Freedom Poems


by Sir Walter Scott

‘Lochinvar’ is a ballad about a young and courageous knight who saves his beloved, the fair lady Ellen, from marrying another man.

Though he is forbidden to marry Ellen, Lochinvar knows how to get what he wants. The knight rides all alone across wild and rough terrain, giving him the persona of a cowboy or an outlaw who lives by his own rules. In stealing away Ellen and disappearing into the countryside, Lochinvar shows the listener that he is willing to break any boundary for love.

Poem About My Rights

by June Jordan

‘Poem About My Rights’ by June Jordan is a one-stanza poem revealing a speaker’s thoughts on misogyny, sexism, and racism from their experience. It is celebrated for accurately portraying the struggles of women and men of color in a patriarchial and predominantly white society.

This poem is ultimately about the fight for freedom to express certain rights.

For Your Lanes, My Country

by Faiz Ahmad Faiz

In ‘For Your Lanes, My Country,’ Faiz Ahmad Faiz passionately addresses the social and political struggles of Pakistan through powerful imagery and metaphors, urging its people towards a more just and equal society.

The poem evokes the emotion of bravery through its powerful imagery and themes of sacrifice, oppression, and resilience. ‘For Your Lanes, My Country’ encourages the countrymen to stand up for their rights and work towards a more just and equal society. By highlighting the sacrifices made by ordinary people and emphasizing their resilience in the face of adversity, the poem inspires the reader to be brave in the face of oppression and fight for a better future.

The Bard: A Pindaric Ode

by Thomas Gray

‘The Bard: A Pindaric Ode’ written by Thomas Gray, depicts the ruthless torment unleashed upon poets by the tyrant King Edward I.

The poem is a powerful statement of resistance against oppression and a call for freedom and justice. The bard, as a representative of the Welsh people, is portrayed as a tragic figure who has been defeated and subjugated by the English army. His curse can be seen as a statement of defiance and a call for freedom and justice for his people.

Maud Muller

by John Greenleaf Whittier

‘Maud Muller’ by John Greenleaf Whittier is a classic narrative ballad that recounts how the poor peasant, Maud, and an urban judge fantasize about getting married and living together. However, neither of them ever takes action, which fills their lives with regret.

This poem plays with perspective, as both the judge and Maud have different ideas of what freedom is. Maud wants to be free from her life of rural labor and hardships, while the judge wants to be free of societal expectations.

The Captive Dove

by Anne Brontë

‘The Captive Dove’ by Anne Brontë is a powerful example of her verse that reminds readers that all living things desire freedom.

The poem speaks of the desire for freedom and the natural inclination towards free will. The dove's captivity serves as a metaphor for human oppression and the desire to break free from societal constraints.

Personal Helicon

by Seamus Heaney

Heaney’s ‘Personal Helicon’ draws inspiration from his rural carefree childhood and intimate connection with nature.

To the narrator, youth was synonymous with freedom as they were free from the responsibilities of adulthood and could explore the outside world to their heart's content.

What now?

by Gary Soto

‘What Now?’ by Gary Soto is a contemporary poem that speaks to the universal experience of aging and learning.

This poem evokes the emotion of freedom through the contrasting images of shooting stars and the open sky. The mention of shooting stars in the speaker's childhood brings forth a sense of boundless possibility and the freedom to dream. The shift to focusing on practical concerns and the road ahead represents the constraints of adulthood.

I’ll Open the Window

by Anna Swir

‘I’ll Open the Window’ is a passionate piece written by Anna Swir that offers a raw and natural post romantic breakup statement.

The end of the relationship has given the speaker a newfound sense of freedom and independence that she had been craving for a long time. She is able to explore new possibilities for her life and pursue her own goals and desires.

The Eagle

by Alfred Lord Tennyson

‘The Eagle’ is a powerful poem that captures the majesty and strength of the majestic bird, inspiring readers to reach for the heights of their own potential.

The eagle's ability to fly freely and independently is a central theme of the poem. The eagle's freedom is contrasted with the constrained life of human beings, who are tied to the earth and unable to escape their mundane existence.

Flying Inside Your Own Body

by Margaret Atwood

‘Flying Inside Your Own Body’ by Margaret Atwood speaks on the freedom one can achieve in the dream world, verses the restrictions of reality. 

The poem celebrates the freedom that comes with flying, with the body lifted above all earthly constraints. The image of the earth as a radiant and seablue jewel suggests a sense of wonder and awe at the vastness of the world.

Show It At the Beach

by Shel Silverstein

‘Show It At the Beach’ by Shel Silverstein addresses taboos in contemporary society. Specifically, the poem considers when nudity is appropriate and when it isn’t (on the beach). 

Freedom is one of the most important emotions in this poem. The speaker promotes a free world where expression, in any form, is not censored. The speaker feels that it's wrong people are forced to cover their bodies on the beach but can do other more outrageous things.

Failing and Flying

by Jack Gilbert

‘Failing and Flying’ by Jack Gilbert explores the idea that although something may ultimately fail, the process of arriving at that point may be a triumph.

The poem suggests that pursuing what is worth doing, even if it's not done perfectly, is a form of freedom and liberation from societal expectations and norms.

A still— Volcano —Life

by Emily Dickinson

‘A still— Volcano —Life’ by Emily Dickinson is an unforgettable poem that uses an extended metaphor to describe the life of the poet. She compares herself to a volcano that erupts under the cover of darkness.

An American Sunrise

by Joy Harjo

‘An American Sunrise’ by Joy Harjo is a powerful poem about Native American culture written by the current Poet Laureate of the United States. The poem explores the struggles of the poet’s community as well as the successes and celebrations. 

As I Grew Older

by Langston Hughes

‘As I Grew Older’ by Langston Hughes is about breaking through the “wall” that racism constructs. The speaker, a Black man from the African American community, spends the poem discussing the light of forgotten dreams he’s newly determined to attain.

Blowin’ in the Wind

by Bob Dylan

What’s actually blowin’ in the wind? What’s already there yet deliberately ignored? The answer, my friend, is there in the memorable lyrics of Bob Dylan’s best-loved song ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’.

Boston Hymn

by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Emerson composed ‘Boston Hymn’ in late 1862, just before the emancipation proclamation. Through this poem, Emerson warns Americans of their wrongs and gives them a chance to repent of all crimes against freedom.

Caged Bird

by Maya Angelou

‘Caged Bird’, or ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’ as the poem is sometimes referred to, by Maya Angelou, is arguably one of the most moving and eye-opening poems ever written.

Camping Out

by Gina Marie Lauchner

‘Camping Out’ by Gina Marie Lauchner is a celebration of camping and the joys of spending time outside when it’s dark. 

Catch the Fire

by Sonia Sanchez

‘Catch the Fire’ by Sonia Sanchez is a thoughtful and inspiring poem. In it, the poet encourages readers to catch their fire and use their passion to fuel their lives.

Concord Hymn

by Ralph Waldo Emerson

‘Concord Hymn’ by Ralph Waldo Emerson describes the spirit which inhabited the “embattled farmers” at the start of the Revolutionary War. 


by Anna Akhmatova

‘Courage’ by Anna Akhmatova is a passionate poem about courage in the face of war. Specifically, Akhmatova was writing about World War II. 

Dream Variations

by Langston Hughes

‘Dream Variations’ by Langston Hughes details two slightly different dreams a Black speaker has as he is confronted with the “white day.”


by Natasha Trethewey

‘Enlightenment’ by Natasha Trethewey is a powerful poem about race and racism. The poet depicts the ways in which history can be interpreted.


by Maya Angelou

‘Equality’ by Maya Angelou is an uplifting poem with a positive message. It speaks movingly about the possibilities of the future.

Frederick Douglass

by Robert Hayden

‘Frederick Douglass’ by Robert Hayden honors Douglass and speaks about a future in which all people, according to Douglass’ ideas of love and logic, will be treated equally without question.