View Full Version : Looking for lyrical poems in the public domain

January 23rd, 2016, 07:23 PM
I'm looking for something to set to music. I have a couple of sets of lyrics but I don't necessarily want to limit myself.

My criteria are:

Must be in the public domain. I don't have time to get permission from a living poet or an estate. I have about two weeks to pick something.
Must have a solid metric pattern. I don't care what the pattern is--something like Poe's "The Raven" has an odd pattern, but the pattern is distinctly there.
It has to rhyme if you pronounce it like we do now. For example, some poets rhyme "again" with ""rain" etc. and modern pronunciation would have it rhyme with "then".
No variants of "thee" because I want a modern feel to it.
At least three stanzas.

So, does anyone have a favorite that fits this?

January 23rd, 2016, 07:41 PM
that sounds like a great project..one hopes you will post your finished work....cool

January 23rd, 2016, 09:17 PM
This sounds like an interesting project. :)

How about The Tables Turned by Wordsworth

or maybe Courage by Robert W. Service?


Today I opened wide my eyes,
And stared with wonder and surprise,
To see beneath November skies
An apple blossom peer;
Upon a branch as bleak as night
It gleamed exultant on my sight,
A fairy beacon burning bright
Of hope and cheer.

'Alas! ' said I, 'poor foolish thing,
Have you mistaken this for Spring?
Behold, the thrush has taken wing,
And Winter's near.'
Serene it seemed to lift its head:
'The Winter's wrath I do not dread,
Because I am,' it proudly said,
'A Pioneer.

'Some apple blossom must be first,
With beauty's urgency to burst
Into a world for joy athirst,
And so I dare;
And I shall see what none shall see -
December skies gloom over me,
And mock them with my April glee,
And fearless fare.

'And I shall hear what none shall hear -
The hardy robin piping clear,
The Storm King gallop dark and drear
Across the sky;
And I shall know what none shall know -
The silent kisses of the snow,
The Christmas candles' silver glow,
Before I die.

'Then from your frost-gemmed window pane
One morning you will look in vain,
My smile of delicate disdain
No more to see;
But though I pass before my time,
And perish in the grale and grime,
Maybe you'll have a little rhyme
To spare for me.

In fact, Service might be a good poet to check out. He wrote hundreds of poems in the lyrical style – some funny, some deep – and many were written before 1923 so would be out of copyright. Incidentally, I couldn’t find the publication date of Courage so you would need to check that if you used it.

Best of luck with this project.

January 23rd, 2016, 10:54 PM
Well, The Beatles borrowed from Thomas Dekker (1570-1632), so I see no reason why you shouldn't.

Golden slumbers kiss your eyes,
Smiles awake you when you rise.
Sleep, pretty wantons, do not cry,
And I will sing a lullaby;
Rock them, rock them, lullaby.

Care is heavy, therefore sleep you;
You are care, and care must keep you.
Sleep, pretty wantons, do not cry,
And I will sing a lullaby;
Rock them, rock them, lullaby.

There are lots of Elizabethan poems suitable for adaptation, though I rather think that some might not find favour with the moderators... Keats might also be a good bet, but have fun setting Ozymandias* to music!

*Now there is a sonnet!