Resilience Poems

The Fish

by Marianne Moore

‘The Fish’ by Marianne Moore uses imagery and form to objectively describe nature and humanity’s ability to survive and mature in the face of death, destruction, and loss.

The resilience of both life and death is all-encompassing, and we play a very small part in the way the universe works. Thus, when suffering from loss, injury, or destruction, it is impossible to disconnect life from the equation. All loss in this poem makes room for more life, which was likely a message that Moore intended for those suffering from WWI.

“Venice — Venus?” (#5 from Hermetic Definition: ‘Red Rose and a Beggar’)

by Hilda Doolittle

“Venice — Venus?” by Hilda Doolittle is an insightful poem about Doolittle’s reasons for writing despite critiques. Doolittle reveals that her ultimate source of inspiration is divine.

By addressing the criticism of the people who have "brushed aside" her poems, Doolittle reveals her resilience and ability to keep writing. Although the poet seems uninterested in continuing to write, as seen in the lines "I can't get away from it, I've tried to;" she simply must keep going.


by Jean Bleakney

‘Winterisation’ subtly weaves the processes of preparing for winter and steeling oneself for news of bereavement.

Ultimately, the poem seems to conclude that we must all be resilient and bear the brunt of hard times when they inevitably arrive.

Song of the Chattahoochee

by Sidney Lanier

‘Song of the Chattahoochee’ is a 19th century American poem that takes the perspective of the Chattahoochee river as it flows from northern Georgia to the sea.

Even though the speaker of the poem is the river itself, one cannot help but to root for the river and be fascinated by its perception of the world around it. Despite all of the trees, stones, and plants that encouraged the river to stop running its course, it kept on going because it knew that it had a greater purpose.


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.

This poem focuses on Lochinvar's victory, but behind this short ballad is a much longer implied story about how the knight, at one time, fell in love with the fair lady Ellen only to be rejected by Ellen's father. The poem opens just as Lochinvar gathers the courage to go back to Netherby Hall despite Ellen's father's refusal. In this, Lochinvar displays his resilience in full force, traveling at rapid speeds and boldly entering the hall to regain his lover.

How Did You Die?

by Edmund Vance Cooke

‘How Did You Die?’ by Edmund Vance Cooke is a rhyming poem that tries to impart an idealized view of perseverance in life.

The poem also inspires feelings of resilience with its earnest urging for people to resist even in defeat.

The Almond Trees

by Derek Walcott

‘The Almond Trees’ By Derek Walcott is a confessional poem about identity, history, and cultural identity.

The poem goes back and forth between the past and present of the cultural identity of the speaker. This shows how much suffering the ancestors in this culture had to endure for the sunbathers on the beach presently, to be there. Yet, we see a resilience of culture not entirely to lose itself to the ways of others and keep themselves alive during times of incredible cruelty.

I died for beauty but was scarce

by Emily Dickinson

‘I died for beauty but was scarce’ by Emily Dickinson reflects her fascination for death and the possible life to follow.

Even in death, the characters in this poem are sure in their beliefs.

A Long Journey

by Musaemura Zimunya

‘A Long Journey’ by Musaemura Zimunya is based on the changes that came to Rhodesia, a small country in southern Africa, after British colonial rule. The speaker explores the positive changes and the negative.

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.


by Sylvia Plath

‘Blackberrying’ by Sylvia Plath explores decaying and flourishing life and human mortality. It was published in 1971 in Crossing the Water, after the poet’s death.

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.

Elegy V: His Picture

by John Donne

‘Elegy V’ by John Donne is addressed to the poet’s lover. He asks her to accept him when he returns, despite the fact that he’s going to look and act differently.

How Can You Say That?

by Jean Bleakney

‘How Can You Say That?’ is a humorous and thoughtful rebuttal of belittlement which reflects the struggle of women in the twentieth century.

I did not reach Thee

by Emily Dickinson

‘I did not reach Thee’ by Emily Dickinson is a complex poem about a speaker’s journey through life. She expresses both optimism and hesitation in the face of her death and attempts to reach God. 

I have a Bird in spring

by Emily Dickinson

‘I have a Bird in spring’ by Emily Dickinson is dedicated to a close friendship poet was concerned about losing. It uses an extended metaphor created through zoomorphism. 

Is it Still the Same

by Eavan Boland

‘Is it Still the Same’ is a brilliant, affirming poem that explores memory and its relationship to a particular place and time.


by Gillian Clarke

‘Seal’ by Gillian Clarke depicts motherhood. Specifically, the poet chose to describe the experience through the relationship between a mother and a baby seal.

The Hour is Come

by Louisa Lawson

‘The Hour is Come’ offers a heroic view of womanhood and celebrates those who are willing to fight for their rights and beliefs.

The Rights of Women

by Anna Lætitia Barbauld

‘The Rights of Women’ by Anna Lætitia Barbauld is a proto-feminist poem that intones the power that a woman might have if she resists social law and rises up to take control over the world.

The Stars Go Over the Lonely Ocean

by Robinson Jeffers

‘The Stars Go Over the Lonely Ocean’ by Robinson Jeffers is a complex poem that suggests that the speaker’s contemporary world is falling apart and is only going to get worse before it gets better. 

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