caltrek

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Here is my first nomination:

 

http://www.poetrymag...rd.asp?id=13117

 

 

"The Antichrist," written long before the poet died in exile from the Third Reich, gained an historical lease on memory when the leader of a plot to assassinate Hitler in 1944 recited it to friends the night before his failed attempt.

 

 

See link for the text of the poem.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#2
caltrek

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Ok, this was actually the verse to a song sung to the revival hymn tune "Hold the Fort".  It was sung by Chicago workers after a foray by organized labor against Jay Gould's Wabash Railroad in 1886 A.D.

 

 

Verse:

 

Toiling Miilions now are waking -

See them marching on;

All the tyrants now are shaking,

'Ere their power's gone.

 

Chorus:

 

Storm the fort, ye Khights of Labor

    Battle for your cause;

Equal rights for every neighbor -

    Down with tyrant laws!


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The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#3
caltrek

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This one originally was written before the time of Christ.  At some point, it was translated in to English.  Later still, it served as the lyrics to a song.  Despite its strict allusion to things that were in physical abundance in its time period, it has a distinctively post-modern feel to it.

 

 

 

There is an appointed time for everything,

    and a time for every affair under the

        heavens.

A time to be born, and a time to die;

        a time to plant, and a time to uproot the 

            plant.

A time to kill, and a time to heal;

        a time to tear down, and a time to build.

A time to weep, and a time to laugh;

       a time to mourn, and a time to dance.

A time to scatter stones, and a time to 

         gather them;

       a time to embrace, and a time to be far

          from embraces.

A time to seek, and a time to lose;

       a time to keep and a time to cast away.

A time to rend, and a time to sew;

      a time to be silent, and a time to speak.

A time to love, and a time to hate;

      a time of war, and a time of peace.

 

-Ecclesiastes 3

 

 


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The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#4
caltrek

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http://www.famouspoe...berg/poems/8315

 

 

Above is a link to Allen Ginsberg's poem Howl. Below are some excerpts, some of which make allusions to the old left.  Ginsberg's poem marked a division between that old left and the so-called new left that emerged in the 60s.  In that way, it became a sort of anthem for the new left.

 

 

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by 

madness, starving hysterical naked, 
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn 
looking for an angry fix… 

who burned cigarette holes in their arms protesting 
the narcotic tobacco haze of Capitalism, 
who distributed Supercommunist pamphlets in Union 
Square weeping and undressing while the sirens 
of Los Alamos wailed them down… 

What sphinx of cement and aluminum bashed open 
their skulls and ate up their brains and imagi- 
nation? 


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#5
nomad

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A couple of my most favorite

 

Invictus

 

By William Ernest Henley

 

Out of the night that covers me,
      Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
      For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
      I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
      My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
      Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
      Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
      How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
      I am the captain of my soul.

 

 

 

The Stolen Child

 

by W. B. Yeats

Where dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water rats;
There we’ve hid our faery vats,
Full of berrys
And of reddest stolen cherries.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim gray sands with light,
Far off by furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night,
Weaving olden dances
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight;
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles,
While the world is full of troubles
And anxious in its sleep.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car,
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star,
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams;
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

Away with us he’s going,
The solemn-eyed:
He’ll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast,
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal chest.
For he comes, the human child,
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than he can understand.


					
					
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Cats.


#6
caltrek

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I can't point to anything that the poem Waiting for the Barbarians actually changed in history.  Still, in its own way, I think it went far to describe history:

 

 

What are we waiting for, gathered here in the agora?

        The barbarians are due here today.

Why isn't anything going on in the senate?

Why have the senators given up legislating?

         Because the Barbarians are coming today.

         What's the point of senators and their laws now?

         When the barbarians get here, they'll do the

          legislating.

Why did our emperor set out so early

to sit on his throne at the city's main gate,

in state, wearing the crown?

          Because the barbarians are coming today.

         and the emperor's waiting to receive their leader.

         He's even got a citation to give him,

         loaded with titles and imposing names.

Why have our two consuls and praetors shown up today

wearing their embroidered, their scarlet togas?

Why haven't they put on bracelets with so many amethysts,

rings sparkling with all those emeralds?

Why are they carrying elegant canes

so beautifully worked in silver and gold?

        Because the barbarians are coming today

        and things like that dazzle barbarians.

And why don't our distinguished orators push forward as usual

to make their speeches, say what they have to say?

       Because the barbarians are coming today

       and they're bored by rhetoric and public speaking.

Why this sudden bewilderment, this confusion?

(How serious everyone looks.)

Why are the streets and squares rapidly emptying,

everyone going home so lost in thought?

        Because it's night and the barbarians haven't come.

        And some people just in from the border say

        there are no barbarians any longer.

Now what's going to happen to us without them?

The barbarians were a kind of solution.

                                                    - Edmund Keeley and Phillip Sherrard

 

 


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The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#7
Unity

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Keats.

 

His poetry rends you to the soul.  I guess dying at 26 of tuberculosis give you that preturnatural insight into what matters.

 

John_Keats_by_William_Hilton.jpg

 

R.I.P.



#8
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Shelley's "Ozymandias"
 
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away."

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Everything is predefined.

#9
caltrek

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Every part of the earth is sacred,
every shining pine needle, every sandy shore.
every mist in the dark woods, every clearing and humming insect is holy.
The rocky crest, the juices of the meadow, the beasts and all the people,
all belong to the same family.
Teach your children that the earth is our mother;
whatever befalls the earth befalls the children of the earth.
The water’s murmur is the voice of our father’s father,
we are part of the earth, and the earth is part of us.
The rivers are our brothers; they quench our thirst.
The perfumed flowers are our sisters.
The air is precious, for all of us share the same breath.
The wind that gave our grandparents breath
also receives their last sigh.
The wind gave our children the spirit of life.
This we know: the earth does not belong to us;
we belong to the earth.
This we know: all things are connected, like the blood which unites one family.
All things are connected. Our God is the same God,
whose compassion is equal for all.
For we did not weave the web of life: we are merely a strand in it.
Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.
Let us give thanks for the web in the circle that connects us.
Thanks be to God, the God of all.

- Chief Seattle

The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#10
caltrek

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Arguably, the following poem has done nothing to actually change history.  Still, its concluding clause has itself certainly become a part of history in that it is repeated so often.

 

The little girl saw her first troop parade and asked,

       "What are those"?"

"Soldiers."

"What are soldiers?"

"They are for war.  They fight and each side tries to kill as many of the 

        other side as he can."

The girl held still and studied.

"Do you know...I know something?"

"Yes, what is it you know?"

"Someday they'll give a war and nobody will come."

 

 

 

-Carl Sandburg


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#11
caltrek

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Maybe the author was't a poet, maybe he didn't change history.  Still, somehow an honorable mention seems appropriate.  Here is a passage of his work worth noting.  I think you will know the work to which I am refering.

 

 

"Now for the evidence" said the King, "and then the sentence."

"No!" Said the Queen, "first the sentence and then the evidence!"

"Nonsense" cried Alice, so loudly that everybody jumped, "the idea of having a sentence first!"

 

Speaking of poems:

 

Thirty spokes are made one by holes in a hub,

By vacancies joining them for a wheel's use;

The use of clay in molding pitchers

Comes from the hollow of it absence;

Doors, windows, in a house,

Are used for their emptiness;

Thus we are helped by what is not,

To use what is.

 

 

-Laotze


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#12
caltrek

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And English History speaks loudly to kings as follows:

     If you march at the head of the ideas of your century,

these ideas will follow and sustain you.

     If you march behind them, they will drag you with them.

     If you march against them, they will overthrow you!

 

                                        -   Napolean III


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#13
caltrek

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Our legions are brim-full, our cause is ripe,

The enemy increaseth every day;

We at the height, are ready to decline.

There is a tide in the affairs of men,

Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;

Omitted, all voyages of their life

is bound in shallows and miseries.

On such a full sea we now afloat,

and we must take the current when it serves,

Or lose our ventures.

 

-Brutus

 

One possible interpretation as to the poems impact on history:

 

 

This logic, however, produced Brutus's defeat at Phillipi, and the prudent course for the West is not to attempt to stop the shift in power but to learn to navigate the shallows, endure the miseries, moderate its ventures, and safeguard its culture.    - Samuel Huntington


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#14
caltrek

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Here is one that might have helped put an end to imprisonment solely for debt here in the U.S.

 

 

Mechanics, Working Men, your rights maintain, Boldly stand forth, nor let oppression reign;

Shrink not before the coward's lordling's face,

Who meanly seeks to brand you with disgrace;

The kindled arch shall shed its flames abroad,

To guide you on, in Freedom's opening road.

Look forth, where fell your sires, on Bunker's height,

And nobly dare, like them, th' unequal fight.

Your cause, as sacred, shall at last succeed

And tyrants fall, through freeman first may bleed.

 

Proudly as waves your nation's flag on high,

Be yours the pride to guard it, or to die;

Long shall it spread its folds o'er earth and sea,

With this your motto - Death or Liberty?

But are we free indeed? I blush to say,

Rude gothic mists and darkness cloud our day:

Which honest men are doom'd in jail to lie,

The rich rogue passes unmolested by

Is such a country free? shame on your laws!

Your fathers - did they toil in such a cause?

O, boast no more freedom - a mere name -

 

A visionary pride - an empty fame!

Where now the spirit that once fired the breast

Of every man by tyranny oppressed?

'Tis gone - and petty power uprears its head,

While ye, its victims, tamely shrink in dread.

Give but the word, Mechanics, and 'tis done -

Retrieve the holy rights your fathers won -

Down with the Laborer's curse - e'en foriegn gold,

Ere liberty and life, and country's sold.

 

-Printed in Maine Working Men's Advocate, August 9, 1832


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#15
caltrek

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The Laborer

By S.S. Andros

 

Ay! stand erect! nor bend thy knee, nor bow,

But speak thine own free thoughts, and with an eye

Bold as an eagle's cleaving the bright sky,

Hold upward thy proud way! Oh why shouldst thou,

Whose iron arm hath made the mighty world

A realm of beauty, and subdued the wave,

O'er desert bales and mountain heights unfurled

The flag of Hope; why shouldst thou, like a slave, cringe to the nod of Pride, and bend thee low, 

Even on the soil thy hand hath taught to bloom

As a fair garden; wherefore shouldst thou so

Bow down, and shut thy soul as in a tomb?

Oh, stand erect! throw fetter off and ban,

And speak thine own free thoughts - thou art a MAN!

 

 

(The Easter Argus) carried the...poem in its column in defense of the laborer...Such printed poetic expressions of the dignity and value of labor were not uncommon (in early Nineteenth century Maine).

-Charles A. Scontras in Collective Efforts Among Maine Workers: Beginnings and Foundations, 1820 - 1880.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#16
caltrek

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This might not quite fit into this category of poems that I originally had in mind when I created this thread.  Still, it is an ancient poem (13th century) that may put your life in perspective.  In that sense, I suppose, it may very well have changed history. 

 

 

 

 

The Guest House by Rumi (Sufi Mystic)

 

This being human is a guest house.

Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

some momentary awareness comes

as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,

who violently sweep your house

empty of its furniture,

still treat each guest honorably.

He may be clearing you out

for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,

meet them at the door laughing,

and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,

because each has been sent

as a guide from beyond.

 

 

93268_molana.jpg

 

Rumi

Public Domain


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#17
PhoenixRu

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I could post something, but no... languages are different, Russian poetry in English translation loses at least 2/3 of its beauty and true meaning. The reverse is also true, i suspect.

 

Here is the old WW2 poem - "Wait for me!"- from which I have goosebumps:

 


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--- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---

 

"And the Russian land, let God keep it! Under heavens, there is no other land like this. And although Russian nobles are not righteous neither kind, let God arrange the Russian land and give us enough justice" - Afanasy Nikitin, medieval traveler of XV century.


#18
caltrek

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Some times when we think of a topic like "poems that may have changed history" we want to look for something that might have influenced the elite of their time.  Still, this overlooks the obvious:  that working people also make history, although perhaps in a less glamorous manner.

 

About 1548 a Sott's writer "heard on an English galeass - a big ship with three masts a a bank of long sweeps" this ditty as the crew prepared their vessel for casting away from port:

 

 

Veyra, veyra, veyrra

Wind, I see him!

pourbassa, pourbassa

haul all and one (bis)

haul hym up to us (bis)

 

Ho, ho, ho -

Pull a', pull a'

bowline a', bowline a'

darta, darta,

hard out stiff (bis)

before the wind (bis)

God send, God send

Fair weather, fair weather,

Many prizes, many prizes

God fair [wind] send (bis)

stow, stow,

make fast and belay!

 

heisa, heisa

vorsa, vorsa

wow, wow

one long draft (bis)

more might, more might

young blood, young blood

more mude, more mude

false flesh, false flesh

lie aback, lie aback

long swack, long swack

that, that, that, that

there, there, there, there

yellow hair, yellow hair

hips bare, hips bare

hips bare, hips bare

tell 'em all, tell 'em all

gallowsbirds all, gallowsbirds all

great and small, great and small

one an' all, one an' all

heist all, heist all

 

 

Form The European Discovery of America - The Northern Voyages by Samuel Eliot Morison, pages 128-129.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#19
BasilBerylium

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`` Roses are red

Violets are purple

not fucking blue ´´



#20
caltrek

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Below are actually lyrics to a song. The lyrics have such a poetic quality that I include them in this thread.  As to history, the line "freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose" has become a truism of our age, or at least of my generation.

 

 

"Me & Bobby McGee"
 

Busted flat in Baton Rouge, waiting for a train
I was feeling near as faded as my jeans.
Bobby thumbed a diesel down just before it rained,
And rode us all the way to New Orleans.

I pulled my harpoon out of my dirty red bandanna,
I was playing soft while Bobby sang the blues.
Windshield wipers slapping time, I was holding Bobby's hand in mine,
We sang every song the driver knew.

Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose,
Nothing don't mean nothing honey if it ain't free, now now.
And feeling good was easy laugh when he sang the blues,
You know feeling good was good enough for me,
Good enough for me and my Bobby McGee.

From the Kentucky coal mines to the California sun,
Hey, Bobby shared the secrets of my soul.
Through all kinds of weather, through everything that we done,
Hey Bobby baby kept me from the cold.

One day up near Salinas, Lord, I let him slip away,
He's looking for that home and I hope he finds it,
But I'd trade all of my tomorrows for one single yesterday
To be holding Bobby's body next to mine.

Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose,
Nothing, and that's all that Bobby left me, yeah,
And feeling good was easy laugh when he sang the blues,
Hey, feeling good was good enough for me, hmm hmm,
Good enough for me and my Bobby McGee.

La la la, la la la la, la la la, la la la la
La la la la la Bobby McGee.
La la la la la, la la la la la
La la la la la, Bobby McGee, la.

La La la, la la la la la la,
La La la la la la la la la, hey now Bobby now Bobby McGee yeah.
Na na na na na na na na, na na na na na na na na na na na
Hey now Bobby now, Bobby McGee, yeah.

Lord, I'm calling my lover, calling my man,
I said I'm calling my lover just the best I can,
C'mon, where is Bobby now, where is Bobby McGee, yeah,
Lordy Lordy Lordy Lordy Lordy Lordy Lordy Lord
Hey, hey, hey, Bobby McGee, Lord!

Yeah! Whew!

Lordy Lordy Lordy Lordy Lordy Lordy Lordy Lord
Hey, hey, hey, Bobby McGee.
 
-Janis Joplin

The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls






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