On this list, readers will find nine poems in which poets have depicted the beauty, symbolically and physically, of various types of flowers.
Some of the poems are darker, while others are more hopeful and joyous. No matter what one thinks of flowers, the poems on this list can’t fail to impress in their beauty and vibrant depictions of their subject matter.
Beautiful Poems about Flowers
- 1 Flower-Gathering by Robert Frost
- 2 Red Carnations by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
- 3 Tall Nettles by Edward Thomas
- 4 The Rhodora by Ralph Waldo Emerson
- 5 Tulips by Sylvia Plath
- 6 Ah, Sun-flower by William Blake
- 7 The Lily of the Valley by Paul Laurence Dunbar
- 8 May-Flower by Emily Dickinson
- 9 To an Early Daffodil by Amy Lowell
In ‘Flower-Gathering,’ the poet describes leaving home while his pregnant wife walked alongside him. The poem rhymes perfectly, lightening the sorrow of these departures, and the flowers serve as a means of “measure of the little while / That [he’s] been long away.” Here are the first four lines of the second stanza:
All for me? And not a question
For the faded flowers gay
That could take me from beside you
For the ages of a day?
Red Carnations by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
‘Red Carnations’ is one of the longest poems on this list. The poet uses personified versions of Love, Beauty, and Sweet Constancy within this piece. They serve as characters, traveling “Arcadie’s fair bowers” and picking flowers to represent them. Here are four lines:
Then suddenly he saw a flame;
A conflagration turned to bloom.
It even put the rose to shame,
Both in its beauty and perfume.
In ‘Tall Nettles,’ the poet takes one detail, that of nettles covering up farm implements, and describes it in detail. He finds pleasure in the sight of this occurrence and is somewhat surprised by this fact. But, that in itself is pleasurable. One is used to finding flowers beautiful, but to find the “dust on the nettles” beautiful is slightly different. This poem reminds readers to take the time to find beauty in the simple things. Here are the last four lines of the poem:
This corner of the farmyard I like most:
As well as any bloom upon a flower
I like the dust on the nettles, never lost
Except to prove the sweetness of a shower.
In this piece, Emerson describes the power of the rhododendron flower and how it outshines everything around it. The speaker also alludes to its ability to improve elements as well. His speaker spends the poem describing how the traveled through the woodland came upon “the fresh Rhodora.” It lighted everything around it in that “sluggish brook.” He emphasizes at the end of the poem that while the flower is deemed beautiful by humanity, it does not grow for human eyes.
In May, when sea-winds pierced our solitudes,
I found the fresh Rhodora in the woods,
Spreading its leafless blooms in a damp nook,
To please the desert and the sluggish brook.
‘Tulips’ is the darkest poem on this list. Plath wrote it after undergoing an appendectomy at the hospital. It’s a complex piece in which Plath tries to depict her time in the hospital and her varying opinion on the things around her. She uses figurative language, colors, symbolism, and imagery to bring the reader into her world and help them feel some of her struggles.
The tulips are too red in the first place, they hurt me.
Even through the gift paper I could hear them breathe
Lightly, through their white swaddlings, like an awful baby.
Like many of Blake’s poems, ‘Ah, Sun-flower’ is illustrated by the poet himself. It was included in his collection, Songs of Experience in 1794. The poem itself is slightly ambiguous, which has led to several different possible interpretations of what Blake was trying to convey. Is the sunflower’s and “youth’s” aspirations to rise and go doomed to fail? Or is it more optimistic? Are all bright things, the sunflower included (as well as whatever one decides it symbolizes), going to find that “sweet golden clime”?
Ah Sun-flower! weary of time,
Who countest the steps of the Sun:
Seeking after that sweet golden clime
Where the travellers journey is done
In ‘The Lily of the Valley,’ Dunbar alludes to the lily as the “nurse’s emblem flower” and then uses the majority of the poem to describe how like the flower nurses, and generally those who care for others before themselves, are. The flower and the woman “blooms in truth and virtue,” Dunbar’s speaker says. He adds that she can be found “In the quiet nooks of earth” but when “the heart of mankind bleeds,” she “stands erect in honor.” Here are the last four lines of the poem:
But alike her ideal flower,
With its honey-laden breath,
Still her heart blooms forth its beauty
In the valley shades of death.
‘May-Flower’ is a short and direct poem that’s only twelve lines long. She depicts a flower through these short, punchy, and effective lines. Dickinson describes it as “Pink, small and punctual” as well as “known by the knoll” and “In every human soul.” There’s a connection, the speaker suggests, between the beautiful spring flowers and the brightest parts of the human soul. The poem concludes with the speaker using personification to describe nature, swearing off history. Here are the first four lines:
Pink, small, and punctual,
Covert in April,
Candid in May,
‘To An Early Daffodil’ is not the best-known poem on this list, but it does vibrantly and beautifully depict the daffodil in its environment. The speaker describes its green shoots that take in the rain from “sweeping showers.” Lowell speaks about the daffodil as if it has taken on the beauty of the sun. The sun’s gold has become its gold. She also makes use of some very effective examples of alliteration. Here are the first lines of the poem:
Thou yellow trumpeter of laggard Spring!
Thou herald of rich Summer’s myriad flowers!
The climbing sun with new recovered powers
Does warm thee into being, through the ring
Of rich, brown earth he woos thee, makes thee fling