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Wham Line / Poetry

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  • "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge starts as an old sailor telling a sea tale to a younger wedding guest. The ship survived a storm and a cute albatross followed the ship, played with the crew, and became the ship's mascot. Then the sailor makes his confession:
    "With my crossbow I shot the Albatross."
  • "Porphyria's Lover" by Robert Browning starts off as a standard Victorian romantic poem about a man waiting in a cold, "cheerless" cottage for his lover Porphyria to arrive. She comes in out of the driving rain, kindles a fire, and pledges her love for the narrator. Then we get this:
    "...That moment she was mine, mine, fair,/Perfectly pure and good: I found/A thing to do,and all her hair/In one long yellow string I wound/Three times her little throat around,/And strangled her..."
  • "And Richard Cory, one calm summer night, went home and put a bullet through his head."
    • By the same poet (Edwin Arlington Robinson), we get the poem of Miniver Cheevey, who wishes he'd lived in the time of knightly chivalry. The last verse goes: "Miniver Cheevey, born too late/Scratched his head and kept on thinking/Miniver coughed and called it fate/And kept on drinking."
  • In "Ozymandias" by Percy Bysshe Shelley, the statement of the great king and the revelation after make up the Wham Phrase.
  • The ending of "Dirty Blood" from Marc Brightside's collection Keep It In The Family:
    "I am not like him, I am not his clone, I do not have AIDS."
  • Randall Jarrell's "Death of the Ball Turret Gunner" goes from eerily metaphorical to shockingly literal in its final line:
    "When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose."
  • The ending of "Ballad of Birmingham" (about the 1963 KKK bombing that killed 4 black girls attending church) by Dudley Randall
    "O here's the shoe my baby wore/but baby, where are you?"
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  • Wilfred Owen's "Strange Meeting": "I am the enemy you killed, my friend". And earlier in the poem "And by his dead smile, I knew we stood in hell." Absolutely chilling lines in one of the bleakest anti-war poems ever written.
  • Seamus Heaney's "Mid-Term Break": "A four-foot box, one foot for every year." (Cue gut-wrenching sobs as the meaning of the poem hits you.)


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