Poems by Theme


Gibran, Khalil


And an old priest said, "Speak to us of Religion."

And he said:

Have I spoken this day of aught else?

Is not religion all deeds and all reflection,

And that which is neither deed nor reflection, but a wonder and a surprise ever springing in the soul, even while the hands hew the stone or tend the loom?

Who can separate his faith from his actions, or his belief from his occupations?

Who can spread his hours before him, saying, "This for God and this for myself; This for my soul, and this other for my body?"

All your hours are wings that beat through space from self to self

. He who wears his morality but as his best garment were better naked.

The wind and the sun will tear no holes in his skin.

And he who defines his conduct by ethics imprisons his song-bird in a cage.

The freest song comes not through bars and wires.

And he to whom worshipping is a window, to open but also to shut, has not yet visited the house of his soul whose windows are from dawn to dawn.

Your daily life is your temple and your religion.

Whenever you enter into it take with you your all.

Take the plough and the forge and the mallet and the lute,

The things you have fashioned in necessity or for delight.

For in revery you cannot rise above your achievements nor fall lower than your failures.

And take with you all men:

For in adoration you cannot fly higher than their hopes nor humble yourself lower than their despair.

And if you would know God be not therefore a solver of riddles.

Rather look about you and you shall see Him playing with your children.

And look into space; you shall see Him walking in the cloud, outstretching His arms in the lightning and descending in rain.

You shall see Him smiling in flowers, then rising and waving His hands in trees.

Reznor, Trent


he sewed his eyes shut because he is afraid to see
he tries to tell me what I put inside of me
he got the answers to ease my curiosity
he dreamed a god up and called it christianity

god is dead and no one cares
if there is a hell I'll see you there

he flexed his muscles to keep his flock of sheep in line
he made a virus that would kill off all the swine
his perfect kingdom of killing, suffering, and pain
demands devotion, atrocities done in his name

god is dead and no one cares
if there is a hell I'll see you there

your god is dead and no one cares
if there is a hell I'll see you there

god is dead and no one cares
if there is a hell I'll see you there

(your god is dead) god is dead
(and no one cares) and no one cares
(drowning in his own hypocrisy) if there is a hell
(see you) I'll see you there (you there)

Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails

Shelley, Percy Bysshe

Queen Mab (Extracts)

I was an infant when my mother went
To see an atheist burned. She took me there.
The dark-robed priests were met around the pile;
The multitude was gazing silently;
And as the culprit passed with dauntless mien,
Tempered disdain in his unaltering eye,
Mixed with a quiet smile, shone calmly forth;
The thirsty fire crept round his manly limbs;
His resolute eyes were scorched to blindness soon;
His death-pang rent my heart! the insensate mob
Uttered a cry of triumph, and I wept.
"Weep not, child!" cried my mother, "for that man
Has said, 'There is no God

And priests dare babble of a God of peace,
Even whilst their hands are red with guiltless blood,
Murdering the while, uprooting every germ
Of truth, exterminating, spoiling all,
Making the earth a slaughter-house!

...and obedience,
Bane of all genius, virtue, freedom, truth,
Makes slaves of men, and, of the human frame,
A mechanised automaton.

'O Spirit! centuries have set their seal
On this heart of many wounds, and loaded brain,
Since the Incarnate came; humbly he came,
Veiling his horrible Godhead in the shape
Of man, scorned by the world, his name unheard
Save by the rabble of his native town,
Even as a parish demagogue. He led
The crowd; he taught them justice, truth and peace,
In semblance; but he lit within their souls
The quenchless flames of zeal, and blessed the sword
He brought on earth to satiate with the blood
Of truth and freedom his malignant soul
At length his mortal frame was led to death.
I stood beside him; on the torturing cross
No pain assailed his unterrestrial sense;
And yet he groaned. Indignantly I summed
The massacres and miseries which his name
Had sanctioned in my country, and I cried,
"Go! go!" in mockery.

Washburn, Lemuel K

Is The Bible Worth Reading?

Where are the sons of gods that loved the daughters of men?
Where are the nymphs, the goddesses of the winds and waters?
Where are the gnomes that lived inside the earth?
Where are the goblins that used to play tricks on mortals?
Where are the fairies that could blight or bless the human heart?
Where are the ghosts that haunted this globe?
Where are the witches that flew in and out of the homes of men?
Where is the devil that once roamed over the earth?
Where are they? Gone with the ignorance that believed in them.

Whitman, Walt

Song of Myself

I think I could turn and live with animals,
They are so placid and self-contained,
I stand and look at them long and long.
They do not sweat and whine about their condition,
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God.

Hood, Thomas

The Lady's Dream

The lady lay in her bed,
Her couch so warm and soft,
But her sleep was restless and broken still;
For, turning often and oft
From side to side, she muttered and moaned,
And tossed her arms aloft.

At last she startled up,
And gazed on the vacant air,
With a look of awe, as if she saw
Some dreadful phantom there --
And then in the pillow she buried her face
From visions ill to bear.

The very curtain shook,
Her terror was so extreme;
And the light that fell on the broidered quilt
Kept a tremulous gleam;
And her voice was hollow, and shook as she cried:
"O, me! that awful dream!"

"That weary, weary walk,
In the church-yard's dismal ground!
And those horrible things, with shady wings,
That came and flitted round, --
Death, death, and nothing but death,
In every sight and sound!"

"And, O! those maidens young,
Who wrought in that dreary room,
With figures drooping and spectres thin,
And cheeks without a bloom; --
And the voice that cried, 'For the pomp of pride,
We haste to an early tomb!'"

"'For the pomp and pleasure of pride,
We toil like Afric slaves,
And only to earn a home at last,
Where yonder cypress waves;'
And then they pointed -- I never saw
A ground so full of graves!"

"And still the coffins came,
With their sorrowful trains and slow;
Coffin after coffin still,
A sad and sickening show;
From grief exempt, I never had dreamt
Of such a world of woe!"

"Of the hearts that daily break,
Of the tears that hourly fall,
Of the many, many troubles of life,
That grieve this earthly ball --
Disease, and Hunger, and Pain, and Want,
But now I dreamt of them all!"

"For the blind and the cripple were there,
And the babe that pined for bread,
And the houseless man, and the widow poor
Who begged -- to bury the dead;
The naked, alas! that I might have clad,
The famished I might have fed!"

"The sorrow I might have soothed,
And the unregarded tears;
For many a thronging shape was there,
From long-forgotten years, --
Ay, even the poor rejected Moor,
Who raised my childish fears!"

"Each pleading look, that long ago
I scanned with a heedless eye,
Each face was gazing as plainly there
As when I passed it by:
Woe, woe for me if the past should be
Thus present when I die!"

"No need of sulphureous lake,
No need of fiery coal,
But only that crowd of human kind
Who wanted pity and dole --
In everlasting retrospect --
Will wring my sinful soul!"

"Alas! I have walked through life
Too heedless where I trod;
Nay, helping to trample my fellow-worm,
And fill the burial sod --
Forgetting that even the sparrow falls
Not unmarked of God!"

"I drank the richest draughts;
And ate whatever is good --
Fish, and flesh, and fowl, and fruit,
Supplied my hungry mood;
But I never remembered the wretched ones
That starve for want of food!"

"I dressed as the noble dress,
In cloth of silver and gold,
With silk, and satin, and costly furs,
In many an ample fold;
But I never remembered the naked limbs
That froze with winter's cold."

"The wounds I might have healed!
The human sorrow and smart!
And yet it never was in my soul
To play so ill a part;
But evil is wrought by want of thought,
As well as want of heart!"

She clasped her fervent hands,
And the tears began to stream
Large, and bitter, and fast they fell,
Remorse was so extreme;
And yet, O, yet, that many a dame
Would dream the Lady's Dream!

Freneau, Philip

The Wild Honey Suckle

If nothing once, you nothing lose,
For when you die you are the same;
The space between, is but an hour,
The frail duration of a flower


God is all-powerful.
God is perfectly good.
Evil exists.
If God exists, there would be no evil.
Therefore God does not exist


Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?

Defoe, Daniel

Wherever God erects a house of prayer,
The Devil always builds a chapel there;
And 'twill be found, upon examination,
The latter has the largest congregation.

Camus, Albert

Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow;
Don't walk behind me I may not lead;
Walk beside me, and just be my friend.

Hardy, Thomas

The Respectable Burgher On "The Higher Criticism"

Since Reverend Doctors now declare
That clerks and people must prepare
To doubt if Adam ever were;
To hold the flood a local scare;
To argue, though with stolid stare,
That everything had happened ere,
The prophets to its happening sware;
That David was no giant-slayer,
Nor one to call a God-obeyer
In certain details we would spare,
But rather was a debonair
Shrewd bandit, skilled as banjo-player:
That Solomon sang the fleshly Fair,
And gave the Church no thought whate'er,
That Esther with her royal wear,
And Mordecai, the son of Jair,
And Joshua's triumphs, Job's despair,
And Balaam's ass's bitter blare;
Nebuchadnezzar's furnace-flare,
And Daniel and the den affair,
And other stories rich and rare,
Were writ to make old doctrine wear
Something of a romantic air:
That the Nain widow's only heir,
And Lazarus with cadaverous glare
(As done in oils by Piombo's care)
Did not return from Sheol's lair:
That Jael set a findish snare,
That Pontius Pilate acted square,
That never a sword cut Malchus' ear;
And (but for shame I must forbear)
That did not reappear!...
Since thus they hint, nor turn a hair,
All churchgoing will I forswear,
And sit on Sundays in my chair,
And read that moderate man Voltaire.