‘New Day’s Lyric’ by Amanda Gorman is poem written at the end of 2021 in order to usher in a more hopeful new year in 2022. The piece explores themes of hope and change.
The poet shares her hopes for the future in this poem. She asks readers to imagine a world where poverty and sickness, along with everyday life struggles, culminate in a better world that's more equal for everyone.
May this be the day
We come together.
Mourning, we come to mend,
Withered, we come to weather,
‘The Quilting’ by Paul Laurence Dunbar is a very short love poem that reveals the speaker’s growing affection for a woman named Dolly.
Despite the fact that Dolly seems to pay the speaker no mind, he is still hopeful that she will finally notice him and accept him as her partner. His passion seems relentless, and he is absolutely fixated on her movements, which makes it seems like the speaker will never give up on his pursuit of Dolly's love.
Dolly sits a–quilting by her mother, stitch by stitch,
Gracious, how my pulses throb, how my fingers itch,
‘November’ by William Stafford is a heart-wrenching and important poem that was inspired by the WWII bombing of Hiroshima.
The poem's contemplative and reflective tone, coupled with the willingness of the speaker to be a messenger of forgiveness, exudes a sense of hope. The snowfall, symbolizing forgiveness, represents the possibility of renewal and transformation. There is hope in this poem that the future is going to be better and as beautiful as the snow that's featured within it.
From the sky in the form of snow
comes the great forgiveness.
Rain grown soft, the flakes descend
and rest; they nestle close, each one
‘The Shadow Bride’ conceptualizes the contrast between light and darkness, as well as stillness and movement through personification.
The hope that the man feels upon meeting the woman is a refreshing change from the previously depressive tone. It helps set up the character development at the heart of the poem.
There was a man who dwelt alone
Beneath the moon in shadow.
He sat as long as lasting stone,
And yet he had no shadow.
‘On Joy and Sorrow’ by Kahlil Gibran is a meditative, insightful, poetic essay that makes interesting implications about the inseparable emotions of joy and sorrow.
Kahlil Gibran offers hope to those who feel sorrow in 'On Joy and Sorrow,' stressing that sorrow goes hand-in-hand with joy. One could not feel joy without sorrow, so any sign of sadness is also a sign of happiness.
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
’C.R.E.A.M.’ by Danez Smith is a complex, moving poem that depicts a speaker’s personal life and speaks on the American racial wealth gap.
Despite the poem's stark portrayal of the challenges facing black Americans, there are moments of hope and resilience, particularly in the speaker's determination to overcome their circumstances.
in the morning I think about money
green horned lord of my waking
forest in which I stumbled toward no salvation
prison made of emerald & pennies
‘Easter Hymn’ by A. E. Houseman unearths the contradictions between religious teachings and their implementation. The poet is juxtaposing biblical moments of violence with modern ones to highlight the incomplete nature of Christ’s promise to save humanity from itself.
Although bleak the speaker is still hopeful that “if” Jesus was truly resurrected and ascended to heaven, remembrance of their own crucifixion is what will inspire action.
If in that Syrian garden, ages slain,
You sleep, and know not you are dead in vain,
Nor even in dreams behold how dark and bright
Ascends in smoke and fire by day and night
‘Evening’ by Friedrich Schiller contains a speaker’s plea to Apollo that he allow the sun to set and rest, and love to descend.
The arrival of night and the resting of Phoebus (Apollo) symbolize the restoration of hope after the weariness expressed earlier, suggesting that even in the face of transience, there is always a chance for renewal and optimism. The poet also indicates that he hopes there is a way for humanity's experience of the world to be bettered.
Oh! thou bright-beaming god, the plains are thirsting,
Thirsting for freshening dew, and man is pining;
Wearily move on thy horses--
Let, then, thy chariot descend!
‘The Woman and the Angel’ is an allegory by Robert Service that reflects on the evolving nature of ethics and morality in human society.
The poem offers an optimistic view of the afterlife and may inspire hope in the reader. The idea that there is a beautiful, joyful existence beyond death may provide comfort and solace to those who are grieving or struggling with the idea of mortality.
An angel was tired of heaven, as he lounged in the golden street;
His halo was tilted sideways, and his harp lay mute at his feet;
So the Master stooped in His pity, and gave him a pass to go,
For the space of a moon, to the earth-world, to mix with the men below.
‘Pain for a Daughter’ by Anne Sexton is about a mother’s internal conversations while witnessing her daughter’s metamorphosis into a young adult.
This poem subtly addresses the theme of hope. Amidst the depiction of physical and emotional anguish, glimmers of hope emerge when after the death of her horse, the protagonist musters the courage to go and befriend her neighbor's horse. The poem suggests that pain can be transformative, leading to growth and resilience. The daughter's determination to face her pain and her unwavering spirit implies a sense of hope.
Blind with love, my daughter
has cried nightly for horses,
those long-necked marchers and churners
that she has mastered, any and all...
‘Primer For Blacks’ by Gwendolyn Brooks speaks on the necessity of accepting one’s black heritage and a possible unified future for all black people.
The poem offers hope for a better future and a vision of a world where Black people are valued and celebrated. Despite the challenges faced by the Black community, the poem offers hope for a better future.
is a title,
is a preoccupation,
is a commitment Blacks
“On The Birth of a Son” by Su Tung-Po explores the place of intelligence in society, looking at how it actually leads to unhappiness rather than joy.
Despite the anxiety expressed in the poem, there is a sense of hope in the desire for the child to be successful and happy. Alternatively, as the poet says, he hopes his child is born without much intelligence. He feels this is far more likely to lead to a happy life.
Families when a child is born
Hope it will turn out intelligent.
I, through intelligence
‘An Hour With Thee’ by Sir Walter Scott is a poem about the speaker’s appreciation for spending time with an unnamed character. Despite his difficult life, an hour with this person can make his situation tolerable.
'An Hour With Thee' by Sir Walter Scott suggests that, even in the darkest of times, love and companionship can bring one hope. Though the speaker works long days and feels great sorrow, his passion for the "thee" character consumes his thoughts and gives him the strength to carry on.
An hour with thee! When earliest day
Dapples with gold the eastern gray,
Oh, what can frame my mind to bear
The toil and turmoil, cark and care,
‘Lampfall’ by Derek Walcott dives deep into an investigation of thought, dreaming, community and connection while also implying that nature and thought are more meaningful than development.
Despite the rapid switches between dark and light in this poem, which often leaves the listener feeling uneasy about what's going on in Walcott's mind, there is an underlying sentiment of hope. The memory of sitting on the beach with his family haunts Walcott's mind, where he can keep his bright, warm family forever. However, the dream itself sometimes verges on a nightmare, as the highway threatens Walcott's stunning natural world.
Closest at lampfall
Like children, like the moth-flame metaphor,
The Coleman's humming jet at the sea's edge
‘Rosa Parks’ by Nikki Giovanni is a poem about activism and the importance of remembering important moments in African American history. The poem pays tribute to the heroic actions of the Pullman Porters who spearheaded the civil rights movement and forever changed history for the African American community.
This Giovanni poem offers hope for the future. It shows how the sacrifice and courage of people like Rosa Parks can lead to a better future for the Black community.
This is for the Pullman Porters who organized when people said
they couldn’t. And carried the Pittsburgh Courier and the Chicago
Defender to the Black Americans in the South so they would
‘To My Brother’ by Lorna Dee Cervantes captures the intense bittersweetness of remembering a childhood checkered by both strife and happiness.
The poem is not without expressions of hope and it's an expression of that sentiment that Cervantes ends her poem with. Though it's hard to say which emotions have a dominating presence in the poem over the others, the speaker is clear that at the very least it's their hope that gets them through the night into another day.
and for the lumpen bourgeoisie
We were so poor.
The air was a quiver
of thoughts we drew from
‘Bloody Men’ by Wendy Cope is a short, contemporary poem by a British award-winning author. It uses a metaphor to compare men to buses.
The speaker still feels hope regarding the future of her relationships.
Bloody men are like bloody buses—
You wait for about a year
And as soon as one approaches your stop
Two or three others appear.
‘Can life be a blessing’ by John Henry Dryden is a poem devoted to arguing the necessity of love despite the inevitable pain it might cause.
Hope is also kindled in the poem as the speaker assures the two lovers that if the parting is such sweet sorrow, then a reunion would be ecstasy. In some ways, these reasons tend to feel like the naive assurances of someone unschooled in heartache. As it boils down to advising the reader to just wait out whatever anguish is faced in the hopes that love renewed will heal all the wounds.
Can life be a blessing,
Or worth the possessing,
Can life be a blessing if love were away?
Ah no! though our love all night keep us waking,
‘Childhood Ideogram’ by Larry Levis immerses readers in a nostalgic journey, where vivid imagery and contemplative reflections unravel the complexities of identity, memory, and the transient nature of time.
In this poem, the emotion of hope is subtly evoked through the speaker's yearning for understanding and connection. Despite the nostalgic and melancholic tone, there is a faint glimmer of hope underlying the speaker's reflections. The desire to uncover the truth, find resolution, and make sense of past experiences hints at a hope for clarity and a deeper understanding of oneself and the world. It suggests that within the complexities of memory and aging, there is a possibility for growth, healing, and a renewed sense of hope.
I lay my head sideways on the desk,
My fingers interlocked under my cheekbones,
My eyes closed. It was a three-room schoolhouse,
White, with a small bell tower, an oak tree
Elizabeth Alexander read the poem, ‘Praise Song for the Day’ at the inauguration of President Barack Obama in 2009. It is an occasional poem praising the Americans’ role in nation-building.
The poem is ultimately hopeful, emphasizing that "anything can be made, any sentence begun" and ending with "praise song for walking forward in that light."
Each day we go about our business,
walking past each other, catching each other’s
eyes or not, about to speak or speaking.
‘How Did You Die?’ by Edmund Vance Cooke is a rhyming poem that tries to impart an idealized view of perseverance in life.
Despite dealing with such grim topics the poem also creates a feeling of hope as it tries to soothe people's fear of failure and even death.
Did you tackle that trouble that came your way
With a resolute heart and cheerful?
Or hide your face from the light of day
With a craven soul and fearful?
‘Often I Am Permitted to Return to a Meadow’ by Robert Duncan is often regarded as the poet’s best work. It analyzes the poet’s dream of a meadow while also exploring the new technique of projective verse.
'Often I Am Permitted To Return to a Meadow' offers hope for rebirth after death as the poet investigates and observes his dream, where he is the eastern sun, but where he also receives an omen of his own death. So, while there are darker themes at play, there is always a greater emphasis on intellectual reasoning and rebirth.
as if it were a scene made-up by the mind,
that is not mine, but is a made place,
‘A Small Needful Fact’ by Ross Gay is a powerful poem that presents an image of hope and beauty after a loss. The poem addresses the legacy of Eric Garner and how one might still find his presence in the world.
The poem acknowledges the suffering experienced by Eric Garner and his loved ones due to his unjust death but, at the same time, presents some hope that the future is ging to be different.
Is that Eric Garner worked
for some time for the Parks and Rec.
Horticultural Department, which means,
perhaps, that with his very large hands,
‘We Should Make a Documentary About Spades’ is written by contemporary American poet Terrance Hayes. This imaginary piece explores the theme of racism and implicitly comments on the history of Spades.
The poem expresses hope for exploring and understanding the past and present experiences of Black people through playing Spades and allusions to history.
And here is all we’ll need: a card deck, quartets of sun people
Of the sort found in black college dormitories, some vintage
Music, indiscriminate spirits, fried chicken, some paper,
‘Toilet’ by Hugo Williams is a humorous poem that describes a man’s struggles to speak to a beautiful woman on a train.
The speaker is clearly hopeful that something is going to happen between him and the woman he is sitting across from on the train. But, given the information from the first stanza, it seems very unlikely.
I wonder will I speak to the girl
sitting opposite me on this train.
I wonder will my mouth open and say,
'Are you going all the way
to Newcastle?' or 'Can I get you a coffee?'
‘The heart asks pleasure first’ by Emily Dickinson depicts the needs of the heart. They are highly changeable and include pleasure and excuse from pain.
Dickinson expresses a sense of hope that the heart finds "pleasure" and if not that then an "excuse from pain" in this poem.
The Heart asks Pleasure—first—
And then—Excuse from Pain—
And then—those little Anodynes
That deaden suffering—
Li Bai’s ‘Taking Leave of a Friend’ uses different literary techniques to convey the themes of transience, nature, longing, and friendship.
This poem, in some ways, evokes the emotion of hope. The natural landscape serves as a backdrop for the speaker's emotions, conveying that everything is in a constant state of flux. The image of the sun setting and the floating clouds symbolize the passage of time and the inevitability of change.
Blue mountains lie beyond the north wall;
Round the city's eastern side flows the white water.
Here we part, friend, once forever.
You go ten thousand miles, drifting away
‘What Though the Dark Come Down’ by Annette Wynne is a powerful, four-stanza poem that explores the power, or lack thereof, darkness holds.
Hope is certainly the primary emotion felt in this poem. The speaker is very capable of seeing beyond the darkness to the life within.
What though the dark come down,
What though the shadows fall,
What though the dark come on the sea,
And the ships and the hills and all?