Frustration

Hymn to Aphrodite

by Sappho

The ‘Hymn to Aphrodite’ by Sappho is an ancient lyric in which Sappho begs for Aphrodite’s help in managing her turbulent love life.

It is easy to feel frustrated for Sappho in 'Hymn to Aphrodite,' as the poet seems fed up that all of her love affairs go sour eventually. She also seems frustrated that she has to ask for help from the gods in keeping love in her life. However, above all Sappho is infectiously frustrated that no love ever seems to go her way, no matter what she does.

My Mother Would Be a Falconress

by Robert Duncan

‘My Mother Would Be a Falconress’ by Robert Duncan explores a son and mother’s relationship through the lens of a falcon breaking free from his handler.

The speaker's frustration with his mother and with himself is at the crux of this poem, adding emotional complexity to every word. While the speaker seems ultimately most frustrated with his domineering mother, even after her death, he battles thoughts of how he angrily lashed out at her and left her.

The Tables Turned

by William Wordsworth

In ‘The Tables Turned,’ Wordsworth invites us to break free from the constraints of modern society and rediscover the natural world’s beauty and wisdom.

This poem is persuasive, convincing you to change your mindset regarding knowledge and education. However, this implies the speaker's mindset is entirely different from the reader the speaker is trying to convince. Therefore in this comparison poem, you can feel the frustration as the speaker tells you the benefits he finds obvious. Yet, the open-ended response at the end of the poem, allowing the reader to choose their path, implies the speaker felt their argument was sufficient enough to change the reader's mind.

an afternoon nap

by Arthur Yap

‘an afternoon nap’ by Arthur Yap explores the lacunae in the modern education system and how it results in anxiety and stress in students.

Explore 'an afternoon nap' by Arthur Yap in order to find a mother-son duo completely frustrated with the actions of one another.

The Virgins

by Derek Walcott

Derek Walcott’s poem ‘The Virgins’ gives a holistic view of the life, economy, and culture of one of the Virgin Islands of the US, Saint Croix.

Right from the very beginning of the poem, Walcott pours his frustration out about the free-market economy of the Virgin Islands.

Yellow Stars and Ice

by Susan Stewart

‘Yellow Stars and Ice’ captures the unattainable nature of memory, even when it feels tantalizingly close at hand.

The narrator is frustrated in their attempts to reach the person or place that feels close at hand. Ultimately, it seems that they will never reach it as the thing or person they want to reach exists only in their memory.

Claudette Colvin Goes to Work

by Rita Dove

‘Claudette Colvin Goes to Work’ by Rita Dove depicts the life and struggles of Claudette Colvin, who is best known as a civil rights activist.

The way that the speaker, Claudette Colvin, alludes to her past and her parents' jobs, suggests that she's frustrated with the ways that the world hasn't changed. She knows that it can be better but it isn't changing fast enough.

Imagining Their Own Hymns

by Brigit Pegeen Kelly

‘Imagining Their Own Hymns’ by Brigit Pegeen Kelly is a memorable poem that speaks about the difference between how something appears and its reality. 

This poem is mostly filled with the speaker's frustrating assertions about how she is judged based on her appearance but reality is quite different.

Monologue

by Hone Tuwhare

‘Monologue’ by Hone Tuwhare is a contemporary poem about the difficulties workers face when looking for a job and how temporary those jobs can be. 

The speaker feels frustration regarding his working situation and how poor the conditions are. But, he's willing to suffer near the door in order to escape other parts of the job.

3 November 1984

by Sujata Bhatt

In ‘3 November 1984,’ Indian-English poet Sujata Bhatt shows how history plays a vital role in the process of writing poetry, and their interconnectedness.

A Jet Ring Sent

by John Donne

‘A Jet Ring Sent’ by John Donne describes how a speaker’s beloved returned his promise ring. The speaker meditates on the nature of their relationship and how it is symbolized by the black ring. 

A Picture of Otto

by Ted Hughes

‘A Picture of Otto’ by Ted Hughes is addressed to Sylvia Plath’s father, Otto. It contains Hughes’ disagreements about how he and Otto were depicted in Plath’s work.

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.

Ah, Moon–and Star!

by Emily Dickinson

‘Ah, Moon–and Star!’ by Emily Dickinson is an unforgettable love poem. The poet skillfully uses the universe to depict what it’s like for two lovers to be separated.

Air Raid

by Stephen Spender

Stephen Spender’s poem ‘Air Raid’ depicts the impact of the Blitz or German Luftwaffe air strike on the United Kingdom.

Amethyst Beads

by Eavan Boland

‘Amethyst Beads’ by Eavan Boland alludes to Greek mythology and the suffering of a child, Persephone, after she was separated from her mother, Demeter.

Australia 1970

by Judith Wright

‘Australia 1970’ by Judith Wright speaks on the changing landscape of Australia in the 1970s. It promotes a version of Australia that is fierce, wild, and dangerous just like the animals that have always lived within its boundaries.

Break of Day

by John Donne

‘Break of Day’ by John Donne is an aubade told from a female perspective. It conveys a woman’s understanding of her relationship with a busy lover. 

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.

Crow Sickened

by Ted Hughes

‘Crow Sickened’ is a brilliant example of Hughes’ playful style, in which Crow attempts to work out the cause of his misery.

Disappointed

by Paul Laurence Dunbar

‘Disappointed’ by Paul Laurence Dunbar is an inspirational poem in which Dunbar depicts an old man working hard in the last years of his life and losing everything he strove for. 

Divorce

by Jackie Kay

‘Divorce’ by Jackie Kay is about parent-child relationships and how children are impacted by adults’ issues. The speaker is a teenager who is struggling to contend with her parent’s relationship with one another. 

Docker

by Seamus Heaney

‘Docker’ is a 1966 poem by Seamus Heaney which depicts the life of a dockworker in Belfast and explores his personal and religious sense of discord.

Ebb

by Derek Walcott

Derek Walcott’s poem ‘Ebb’ is about a car journey by the shore and comments on aging, industrialization, and the past.

First March

by Ivor Gurney

‘First March,’ written by one of the lesser known First World War poets, Ivor Bertie Gurney, is about a soldier’s emotional state while returning to his home.

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