Poems

Poems by George Orwell

Wall Game

Wall Game

College Days, No. 3, 29 November 1919. Probably by Orwell. If you can keep your face, when all about you Are doing their level best to push it in. If you can swear (though, swearing, all men doubt you) It wasn’t you who slicked the keeper’s shin, If you can furk and not get killed...
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The Photographer

Baby Sibyl camera from 1912 by Newman & Guardia (London)

College Days, No. 5, 9 July 1920 Not a breath is heard, not a moving of lip, As his hand stays poised o’er the shutter, And only the gnat on the neck gives a nip, And we think of the words we mayn’t utter. He develops them darkly by dead of night In a...
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Friendship and love

Eric and Us (1974) by Jacintha Buddicom

Summer 1921. Orwell’s last poem to Jacintha Buddicom: Friendship and love are closely intertwined, My heart belongs to your befriending mind: But chilling sunlit fields, cloud-shadows fall— My love can’t reach your heedless heart at all. Jacintha Buddicom responded with: By light Too bright Are dazzled eyes betrayed: It’s best To rest Content in tranquil...
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The Crystal Spirit

The Crystal Spirit

In the opening pages of George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia (1938) he describes meeting an Italian militiaman in Barcelona in December 1936 when he joined the fight against Franco during the Spanish Civil War. Orwell added more details (and a poem) to the story of that meeting in his 1942 essay Looking Back on...
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My love & I walked in the dark

My love & I walked in the dark Of many a scented night in June; My love & I did oft remark How yellow was the waning moon, How yellow was the moon. My love & I walked in the sun Of many a golden summer day; My love &...
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Dear Friend: allow me for a little while

Dear Friend: allow me for a little while To speak without those high & starry lies Wherein we use to drown our thoughts until Even ourselves believe them. Hear then, first, Not all the screams of twenty thousand victims Broken on the wheel or plunged in boiling oil Could pain...
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The Meaning of a Poem

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)

A broadcast talk in the B.B.C.’s Overseas Service, 14 May 1941; printed in The Listener, 12 June 1941. I shall start by quoting the poem called “Felix Randal”, by Gerard Manley Hopkins, the well-known English poet — he was a Roman Catholic priest — who died in 1893: Felix Randal the farrier, O is...
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A happy vicar I might have been

The Adelphi, December 1936 A happy vicar I might have been Two hundred years ago, To preach upon eternal doom And watch my walnuts grow; But born, alas, in an evil time, I missed that pleasant haven, For the hair has grown on my upper lip And the clergy are all clean-shaven.
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The Lesser Evil

Empty as death and slow as pain The days went by on leaden feet; And parson’s week had come again As I walked down the little street. Without, the weary doves were calling, The sun burned on the banks of mud; Within, old maids were caterwauling A dismal tale of...
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Romance

Romance

When I was young and had no sense, In far-off Mandalay I lost my heart to a Burmese girl As lovely as the day. Her skin was gold, her hair was jet, Her teeth were ivory; I said “For twenty silver pieces, Maiden, sleep with me.” She looked at me,...
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