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Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Can you give us a single line of poetry that you find particularly moving?

Asked by Hawaii_Jake (30619points) March 10th, 2012

Please, do not use this question to insert a whole poem, not even a haiku.

Please, just give us the line, the author, and the poem’s title.

Here’s my contribution:

“He that would eat of love must eat it where it hangs,” Edna St. Vincent Millay, Never May the Fruit Be Plucked

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77 Answers

Sunny2's avatar

Mein Ruh ist hin; Mein Herz ist schwer. Ich find Sie nieder und niedermere Gretchen’s Song Goethe
Loosely: My sense of peace is gone. My heart is sore. I’ll never, ever find it again.
(corrections welcome)

janbb's avatar

“Home is the place where when you have to go there, they have to let you in.”

The Death of the Hired Man, Robert Frost

gailcalled's avatar

Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold.

Conveniently the last stance is one sentence long and there is no obvious place for a break.

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

gailcalled's avatar

He Wishes for the Clothes of Heaven, by W.B. Yeats

I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

The Summer’s Day, by Mary Oliver

Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

The Oven Bird, by Robert Frost

The question that he frames in all but words
Is what to make of a diminished thing.

Elegy Before Passing, by Edna St. Vincent Millay’’

Oh, there will pass with your great passing
Little of beauty not your own,—
Only the light from common water,
Only the grace from simple stone!

john65pennington's avatar

“Give the people what they deserve

To protect and serve. The police”.

TexasDude's avatar

“Penguin dust, bring me penguin dust, I want penguin dust-”

From “Marriage,” by Gregory Corso. It’s not so much the line that moves me, though the poem as a whole certainly does. (It’s my favorite poem). It’s really the personal context I put the line in. Someone I love very much once sent me a postcard of a holographic Jesus and all it said on the correspondence side was “Penguin dust, bring me penguin dust, I want penguin dust-” That’s how I discovered the poem, because I had no idea what she was talking about, so I plugged the line into Google. And that’s why that odd little line moves me.

Trillian's avatar

His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.

S.T. Coleridge, Kubla Khan

And I have loved thee, Ocean! and my joy
Of youthful sports was on thy breast to be
Borne, like thy bubble, onward: from a boy
I wanton’d with thy breakers—they to me
Were a delight; and if the freshing sea
Made them a terror—‘twas a pleasing fear,
For I was as it were a child of thee,
And trusted to thy billows far and near,
And laid my hand upon thy mane—as I do here.

G. Gordon (Lord Byron) Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage

ZEPHYRA's avatar

“And miles to go before I sleep and miles to go before I sleep”. Robert Frost.

marinelife's avatar

“because your eyelashes are the spines of tiny fragile animals.”
Beneath My Hands Leonard Cohen

ZEPHYRA's avatar

And another…..

“I was much too far out all my life.
And not waving but drowning.” Stevie Smith.

6rant6's avatar

But I have promises to keep

CWOTUS's avatar

Well, by gosh. If we can quote whole stanzas…

Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and though
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.

From Ulysses by Tennyson.

The last line, paraphrased, is the motto of Outward Bound:
To serve, to strive, and not to yield.

flutherother's avatar

“the gentle light that strays and vanishes and returns.”
By: Adam Zagajewski
From:Try to Praise the Mutilated World.

CWOTUS's avatar

This one pretty well expresses my thoughts on religion and politics:

The New Rome by Robert Buchanan

The gods are dead, but in their name
Humanity is sold to shame,
While (then as now!) the tinsel’d Priest
Sitteth with robbers at the feast,
Blesses the laden blood-stain’d board,
Weaves garlands round the butcher’s sword,
And poureth freely (now as then)
The sacramental blood of Men!

CWOTUS's avatar

From The Charge of the Light Brigade by Tennyson:

Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.

filmfann's avatar

@CWOTUS already cited Ulysses, so I will add Walt Whitman’s Oh Captain! My Captain!

Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
But I with mournful tread
Walk the deck my Captian lies
Fallen cold and dead

CWOTUS's avatar

from [i carry your heart with me(i carry it in] by e.e. cummings

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

CWOTUS's avatar

Any line at all… just pick one or pick ten… from

If by Rudyard Kipling

AshLeigh's avatar

Can’t remember where this is from:

The antennas reach on my stereo is starting to sound real close to home.

filmfann's avatar

TS Eliot The Hollow Men:

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

filmfann's avatar

I know we are exceeding the one line request from the OP, but allow me this:

James Lane Allen:

The Birds are moulting
If man could only moult
his mind once a year his errors,
His heart once a year its useless passions

bkcunningham's avatar

…“To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,”... Miracles by Walt Whitman

Berserker's avatar

Whilst it jabbers in dismal plaints, cursing God and all the Saints.

The Vampire, or Strigioul, by Vasile Alecsandri

CWOTUS's avatar

Another martial quote. For such a peaceful guy as I am (really!) I do like these quotes:

From Henry V by The Bard

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.

Aesthetic_Mess's avatar

You guys, a line is not the same thing as a sentence when it comes to poetry…
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.
From Ithaca by C. P. Cavafy.
It’s my favorite poem and so inspiring to me.

CWOTUS's avatar

A few lines from some Iris Dement songs:

Wasteland of the Free
Some guy refuses to fight, and we call that the sin
but he’s standing up for what he believes in
and that seems pretty damned American to me

The Way I Should
but I live just the way I want to
and that’s the way I should

Our Town
Go on now and say goodbye to my town, to my town.

CWOTUS's avatar

from Shangri-La by Mark Knopfler

This is all the heaven we’ve got
Right here where we are
In our shangri-la

blueiiznh's avatar

“i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart)”
E.E. Cummings [i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]

“never has one goblet contained you”
Neruda Ode to Wine

“and that has made all the difference”
Frost The Road Not Taken

stardust's avatar

(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land. I The Burial of the Dead

muppetish's avatar

“she laughed his joy she cried his grief” from “anyone lived in a pretty how town” by E.E. Cummings.

“My soul has grown deep like the rivers” from “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” by Langston Hughes.

“And your very flesh shall be a great poem” from Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman.

“This is my letter to the World / That never wrote to Me” by Emily Dicksinon.

ucme's avatar

“Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily
Life is but a dream”

Eliphalet Oram Lyte/The Franklin Square Song Collection 1881.

SavoirFaire's avatar

“The gods we played with broke, they were made of glass.”
—Dean Young, My People

xnightflowerx's avatar

“Do not settle for letting these waves settle and for the dust to collect in your veins”
—Anis Mojgani, Shake the Dust

Watch this if you want to hear the whole thing. This guy changes me for the better every time I hear him, check out all his other stuff too! (:

SavoirFaire's avatar

“To be, or not to be, that is the question.”
—William Shakespeare, Hamlet (Act 3, scene 1)

This line always resonates with me because of its similarity to the opening line of Albert Camus’ The Myth of Sisyphus: “There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide.”

MilkyWay's avatar

I have no heart?—Perhaps I have not: But then you’re mad to take offence, That I don’t give you what I have not got: Use your own common sense.” Christina Rosetti

tinyfaery's avatar

Ugh, one line?

The entire last stanza from Annabel Lee is one of my favorite pieces of writing, but if I have to give you one line…

And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;

And my very close second is from The Two Trees by Yeats.

BELOVED, gaze in thine own heart,
The holy tree is growing there;

SavoirFaire's avatar

“A whole lifetime of eating god’s body and he still can’t say how it tastes.”
—Dean Young, “My Fall Teaching Schedule”

SavoirFaire's avatar

“Everything has a purpose from which it must be freed.”
—Dean Young, “How I Get My Ideas”

gondwanalon's avatar

“Men’s mighty mine-machines digging in the ground,
Stealing rare minerals where they can be found.
Concrete caves with iron doors, bury it again,
While a starving frightened world fills the sea with grain.”

“HOW IS IT” (we are here) The Moody Blues

gondwanalon's avatar

“What seest thou else
In the dark backward and abysm of time?”
-Shakespeare’s The Tempest (Act 1, Scene 2)

Kayak8's avatar

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it

(From The Rubaiyat by Omar Khayyam, translated by Fitzgerald)

ragingloli's avatar

“Er hält in Armen das ächzende Kind, Erreicht den Hof mit Müh’ und Not. In seinen Armen das Kind war tot.” – from “Der Erlkönig”.

linguaphile's avatar

Sunset and evening star, And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar, When I put out to sea. Crossing the Bar Tennyson

Perdition catch my soul, But I do love thee; and when I love thee not, Chaos is come again! Othello, Shakespeare

In the room the women come and go, talking of Michelangelo. and Do I dare disturb the universe? both from Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock T.S. Eliot

My all time favorite: I am perpetually awaiting a rebirth of wonder… I am Waiting Lawrence Ferlinghetti

AshLeigh's avatar

“Dreams still come.
Smiles still go.
Feigning joy.
Feeling pain.”

I found this, today. It’s part of a poem I wrote a little over a year ago. I had forgotten about it.

Bellatrix's avatar

Oh, to be in England
Now that April’s there,

Robert Browning

Bellatrix's avatar

If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs
Bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Wilfred Owen

gailcalled's avatar

@Bellatrix: Have you read the Pat Barker trilogy of novels about WWI starting with “Regeneration”? Both Owen and Siegried Sassoon are major figures in volume one.

Bellatrix's avatar

No @gailcalled. I will look for it though. It’s interesting because as a teenager I was always touched by Wilfred Owen’s poetry and I was talking to my teenage son a couple of years ago when he was doing a poetry assignment and he told me the poet he connected with most was Wilfred Owen. It was an interesting moment. I want him to read more so perhaps this trilogy would be of interest to him (and me). Thanks for the suggestion.

gailcalled's avatar

@Bellatrix: “The Regeneration Trilogy was extremely well received by critics, with Peter Kemp of the Sunday Times describing it as “brilliant, intense and subtle,” and Publishers Weekly calling it “a triumph of an imagination at once poetic and practical.” The trilogy is described by the New York Times as “a fierce meditation on the horrors of war and its psychological aftermath,” and novelist Jonathan Coe describes it as “one of the few real masterpieces of late 20th century British fiction.” In 1995 the final book in the trilogy, Ghost Road, won the prestigious Man Booker Prize.” Source

I found the novels impossible to put down and impossible to forget.

Sunny2's avatar

Partly because I was a teacher, I like this, from “Father William” in Alice in Wonderland. I painted the last 2 lines on a lectern I made for my students to give reports from and I spoke from it myself as well..
“I have answered three questions and that is enough!” said his father. “Don’t give yourself airs. Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff? Be off or I’ll kick you downstairs.”

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

“And if I laugh at any mortal thing, ‘T is that I may not weep”

-Lord Byron, Don Juan

SomeoneElse's avatar

‘Put out my hand and touched the face of God.’
John Gillespie Magee, Jnr.

MilkyWay's avatar

@Bellatrix I love Wilfred Owen, so glad we’re studying him at school too. Amazing poet :)

picante's avatar

“nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands”

The last line of “somewhere I have never traveled, gladly beyond” by E. E. Cummings (or e e cummings, with punctuation and upcaps eschewed)

lonelydragon's avatar

From “One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop:

“So many things seem filled with the intent to be lost
that there loss is no disaster.”

OK, so I cheated a little on length, but it was too good not to be included.

janbb's avatar

@lonelydragon Is it supposed to be “there” or is it “their”?

CWOTUS's avatar

I think that I shall never see
A poem as lovely as a tree.

Joyce Kilmer

I love thinking about trees. These massive beings, rooted to one spot (well, in the wild and usually in our yards, anyway) and living without aid or comfort through the hottest, coldest, wettest, driest, best and worst weather the planet has, day in and day out, night in and night out, longer than most of us can manage even with our indoor plumbing, climate control, mobility and regular nutrition and hydration. Trees will take over this planet – again – long after humans have left. Ms. K was right; these things are awesome. They stand there and they take on all comers, and they do it with style, grace and panache. They’re fucking trees. Some days I wish I could be a tree.

lonelydragon's avatar

@janbb Aargh! Typing in the morning after a restless night is something I should avoid in the future.

gailcalled's avatar

@CWOTUS: Joyce Kilmer was a he. I just learned, sadly, that he was killed in WWI in 1918, aged 31. Source

SavoirFaire's avatar

“Staring into the refrigerator as if into the place where the answers are kept.”
—Stephen Dobyns, “How to Like It”

CWOTUS's avatar

Thanks for the correction, @gailcalled. I’m frankly surprised that he made it through high school. I’ll bet he was a hell of a fighter.

SavoirFaire's avatar

“Believe that even in my deliberateness I was not deliberate.”
—Gwendolyn Brooks, “The Mother”

Nimis's avatar

My eyes rest upon your face wide-open; and they hold you gently, letting you go when something in the dark begins to move.
– Rainer Maria Rilke
To Say Before Going To Sleep

Goodnight, Fluther.

anartist's avatar

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, / Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line, / Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.
from the translation of the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám by Edward Fitzgerald.

this one has been with me through many a tear of regret

I grow old, I grow old, I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled
from “The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S Eliot

The grave’s a fine and private place, / But none, I think, do there embrace.
from Andrew Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress”

I am the grass, I cover all
from “Grass” by Carl Sandburg

Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
from “Do not go gentle into that good night” by Dylan Thomas

these hips are mighty hips. / these hips are magic hips.
i have known them / to put a spell on a man and
spin him like a top
from “Homage to My Hips” by Lucille Clifton

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,
from “Howl” by Allen Ginsburg

there are so many

SomeoneElse's avatar

@ucme – Talk about sending me off to trail down Memory Lane! My late father, born in 1906, used to recite that and I could never find out where it was from. At that time, education finished when the child was 14 unless you were of a higher social class than my Dad, and I don’t think the children learnt many subjects.

flutherother's avatar

Ere the sun swings his noonday sword
Must say good-bye to all of this; -
By all delights that I shall miss,
Help me to die, O Lord.

From ‘Before Action’ by William Noel Hodgson (written within days of his death in the trenches of the First World War)

AngryWhiteMale's avatar

Interesting challenge. Here’s my contributions:

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath

-Let America Be America Again, by Langston Hughes

Degas loved the two together:
Beauty joined to energy.

-Museum Piece, by Richard Wilbur

But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

-When You Are Old, by W.B. Yeats

Maybe Christmas… perhaps…means a little bit more!”

-How The Grinch Stole Christmas, by Dr. Seuss (arguably our best known poet. Think about it…)

janbb's avatar

“And I walked abroad in a shower of all my days.”

from one of my favorites “Poem in October” by Dylan Thomas

linguaphile's avatar

From a lesser known poet:
“futile though this life may sound, it shall never be to me…” Merv Garrettson

gailcalled's avatar

@AngryWhiteMale; I love your choices. Do you know the Pierre Ronsard poem Pour Hélène? Yeats certainly did.

Quand vous serez bien vieille, au soir, à la chandelle,
Assise auprès du feu, dévidant et filant,
chantant mes vers, en vous émerveillant :
Ronsard me célébrait du temps que j’étais belle.

Nice also to see the Wilbur. He was one of several distinguished poets who were members of the English dept. where I attended college.

SomeoneElse's avatar

‘Do not go gentle into that good night.’
Dyland Thomas

CWOTUS's avatar

How did I forget one of my all-time favorites?

The whole poem: Eternity, by William Blake:

He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy;
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity’s sun rise.

gailcalled's avatar

@CWOTUS: That was used as our first freshman English comp assignment. My analysis came back with the first D I had ever seen (and the last one, I might add) and a cruel and unhelpful comment about mushy writing.

I still loathe the poem.

CWOTUS's avatar

Hah! Even at my advanced age and with my skeptical and mostly cynical disposition I still appreciate it.

AngryWhiteMale's avatar

@gailcalled, thank you! “Let America Be America Again” is especially on my mind these days.

No, I wasn’t aware of “Pour Hélène”, or Ronsard, for that matter. Thank you for the link (and especially one with translations of sorts! My one semester of French has dwindled to “Oui, je parle francais un peu.”). As for Wilbur, the poem is not a terribly complicated one, but it’s one of my favorites. Every time I see a Degas or El Greco, I think of it.

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