On this list, readers can find some of the best poems on money and wealth. Poets such as Robert Herrick, D.G. Rossetti, and Simon Armitage showcased their thoughts on money through their poetry. Not only that, but several others poets also wrote on this topic that specifically deals with the theme of materialism. After reading the following works, readers can understand the significance of wealth in their lives.
Best Poems about Money
We Ain’t Got No Money, Honey, But We Got Rain by Charles Bukowski
In this poem, Bukowski’s speaker talks about the rain of Los Angeles in the past. The message of this piece is that though it still rains, what is gone cannot be recovered. Besides, there is an ironic reference to the “Depression Era” when money was scarce but there was plenty of rain. Through the line where the idea is present, the poet presents a contrast between materialism and nature. This piece also discusses the effect of industrialization, a part of capitalism, on nature. Here are a few lines from the poem:
I particularly remember the rains of the
there wasn’t any money but there was
plenty of rain.
it wouldn’t rain for just a night or
it would RAIN for 7 days and 7
Explore more Charles Bukowski poetry.
Money, O! by W.H. Davies
This poem paints a picture of how a speaker once rich becomes poor by the turn of fate. Being a poor fellow, he realizes the real importance of life, happiness, and friends. When he was poor, he never knew how real joy tastes. But, now, when he has nothing to lose, he can find joy even in the simple things. The first stanza from W.H. Davies’ poem depicts throws light on this idea.
When I had money, money, O!
I knew no joy till I went poor;
For many a false man as a friend
Came knocking all day at my door.
Read more poems by W.H. Davies.
Velocity of Money by Allen Ginsberg
Allen Ginsberg, a leading poet of the beat generation, presents an interesting concept by this poem, ‘Velocity of Money’. This modern poem contains a sardonic speaker who criticizes the craze for money, to be specific materialism, in the modern world. Through this poem, Ginsberg pleads for the “same old America” when the country was free from the clutches of capitalism. The following depicts this wish:
Delighted by inflation that drives me out on the street
After all what good’s the family farm, why eat turkey by thousands every
Why not have Star Wars? Why have the same old America?!?
Explore more poetry of Allen Ginsberg.
Worry About Money by Kathleen Raine
In this piece, Kathleen Raine’s speaker thinks poverty is a “shameful and ridiculous offence.” It is true. In the modern world, people only value money over humanity. So, being poor in this time means being an object that is born to suffer through the ravages of materialism. It is an emotive poem that features the themes of poverty, materialism, and religion. Here are a few lines from the poem:
But life itself wakes me each morning, and love
Urges me to give although I have no money
In the bank at this moment, and ought properly
To cease to exist in a world where poverty
Is a shameful and ridiculous offence.
Read more poems of Kathleen Raine.
On a Handful of French Money by Dante Gabriel Rossetti
‘On a Handful of French Money’ is a sonnet written by Dante Gabriel Rossetti and it was published in 1849. The rhyme scheme of this piece is ABBAACCADEFFED and the overall poem is in iambic pentameter. Through this poem, Rossetti makes a statement about the function of art in the context of a world ruled by wealth. Let’s look at a few lines of this poem:
Even as these coins, so are these lives and years
Mixed and bewildered; yet hath each of them
No less its part in what is come to be
For France. Empire, Republic, Monarchy,—
Each clamours or keeps silence in her name,
And lives within the pulse that now is hers.
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No Man Without Money by Robert Herrick
This short poem consists of only two lines as follows:
No man such rare parts hath, that he can swim,
If favour or occasion help not him.
This metaphorical piece reveals an interesting idea about money. It refers to the fact that no man is born with money and he won’t take anything in his death. By presenting an implicit idea of “swimming,” Herrick makes an ironic statement about the futility of life and wealth.
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Though the title of the poem contains a reference to “money bags,” the text does not reveal any sign of it. It is about a dog who lies helplessly outside the warm room where his master is writing a letter to his loved one. The lack of emotion in her eyes for the dog is in stark contrast with the wet eyes of the dog sparkling with devotion for his master. In this way, Lowell describes the lack of compassion in modern society. The last few lines describe it better:
The Beloved is writing a letter.
Occasionally she speaks to the dog,
But she is thinking of her writing.
Does she, too, give her devotion to one
Explore more poems of Amy Lowell.
Larkin’s humorous poem, ‘Money’ presents a conversation between money and a speaker. The poetic persona appears innocent in the case of money and materialism. He looks at what others are buying with money. In contrast, he feels their activities are quite absurd. They are running behind an idea that cannot even stay with them forever. In this way, Larkin taps on the theme of the futility of money. Here are a few lines of the poem that present this theme:
—In fact, they’ve a lot in common, if you enquire:
You can’t put off being young until you retire,
And however you bank your screw, the money you save
Won’t in the end buy you more than a shave.
Ten Pence Story by Simon Armitage
This poem describes a story of a ten-pence coin from its making in the mint. It is a humorous piece that explores how pitiful its condition is and how it’s being tossed from hands to hands. The value it has is too little to be in the hands of the rich. In this way, Armitage taps on the theme of poverty. It also throws light on the condition of the poor. Let’s have a look at a few lines from the poem:
Those with faith in the system say ‘don’t quit,
bide your time, if you’re worth it, you’ll make it.’
But I was robbed, I was badly tendered.
I could have scored. I could have contended.
Read more Simon Armitage poetry.
This poem appears in the April 1936 issue of the Poetry magazine. It is a short poem consisting of only five rhyming lines. All lines end with a similar rhyming. In this poem, Frost explores how we spend money. If one of us ever has the time to think about how their money was spent, they can understand its true importance. The last three lines enlighten readers on this idea:
Nobody was ever meant
What he did with every cent.