From Edmund Spenser to contemporary poets like Elsie Parrish, the poets depict Easter as a season of joy, one filled with a love for nature, God, family and containing a hopeful vision of the future. Readers will encounter the various ways that poets understand Easter and how it can mean something very different to everyone.
Explore Best Poems about Easter
- 1 Easter by Edmund Spenser
- 2 Some Things That Easter Brings by Elsie Parrish
- 3 Easter Hymn by A.E. Housman
- 4 The Easter Flower by Claude McKay
- 5 An Easter Wish by John L. Sarna
- 6 I Feel it in the Air by Edna Reed
- 7 The Forsaken Merman by Matthew Arnold
- 8 Bunnies by Ena Hawken
- 9 Good Friday by Christina Rossetti
- 10 Easter Day by Oscar Wilde
Easter by Edmund Spenser
‘Easter’ is the 68th poem in Spenser’s Amoretti sonnet sequence and was written sometime in the 1590s. It is an uplifting poem that celebrates the season and demonstrates how important the holiday was during Spenser’s time. He speaks on Christ’s crucifixion and the love he showed for humankind through his sacrifice. The poet uses the holiday to address the listener, encouraging them to learn from Christ and live good lives. Here are a few lines:
MOST glorious Lord of Lyfe! that, on this day,
Didst make Thy triumph over death and sin;
And, having harrowd hell, didst bring away
Captivity thence captive, us to win:
This joyous day, deare Lord, with joy begin;
Read more Edmund Spenser poems.
Some Things That Easter Brings by Elsie Parrish
Parrish’s ‘Some Things That Easter Brings’ is a lighthearted poem aimed at young readers. It takes a very different approach to the season than Spenser’s poem. The poet uses a very clear and even rhyme scheme that always appeals to children. There are lines about the “Easter chick” and “Easter bunny” and what “Easter always brings.” Here a few lines:
Easter hats for one and all,
Easter Bunny makes a call!
Happy Easter always brings
Such a lot of pleasant things.
Easter Hymn by A.E. Housman
‘Easter Hymn’ was published in More Poems, a collection released posthumously. Through the lines, Housman addresses Christ and asks that he come down if he can hear the speaker talking and save humankind once more. The poem expresses the poet’s doubts about religion and did not, in his own words, reach the standard he wanted each of his poems to achieve. Despite the doubting attitude in these lines, the poem is still well-suited for the Easter season and easily displays Housman’s language skills. Here are a few lines:
But if, the grave rent and the stone rolled by,
At the right hand of majesty on high
You sit, and sitting so remember yet
Your tears, your agony and bloody sweat,
Explore A.E. Housman’s poems.
The Easter Flower by Claude McKay
‘The Easter Flower’ is an interesting addition to this list, considering that McKay described himself as a “pagan.” He didn’t believe in the Easter story, but he could appreciate some aspects of the holiday. Specifically, he speaks about the Easter lily (as the title suggests).
Far from this foreign Easter damp and chilly
My soul steals to a pear-shaped plot of ground,
Where gleamed the lilac-tinted Easter lily
Soft-scented in the air for yards around;
Discover Claude McKay’s poetry.
An Easter Wish by John L. Sarna
‘An Easter Wish’ is a simple, contemporary poem that describes the Easter season. The speaker asks in the first lines that the sun rises early on Easter and be especially bright. It should be, the speaker adds, because Christ made the world bright through his sacrifice. He “saved us from death’s decay.” This poem is suited for all ages and ends on a positive note, reminding readers that now there is “hope” when there was once “gloom.”
May the sun rise early and be bright
on this Easter holy day…
For the Lord has subdued the night
and saved us from death’s decay.
Reed’s ‘I Feel It in the Air’ is a lovely Easter poem that uses clear language and thoughtful descriptions of the Easter season. The poem describes how the speaker can “feel” the season in the air through spring-time sensations. There is “new life everywhere,” she says. She also spends time describing the broader natural scene and creating interesting juxtapositions between light and dark. The poem ends with the speaker suggesting that it’s not necessary to fear death. It’s “just an open door” through which one will walk to their next life with God. Here are a few lines from that section:
Why should we dread
the thing called death?
It’s just an open door,
Where all within is love and peace
And joy forever more.
‘The Forsaken Merman’ by Matthew Arnold is a ten-stanza poem published in 1839 in The Strayed Reveller and Other Rooms. It was Arnold’s first collection. It comes from a merman’s perspective who is speaking to his children and is lamenting his wife, who left him after Easter. The church bells’ sound reminded her of her Christianity, and she left him to go to the “little grey church on the shore.” She never returned, and it becomes clear by the end of the poem that she’s never coming back. Here are a few lines from ‘The Forsaken Merman’:
Children dear, was it yesterday
We heard the sweet bells over the bay?
In the caverns where we lay,
Through the surf and through the swell,
The far-off sound of a silver bell?
Sand-strewn caverns, cool and deep,
Where the winds are all asleep;
Read more Matthew Arnold poems.
‘Bunnies’ is one of the more uplifting poems on this list. It’s only four lines long but is reminiscent of the work of Ogden Nash. The poet writes about a “little bunny,” not necessarily an Easter bunny, and how it’s “funny.” The rhymes in these four lines, two couplets, are perfect. This is sure to appeal to younger readers. The last two lines are:
It doesn’t matter where he goes
He always wrinkles up his nose.
‘Good Friday’ is a well-known poem by Christina Rossetti. It was published in 1866 in The Prince’s Progress and Other Poems. Like a few other poems on this list, it contains evidence of the poet’s doubts regarding their religious convictions. She describes feeling distant from Christ and how she has trouble crying or feeling emotional over the sacrifice he made. This is the perfect poem for someone seeking to explore their own religious beliefs and the emotions they may or may not evoke on the Easter holiday. She starts the poem off with these lines:
Am I a stone, and not a sheep,
That I can stand, O Christ, beneath Thy cross,
To number drop by drop Thy blood’s slow loss,
And yet not weep?
Explore Christina Rossetti’s poetry.
Oscar Wilde’s ‘Easter Day’ is a sonnet about the city of Rome and how they celebrate Easter. As one of the most important sites in the world for Christians, it’s clear that this city is going to be filled with joy on this particular holiday. But, depending on how one reads the poem, Wilde’s lines may come across as sarcastic. It’s likely that he was attempting, at least in part, to mock the pomp and circumstance around the Pope. The speaker describes how people “knelt upon the ground with awe” and what the Pope looked like as he “passed home.” It made him think back across the “wide wastes of years” to the life Christ lived, contrasting it with the life the Pope lives. He says:
Priest-like, he wore a robe more white than foam,
And, king-like, swathed himself in royal red,
Three crowns of gold rose high upon his head:
Read more of Oscar Wilde’s poetry.