Milton hails it, Browning longs for it and Whitman thinks you should leave it unearn’d! In celebration of World Poetry Day, we’ve collected what 10 famous poets, from the 16th century to now, have written about money. Word to the wise: it’s not all songs and sonnets.
Quarterly, is it, money reproaches me:
‘Why do you let me lie here wastefully?’
–Philip Larkin, Money
Had I but plenty of money, money enough and to spare,
The house for me, no doubt, were a house in the city-square;
Ah, such a life, such a life, as one leads at the window there!
— Robert Browning, Up At A Villa – Down In The City
Let the paper remain on the desk unwritten, and the book on the shelf unopen’d!
Let the tools remain in the workshop! let the money remain unearn’d!
Let the school stand! mind not the cry of the teacher!
— Walt Whitman, Song of the Open Road
When dayes of paiment did approch,
I thither ment to flee.
To shroude my selfe amongst the rest,
that chuse to dye in debt:
Rather then any Creditor,
should money from them get.
–Isabella Whitney, Will and Testament
Every slope was a slippery slope
where every shave was a very close shave
and money was money for old rope
where every grave was a watery grave
–Paul Muldoon, The Old Country
We hailed, “Good morrow, mother!” to a shawl-covered head,
And bought a morning paper, which neither of us read;
And she wept, “God bless you!” for the apples and pears,
And we gave her all our money but our subway fares.
–Edna St Vincent Millay, Recuerdo
The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five-pound note.
–Edward Lear, The Owl and the Pussy-Cat
What Followers, what Retinue canst thou gain,
Or at thy heels the dizzy Multitude,
Longer then thou canst feed them on thy cost?
Money brings Honour, Friends, Conquest, and Realms;
What rais’d Antipater the Edomite,
And his Son Herod plac’d on Juda’s Throne
–John Milton, Paradise Regain’d: Book 2
When we pay the Beef Trust prices,
As we must, or go without,
It is not that we grudge the money
But we grudge the horrid doubt.
–Charlotte Anna Perkins Gilman, I Would Fain Die a Dry Death
Money is such a treat.
It takes up so little space.
–John Updike, Money