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Poems About Beauty

Table of Contents

  1. To Beauty by Anna Hempstead Branch
  2. To Beauty by William Stanley Braithwaite
  3. Beauty and Truth by Ruby Archer
  4. Her Hair by Ruby Archer
  5. Beautiful Faces by Anonymous
  6. Pretty is That Pretty Does by Alice Cary
  7. I died for beauty, but was scarce by Emily Dickinson
  8. Beauty by Jones Very
  9. The Caterpillar by Hannah Flagg Gould
  10. The Empaled Butterfly by Hannah Flagg Gould
  11. Apple Dumplings by Mary E. Tucker
  12. The Prostrate Pink by Hannah Flagg Gould
  13. She Walks in Beauty by George Gordon, Lord Byron
  14. She Was a Phantom of Delight by William Wordsworth
  15. Sleeping Beauty by Walter De la Mare
  16. Beauty and Beauty by Rupert Brooke
  17. Perfectness by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
  18. Beautiful Things by Ellen P. Allerton
  19. Pied Beauty by Gerard Manley Hopkins
  20. Inspiration by Ruby Archer
  21. Beauty is Vain by Christina Rossetti
  22. Beautiful Things by Anonymous
  23. In Land and Sea and Sky and Air by Annette Wynne

What is beauty but a flower,
That blossoms withers, droops, and dies;
The transient bauble of an hour,
That fades away before our eyes?

– Plain Questions
  1. To Beauty

    by Anna Hempstead Branch

    I would not have thee far away
    By whom I must be led.
    I needs must have thee every day
    To be my meat and bread.

    For if there be unlovely things
    Wherein no radiance glows,
    I'll kiss them till their folded wings
    Shall blossom like the rose!

    Oh, be thou beautiful, I'll say,—
    And save me with delight!
    Then each dark thing will smile like day
    Between me and the night.

    I'll listen till I make them speak,
    By need will make them wise!
    As love calls blushes to the cheek
    Or laughter to the eyes.

    For where love lays its trusting kiss
    There Beauty needs must be
    And so I'll turn the world to bliss
    Until it shines like thee.

  2. To Beauty

    by William Stanley Braithwaite

    O mistress of the world! Heaven's own dear child!
    Priestess of Joy, and things that holy are;
    Under thy smile men's hearts are reconciled,
    And after thy light, they follow, as a star
    Follows the moon across the tide
    A constant wooer at its side.
    And I will follow, follow thee so far
    Across the tide of life, and will adore
    And worship thee in visions evermore.

    O Maiden of shy innocence I say
    Thou art too fair to live in widowhood;
    Since Keats, thy lover, sleeps in Roman clay,
    For thee to be forsaken were not good.
    I fain would be thy wooer,
    Thou canst not find one truer,
    For I will love thee in whatever mood
    Thy sensitive and most delicate soul
    Doth on my spirit work its sweet control.

    And it shall nevermore be truly said
    The glory of the world hath passed away;
    Ah, no! the heart of dreams shall raise its head
    And Poesy again will hold her sway.
    Oh, give me power to teach
    The wonder of thy speech,
    And give thy heavenly message to our day:
    For the barren hearts of men have need
    Of the humane influence of thy creed.

  3. Beauty and Truth

    by Ruby Archer

    I walk in stately mansions
    The great are kind to me
    They find perhaps within my verse
    A tang of novelty

    If beauty gilds my rhyming,
    How quickly they applaud;
    But when the iron clamps my line,
    Their thoughts are all abroad.

    Ah! Beauty—I adore it,
    And hold it ardently;
    Yet beauty is a bloom that dies—
    The truth is more to me.

    How oft the truth refuses
    To bend in singing smooth;
    For thoughts uprooted from the soul
    Come rugged and uncouth.

  4. Her Hair

    by Ruby Archer

    Back from her brow it ripples,
    Falling to either side,
    Forgetting a ringlet here and there
    To curl where the ways divide.

    A fortune of ruddy tresses
    Glinting with burnished gold,—
    The glorious hue that Titian loved
    In Italian days of old.

    How cunning the trick of pinning
    Half loosely the plenteous mass!
    The very sunbeams a tribute pay—
    Lay down their light as they pass.

  5. Beautiful Faces

    by Anonymous

    Beautiful faces are they that wear
    The light of a pleasant spirit there;
    Beautiful hands are they that do
    Deeds that are noble good and true;
    Beautiful feet are they that go
    Swiftly to lighten another's woe.

  6. Pretty is That Pretty Does

    by Alice Cary

    The spider wears a plain brown dress,
    And she is a steady spinner;
    To see her, quiet as a mouse,
    Going about her silver house,
    You would never, never, never guess
    The way she gets her dinner.

    She looks as if no thought of ill
    In all her life had stirred her;
    But while she moves with careful tread, And
    while she spins her silken thread,
    She is planning, planning, planning still
    The way to do some murder.

    My child, who reads this simple lay,
    With eyes down-dropt and tender, Remember
    the old proverb says
    That pretty is which pretty does,
    And that worth does not go nor stay
    For poverty nor splendor.

    'Tis not the house, and not the dress,
    That makes the saint or sinner.
    To see the spider sit and spin,
    Shut with her walls of silver in,
    You would never, never, never guess
    The way she gets her dinner.

  7. I died for beauty, but was scarce

    by Emily Dickinson

    I died for beauty, but was scarce
    Adjusted in the tomb,
    When one who died for truth was lain
    In an adjoining room.

    He questioned softly why I failed?
    "For beauty," I replied.
    "And I for truth, — the two are one;
    We brethren are," he said.

    And so, as kinsmen met a night,
    We talked between the rooms,
    Until the moss had reached our lips,
    And covered up our names.

  8. Beauty

    by Jones Very

    I gazed upon thy face,—and beating life
    Once stilled its sleepless pulses in my breast,
    And every thought whose being was a strife
    Each in its silent chamber sank to rest;
    I was not, save it were a thought of thee,
    The world was but a spot where thou hadst trod,
    From every star thy glance seemed fixed on me,
    Almost I loved thee better than my God.
    And still I gaze,—but 'tis a holier thought
    Than that in which my spirit lived before,
    Each star a purer ray of love has caught,
    Earth wears a lovelier robe than then it wore,
    And every lamp that burns around thy shrine
    Is fed with fire whose fountain is Divine.

  9. The Caterpillar

    by Hannah Flagg Gould

    'Don't kill me!' Caterpillar said,
    As Charles had raised his heel
    Upon the humble worm to tread,
    As though it could not feel.

    'Don't kill me!' and I'll crawl away
    To hide awhile, and try
    To come and look, another day,
    More pleasing to your eye.

    'I know I'm now among the things
    Uncomely to your sight;
    But by and by on splendid wings
    You'll see me high and light!

    'And then, perhaps, you may be glad
    To watch me on the flower;
    And that you spared the worm you had
    To-day within your power!'

    Then Caterpillar went and hid
    In some secreted place,
    Where none could look on what he did
    To change his form and face.

    And by and by, when Charles had quite
    Forgotten what I've told,
    A Butterfly appeared in sight
    Most beauteous to behold.

    His shining wings were trimmed with gold,
    And many a brilliant dye
    Was laid upon their velvet fold,
    To charm the gazing eye!

    Then, near as prudence would allow,
    To Charles's ear he drew
    And said, 'You may not know me, now
    My form and name are new!

    'But I'm the worm that once you raised
    Your ready foot to kill!
    For sparing me, I long have praised,
    And love and praise you still.

    'The lowest reptile at your feet,
    When power is not abused,
    May prove the fruit of mercy sweet,
    By being kindly used!'

  10. The Empaled Butterfly

    by Hannah Flagg Gould

    "Ho!" said a butterfly, "here am I,
    Up in the air, who used to lie
    Flat on the ground, for the passers by
    To treat with utter neglect!
    None will suspect that I am the same
    With a bright, new coat, and a different name;
    The piece of nothingness whence I came,
    In me they'll never detect.

    "That horrible night of the chrysalis,
    That brought me at length to a day like this,
    In the form of beauty—a state of bliss,
    Was little enough to give
    For freedom to range from bower to bower,
    To flirt with the buds and flatter the flower,
    And shine in the sunbeams hour by hour,
    The envy of all that live.

    "This is a world of curious things,
    Where those who crawl and those that have wings
    Are ranked in the classes of beggars and kings;
    No matter how much the worth
    May be on the side of those who creep,
    Where the vain, the light, and the bold will sweep
    Others from notice, and proudly keep
    Uppermost on the earth!

    "Many a one that has loathed the sight
    Of the piteous worm, will take delight
    In welcoming me, as I look so bright
    In my new and beautiful dress.
    But some I shall pass with a scornful glance,
    Some with elegant nonchalance,
    And others will woo me, till I advance
    To give them a slight caress."

    "Ha!" said the pin, "you are just the one
    Through which I'm commissioned, at once, to run
    From back to breast, till, your fluttering done,
    Your form may be fairly shown.
    And when my point shall have reached your heart,
    'T will be like a balm to the wounded part,
    To think how you will be copied by art,
    And your beauty will all be known!"

  11. Apple Dumplings

    by Mary E. Tucker

    Gaze not upon my outside, friend,
    With scorn or with disgust —
    Judge not, until you condescend
    To look beneath the crust.

    Rough and unsightly is my shell,
    But you just dues will render;
    And to the world the truth will tell,
    And say my heart is tender.

    The young may scorn my olden ways,
    With their new-fashioned notions;
    The old the insult soon repays
    By claiming double portions.

    'Tis true, like modern Misses, gay,
    The truth is sad, distressing!
    But I must now say out my say —
    I need a little dressing!

    My sauce, my rich apparel, hides
    My ugly form from sight;
    The goodness of my heart, besides,
    Will always come to light.

    Then judge not by the surface, dear;
    Look deeper at the heart:
    Above the faults of earth appear
    Beneath the better part.

  12. The Prostrate Pink

    by Hannah Flagg Gould

    Alas! alas! a silly Pink,
    To climb so fast, and never think
    How feeble was my trust!
    I sought a high and airy throne;
    Aspired too far to stand alone;
    And now, in lowliness, must own
    My kindred with the dust!

    O, would my stem had snapped in twain,
    And saved me from the lingering pain
    Of being thus abased!
    'T is worse than death to lie so low,
    While all the laughing flowers must know,
    Ambition caused my overthrow,
    And brought me here disgraced!

    My native spot is far behind!
    Nor can I turn and hope to find
    Again my parent root,
    Where, fain my blushing head I'd screen
    Among the leaves so thick and green,
    Whence I, a timid bud, was seen
    In infancy to shoot.

    My beauteous form and hue, so bright,
    I thought could tempest, hail and blight
    And insect's touch defy.
    I grew in boldness—meekness fled;
    I burst my cup, my odors shed
    With lavish haste; my petals spread,
    And courted every eye.

    I little knew how great the fault
    Myself to flatter and exalt,
    Until I found, too late,
    My head grew giddy with the height;
    The sun-beam seemed a whirling light;
    I lost my balance—lost my sight;
    And here I met my fate.

    My sister Flowers, take heed! take heed!
    Your loveliness will ever need
    Protection from the blast.
    Be cautious what your beauties court,
    Whereon you venture, how you sport;
    And if a straw is your support,
    See where you may be cast.

    Your charms are highest half-concealed;
    Your sweets are dearest, when revealed
    With modesty and fear;
    And she, who quits the leafy shade
    That nature for her shelter made,
    May pine and languish, moan and fade,
    Like her who sorrows here.

  13. She Walks in Beauty

    by George Gordon, Lord Byron

    She walks in beauty, like the night
    Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
    And all that’s best of dark and bright
    Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
    Thus mellowed to that tender light
    Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

    One shade the more, one ray the less,
    Had half impaired the nameless grace
    Which waves in every raven tress,
    Or softly lightens o’er her face;
    Where thoughts serenely sweet express,
    How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

    And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
    So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
    The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
    But tell of days in goodness spent,
    A mind at peace with all below,
    A heart whose love is innocent!

    "Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
    Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."

    – John Keats
    Ode on a Grecian Urn
  14. She Was a Phantom of Delight

    by William Wordsworth

    She was a Phantom of delight
    When first she gleamed upon my sight;
    A lovely Apparition sent
    To be a moment's ornament;
    Her eyes as stars of Twilight fair;
    Like Twilight's, too, her dusky hair;
    But all things else about her drawn
    From May-time and the cheerful Dawn;
    A dancing Shape, an Image gay,
    To haunt, to startle, and way-lay.

    I saw her upon nearer view,
    A Spirit, yet a Woman too!
    Her household motions light and free,
    And steps of virgin-liberty;
    A countenance in which did meet
    Sweet records, promises as sweet;
    A Creature not too bright or good
    For human nature's daily food;
    For transient sorrows, simple wiles,
    Praise, blame, love, kisses, tears and smiles.

    And now I see with eye serene
    The very pulse of the machine;
    A Being breathing thoughtful breath,
    A Traveler between life and death;
    The reason firm, the temperate will,
    Endurance, foresight, strength, and skill;
    A perfect Woman, nobly planned,
    To warn, to comfort, and command;
    And yet a Spirit still, and bright
    With something of angelic light.

  15. Sleeping Beauty

    by Walter De la Mare

    The scent of bramble fills the air,
    Amid her folded sheets she lies,
    The gold of evening in her hair,
    The blue of morn shut in her eyes.

    How many a changing moon hath lit
    The unchanging roses of her face!
    Her mirror ever broods on it
    In silver stillness of the days.

    Oft flits the moth on filmy wings
    Into his solitary lair;
    Shrill evensong the cricket sings
    From some still shadow in her hair.

    In heat, in snow, in wind, in flood,
    She sleeps in lovely loneliness,
    Half-folded like an April bud
    On winter-haunted trees.

  16. Beauty and Beauty

    by Rupert Brooke

    When Beauty and Beauty meet
    All naked, fair to fair,
    The earth is crying-sweet,
    And scattering-bright the air,
    Eddying, dizzying, closing round,
    With soft and drunken laughter;
    Veiling all that may befall

    Where Beauty and Beauty met,
    Earth's still a-tremble there,
    And winds are scented yet,
    And memory-soft the air,
    Bosoming, folding glints of light,
    And shreds of shadowy laughter;
    Not the tears that fill the years

  17. Perfectness

    by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

    All perfect things are saddening in effect.
    The autumn wood robed in its scarlet clothes,
    The matchless tinting on the royal rose
    Whose velvet leaf by no least flaw is flecked.
    Love's supreme moment, when the soul unchecked
    Soars high as heaven, and its best rapture knows,
    These hold a deeper pathos than our woes,
    Since they leave nothing better to expect.

    Resistless change, when powerless to improve,
    Can only mar. The gold will pale to gray—
    No thing remains tomorrow as today, —
    The rose will not seem quite so fair, and love
    Must find its measures of delight made less.
    Ah, how imperfect is all Perfectness!

  18. Beautiful Things

    by Ellen P. Allerton

    Beautiful faces are those that wear—
    It matters none if dark or fair—
    Whole-souled honesty printed there.

    Beautiful eyes are those that show,
    Like crystal panes where hearth fires glow,
    Beautiful thoughts that burn below.

    Beautiful lips are those whose words
    Leap from the heart like songs of birds,
    Yet whose utterances prudence girds.

    Beautiful hands are those that do
    Work that is earnest, brave and true,
    Moment by moment the long day through.

    Beautiful lives are those that bless
    Silent rivers and happiness,
    Whose hidden fountains few may guess.

    Beautiful feet are those that go
    On timely ministries to and fro—
    Down lowliest ways, if God wills it so.

    Beautiful shoulders are those that bear
    Ceaseless burdens of homely care
    With patient grace and with daily prayer.

    Beautiful lives are those that bless
    Silent rivers and happiness,
    Whose hidden fountains but few may guess.

    Beautiful twilight, at set of sun,
    Beautiful goal with race well run,
    Beautiful rest, with work well done.

    Beautiful graves, where grasses creep,
    Where brown leaves fall, where drifts lie deep
    Over worn out hand—oh, beautiful sleep.

  19. Pied Beauty

    by Gerard Manley Hopkins

    Glory be to God for dappled things —
    For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
    For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
    Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
    Landscape plotted and pieced — fold, fallow, and plough;
    And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

    All things counter, original, spare, strange;
    Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
    With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
    He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
    Praise him.

    There is nothing more practical, in the end, then the preservation of beauty.

    – Theodore Roosevelt
  20. Inspiration

    by Ruby Archer

    How the composer thrills, when softly glides
    Across the waiting soul's attuned lyre
    An unthought melody, and there abides;
    Or when some lovely form, a dream half hides,
    Reveals itself, how glows the sculptor's heart of fire!

    When to the poet, seeking beauty, truth,
    And all that Pleasure wins from dimpled Mirth,—
    A new perception comes, of age or youth,
    Of Nature's coy caprice or random ruth—
    How all his being flowers with ecstasy at Fancy's birth!

  21. Beauty is Vain

    by Christina Rossetti

    While roses are so red,
    While lilies are so white,
    Shall a woman exalt her face
    Because it gives delight?
    She's not so sweet as a rose,
    A lily's straighter than she,
    And if she were as red or white
    She'd be but one of three.

    Whether she flush in love's summer
    Or in its winter grow pale,
    Whether she flaunt her beauty
    Or hide it away in a veil,
    Be she red or white,
    And stand she erect or bowed,
    Time will win the race he runs with her
    And hide her away in a shroud.

  22. Beautiful Things

    by Anonymous

    O many things are beautiful!
    The bird that sings and flies;
    The setting sun
    When day is done;
    The rainbow in the skies.

    The gentle lamb, so innocent,
    The dove, so tender, true,
    The violets,
    With dew drops wet,
    So sweet and fair to view.

    But there is one more beautiful,
    More tender, sweet and mild:—
    The girl or boy,
    A parent’s joy,—
    The loved and loving child.

    3Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

    4As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.

    5Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.

    – Psalm 127:3-5

  23. In Land and Sea and Sky and Air

    by Annette Wynne

    On land and sea and sky and air
    Beautiful things are everywhere,
    In people such as you and me—
    If we would only look and see.

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