Declamation Pieces for High School

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.


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.


"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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 53 comments

Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 2 years ago from Wales

Very interesting and voted up for sure.


Maximum A profile image

Maximum A 2 years ago Author

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

Maximum A profile image

Maximum A 2 years ago Author

:) 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:

richelleisaac 2 years ago

Thank you

Very much


johann 2 years ago

Thank you

anabelle kingking 2 years ago

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

Maximum A profile image

Maximum A 2 years ago Author

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

mayla 24 months ago

its very interesting and a good declamation

Best of Aying profile image

Best of Aying 22 months 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!

Jesiel Mae Cabugnao 20 months ago

thumbs up

Maximum A profile image

Maximum A 20 months ago Author

:) Thanks Best of Aying and Jesiel

mary jane 20 months ago

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

Geisha 20 months ago

Thank u for those information.... It helps me in my project in English... Now I have my very nice declamation piece... Thanks... 19 months ago

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

Maximum A profile image

Maximum A 19 months ago Author

@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).

Jhack 17 months ago

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

kate 16 months ago

do you have the sisters trouble declamation?

I really need it!

maris 15 months ago

whats a nice

i like the delamation of poor man.

Quincy Matol Sanchez 15 months ago

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

Francis 15 months ago

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

Jonas Rodrigo profile image

Jonas Rodrigo 14 months ago

Kipling's If is a wonderful piece.

leilani 14 months ago

do you have Me against You?

i really need it..

jhonna rose 14 months ago

declamation piece is poem

Misty Duncan 14 months ago

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

likey :P 14 months ago

(Y) i like it! ;)

KeyzeeBee 13 months ago

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

Cheska Cas 13 months ago

I had Declamed The BAD GIRL Its really Good ..

Judine Gyle M. Calmita 13 months ago

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



ana grace macaranas 12 months ago

thank make my project be presentable..

kate p 11 months ago

declamation is the best! olrayyt

ikaela bawar 11 months ago

thank you for that declamation pieces

jumark 10 months ago

thank you and good bye

mhiaca 9 months ago

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

cristelle ivy perez 8 months ago

amazing declamations:)

apple 3 months ago

wow its amazing

ALTHEA NICHOLE 3 months ago

thank you for making a declamation piece

ALTHEA NICHOLE 3 months ago

thank you for making a declamation piece

telimban 2 months ago

wowwwwww awsome!!!!

Clairyss ramirez 2 months ago

Hanna it helps

MacMac 2 months ago

thank for declamation

tore 2 months ago

its nice! :)

edcel 2 months ago

nice one

yvonne 2 months ago


christian 7 weeks ago

ano pa pong iba

RUBIE Y. 6 weeks ago

MAGANDA nakaka relate??

dhey24 5 weeks ago

nakaka relate

kiarakjxd 5 weeks ago

ilove the bad girl it is very nice

bridget143 4 weeks ago

Its very useful. Thanks a lot

ralfz 3 weeks ago

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

Wendy Salangsang 3 weeks ago

Im looking for the piece of "top pf the hill" help me please! :(

Applepie 3 weeks ago

Thank you so mucH ,, You've help me alot hihi :)



    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    Click to Rate This Article