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Villainous Poetry


I've got a villain (named Odrik the Mindslaver) that I want to have stand out in the minds of the players. He's a wizard (5th edition, enchanter subclass; but that's not really relevant), and his mind has been shaped by an aboleth to do its bidding (i.e. not nice things).

I want this villain to have a variety of poems at his disposal, which he recites whenever he feels like taunting the players. I've been digging around online for a while now for short villainous poems along the topics of insanity, slavery, and general villainy, and I've had some success, but I would really like some help.

If you know of a poem (or a section/stanza of a poem) that a villain would recite (either in triumph or failure), would you be kind enough to post it here (with credit to the original author, as would be appropriate)? I'd be happy to compile the responses here into a google doc for others to use for your their respective villains if you'd like.

Thanks in advance!

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You could do worse than looking at hardrock/metal lyrics. Just off the top of my head, some of the songs from Alice Cooper's The Last Temptation and Raise Your Fist and Yell might be appropriate.

Charles Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du Mal/The Flowers of Evil, hands down, gets my vote for villainous poetry. Some of it might be more self-hating than you'd want, but it's all pretty sinister, raving, envenomed stuff:

"Fool! You are driving to the Devil.
Willingly I would go with you
If the momentum of your revel
Did not exasperate me too.
Fool! go, alone, then, to the Devil."

"Oh deaf-and-dumb machine, harm-breeding fool
World sucking leech, yet salutary tool!
Have you not seen your beauties blanch to pass
Before their own reflection in the glass?
Before this pain, in which you think you're wise,
Does not its greatness shock you with surprise,
To think that Nature, deep in projects hidden,
Has chosen you, vile creature of the midden,
To knead a genius for succeeding time."

"Then, O my beauty! say to the worms who will
Devour you with kisses,
That I have kept the form and the divine essence
Of my decomposed love!"

Bill Reich

First Post
Two excellent selections so far. Have him do the Baudelaire in the original French (or in Klingon) for added kick.
Here's another: Metallica "No Remorse" off "Kill em All" change "what we are doing" to "what I am doing.
"No mercy for what we are doing
No thought to even what we have done
We don't need to feel the sorrow
No remorse for the helpless one

War without end
No remorse No repent
We don't care what it meant
Another day Another death
Another sorrow Another breath
No remorse No repent
We don't care what it meant
Another day Another death
Another sorrow Another breath

Blood feeds the war machine
as it eats its way across the land
We don't need the feel the sorrow
No remorse is the one command

War without end
No remorse No repent
We don't care what it meant
Another day Another death
Another sorrow Another breath
No remorse No repent
We don't care what it meant
Another day Another death
Another sorrow Another breath

Only the strong survive
No one to save the weaker race
We are ready to kill all comers
Like a loaded gun right at your face

War without end
No remorse No repent
We don't care what it meant
Another day Another death
Another sorrow Another breath
No remorse No repent
We don't care what it meant
Another day Another death
Another sorrow Another breath

Bullets are flying
People are dying
with madness surrounding all hell's breaking loose
Soldiers are hounding
Bodies are mounting
cannons are shouting to take their abuse
With war machines going
Blood starts to flowing
No mercy given to anyone hear
The furious fighting
Swords are like lighting
It all becomes frightening to you
Know death is near
No remorse "


Shakespeare's Richard III - he has a nightmare the night before his final battle and wakes up in a cold sweat confessing his sins to his own conscience. I didn't pull the whole text.

Oh coward conscience, how thou dost afflict me!
A thousand sins, all used a thousand times, cry GUILTY GUILTY! I shall despair

This would be a clue (to observant PCs) that the Wizard might not be in his right mind.


Another from Richard III - as part of becoming King (by killing off the rest of his extended family), Richard needs to get rid of two nephews. He sends some ruffian out to do the dirty deed. The ruffian eventually comes back to report, explains what he did. Shakespeare immediately changes his name to Murderer. His confession of conscience might be useful too.

(Richard cries out something like "You slew two children of the royal blood !? Guards! You heard this man's confession - execute him for his crimes!"
Murderer cannot believe Richard would betray him so.)


First Post
'What though the field be lost'

Thus speaks the protagonist of the greatest of "Villainous Poems", Milton's Paradise Lost. You could do worse than quote lines like the below:

Which way I fly is Hell; myself am Hell;
And, in the lowest deep, a lower deep
Still threatening to devour me opens wide,
To which the Hell I suffer seems a Heaven.
Oh, then, at last relent: Is there no place
Left for repentance, none for pardon left?


So farewell, hope; and with hope farewell, fear;
Farewell, remorse, all good to me is lost;
Evil, be thou my good;

The latter especially can be good for a villain - he bids farewell to hope, and with hope's farewell he also thus abandons fear and remorse.

It's a great poem but it is very tightly bound to Christian world view and so you have to be selective in what you quote for a generic fantasy setting; or else change a word or name here and there. Hell of some sort still exists in many fantasy settings though including D&D default, so you're probably alright.

The other thing is that this, as well as Eltab's excellent recommendation of Richard the III (to which I'll also add Macbeth), is all Blank Verse. And maybe you wanted more fanciful rhyming poetry. In which case you can look to the gothics such Poe or Byron. If you want a more jaunty and sinister villain who seems more off the rails than tragic as suggestions have been leaning towards, try Poe's Conqueror Worm for example:

Mimes in the form of God on high
Mutter and mumble low
And hither and thither fly -
Mere puppets they who come and go
At bidding of vast formless things


That motley drama! - oh be sure
It shall not be forgot!
With its Phantom chased for evermore
By a crowd that seize it not

or dial the raving up even further and head of Tom O' Bedlam land with a dash of Coleridge. The advantage of S. T. Coleridge is that a lot of his poems have a vaguely medieval setting to them. Try Christabel. It is perfect for "crazed muttering" style poetry:

Sir Leoline, the Baron rich,
Hath a toothless mastiff, which
From her kennel beneath the rock
Maketh answer to the clock,
Four for the quarters, and twelve for the hour;
Ever and aye, by shine and shower,
Sixteen short howls, not over loud;
Some say, she sees my lady's shroud.

And there are always wonderful little snippets of poems you can throw in from all over the place:

"Because I could not stop for Death,
Death kindly stopped for me,
The carriage held but just ourselves,
And Immortality!"
--Emily Dickinson.

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