From Anne Sexton to W.H. Auden, the poets on this list take very different approaches to the subject of night. Some imbue their works with personal experiences, while others describe the night in a universal way. But, no matter one’s experiences, they is sure to be a poem on this list that feels relatable and inspiring.
Best Poems about Night
- 1 Night Journey by Theodore Roethke
- 2 Night Mail by W.H. Auden
- 3 Night on the Mountain by George Sterling
- 4 Night by Anne Brontë
- 5 Night Garden of the Asylum by Elizabeth Jennings
- 6 To Night by Percy Bysshe Shelley
- 7 The Starry Night by Anne Sexton
- 8 A November Night by Sara Teasdale
- 9 Rhapsody on a Windy Night by T.S. Eliot
- 10 On the Beach at Night Alone by Walt Whitman
- 11 FAQs
This is a thoughtful, fairly simple poem about the countryside. The speaker spends the lines admiring the landscapes that can be seen by train at night. Theodore Roethke states that the speaker, likely the poet himself, is on a train journey. He’s traveling west, to an unknown destination, at night. Here are a few lines from the middle of the poem:
I wake in every nerve.
I watch a beacon swing
From dark to blazing bright;
We thunder through ravines
And gullies washed with light.
Beyond the mountain pass
Read more of Theodore Roethke’s poems.
‘Night Mail’ was commissioned for a film of the same name on which W. H. Auden was working in the 1930s. The poem speaks on themes of human relationships, connections, and industry. Specifically, it describes a train that carries letters from every part of the world, on every topic imaginable, up a hill and through the grasses. Here are the first lines:
This is the night mail crossing the Border,
Bringing the cheque and the postal order,
Letters for the rich, letters for the poor,
The shop at the corner, the girl next door.
Explore more W.H. Auden poems.
Night on the Mountain by George Sterling
‘Night on the Mountain’ by George Sterling is a beautiful and thoughtful poem. In it, the speaker explores the soul of a mountain. Each element of the landscape is intimidating and beautiful. The poem goes on, adding more details about the landscape and insisting that the mountain isn’t soulless. The first lines read:
The fog has risen from the sea and crowned
The dark, untrodden summits of the coast,
Where roams a voice, in canyons uttermost,
From midnight waters vibrant and profound.
High on each granite altar dies the sound,
Deep as the trampling of an armored host,
Discover more George Sterling poems.
Night by Anne Brontë
This wonderful poem demonstrates the poet’s ability to express intense emotions in simple forms. Brontë spends much of the poem contrasting night and day. The night is, she notes, a strange combination of solitude, loneliness, and comfort, coupled with what appears to be heartsickness. Here are the first lines:
I love the silent hour of night,
For blissful dreams may then arise,
Revealing to my charmed sight
What may not bless my waking eyes!
And then a voice may meet my ear
That death has silenced long ago;
Read more Anne Brontë poems.
This interesting poem is slightly different than the others on this list. Throughout, the speaker talks about the psychological illness and the mental disturbances that a mentally-ill patient has to endure. Here are a few lines:
An Owl’s call scrapes the stillness.
Curtains are barriers and behind them
The beds settle into neat rows.
Soon they’ll be ruffled.
Explore more Elizabeth Jennings poems.
To Night by Percy Bysshe Shelley
This piece expresses Shelley’s speaker’s intense desire for a personified version of Night. Furthermore, within the text, relationships have been established between Night, Sleep, and Death. The first lines read:
Swiftly walk o’er the western wave,
Spirit of Night!
Out of the misty eastern cave,
Where, all the long and lone daylight,
Thou wovest dreams of joy and fear,
Which make thee terrible and dear,—
Swift be thy flight!
Discover more Percy Bysshe Shelley poems.
‘The Starry Night’ by Anne Sexton is an ekphrastic that explores Van Gogh’s The Starry Night. It delves into the emotions that a speaker interprets in the painted elements. Throughout, she uses figurative language in order to depict the various parts of the painting. For example:
It moves. They are all alive.
Even the moon bulges in its orange irons
to push children, like a god, from its eye.
The old unseen serpent swallows up the stars.
Oh starry starry night! This is how
I want to die:
Read more Anne Sexton poems.
Teasdale’s ‘A November Night’ is filled with beautiful images of nature and emotion. It is a long poem that includes images the speaker describes from a walk on a November night. Together, the speaker and her partner walk through the night while she stumbles upon memories and shares her thoughts about everything they have seen. Here are a few lines:
There! See the line of lights,
A chain of stars down either side the street —
Why can’t you lift the chain and give it to me,
A necklace for my throat? I’d twist it round
And you could play with it. You smile at me
As though I were a little dreamy child
Behind whose eyes the fairies live
Read more Sara Teasdale poems.
This piece was published in Prufrock and Other Observations in 1917 and is written in free verse. The poem depicts a desolate and depressing landscape of contemporary life that is enough to drive one mad. Here are the last lines:
You have the key,
The little lamp spreads a ring on the stair,
The bed is open; the tooth-brush hangs on the wall,
Put your shoes at the door, sleep, prepare for life.”
The last twist of the knife.
Explore more T.S. Elliot poems.
In ‘On the Beach at Night Alone,’ Whitman discusses how everything that has ever existed or will ever exist is connected. The poem declares, without reservation, that “you,” the reader, the writer, and every person, thing, and form that’s ever existed are part of the same interlocked/related reality. Here are a few lines:
A vast similitude interlocks all,
All spheres, grown, ungrown, small, large, suns, moons, planets,
All distances of place however wide,
All distances of time, all inanimate forms,
Read more Walt Whitman poems.
A night poem is a broad category of poetry that is written about the subject of night. Any piece of verse, no matter the style, time period, or intentions, can be a “night” poem if it includes the night in some form. A writer might choose to describe night broadly or to hone in on a single experience that occurred at night.
Some of the best poems written about night include ‘To Night’ by Percy Bysshe Shelley and ‘A November Night’ by Sara Teasdale. These poems are dedicated to one’s experiences at night and take a passionate and positive approach to the subject.
The best way to write a night poem is to start by writing down all of one’s emotions associated with the time of day. Are there any particular images that come to mind right away? One of these could be the central image of your piece. Do you find night a peaceful or terrifying time of day? Do you have any experiences from your own personal history that have occurred at night and were particularly important? The answers to these questions will help you in your quest to write a poem about night.