Declamation Pieces for High School

Updated on February 27, 2018
Here's a list of high school declamation pieces perfect for public speaking classes or competitions.
Here's a list of high school declamation pieces perfect for public speaking classes or competitions.

Declamation Defined

According to Merriam-Webster, to declaim is "to speak rhetorically" or "to recite something as an exercise in elocution." A declamation is a statement that allows you to do this—is is a strong speech filled with emotion.

Outside of politics, the most likely place to encounter a declamation is a public speaking class. Most public speaking classes ask students to deliver declamation pieces. This is a favorite activity for the speech teacher because it allows the student to prominently show emotions. The term "declamation" can be interpreted differently, but most take declamation to mean expressing a speech or piece in a dramatic and eloquent fashion. Declamation is filled with passion and dramatic flair. It is not a simple affair, nor is it an ordinary "reading" of a piece. Declamation requires acting.

Most speeches can be declamation pieces, but there are some that seem to be made for it. So here is a list of declamation pieces, explanations of what makes them fun and worthy to recite, and links to full copies.

Bad Girl

This is a popular declamation piece about a "bad girl" who becomes bad because of the negligence of her family, school, and society.

Hey! Everybody seems to be staring at me.
You! You! All of you!
How dare you to stare at me?!
Why? Is it because I`m a bad girl?
A bad girl I am, a good-for-nothing teenager—a problem child?
That's what you call me!
I smoke. I drink. I gamble at my young tender age.
I lie. I cheat, and I could even kill, if I have to.
Yes, I`m a bad girl, but where are my parents?
You! You! You are my good parents?
My good elder brother and sister in this society where I live?
Look! Look at me.... What have you done to me?
You have pampered and spoiled me, neglected me when I needed you most!
Entrusted me to a yaya, whose intelligence was much lower than mine!
While you go about your parties, your meetings and gambling session.
Thus... I drifted away from you!
Longing for a father`s love, yearning for a mother`s care!
As I grew up, everything changed!
You too have changed!
You spent more time in your poker, majong tables, bars and night clubs.
You even landed on the headlines of the newspaper as crooks, pedlars and racketeers.
Now, you call me names, accuse me of everything I do to myself?
Tell me! How good are you?
If you really wish to ensure my future...
Then hurry....hurry back home! Where I await you, because I need you.
Protect me from all evil influences that will threaten me at my very own understanding.
But if I am bad, really bad...then, you've got to help me!
Help me! Oh please... Help me!

The Rich Man and the Poor Man

This is another popular piece that has been delivered in declamation contests time and time again. It is a dialogue between two men: the selfish rich and the begging poor. It is, perhaps, memorable for this line: "Eat, drink, and be merry. For tomorrow you shall die!"

“Food and money I give to you,
Why do you shout so mercilessly
When I give you your part?”
queried the rich man.

The poor man replied:
“Your question you cannot answer
For from pain and agony you are free,
But I have suffered and borne
The situation that I don’t like to be in.”

“That I couldn’t understand
Because life for me is easy;
I take this and take that,
And life is just what I want it to be.”
consented the rich man.

“Comfort your mind, rich man,
with realities of death.
Your wealth I do not envy
For you cannot buy
eternity with money.
If to live happily
is to live in hypocrisy,
Then I prefer to be silly
so I would be holy.
Life you love so much you will lose
And only then will you understand
What agony is,” the poor man shouted.

“Ha! Ha! Ha! You say so
For you desire this place of mine.
Indulgence you have clouded with reason
But I understand because of your situation.”
boastfully the rich man said.

Outraged the poor man answered:
“How pitiful the person blinded with pleasure;
No, you don’t care of our journey
That you have created through your greediness.
Come now, man of weak soul!
Your days are numbered for you to face
The Man of Love.
You may not cry now but later you will
When the chilling reality of the last judgment
Comes across your way;
Yes, then you will pity, but not for me.
Not for anybody else.
But for yourself only!
Yes, eat, drink, and be merry.
For tomorrow you shall die!

"If--" by Rudyard Kipling

"If" is written in 1895 by British Nobel laureate Rudyard Kipling, as a tribute to Leander Starr Jameson. The poem is a favorite in the literary circles because it clearly communicates life advice that a parent would bestow on his child.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

The Charge of the Light Brigade

"The Charge of the Light Brigade" by Lord Tennyson is sometimes used as a speech choir piece. This narrative poem written by Lord Alfred Tennyson as a dedication to the Charge of the Light Brigade at the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War. This poem expresses the bravery and honor displayed the cavalry, even at the risk of their own lives and the threat of imminent death.

1.

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
"Forward, the Light Brigade!
"Charge for the guns!" he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

2.

"Forward, the Light Brigade!"
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldier knew
Someone had blunder'd:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

3.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.

4.

Flash'd all their sabres bare,
Flash'd as they turn'd in air,
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
All the world wonder'd:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro' the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reel'd from the sabre stroke
Shatter'd and sunder'd.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.

5.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro' the jaws of Death
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.

6.

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wondered.
Honor the charge they made,
Honor the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred.

Am I to Be Blamed?

This is a moving piece about a young girl arrested for stealing. She pleads her case to the police officers and tells her life story.

They're chasing me, they're chasing, no they must not catch me, I have enough money now, yes enough for my starving mother and brothers.
Please let me go, let me go home before you imprison me.
Very well, officers? Take me to your headquarters. Good morning captain! no captain, you are mistaken, I was once a good girl, just like the rest of you here. Just like any of your daughters. But time was, when I was reared in slums. But we lived honestly, we lived honestly in life. My, father, mother, brothers, sisters, and I. But then, poverty entered the portals of our home. My father became jobless, my mother got ill. The small savings that my mother had kept for our expenses were spent. All for our daily needs and her needed medicine.
One night, my father went out, telling us that he would come back in a few minutes with plenty of food and money, but that was the last time I saw him. He went with another woman. If only I could lay my hands on his neck I would wring it without pain until he breathes no more. If you were in my place, you'll do it, wouldn't you Captain? What? You won't still believe in me? Come and I'll show you a dilapidated shanty by a railroad.
Mother, mother I'm home. Mother? Mother?! There Captain, see my dead mother. Captain? There are tears in your eyes? Now pack this stolen money and return it to the owner. What good would this do to my mother now? She's already gone! Do you hear me? She's already gone. Am I to be blamed for the things I have done?

"The Tell-Tale Heart" by Edgar Allan Poe

The Tell-Tale Heart (one of my personal favorites) is written by Edgar Allan Poe, one of America's prominent writers of the Romantic movement. The piece is long, but filled with drama and raw emotion. It tells about someone who killed an old man because he (or she for all we know) was haunted by the old man's "vulture-eye". The narrator or persona of the tale tries to convince the reader that he is NOT crazy and is justified in killing the old man. However, at the end of the tale, the persona is driven to confessing his own crime because he "heard" the beating of the old man's heart (having hidden the body below the floorboards) and is convinced that the police officers have also heard the loud beating of the old man's tell-tale heart.

The piece can easily be found in full elsewhere online, but here is a taste:

"TRUE! nervous, very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why WILL you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses, not destroyed, not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How then am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily, how calmly, I can tell you the whole story.

It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain, but, once conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! Yes, it was this! One of his eyes resembled that of a vulture -- a pale blue eye with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me my blood ran cold, and so by degrees, very gradually, I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye for ever.

Now this is the point. You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely I proceeded -- with what caution -- with what foresight, with what dissimulation, I went to work! I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before I killed him."

Land of Bondage, Land of the Free

This is written by Raul S. Manglapus and is about the oppression of the Filipino farmers during the Spanish colonization. However, the piece can also be interpreted as a nation's continuing fight against its oppressors in any era. This is a very passionate piece. The last few lines will make your blood rush with honor and pride.

Again, this piece is a longer one (though not as long "The Tell-Tale Heart"). You can easily find it in full, but here is an excerpt to give you a feel:

"Once upon a time, the tao owned a piece of land. It was all he owned. But he cherished it, for it gave him three things, having which, he was content: life, first of all, and liberty, and happiness.
Then one day the Spaniard came and commanded him to pay tribute to the crown of Spain. The tao paid tribute. And he was silent — he was certain that he was still the master of his land.
The Spaniard became rich. But with riches, evil entered into him and he came to the tao a second time. He read to the tao a formidable document saying: “According to this decreto real, which unfortunately you cannot read, this that you have been paying me is not tribute but rent, for the land is not yours but mine.” The tao paid tribute and said nothing … He ceased to be a freeman. He became a serf. Still the tao held his peace. The rent went up and up. The tao starved.
And this time at last he spoke. Not in words, but with that rustic instrument with which he cleared the land once his own — the bolo. He transformed it from an instrument of tillage to an instrument of death, and with it drove away the stranger."


O Captain! My Captain!

This poem by Walt Whitman is a memorable one that many students deliver. Dedicated to Abraham Lincoln, this poem talks about a fallen captain who would no longer be around to witness the clear waters and solid land that his ship has come upon after weathering tumultuous waves and tempests. This is a sad poem, expressing the grievance of a people who have lost their leader.

I have included the first stanza here, but take a look at the Poetry Foundation for a copy of the poem that is correctly formatted; as you will be able to see, it does make a difference.

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

A Psalm of Life

"The Psalm of Life" is a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (another personal favorite) that expresses a beautiful message of life: to make use of our time on earth, to pursue dreams, and just LIVE!

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

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!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.



Shakespeare's Sonnets

Of course, if the teacher allows, then Shakespearean sonnets are your to-go pieces! Filled with passion and romance, Shakespeare's works are always a joy to deliver. Sonnet 116 is considered the most romantic sonnet that sums up everything that loving a person entails. Here are just two of Shakespeare's amazing sonnets.

SONNET 116

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

SONNET 18

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature's changing course, untrimm'd;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st;
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

Here's Tom Hiddleston (aka Marvel's Loki) reading Sonnet 18.

"How do I love thee? Let me count the ways..."

Of course, we also have to mention Elizabeth Barrett Browning's sonnets, one of which is "Sonnet 43: How do I love thee? Let me count the ways," a romantic and poetic declaration of unconditional love.

Sonnet XLIII

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men might strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints,–I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life!–and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Comments

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    • profile image

      Leummor 

      2 weeks ago

      nc declamation/pieces.Do you have pieces that very short and has good ideas that give many people inspiration for they every school day.(thanks)#3♥☺

    • profile image

      Lamber me 

      2 weeks ago

      Do you have declmation pieces titled "on that graduatiin day" please. I need it badly

    • profile image

      Cliz Llan 

      5 weeks ago

      Do you have the declamation piece entitled "The Visit"?

    • profile image

      Vin Nicole 

      5 weeks ago

      I'll perform this to my teacher, whish me luck!

    • profile image

      Aira Lim 

      5 weeks ago

      So fantastic...i like your declamation piece...

    • profile image

      Jastep 

      7 weeks ago

      Using this for school XD

    • profile image

      Mitch 

      8 weeks ago

      Can you please tell if who is the real author of The rich man ang poor

    • profile image

      Chojay 

      5 months ago

      Can you please tell me, who is the real author of"am I to be blamed". And give a little background information please

    • profile image

      a good girl 

      5 months ago

      its nice

    • profile image

      the good thief 

      6 months ago

      can i have the copy of the good thief

    • profile image

      Mike 

      6 months ago

      It's a very nice declamation

    • profile image

      Ian 

      6 months ago

      Nice

    • profile image

      Dreamer 

      7 months ago

      Gawd. So confused. Bad Girl is my first option but maybe everyone will deliver it so yeah

    • profile image

      8 months ago

      Very Nice Declamation

    • profile image

      10 months ago

      Thanks for this..

    • profile image

      Anonymous 

      10 months ago

      WELL THANK YOU FOR YOUR OH SO GREAT SUGGESTIONS. I APPRECIATE IT SO MUCH. HWAITING!

    • profile image

      elisha 

      11 months ago

      I request this declamation

      "Disgruntled" by Leomicio Offemaria Corpuz

    • profile image

      janey 

      11 months ago

      thanks for declamation =)

    • profile image

      claris mancio 

      11 months ago

      can i request this "BLUSH"

    • profile image

      Lol 

      12 months ago

      Very good

    • profile image

      LOLIPOP 

      12 months ago

      others?

    • profile image

      Mr.Swegg 

      13 months ago

      NICE

    • profile image

      Mar  

      14 months ago

      Thanks for the author it helps a lot

    • profile image

      Aubrey Rose Thea Ouano 

      14 months ago

      Do you have any pieces for expressive reading?

    • profile image

      Usama Afridi 

      14 months ago

      Best scripts....

    • profile image

      Maritelle 

      15 months ago

      Thanks.But,do you have more??

    • profile image

      Durga 

      15 months ago

      Interesting collections

    • profile image

      Diana Garcia 

      17 months ago

      where can I found Declamation pieces? I only seen so far are poems.

    • profile image

      Raygbriel 

      18 months ago

      Can i get a tip what to wear for the charge of the light brigade i need an answer until march 15 please

    • profile image

      maria 

      21 months ago

      hello when I read this page I have hope that it could help me to find this declamation piece My sisters sister I can't find it here...I hope you could help me to find it

    • profile image

      maria 

      21 months ago

      I still remember when my teacher required my one of sections to try declamed 'land of bondage land of the free' thats why I love declamation

    • profile image

      rose 

      22 months ago

      thanks but i want one

    • profile image

      sophie 

      23 months ago

      PLEASE help me find my piece for declamation, the title is "Miracles do Happen" Author Unknown. I can't find it here on the internet can anyone help me? I lost the original copy my school gave so can anyone help me? Thank you so much!

    • profile image

      ralfz 

      24 months ago

      the story are very nice my favorite story are oh captain my captian nice story

    • profile image

      bridget143 

      24 months ago

      Its very useful. Thanks a lot

    • profile image

      yvonne 

      2 years ago

      nice

    • profile image

      edcel 

      2 years ago

      nice one

    • profile image

      tore 

      2 years ago

      its nice! :)

    • profile image

      Clairyss ramirez 

      2 years ago

      Hanna it helps

    • profile image

      ALTHEA NICHOLE 

      2 years ago

      thank you for making a declamation piece

    • profile image

      ALTHEA NICHOLE 

      2 years ago

      thank you for making a declamation piece

    • profile image

      apple 

      2 years ago

      wow its amazing

    • profile image

      cristelle ivy perez 

      2 years ago

      amazing declamations:)

    • profile image

      mhiaca 

      2 years ago

      last time i declaimed a bad girl and i won...that's great

    • profile image

      jumark 

      2 years ago

      thank you and good bye

    • profile image

      ikaela bawar 

      2 years ago

      thank you for that declamation pieces

    • profile image

      kate p 

      2 years ago

      declamation is the best! olrayyt

    • profile image

      ana grace macaranas 

      2 years ago

      thank you.....you make my project be presentable..

    • profile image

      CHRISTINA MANLAPAZ 

      3 years ago

      i LOVE DECLAMATION.......

    • profile image

      Judine Gyle M. Calmita 

      3 years ago

      I had declamed the BAD GIRL its really good and I got second place!!!

    • profile image

      Cheska Cas 

      3 years ago

      I had Declamed The BAD GIRL Its really Good ..

    • profile image

      KeyzeeBee 

      3 years ago

      I bAdly neEd pieces oN declamatioN,. BuT soMethIng cAtchy.. Plz.

    • profile image

      likey :P 

      3 years ago

      (Y) i like it! ;)

    • profile image

      Misty Duncan 

      3 years ago

      it started ' I was pretty tonight...all the boys thought so... Or something alone that line..

    • profile image

      jhonna rose 

      3 years ago

      declamation piece is poem

    • profile image

      leilani 

      3 years ago

      do you have Me against You?

      i really need it..

    • Jonas Rodrigo profile image

      Jonas Rodrigo 

      3 years ago

      Kipling's If is a wonderful piece.

    • profile image

      Francis 

      3 years ago

      I am looking for a piece with a theme of back to school. do you have some ?

    • profile image

      Quincy Matol Sanchez 

      3 years ago

      i like the declamation.. it really helped to my presentation in school..

    • profile image

      maris 

      3 years ago

      whats a nice

      i like the delamation of poor man.

    • profile image

      kate 

      3 years ago

      do you have the sisters trouble declamation?

      I really need it!

    • profile image

      Jhack 

      3 years ago

      can i ask for a copy of "A man dies" please

    • Maximum A profile imageAUTHOR

      Jee Ann G 

      3 years ago

      @mary jane I think many use it for elocution or orations, but the poem is expressive and can still by used as a declamation piece (it would depend on the criteria for the declamation activity/contest, though).

    • profile image

      yiseimanith@gmail.com 

      3 years ago

      it hard to do it my teacher my classmate do this for short declamation

    • profile image

      Geisha 

      3 years ago

      Thank u for those information.... It helps me in my project in English... Now I have my very nice declamation piece... Thanks...

    • profile image

      mary jane 

      3 years ago

      The poem a "A Psalm of life" is it really a declamation peace?

    • Maximum A profile imageAUTHOR

      Jee Ann G 

      3 years ago

      :) Thanks Best of Aying and Jesiel

    • profile image

      Jesiel Mae Cabugnao 

      3 years ago

      thumbs up

    • Best of Aying profile image

      Best of Aying 

      3 years ago from Philippines

      I used to declaim way back in high school, reason why I couldn't help but smile when I happened to read your hub. :-) Voted up for being useful!

    • profile image

      mayla 

      3 years ago

      its very interesting and a good declamation

    • Maximum A profile imageAUTHOR

      Jee Ann G 

      4 years ago

      No problem, Anabelle. Glad I could help. :)

    • profile image

      anabelle kingking 

      4 years ago

      thank you so much, your page help me in the school project of my daughter

    • profile image

      johann 

      4 years ago

      Thank you

    • profile image

      richelleisaac 

      4 years ago

      Thank you

      Very much

      Honey

    • Maximum A profile imageAUTHOR

      Jee Ann G 

      4 years ago

      :) You can use the poems written by Dr. Jose Rizal like "Sa Aking Mga Kababata" or "Ito Ang Bayan Ko" by David San Pedro, or "Paano ba Maging Pilipno" from here: http://www.takdangaralin.com/filipino/talumpati/ta...

    • Maximum A profile imageAUTHOR

      Jee Ann G 

      4 years ago

      thanks eddy :) I've heard many students looking for such pieces and thought I'd help them out.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 

      4 years ago from Wales

      Very interesting and voted up for sure.

      Eddy.

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