There are a lot of memories that we tend to keep and hold onto for some reasons that we only know. Some of those memories give us the strength to keep us moving forward. Some of those give us a chance to be a better person, yet some let us question our identity. Some make us sad and scared, yet some make us happy. Whether it’s for good or for the opposite, for some reason, we still hold onto those memories.
These are forty (40) greatest poems about memories. If you’re interested in these kinds of poems, this collection is for you.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Oft I remember those whom I have known
In other days, to whom my heart was led
As by a magnet, and who are not dead,
But absent, and their memories overgrown
With other thoughts and troubles of my own,
As graves with grasses are, and at their head
The stone with moss and lichens so o’erspread,
Nothing is legible but the name alone.
And is it so with them? After long years,
Do they remember me in the same way,
And is the memory pleasant as to me?
I fear to ask; yet wherefore are my fears?
Pleasures, like flowers, may wither and decay,
And yet the root perennial may be.
From “The Pleasures of Memory”
ETHEREAL power! who at the noon of night
Recall’st the far fled spirit of delight;
From whom that musing, melancholy mood
Which charms the wise, and elevates the good;
Blest Memory, hail! O grant the grateful muse,
Her pencil dipped in nature’s living hues,
To pass the clouds that round thy empire roll,
And trace its airy precincts in the soul.
Lulled in the countless chambers of the brain,
Our thoughts are linked by many a hidden chain.
Awake but one, and lo, what myriads rise!
Each stamps its image as the other flies!
Each, as the various avenues of sense
Delight or sorrow to the soul dispense,
Brightens or fades; yet all, with magic art,
Control the latent fibres of the heart.
As studious Prospero’s mysterious spell
Drew every subject spirit to his cell,
Each, at thy call, advances or retires,
As judgment dictates, or the scene inspires.
Each thrills the seat of sense, that sacred source
Whence the fine nerves direct their mazy course,
And through the frame invisibly convey
The subtle, quick vibrations as they play.
Hail, Memory, hail! in thy exhaustless mine
From age to age unnumbered treasures shine!
Thought and her shadowy brood thy call obey,
And place and time are subject to thy sway!
Thy pleasures most we feel when most alone;
The only pleasures we can call our own.
Lighter than air, hope’s summer visions die,
If but a fleeting cloud obscure the sky;
If but a beam of sober reason play,
Lo, fancy’s fairy frost-work melts away!
But can the wiles of art, the grasp of power,
Snatch the rich relics of a well spent hour?
These, when the trembling spirit wings her flight
Pour round her path a stream of living light;
And gild those pure and perfect realms of rest,
Where virtue triumphs, and her sons are blest!
I have been here before,
But when or how I cannot tell:
I know the grass beyond the door,
The sweet keen smell,
The sighing sound, the lights around the shore.
You have been mine before,—
How long ago I may not know:
But just when at that swallow’s soar
Your neck turned so,
Some veil did fall,—I knew it all of yore.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Has this been thus before?
And shall not thus time’s eddying flight
Still with our lives our love restore
In death’s despite,
And day and night yield one delight once more?
“The eradication of memories of the Great War. – Socialist Government Organ.
The Socialist Government speaks:
Though all the Dead were all forgot
And razed were every tomb,
The Worm-the Worm that dieth not
Compels Us to our doom.
Though all which once was England stands
Subservient to Our will,
The Dead of whom we washed Our hands,
They have observance still.
We laid no finger to Their load.
We multiplied Their woes.
We used Their dearly-opened road
To traffic with Their foes:
And yet to Them men turn their eyes,
To Them are vows renewed
Of Faith, Obedience, Sacrifice,
Honour and Fortitude!
Which things must perish. But Our hour
Comes not by staves or swords
So much as, subtly, through the power
Of small corroding words.
No need to make the plot more plain
By any open thrust;
But-see Their memory is slain
Long ere Their bones are dust!
Wisely, but yearly, filch some wreath,
Lay some proud rite aside,
And daily tarnish with Our breath
The ends for which They died.
Distract, deride, decry, confuse,
(Or-if it serves Us-pray!)
So presently We break the use
And meaning of Their day!
While sauntering through the crowded street,
Some half-remembered face I meet,
Albeit upon no mortal shore
That face, methinks, has smiled before.
Lost in a gay and festal throng,
I tremble at some tender song,—
Set to an air whose golden bars
I must have heard in other stars.
In sacred aisles I pause to share
The blessings of a priestly prayer,—
When the whole scene which greets mine eyes
In some strange mode I recognize
As one whose every mystic part
I feel prefigured in my heart.
At sunset, as I calmly stand,
A stranger on an alien strand,
Familiar as my childhood’s home
Seems the long stretch of wave and foam.
One sails toward me o’er the bay,
And what he comes to do and say
I can foretell. A prescient lore
Springs from some life outlived of yore.
O swift, instinctive, startling gleams
Of deep soul-knowledge! not as dreams
For aye ye vaguely dawn and die,
But oft with lightning certainty
Pierce through the dark, oblivious brain,
To make old thoughts and memories plain,
Thoughts which perchance must travel back
Across the wild, bewildering track
Of countless æons; memories far,
High-reaching as yon pallid star,
Paul Hamilton Hayne
Unknown, scarce seen, whose flickering grace
Faints on the outmost rings of space!
They come, as the breeze comes over the foam,
Waking the waves that are sinking to sleep —
The fairest of memories from far-away home,
The dim dreams of faces beyond the dark deep.
They come as the stars come out in the sky,
That shimmer wherever the shadows may sweep,
And their steps are as soft as the sound of a sigh
And I welcome them all while I wearily weep.
They come as a song comes out of the past
A loved mother murmured in days that are dead,
Whose tones spirit-thrilling live on to the last,
When the gloom of the heart wraps its gray o’er the head.\
They come like the ghosts from the grass shrouded graves,
And they follow our footsteps on life’s winding way;
And they murmur around us as murmur the waves
That sigh on the shore at the dying of day.
They come, sad as tears to the eyes that are bright;
They come, sweet as smiles to the lips that are pale;
They come, dim as dreams in the depths of the night;
They come, fair as flowers to the summerless vale.
Abram Joseph Ryan
There is not a heart that is not haunted so,
Though far we may stray from the scenes of the past,
Its memories will follow wherever we go,
And the days that were first sway the days that are last.
Once before, this self-same air
Passed me, though I know not where.
Strange! how very like it came!
Touch and fragrance were the same;
Sound of mingled voices, too,
With a light laugh ringing through;
Some one moving,—here or there,—
Some one passing up the stair,
Some one calling from without,
Or a far-off childish shout,—
Simple, home-like, nothing more,
Yet it all hath been before!
No: not to-day, nor yesterday,
Nor any day! But far away—
So long ago, so very far,
It might have been on other star.
How was it spent? and where? and when?
This life that went, yet comes again?
Was sleep its world, or death its shore?
I still the silent Past implore.
Ah! never dream had power to show
Such vexing glimpse of Long Ago.
Never a death could follow death
With love between, and home, and breath.
Mary Mapes Dodge
The spell has passed. What spendthrifts we,
Of simple, household certainty!
What golden grain we trample low
Searching for flowers that never grow!
Why, home is real, and love is real;
Nor false our honest high ideal.
Life,—it is bounding, warm, and strong,—
And all my heart resounds with song.
It must be true, whate’er befall,
This and the world to come are all.
And yet it puzzles me—alack!—
When life that could not be, comes back!
A Lost Chord
Seated one day at the organ,
I was weary and ill at ease,
And my fingers wandered idly
Over the noisy keys.
I do not know what I was playing,
Or what I was dreaming then,
But I struck one chord of music,
Like the sound of a great Amen.
It flooded the crimson twilight,
Like the close of an angel’s psalm,
And it lay on my fevered spirit,
With a touch of infinite calm.
It quieted pain and sorrow,
Like love overcoming strife;
It seemed the harmonious echo
From our discordant life.
It linked all perplexed meanings
Into one perfect peace,
And trembled away into silence,
As if it were loath to cease.
I have sought, but I seek it vainly,
That one lost chord divine,
That came from the soul of the organ,
And entered into mine.
Adelaide Anne Procter
It may be that Death’s bright angel
Will speak in that chord again;
It may be that only in heaven
I shall hear that grand Amen.
The Closing Year
’T IS midnight’s holy hour,—and silence now
Is brooding like a gentle spirit o’er
The still and pulseless world. Hark! on the winds
The bell’s deep tones are swelling,—’t is the knell
Of the departed year. No funeral train
Is sweeping past; yet, on the stream and wood,
With melancholy light, the moonbeams rest
Like a pale, spotless shroud; the air is stirred
As by a mourner’s sigh; and on yon cloud
That floats so still and placidly through heaven,
The spirits of the seasons seem to stand,—
Young Spring, bright Summer, Autumn’s solemn form,
And Winter with its aged locks,—and breathe,
In mournful cadences that come abroad
Like the far wind-harp’s wild and touching wail,
A melancholy dirge o’er the dead year,
Gone from the earth forever.
’T is a time
For memory and for tears. Within the deep,
Still chambers of the heart, a spectre dim,
Whose tones are like the wizard’s voice of Time
Heard from the tomb of ages, points its cold
And solemn finger to the beautiful
And holy visions that have passed away,
And left no shadow of their loveliness
On the dead waste of life. That spectre lifts
The coffin-lid of Hope and Joy and Love,
And bending mournfully above the pale,
Sweet forms that slumber there, scatters dead flowers
O’er what has passed to nothingness.
Has gone, and with it, many a glorious throng
Of happy dreams. Its mark is on each brow,
Its shadow in each heart. In its swift course
It waved its sceptre o’er the beautiful,
And they are not. It laid its pallid hand
Upon the strong man, and the haughty form
Is fallen, and the flashing eye is dim.
It trod the hall of revelry, where thronged
The bright and joyous, and the tearful wail
Of stricken ones is heard where erst the song
And reckless shout resounded.
It passed o’er
The battle-plain where sword and spear and shield
Flashed in the light of midday, and the strength
Of serried hosts is shivered, and the grass,
Green from the soil of carnage, waves above
The crushed and moldering skeleton. It came,
And faded like a wreath of mist at eve;
Yet ere it melted in the viewless air
It heralded its millions to their home
In the dim land of dreams.
Fierce spirit of the glass and scythe!—what power
Can stay him in his silent course, or melt
His iron heart to pity? On, still on,
He presses, and forever. The proud bird,
The condor of the Andes, that can soar
Through heaven’s unfathomable depths, or brave
The fury of the northern hurricane,
And bathe his plumage in the thunder’s home,
Furls his broad wings at nightfall, and sinks down
To rest upon his mountain crag,—but Time
Knows not the weight of sleep or weariness,
And night’s deep darkness has no chain to bind
His rushing pinions.
George Denison Prentice
O’er earth, like troubled visions o’er the breast
Of dreaming sorrow; cities rise and sink
Like bubbles on the water; fiery isles
Spring blazing from the ocean, and go back
To their mysterious caverns; mountains rear
To heaven their bald and blackened cliffs, and bow
Their tall heads to the plain; new empires rise,
Gathering the strength of hoary centuries,
And rush down like the Alpine avalanche,
Startling the nations; and the very stars,
Yon bright and burning blazonry of God,
Glitter awhile in their eternal depths,
And, like the Pleiads, loveliest of their train,
Shoot from their glorious spheres, and pass away
To darkle in the trackless void,—yet Time,
Time the tomb-builder, holds his fierce career,
Dark, stern, all-pitiless, and pauses not
Amid the mighty wrecks that strew his path
To sit and muse, like other conquerors,
Upon the fearful ruin he has wrought.
From the Italian by Frank Sewall
Give to the wind thy locks; all glittering
Thy sea-blue eyes, and thy white bosom bared,
Mount to thy chariot, while in speechless roaring
Terror and Force before thee clear the way!
The shadow of thy helmet, like the flashing
Of brazen star, strikes through the trembling air.
The dust of broken empires, cloud-like rising,
Follows the awful rumbling of thy wheels.
So once, O Rome, beheld the conquered nations
Thy image, object of their ancient dread.
To-day a mitre they would place upon
Thy head, and fold a rosary between
Thy hands. O name! again to terrors old
Awake the tired ages and the world!
“There is such power”
From “Sonnets in Shadow”
There is such power even in smallest things
To bring the dear past back; a flower’s tint,
A snatch of some old song, the fleeting glint
Of sunbeams on the wave—each vivid brings
The lost days up, as from the idle strings
Of wind-harp sad a breeze evokes the hint
Of antique tunes. A glove which keeps imprint
Of a loved hand the heart with torture wrings
By memory of a clasp meant more than speech;
A face seen in the crowd with curve of cheek
Or sweep of eyelash our woe’s core can reach.
How strong is love to yearn, and yet how weak
To strive with fate: the lesson all things teach,
As of the past in myriad ways they speak.
Verses supposed to be written by Alexander Selkirk
During His Solitary Abode in the Island of Juan Fernandez
I am monarch of all I survey,—
My right there is none to dispute;
From the centre all round to the sea,
I am lord of the fowl and the brute.
O Solitude! where are the charms
That sages have seen in thy face?
Better dwell in the midst of alarms
Than reign in this horrible place.
I am out of humanity’s reach;
I must finish my journey alone,
Never hear the sweet music of speech,—
I start at the sound of my own.
The beasts that roam over the plain
My form with indifference see;
They are so unacquainted with man,
Their tameness is shocking to me.
Society, friendship, and love,
Divinely bestowed upon man!
O, had I the wings of a dove,
My sorrows I then might assuage
In the ways of religion and truth,—
Might learn from the wisdom of age,
And be cheered by the sallies of youth.
Religion! what treasure untold
Resides in that heavenly word!—
More precious than silver and gold,
Or all that this earth can afford;
But the sound of the church-going bell
These valleys and rocks never heard,
Never sighed at the sound of a knell,
Or smiled when a Sabbath appeared.
Ye winds that have made me your sport,
Convey to this desolate shore
Some cordial, endearing report
Of a land I shall visit no more!
My friends,—do they now and then send
A wish or a thought after me?
O, tell me I yet have a friend,
Though a friend I am never to see.
How fleet is a glance of the mind!
Compared with the speed of its flight,
The tempest itself lags behind,
And the swift-wingèd arrows of light.
When I think of my own native land,
In a moment I seem to be there;
But, alas! recollection at hand
Soon hurries me back to despair.
But the sea-fowl is gone to her nest,
The beast is laid down in his lair;
Even here is a season of rest,
And I to my cabin repair.
There ’s mercy in every place,
And mercy—encouraging thought!—
Gives even affliction a grace,
And reconciles man to his lot.
A beautiful and happy girl,
With step as light as summer air,
Eyes glad with smiles, and brow of pearl,
Shadowed by many a careless curl
Of unconfined and flowing hair;
A seeming child in everything,
Save thoughtful brow and ripening charms,
As Nature wears the smile of Spring
When sinking into Summer’s arms.
A mind rejoicing in the light
Which melted through its graceful bower,
Leaf after leaf, dew-moist and bright,
And stainless in its holy white,
Unfolding like a morning flower
A heart, which, like a fine-toned lute,
With every breath of feeling woke,
And, even when the tongue was mute,
From eye and lip in music spoke.
How thrills once more the lengthening chain
Of memory, at the thought of thee!
Old hopes which long in dust have lain
Old dreams, come thronging back again,
And boyhood lives again in me;
I feel its glow upon my cheek,
Its fulness of the heart is mine,
As when I leaned to hear thee speak,
Or raised my doubtful eye to thine.
I hear again thy low replies,
I feel thy arm within my own,
And timidly again uprise
The fringed lids of hazel eyes,
With soft brown tresses overblown.
Ah! memories of sweet summer eves,
Of moonlit wave and willowy way,
Of stars and flowers, and dewy leaves,
And smiles and tones more dear than they!
Ere this, thy quiet eye hath smiled
My picture of thy youth to see,
When, half a woman, half a child,
Thy very artlessness beguiled,
And folly’s self seemed wise in thee;
I too can smile, when o’er that hour
The lights of memory backward stream,
Yet feel the while that manhood’s power
Is vainer than my boyhood’s dream.
Years have passed on, and left their trace,
Of graver care and deeper thought;
And unto me the calm, cold face
Of manhood, and to thee the grace
Of woman’s pensive beauty brought.
More wide, perchance, for blame than praise,
The school-boy’s humble name has flown;
Thine, in the green and quiet ways
Of unobtrusive goodness known.
And wider yet in thought and deed
Diverge our pathways, one in youth;
Thine the Genevan’s sternest creed,
While answers to my spirit’s need
The Derby dalesman’s simple truth.
For thee, the priestly rite and prayer,
And holy day, and solemn psalm;
For me, the silent reverence where
My brethren gather, slow and calm.
Yet hath thy spirit left on me
An impress Time has worn not out,
And something of myself in thee,
A shadow from the past, I see,
Lingering, even yet, thy way about;
Not wholly can the heart unlearn
That lesson of its better hours,
Not yet has Time’s dull footstep worn
To common dust that path of flowers.
John Greenleaf Whittier
Thus, while at times before our eyes
The shadows melt, and fall apart,
And, smiling through them, round us lies
The warm light of our morning skies,
The Indian Summer of the heart!
In secret sympathies of mind,
In founts of feeling which retain
Their pure, fresh flow, we yet may find
Our early dreams not wholly vai
From the German by Thomas Carlyle
From “Wilhelm Meister”
“KNOW’ST thou the land where citron-apples bloom,
And oranges like gold in leafy gloom,
A gentle wind from deep-blue heaven blows,
The myrtle thick, and high the laurel grows?
Know’st thou it then?
’T is there! ’T is there,
O my true loved one, thou with me must go!
“Know’st thou the house, its porch with pillars tall?
The rooms do glitter, glitters bright the hall,
And marble statues stand, and look each one:
What ’s this, poor child, to thee they ’ve done?
Know’st thou it then?
’T is there! ’T is there,
O my protector, thou with me must go!
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“Know’st thou the hill, the bridge that hangs on cloud?
The mules in mist grope o’er the torrent loud,
In caves lie coiled the dragon’s ancient brood,
The crag leaps down, and over it the flood:
Know’st thou it then?
’T is there! ’T is there
Our way runs: O my father, wilt thou go?”
“Oft in the stilly night”
Oft in the stilly night,
Ere slumber’s chain has bound me,
Fond Memory brings the light
Of other days around me:
The smiles, the tears,
Of boyhood’s years,
The words of love then spoken;
The eyes that shone,
Now dimmed and gone,
The cheerful hearts now broken.
Thus in the stilly night,
Ere slumber’s chain has bound me,
Sad Memory brings the light
Of other days around me.
When I remember all
The friends so linked together
I ’ve seen around me fall,
Like leaves in wintry weather,
I feel like one
Who treads alone
Some banquet-hall deserted,
Whose lights are fled,
Whose garlands dead,
And all but he departed.
Thus in the stilly night,
Ere slumber’s chain has bound me,
Sad Memory brings the light
Of other days around me.
On the Ruins of a Country Inn
Where now these mingled ruins lie
A temple once to Bacchus rose,
Beneath whose roof, aspiring high,
Full many a guest forgot his woes.
No more this dome, by tempests torn,
Affords a social safe retreat;
But ravens here, with eye forlorn,
And clustering bats henceforth will meet.
The Priestess of this ruined shrine,
Unable to survive the stroke,
Presents no more the ruddy wine,—
Her glasses gone, her china broke.
The friendly Host, whose social hand
Accosted strangers at the door,
Has left at length his wonted stand,
And greets the weary guest no more.
Old creeping Time, that brings decay,
Might yet have spared these moldering walls,
Alike beneath whose potent sway
A temple or a tavern falls.
Is this the place where mirth and joy,
Coy nymphs, and sprightly lads were found?
Indeed! no more the nymphs are coy,
No more the flowing bowls go round.
Is this the place where festive song
Deceived the wintry hours away?
No more the swains the tune prolong,
No more the maidens join the lay.
Is this the place where Nancy slept
In downy beds of blue and green?
Dame Nature here no vigils kept,
No cold unfeeling guards were seen.
’T is gone!—and Nancy tempts no more;
Deep, unrelenting silence reigns;
Of all that pleased, that charmed before,
The tottering chimney scarce remains.
Ye tyrant winds, whose ruffian blast
Through doors and windows blew too strong,
And all the roof to ruin cast,—
The roof that sheltered us so long,—
Your wrath appeased, I pray be kind
If Mopsus should the dome renew,
That we again may quaff his wine,
Again collect our jovial crew.
“’T is but a little faded flower”
’T IS but a little faded flower,
But oh, how fondly dear!
’T will bring me back one golden hour,
Through many a weary year.
I may not to the world impart
The secret of its power,
But treasured in my inmost heart,
I keep my faded flower.
Ellen Clementine Howarth
Where is the heart that doth not keep,
Within its inmost core,
Some fond remembrance, hidden deep,
Of days that are no more?
Who hath not saved some trifling thing
More prized than jewels rare—
A faded flower, a broken ring,
A tress of golden hair?
The Brier-Wood Pipe
HA! bully for me again, when my turn for picket is over,
And now for a smoke as I lie, with the moonlight, out in the clover.
My pipe, it ’s only a knot from the root of a brier-wood tree,
But it turns my heart to the Northward—Harry gave it to me.
And I ’m but a rough at best, bred up to the row and the riot;
But a softness comes over my heart, when all are asleep and quiet.
For, many a time, in the night, strange things appear to my eye,
As the breath from my brier-wood pipe curls up between me and the sky.
Last night a beautiful spirit arose with the wisping smoke;
O, I shook, but my heart felt good, as it spread out its hands and spoke;
Saying, “I am the soul of the brier; we grew at the root of a tree
Where lovers would come in the twilight, two ever, for company.
“Where lovers would come in the morning—ever but two, together;
When the flowers were full in their blow; the birds, in their song and feather.
“Where lovers would come in the noontide, loitering—never but two,
Looking in each other’s eyes, like pigeons that kiss and coo.
“And O, the honeyed words that came when the lips were parted,
And the passion that glowed in the eyes, and the lightning looks that darted!
“Enough: Love dwells in the pipe—so ever it glows with fire!
I am the soul of the bush, and the spirits call me Sweet Brier.”
That ’s what the brier-wood said, as nigh as my tongue can tell,
And the words went straight to my heart, like the stroke of the fire-bell.
To-night I lie in the clover, watching the blossomy smoke;
I ’m glad the boys are asleep, for I ain’t in the humor to joke.
I lie in the hefty clover: up between me and the moon
The smoke of my pipe arises; my heart will be quiet, soon.
My thoughts are back in the city, I ’m everything I ’ve been;
I hear the bell from the tower, I run with the swift machine,
I see the red shirts crowding around the engine-house door,
The foreman’s hail through the trumpet comes with a hollow roar.
The reel in the Bowery dance-house, the row in the beer-saloon,
Where I put in my licks at Big Paul, come between me and the moon.
I hear the drum and the bugle, the tramp of the cow-skin boots,
We are marching on our muscle, the Fire-Zouave recruits!
White handkerchiefs wave before me—O, but the sight is pretty
On the white marble steps, as we march through the heart of the city.
Bright eyes and clasping arms, and lips that bade us good hap;
And the splendid lady who gave me the havelock for my cap.
O, up from my pipe-cloud rises, there between me and the moon,
A beautiful white-robed lady; my heart will be quiet, soon.
The lovely golden-haired lady ever in dreams I see,
Who gave me the snow-white havelock—but what does she care for me?
Look at my grimy features; mountains between us stand:
I with my sledge-hammer knuckles, she with her jewelled hand!
What care I?—the day that ’s dawning may see me, when all is over,
With the red stream of my life-blood staining the hefty clover.
Hark! the reveille sounding out on the morning air;
Devils are we for the battle— Will there be angels there?
Charles Dawson Shanly
Kiss me again, Sweet Brier, the touch of your lip to mine
Brings back the white-robed lady with hair like the golden wine!
Memory and Oblivion
From the Greek by Robert Bland
Macedonius of Thessalonica
All hail, Remembrance and Forgetfulness!
Trace, Memory, trace whate’er is sweet or kind:
When friends forsake us or misfortunes press,
Oblivion, ’rase the record from our mind.
Memories Of Schooldays.
There are mem’ries glad of the old school-house,
Which throng around me still;
And voices spoke in my youthful days,
My ears with music fill.
Those youthful voices I seem to hear,
With their gladsome, joyous tone,
And joy and hope they bring to me,
When I am all alone.
I think of the joys of that time long past,
Of its boyish hopes and fears,
And ’tis partly joy, and partly pain,
That wets my eyes with tears.
For ’tis joy I feel, when I seem to stand,
Where I stood long years ago,
And when I think that cannot be,
My heart is fill’d with woe.
My old school mates are scatter’d far,
And some are with the dead,
And my old class mates have wander’d, too,
To seek for fame, or bread.
And those who still are near my home,
And whom I often see,
Have come to manhood’s grave estate;
They’re boys no more to me.
And tho’ we meet in converse yet,
And each one’s thoughts enjoy,
Our thoughts and words are not so free,
As when, each was a boy.
For the spring of life is gone for us,
With all its bursting bloom,
And manhood’s thoughts, and joys, and cares,
Are now within its room.
But the mem’ry of our bright school days,
Will last through ev’ry strain,
And time will brighten ev’ry joy,
And darken ev’ry pain.
The rippling of our childhood’s laugh,
Will roll adown the years,
And time will blunt, each day we live,
The mem’ry of our tears.
Our boyhood’s hopes, and boyhood’s dreams,
And aspirations high,
Will doubtless never be fulfill’d,
Until the day we die.
Thomas Frederick Young
But still we’ll cherish in our hearts,
And live those days again,
When awkardly we read our books,
Or trembling held the pen.
Memories Of The Pacific Coast
I know a land, I, too,
Where warm keen incense on the sea-wind blows,
And all the winter long the skies are blue,
And the brown deserts blossom with the rose.
Deserts of all delight,
Cactus and palm and earth of thirsty gold,
Dark purple blooms round eaves of sun-washed white,
And that Hesperian fruit men sought of old.
O, to be wandering there,
Under the palm-trees, on that sunset shore,
Where the waves break in song, and the bright air
Is crystal clean; and peace is ours, once more.
There Beauty dwells,
Beauty, re-born in whiteness from the foam;
And Youth returns with all its magic spells,
And the heart finds its long-forgotten home,–
Home–home! Where is that land?
For, when I dream it found, the old hungering cry
Aches in the soul, drives me from all I planned,
And sets my sail to seek another sky.
The Memories They Bring
I would never waste the hours
Of the time that is mine own,
Writing verses about flowers
For their own sweet sakes alone;
Gushing as a schoolgirl gushes
Over babies at their best—
Or as poets trill of thrushes,
Larks, and starlings and the rest.
I am not a man who praises
Beauty that he cannot see,
But the buttercups and daisies
Bring my childhood back to me;
And before life’s bitter battle,
That breaks lion hearts and kills,
Oh the waratah and wattle
Saw my boyhood on the hills.
It was “Cissy” or Cecilia,
And I loved her very much,
When I wore the white camelia
That will wither at a touch.
Ah, the fairest chapter closes
With lilies white and blue,
When the wild days with the roses
Cast their glamour over you!
Vine leaves fall and laurels wither
(Madd’ning drink and pride insane),
And the fate that sends us hither
Ever takes us back again.
Fading flowers—slow pulsations—
Flowers pressed for memory
But the red and pink carnations
Speak most bitter things to me.
William Butler Yeats
One had a lovely face,
And two or three had charm,
But charm and face were in vain
Because the mountain grass
Cannot but keep the form
Where the mountain hare has lain.
Four ducks on a pond,
A grass-bank beyond,
A blue sky of spring,
White clouds on the wing;
What a little thing
To remember for years
To remember with tears!
A pen, to register; a key
That winds through secret wards
Are well assigned to Memory
By allegoric Bards.
As aptly, also, might be given
A Pencil to her hand;
That, softening objects, sometimes even
Outstrips the heart’s demand;
That smooths foregone distress, the lines
Of lingering care subdues,
Long-vanished happiness refines,
And clothes in brighter hues;
Yet, like a tool of Fancy, works
Those Spectres to dilate
That startle Conscience, as she lurks
Within her lonely seat.
Oh! that our lives, which flee so fast,
In purity were such,
That not an image of the past
Should fear that pencil’s touch!
Retirement then might hourly look
Upon a soothing scene,
Age steal to his allotted nook
Contented and serene;
With heart as calm as lakes that sleep,William Wordsworth
In frosty moonlight glistening;
Or mountain rivers, where they creep
Along a channel smooth and deep,
To their own far-off murmurs listening.
“Here, while the loom of Winter weaves
The shroud of flowers and fountains,
I think of thee and summer eves
Among the Northern mountains.
When thunder tolled the twilight’s close,
And winds the lake were rude on,
And thou wert singing, “Ca’ the Yowes”,
The bonny yowes of Cluden!
When, close and closer, hushing breath,
Our circle narrowed round thee,
And smiles and tears made up the wreath
Wherewith our silence crowned thee;
And, strangers all, we felt the ties
Of sisters and of brothers;
Ah! whose of all those kindly eyes
Now smile upon another’s?
The sport of Time, who still apart
The waifs of life is flinging;
Oh, nevermore shall heart to heart
Draw nearer for that singing!
Yet when the panes are frosty-starred,
And twilight’s fire is gleaming,
I hear the songs of Scotland’s bard
Sound softly through my dreaming!
John Greenleaf Whittier
A song that lends to winter snows
The glow of summer weather,
Again I hear thee ca’ the yowes
To Cluden’s hills of heathe
Brightly the sun of summer shone,
Green fields and waving woods upon,
And soft winds wandered by;
Above, a sky of purest blue,
Around, bright flowers of loveliest hue,
Allured the gazer’s eye.
But what were all these charms to me,
When one sweet breath of memory
Came gently wafting by?
I closed my eyes against the day,
And called my willing soul away,
From earth, and air, and sky;
That I might simply fancy there
One little flower, a primrose fair,
Just opening into sight;
As in the days of infancy,
An opening primrose seemed to me
A source of strange delight.
Sweet Memory! ever smile on me;
Nature’s chief beauties spring from thee,
Oh, still thy tribute bring!
Still make the golden crocus shine
Among the flowers the most divine,
The glory of the spring.
Still in the wall-flower’s fragrance dwell;
And hover round the slight blue bell,
My childhood’s darling flower.
Smile on the little daisy still,
The buttercup’s bright goblet fill
With all thy former power.
For ever hang thy dreamy spell
Round mountain star and heather bell,
And do not pass away
From sparkling frost, or wreathed snow,
And whisper when the wild winds blow,
Or rippling waters play.
Is childhood, then, so all divine?
Or Memory, is the glory thine,
That haloes thus the past?
Not all divine; its pangs of grief,
(Although, perchance, their stay be brief,)
Are bitter while they last.
Nor is the glory all thine own,
For on our earliest joys alone
That holy light is cast.
With such a ray, no spell of thine
Can make our later pleasures shine,
Though long ago they passed.
Remembrance of the past will joy impart
If in that past the conscience was supreme;
But if the soul be made an auction mart,
And thoughts and deeds be sold for what you deem
The price of virtue, then the called-up past
Will be like hooks of steel to hold thee fast.
Or like the stings those nettles left behind
Which I so fondly handled in my play;
I deemed the friend who warned me true and kind,
And in great haste I threw the weeds away,
But soon the burning flesh reminded me
‘Twere safer far from all such weeds to flee.
The cloud that flitted o’er the saintly brow
Which now a crown of life so well adorns,
When you by ways and means you know not now,
Did what your soul with holy horror scorns,
Will stay with you long as you live on earth,
And be like gall to spoil your cup of mirth.
The smiles of those we bless are lasting, too;
We feel their cheering glow each cloudy day.
As falls on wilted flower the healing dew,
So they refresh, and chase our gloom away;
We feel though weak we have not lived in vain,
And know God smiles tho’ we cannot explain.
Joseph Horatio Chant
The footprints on the rock time wears away;
The rock itself soon crumbles into dust;
But memories of the past have come to stay,
Nor flood, nor fire, nor the consuming rust,
Can ever from the soul the past erase.
Guard thou thy life, O man, with heavenly grace.
I would not that my memory all should die,
And pass away with every common lot:
I would not that my humble dust should lie
In quite a strange and unfrequented spot,
By all unheeded and by all forgot,
With nothing save the heedless winds to sigh,
And nothing but the dewy morn to weep
About my grave, far hid from the world’s eye:
I fain would have some friend to wander nigh
And find a path to where my ashes sleep–
Not the cold heart that merely passes by,
To read who lies beneath, but such as keep
Past memories warm with deeds of other years,
And pay to friendship some few friendly tears.
Thomas Bailey Aldrich
My mind lets go a thousand things,
Like dates of wars and deaths of kings,
And yet recalls the very hour–
‘Twas noon by yonder village tower,
And on the last blue noon in May–
The wind came briskly up this way,
Crisping the brook beside the road;
Then, pausing here, set down its load
Of pine-scents, and shook listlessly
Two petals from that wild-rose tree.
How I loved you in your sleep,
With the starlight on your hair!
The touch of your lips was sweet,
Aziza whom I adore,
I lay at your slender feet,
And against their soft palms pressed,
I fitted my face to rest.
As winds blow over the sea
From Citron gardens ashore,
Came, through your scented hair,
The breeze of the night to me.
My lips grew arid and dry,
My nerves were tense,
Though your beauty soothe the eye
It maddens the sense.
Every curve of that beauty is known to me,
Every tint of that delicate roseleaf skin,
And these are printed on every atom of me,
Burnt in on every fibre until I die.
And for this, my sin,
I doubt if ever, though dust I be,
The dust will lose the desire,
The torment and hidden fire,
Of my passionate love for you.
Aziza whom I adore,
My dust will be full of your beauty, as is the blue
And infinite ocean full of the azure sky.
In the light that waxed and waned
Playing about your slumber in silver bars,
As the palm trees swung their feathery fronds athwart the stars,
How quiet and young you were,
Pale as the Champa flowers, violet veined,
That, sweet and fading, lay in your loosened hair.
How sweet you were in your sleep,
With the starlight on your hair!
Your throat thrown backwards, bare,
And touched with circling moonbeams, silver white
On the couch’s sombre shade.
O Aziza my one delight,
When Youth’s passionate pulses fade,
And his golden heart beats slow,
When across the infinite sky
I see the roseate glow
Of my last, last sunset flare,
I shall send my thoughts to this night
And remember you as I die,
The one thing, among all the things of this earth, found fair.
Laurence Hope (Adela Florence Cory Nicolson)
How sweet you were in your sleep,
With the starlight, silver and sable, across your hair!
I nursed it in my bosom while it lived,
I hid it in my heart when it was dead;
In joy I sat alone, even so I grieved
Alone and nothing said.
I shut the door to face the naked truth,
I stood alone – I faced the truth alone,
Stripped bare of self-regard or forms or ruth
Till first and last were shown.
I took the perfect balances and weighed;
No shaking of my hand disturbed the poise;
Weighed, found it wanting: not a word I said,
But silent made my choice.
None know the choice I made; I make it still.
None know the choice I made and broke my heart,
Breaking mine idol: I have braced my will
Once, chosen for once my part.
I broke it at a blow, I laid it cold,
Crushed in my deep heart where it used to live.
My heart dies inch by inch; the time grows old,
Grows old in which I grieve.
I have a room whereinto no one enters
Save I myself alone:
There sits a blessed memory on a throne,
There my life centres.
While winter comes and goes – oh tedious comer! –
And while its nip-wind blows;
While bloom the bloodless lily and warm rose
Of lavish summer.
If any should force entrance he might see there
One buried yet not dead,
Before whose face I no more bow my head
Or bend my knee there;
Christina Georgina Rossetti
But often in my worn life’s autumn weather
I watch there with clear eyes,
And think how it will be in Paradise
When we’re together.
A treasured link of shining pearls,
A by-gone melody,
A shower of tears with smiles between–
And this is memory.
A thing so light a breath of air
May waft its life away;
A thing so dark that moments of pain
Seem like some endless day.
A careless word may wound the heart,
And quickly it may die;
Yet in the seas of memory
Forever it will lie.
And sometimes when the tide rolls back
Its waves of joy and pain,
That careless word, though long forgot,
Will wound the heart again.
The restless seas of memory
Are vast and deep and wide;
And every deed that we can know
Sleeps in that tireless tide.
Upon the thoughtless lives of men
Its waves in mockery roll;
And sweep a might of bitter pain
Across each human soul.
Fannie Isabelle Sherrick
And few can stand upon the sands
Beside this boundless sea,
And say with calm unfaltering voice
“It has no grief for me.”
The passing wave may bear away
Our deeds and words untrue;
Yet surely as the tide comes in
The wrecks will follow too.
Memory And I
“O memory, where is now my youth,
Who used to say that life was truth?”
“I saw him in a crumbled cot
Beneath a tottering tree;
That he as phantom lingers there
Is only known to me.”
“O Memory, where is now my joy,
Who lived with me in sweet employ?”
“I saw him in gaunt gardens lone,
Where laughter used to be;
That he as phantom wanders there
Is known to none but me.”
“O Memory, where is now my hope,
Who charged with deeds my skill and scope?”
“I saw her in a tomb of tomes,
Where dreams are wont to be;
That she as spectre haunteth there
Is only known to me.”
“O Memory, where is now my faith,
One time a champion, now a wraith?”
“I saw her in a ravaged aisle,
Bowed down on bended knee;
That her poor ghost outflickers there
Is known to none but me.”
“O Memory, where is now my love,
That rayed me as a god above?”
“I saw him by an ageing shape
Where beauty used to be;
That his fond phantom lingers there
Is only known to me.”
A Memory (From A Sonnet-Sequence)
Somewhile before the dawn I rose, and stept
Softly along the dim way to your room,
And found you sleeping in the quiet gloom,
And holiness about you as you slept.
I knelt there; till your waking fingers crept
About my head, and held it. I had rest
Unhoped this side of Heaven, beneath your breast.
I knelt a long time, still; nor even wept.
It was great wrong you did me; and for gain
Of that poor moment’s kindliness, and ease,
And sleepy mother-comfort!
Child, you know
How easily love leaps out to dreams like these,
Who has seen them true. And love that’s wakened so
Takes all too long to lay asleep again.
The Memory Of Burns
How sweetly come the holy psalms
From saints and martyrs down,
The waving of triumphal palms
Above the thorny crown
The choral praise, the chanted prayers
From harps by angels strung,
The hunted Cameron’s mountain airs,
The hymns that Luther sung!
Yet, jarring not the heavenly notes,
The sounds of earth are heard,
As through the open minster floats
The song of breeze and bird
Not less the wonder of the sky
That daisies bloom below;
The brook sings on, though loud and high
The cloudy organs blow!
And, if the tender ear be jarred
That, haply, hears by turns
The saintly harp of Olney’s bard,
The pastoral pipe of Burns,
No discord mars His perfect plan
Who gave them both a tongue;
For he who sings the love of man
The love of God hath sung!
To-day be every fault forgiven
Of him in whom we joy
We take, with thanks, the gold of Heaven
And leave the earth’s alloy.
Be ours his music as of spring,
His sweetness as of flowers,
The songs the bard himself might sing
In holier ears than ours.
John Greenleaf Whittier
Sweet airs of love and home, the hum
Of household melodies,
Come singing, as the robins come
To sing in door-yard trees.
And, heart to heart, two nations lean,
No rival wreaths to twine,
But blending in eternal green
The holly and the pine
A Memory Of Youth
William Butler Yeats
The moments passed as at a play;
I had the wisdom love brings forth;
I had my share of mother-wit,
And yet for all that I could say,
And though I had her praise for it,
A cloud blown from the cut-throat North
Suddenly hid Love’s moon away.
Believing every word I said,
I praised her body and her mind
Till pride had made her eyes grow bright,
And pleasure made her cheeks grow red,
And vanity her footfall light,
Yet we, for all that praise, could find
Nothing but darkness overhead.
We sat as silent as a stone,
We knew, though she’d not said a word,
That even the best of love must die,
And had been savagely undone
Were it not that Love upon the cry
Of a most ridiculous little bird
Tore from the clouds his marvellous moon.
Although crowds gathered once if she but showed her face,
And even old men’s eyes grew dim, this hand alone,
Like some last courtier at a gypsy camping-place
Babbling of fallen majesty, records what’s gone.
These lineaments, a heart that laughter has made sweet,
These, these remain, but I record what-s gone. A crowd
Will gather, and not know it walks the very street
Whereon a thing once walked that seemed a burning cloud
Memory Of Sun
Memory of sun seeps from the heart.
Grass grows yellower.
Faintly if at all the early snowflakes
Water becoming ice is slowing in
The narrow channels.
Nothing at all will happen here again,
Will ever happen.
Against the sky the willow spreads a fan
The silk’s torn off.
Maybe it’s better I did not become
Memory of sun seeps from the heart.Anna Akhmatova
What is it? — Dark?
Perhaps! Winter will have occupied us
In the night.
In Memory’s Mansion are wonderful rooms,
And I wander about them at will;
And I pause at the casements, where boxes of blooms
Are sending sweet scents o’er the sill.
I lean from a window that looks on a lawn:
From a turret that looks on the wave.
But I draw down the shade, when I see on some glade,
A stone standing guard, by a grave.
To Memory’s attic I clambered one day,
When the roof was resounding with rain.
And there, among relics long hidden away,
I rummaged with heart-ache and pain.
A hope long surrendered and covered with dust,
A pastime, out-grown, and forgot,
And a fragment of love, all corroded with rust,
Were lying heaped up in one spot.
And there on the floor of that garret was tossed
A friendship too fragile to last,
With pieces of dearly bought pleasures, that cost
Vast fortunes of pain in the past.
A fabric of passion, once ardent and bright,
As tropical sunsets in spring,
Was spread out before me – a terrible sight –
A moth-eaten rag of a thing.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Then down the steep stairway I hurriedly went,
And into fair chambers below.
But the mansion seemed filled with the old attic scent,
Wherever my footsteps would go.
Though in Memory’s House I still wander full oft,
No more to the garret I climb;
And I leave all the rubbish heaped there in the loft
To the hands of the Housekeeper, Time.
In Nature’s bright blossoms not always reposes
That strange subtle essence more rare than their bloom,
Which lies in the hearts of carnations and roses,
That unexplained something by men called perfume.
Though modest the flower, yet great is its power
And pregnant with meaning each pistil and leaf,
If only it hides there, if only abides there,
The fragrance suggestive of love, joy, and grief.
Not always the air that a master composes
Can stir human heart-strings with pleasure or pain.
But strange, subtle chords, like the scent of the roses,
Breathe out of some measures, though simple the strain.
And lo! when you hear them, you love them and fear them,
You tremble with anguish, you thrill with delight,
For back of them slumber old dreams without number,
And faces long vanished peer out into sight.
Those dear foolish days when the earth seemed all beauty,
Before you had knowledge enough to be sad;
When youth held no higher ideal of duty
Than just to lilt on through the world and be glad.
On harmony’s river they seemed to afloat hither
With all the sweet fancies that hung round that time –
Life’s burdens and troubles turn into air-bubbles
And break on the music’s swift current of rhyme.
Fair Folly comes back with her spell while you listen
And points to the paths where she led you of old.
You gaze on past sunsets, you see dead stars glisten,
You bathe in life’s glory, you swoon in death’s cold.
All pains and all pleasures surge up through those measures,
Your heart is wrenched open with earthquakes of sound;
From ashes and embers rise Junes and Decembers,
Lost islands in fathoms of feeling refound.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Some airs are like outlets of memory’s oceans,
They rise in the past and flow into the heart;
And down them float shipwrecks of mighty emotions,
All sea-soaked and storm-tossed and drifting apart:
Their fair timbers battered, their lordly sails tattered,
Their skeleton crew of dead days on their decks;
Then a crash of chords blending, a crisis, an ending –
The music is over, and vanished the wrecks.
Here is the greatest compilation of poems about memories.
Let me know which one is your favorite! 😉