i want to sound my barbaric yawp!
December 14, 2011 6:17 PM   Subscribe

help me find poems that are self-affirming and kind of narcissistic in nature.

i love poems, but i really love poems that make me feel like a world-conquerer, like, "hell yeah, of course everyone should bow to my awesomeness then get out of my way cause i have got some world-controlling to do... i am the DECIDER!" any suggestions?

pioneers! o pioneers!
thunder: perfect mind
posted by carlypennylane to Writing & Language (17 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Lord, it's hard to be humble
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:22 PM on December 14, 2011

Obvious, but:

Walt Whitman -- Song of Myself

"Apart from the pulling and hauling stands what I am,
Stands amused, complacent, compassionating, idle, unitary,
Looks down, is erect, or bends an arm on an impalpable certain rest,
Looking with side-curved head curious what will come next,
Both in and out of the game and watching and wondering at it."
posted by BitterOldPunk at 6:23 PM on December 14, 2011 [3 favorites]

"White Man's Burden" is like that, if you're a white man.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:24 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Lots of rap music has this quality, if you feel like rap music is poetry.
posted by box at 6:32 PM on December 14, 2011 [2 favorites]

Not narcissistic but certainly self-affirming, I just encountered this one recently and it's been echoing around in my brain ever since.

The Journey, by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.

posted by headnsouth at 7:03 PM on December 14, 2011 [7 favorites]

Not sure if this meets your criteria exactly but it's what came to mind when I read your question. It has that powerful feeling to it. Maya Angelou's Still I Rise. http://poemhunter.com/poem/still-i-rise/
(sorry, I'm on my phone and can't link properly)
posted by BoscosMom at 7:16 PM on December 14, 2011

Another from Maya Angelou -- Phenomenal Woman.
posted by cairdeas at 7:41 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

"If" by Rudyard Kipling.
posted by cymru_j at 7:51 PM on December 14, 2011

More of a "going out with a bang" poem than a youthful "take on the world" poem, but Tennyson's Ulysses is pretty rousing.

Henry V's St. Crispin's Day speech at Agincourt is also pretty rad in that eve-of-battle-if-we-survive-this-we'll-survive-anything kind of way.
posted by elizeh at 8:05 PM on December 14, 2011

Nikki Giovanni - Ego Tripping
posted by box at 8:06 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Hawk Roosting, by Ted Hughes
posted by Joseph Gurl at 8:13 PM on December 14, 2011

Longfellow's A Psalm of Life, perhaps. Several stanzas in a marvelous umpty-bump rhythm, perfect for reciting in an increasing crescendo and then a satisfying wrap-up. Here's a portion:

In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,—act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o’erhead!
posted by PussKillian at 9:22 PM on December 14, 2011

"And did those feet in ancient time". More than once I stood alone in my living room, wrapped in a bed sheet and declaimed, top of my lungs:

"Bring me my Bow of burning gold;
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!"

That's how I get in the zone.
posted by gertzedek at 9:38 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

                               …Hail horrours, hail
Infernal world, and thou profoundest Hell
Receive thy new Possessor: One who brings
A mind not to be chang'd by Place or Time.
The mind is its own place, and in it self
Can make a Heav'n of Hell, a Hell of Heav'n.
What matter where, if I be still the same,
And what I should be, all but less then he
Whom Thunder hath made greater? Here at least
We shall be free; th' Almighty hath not built
Here for his envy, will not drive us hence:
Here we may reign secure, and in my choyce
To reign is worth ambition though in Hell:
Better to reign in Hell, then serve in Heav'n.

— John Milton, from Paradise Lost, Book 1.
posted by misteraitch at 2:34 AM on December 15, 2011

Robert Graves' version of the Song of Amergin makes the 'I' something monumental:

I am a stag: of seven tines,
I am a flood: across a plain,
I am a wind: on a deep lake,
I am a tear: the Sun lets fall,
I am a hawk: above the cliff,
I am a thorn: beneath the nail,
I am a wonder: among flowers,
I am a wizard: who but I
Sets the cool head aflame with smoke?

I am a spear: that roars for blood,
I am a salmon: in a pool,
I am a lure: from paradise,
I am a hill: where poets walk,
I am a boar: ruthless and red,
I am a breaker: threatening doom,
I am a tide: that drags to death,
I am an infant: who but I
Peeps from the unhewn dolmen arch?

I am the womb: of every holt,
I am the blaze: on every hill,
I am the queen: of every hive,
I am the shield: for every head,
I am the tomb: of every hope.
posted by Abiezer at 5:22 AM on December 15, 2011

Lots of Bukowski that isn't... totally the opposite of that.
posted by cmoj at 9:25 AM on December 15, 2011

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