The Anniversary

All kings, and all their favorites, All glory 'of honors, beauties, wits, The sun itself, which makes times, as they pass, Is elder by a year, now, than it was When thou and I first one another saw: All other things to their destruction draw, Only our love hath no decay; . . .

The Solstice Poem. This excerpt by Donne celebrates the "solstice"—days marking the change of seasons —or, in his example, the shortest day of the year in December, which happened to fall then on a holy day:

A NOCTURNAL UPON ST. LUCY'S DAY, BEING THE SHORTEST DAY

'Tis the year's midnight, and it is the day's, Lucy's, who scarce seven hours herself unmasks; The sun is spent, and now his flasks Send forth light squibs, no constant rays; The world's whole sap is sunk; . . .

The Holy Day Poem. This excerpt is from John Dryden who wrote his lyric to commemorate another saint's day:

A SONG FOR ST. CECILIA'S DAY

From harmony, from heavenly harmony This universal frame began: When Nature underneath a heap

Of jarring atoms lay, And could not heave her head, The tuneful voice was heard from high: "Arise, ye more than dead."

The Departure Poem. Richard Lovelace going abroad in the 1640s marked the occasion with a lyric to his lover. Here's an excerpt:

TO LUCASTA, ON GOING BEYOND THE SEAS If to be absent were to be Away from thee; Or that when I am gone You and I were alone; Then, my Lucasta, might I crave Pity from blustering wind, or swallowing wave. . . .

The Personal Tragedy. In this excerpt, whose title explains all, Anne Bradstreet chronicles what happened to her household on a fateful day in early America:

HERE FOLLOWS SOME VERSES UPON THE BURNING OF OUR HOUSE JULY 10TH, 1666 Copied Out of a Loose Paper

In silent night when rest I took For sorrow near I did not look I wakened was with thund'ring noise And piteous shrieks of dreadful voice. That fearful sound of "Fire!" and "Fire!"

The Incident Poem. Incidents, of course, are too numerous to categorize, but also can involve petty occasions, as this excerpt by Matthew Prior proves:

TO A LADY: SHE REFUSING TO CONTINUE A DISPUTE WITH ME, AND LEAVING ME IN THE ARGUMENT

Spare, gen'rous victor, spare the slave, Who did unequal war pursue;

That more than triumph he might have In being overcome by you. . . .

The Birthday Poem. Such poetry can celebrate the birth of a child or the birthday of an adult. This excerpt from a poem by Jonathan Swift celebrates the birthday of his companion Esther Johnson:

STELLA'S BIRTHDAY March 13, 1727

This day, whate'er the fates decree, Shall still be kept with joy by me: This day then, let us not be told That you are sick, and I grown old, . . .

The Momentary Poem. Like Browning's earlier, this type of occasion poem simply describes what a poet thinks, sees or feels at a particular instant in time. Here's an excerpt by William Wordsworth:

COMPOSED UPON WESTMINSTER BRIDGE, SEPTEMBER 3, 1802

Earth has not anything to show more fair: Dull would he be of soul who could pass by A sight so touching in its majesty; This City now doth, like a garment, wear The beauty of the morning; silent, bare, Ships, towers, domes, theaters, and temples lie Open unto the fields, . . .

The End-of-State Poem. This type of verse chronicles the demise of a government, culture or reign. Again, an excerpt by Wordsworth:

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