14+ Best William Ernest Henley Poems You Should Read

William Ernest Henley was an influential English poet, critic and editor of the late Victorian era in England.

If you’re searching for famous poems ever that perfectly capture what you’d like to say or just want to feel inspired yourself, browse through an amazing collection of best known Rupert Brooke poems, most famous Kamala Das poems, and selected John Clare poems.

Famous William Ernest Henley Poems

Orientale

She’s an enchanting little Israelite,
A world of hidden dimples!–Dusky-eyed,
A starry-glancing daughter of the Bride,
With hair escaped from some Arabian Night,
Her lip is red, her cheek is golden-white,
Her nose a scimitar; and, set aside
The bamboo hat she cocks with so much pride,
Her dress a dream of daintiness and delight.
And when she passes with the dreadful boys
And romping girls, the cockneys loud and crude,
My thought, to the Minories tied yet moved to range
The Land o’ the Sun, commingles with the noise
Of magian drums and scents of sandalwood
A touch Sidonian–modern–taking–strange!

Etching

Two and thirty is the ploughman.
He’s a man of gallant inches,
And his hair is close and curly,
And his beard;
But his face is wan and sunken,
And his eyes are large and brilliant,
And his shoulder-blades are sharp,
And his knees.

He is weak of wits, religious,
Full of sentiment and yearning,
Gentle, faded-with a cough
And a snore.
When his wife (who was a widow,
And is many years his elder)
Fails to write, and that is always,
He desponds.

Let his melancholy wander,
And he’ll tell you pretty stories
Of the women that have wooed him
Long ago;
Or he’ll sing of bonnie lasses
Keeping sheep among the heather,
With a crackling, hackling click
In his voice.

Discharged

Carry me out
Into the wind and the sunshine,
Into the beautiful world.

O, the wonder, the spell of the streets!
The stature and strength of the horses,
The rustle and echo of footfalls,
The flat roar and rattle of wheels!
A swift tram floats huge on us . . .
It’s a dream?
The smell of the mud in my nostrils
Blows brave-like a breath of the sea!

As of old,
Ambulant, undulant drapery,
Vaguery and strangely provocative,
Fluttersd and beckons. O, yonder –
Is it?-the gleam of a stocking!
Sudden, a spire
Wedged in the mist! O, the houses,
The long lines of lofty, grey houses,
Cross-hatched with shadow and light!
These are the streets . . .
Each is an avenue leading
Whither I will!

Free . . . !
Dizzy, hysterical, faint,
I sit, and the carriage rolls on with me
Into the wonderful world.

Easy Is The Triolet

Easy is the Triolet,
If you really learn to make it!
Once a neat refrain you get,
Easy is the Triolet.
As you see! I pay my debt
With another rhyme, Deuce take it,
Easy is the Triolet,
If you really learn to make it!

London Types: Mounted Police

Army Reserve; a worshipper of Bobs,
With whom he stripped the smock from Candahar;
Neat as his mount, that neatest among cobs;
Whenever pageants pass, or meetings are,
He moves conspicuous, vigilant, severe,
With his Light Cavalry hand and seat and look,
A living type of Order, in whose sphere
Is room for neither Hooligan nor Hook.
For in his shadow, wheresoe’er he ride,
Paces, all eye and hardihood and grip,
The dreaded Crusher, might in his every stride
And right materialized girt at his hip;
And they, that shake to see these twain go by,
Feel that the Tec, that plain-clothes Terror, is nigh.

The Wan Sun Westers, Faint And Slow

The wan sun westers, faint and slow;
The eastern distance glimmers gray;
An eerie haze comes creeping low
Across the little, lonely bay;
And from the sky-line far away
About the quiet heaven are spread
Mysterious hints of dying day,
Thin, delicate dreams of green and red.

And weak, reluctant surges lap
And rustle round and down the strand.
No other sound . . . If it should hap,
The ship that sails from fairy-land!
The silken shrouds with spells are manned,
The hull is magically scrolled,
The squat mast lives, and in the sand
The gold prow-griffin claws a hold.

It steals to seaward silently;
Strange fish-folk follow thro’ the gloom;
Great wings flap overhead; I see
The Castle of the Drowsy Doom
Vague thro’ the changeless twilight loom,
Enchanted, hushed. And ever there
She slumbers in eternal bloom,
Her cushions hid with golden hair.

Ballade Of Youth And Age

Spring at her height on a morn at prime,
Sails that laugh from a flying squall,
Pomp of harmony, rapture of rhyme –
Youth is the sign of them, one and all.
Winter sunsets and leaves that fall,
An empty flagon, a folded page,
A tumble-down wheel, a tattered ball –
These are a type of the world of Age.

Bells that clash in a gaudy chime,
Swords that clatter in onsets tall,
The words that ring and the fames that climb –
Youth is the sign of them, one and all.
Hymnals old in a dusty stall,
A bald, blind bird in a crazy cage,
The scene of a faded festival –
These are a type of the world of Age.

Hours that strut as the heirs of time,
Deeds whose rumour’s a clarion-call,
Songs where the singers their souls sublime –
Youth is the sign of them, one and all.
A staff that rests in a nook of wall,
A reeling battle, a rusted gage,
The chant of a nearing funeral –
These are a type of the world of Age.

Envoy

Struggle and turmoil, revel and brawl –
Youth is the sign of them, one and all.
A smouldering hearth and a silent stage –
These are a type of the world of Age.

The Ways Are Green

The ways are green with the gladdening sheen
Of the young year’s fairest daughter.
O, the shadows that fleet o’er the springing wheat!
O, the magic of running water!
The spirit of spring is in every thing,
The banners of spring are streaming,
We march to a tune from the fifes of June,
And life’s a dream worth dreaming.

It’s all very well to sit and spell
At the lesson there’s no gainsaying;
But what the deuce are wont and use
When the whole mad world’s a-maying?
When the meadow glows, and the orchard snows,
And the air’s with love-motes teeming,
When fancies break, and the senses wake,
O, life’s a dream worth dreaming!

What Nature has writ with her lusty wit
Is worded so wisely and kindly
That whoever has dipped in her manuscript
Must up and follow her blindly.
Now the summer prime is her blithest rhyme
In the being and the seeming,
And they that have heard the overword
Know life’s a dream worth dreaming.

Scrubber

She’s tall and gaunt, and in her hard, sad face
With flashes of the old fun’s animation
There lowers the fixed and peevish resignation
Bred of a past where troubles came apace.
She tells me that her husband, ere he died,
Saw seven of their children pass away,
And never knew the little lass at play
Out on the green, in whom he’s deified.
Her kin dispersed, her friends forgot and gone,
All simple faith her honest Irish mind,
Scolding her spoiled young saint, she labours on:
Telling her dreams, taking her patients’ part,
Trailing her coat sometimes: and you shall find
No rougher, quainter speech, nor kinder heart.

Prologue

Something is dead . . .
The grace of sunset solitudes, the march
Of the solitary moon, the pomp and power
Of round on round of shining soldier-stars
Patrolling space, the bounties of the sun –
Sovran, tremendous, unimaginable –
The multitudinous friendliness of the sea,
Possess no more–no more.

Something is dead . . .
The Autumn rain-rot deeper and wider soaks
And spreads, the burden of Winter heavier weighs,
His melancholy close and closer yet
Cleaves, and those incantations of the Spring
That made the heart a centre of miracles
Grow formal, and the wonder-working bours
Arise no more–no more.

Something is dead . . .
‘Tis time to creep in close about the fire
And tell grey tales of what we were, and dream
Old dreams and faded, and as we may rejoice
In the young life that round us leaps and laughs,
A fountain in the sunshine, in the pride
Of God’s best gift that to us twain returns,
Dear Heart, no more–no more.

London Types: Beef-Eater

His beat lies knee-high through a dust of story-
A dust of terror and torture, grief and crime;
Ghosts that are England’s wonder, and shame, and glory
Throng where he walks, an antic of old time;
A sense of long immedicable tears
Were ever with him, could his ears but heed;
The stern Hic Jacets of our bloodiest years
Are for his reading, had he eyes to read,
But here, where Crookback raged, and Cranmer trimmed,
And More and Strafford faced the axe’s proving,
He shows that Crown the desperate Colonel nimmed,
Or simply keeps the Country Cousin moving,
Or stays such Cockney pencillers as would shame
The wall where some dead Queen hath traced her name.

From A Window In Princes Street

Above the Crags that fade and gloom
Starts the bare knee of Arthur’s Seat;
Ridged high against the evening bloom,
The Old Town rises, street on street;
With lamps bejewelled, straight ahead,
Like rampired walls the houses lean,
All spired and domed and turreted,
Sheer to the valley’s darkling green;
Ranged in mysterious disarray,
The Castle, menacing and austere,
Looms through the lingering last of day;
And in the silver dusk you hear,
Reverberated from crag and scar,
Bold bugles blowing points of war.

Since Those We Love And Those We Hate

SINCE those we love and those we hate,
With all things mean and all things great,
Pass in a desperate disarray
Over the hills and far away:

It must be, Dear, that, late or soon,
Out of the ken of the watching moon,
We shall abscond with yesterday
Over the hills and far away.

What does it matter? As I deem,
We shall but follow as brave a dream
As ever smiled a wanton May
Over the hills and far away.

We shall remember, and, in pride,
Fare forth, fulfilled and satisfied,
Into the land of Ever-and-Aye,
Over the hills and far away.

With Strawberries We Filled A Tray

WITH strawberries we filled a tray,
And then we drove away, away
Along the links beside the sea,
Where wave and wind were light and free,
And August felt as fresh as May.
And where the springy turf was gay
With thyme and balm and many a spray
Of wild roses, you tempted me
With strawberries.
A shadowy sail, silent and gray,
Stole like a ghost across the bay;
But none could hear me ask my fee,
And none could know what came to be.
Can sweethearts all their thirst allay
With strawberries?

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