Sestet Poems

The Storm-Wind

by William Barnes

‘The Storm-Wind’ by William Barnes contrasts peace and danger with images of home and a terrifying storm. The poem emphasizes how much easier it is to appreciate the safety of home when the conditions outside are so inhospitable.

Written over three stanzas, each with six lines, the poem is a classic example of sestets, a type of stanza Barnes favoured throughout his poetic career.

Love Poem

by Gregory Orr

‘Love Poem’ by Gregory Orr is a short poem about a speaker’s imaginative telling of asking for someone’s phone number.

This is a poem that consists of six lines making it a sestet. It's a great example of how much can be accomplished narratively in so brief a form.

Sunlight on the Garden

by Louis MacNeice

‘Sunlight on the Garden’ by Louis MacNeice is a poem about change, death, and accepting that life eventually ends.

This poem is composed of six-line stanzas, making it a sestet.

The Walrus and the Carpenter

by Lewis Carroll

‘The Walrus and the Carpenter’ is a narrative poem by Lewis Carroll. It was included in his 1871 novel ‘Through the Looking-Glass.’

This poem is divided into sets of six lines, known as sestets. This is one of the more common forms in poetry and can be seen in all genres.

Next Day

by Randall Jarrell

‘Next Day’ by Randall Jarrell is a confessional poem with a conversational tone that articulates the complex emotions of aging and change.

'Next Day' is an unconventional poem that does not have a strict metrical structure or rhyme scheme. However, each stanza is a sestet containing six lines. This structure, combined with frequent enjambment, reads very conversationally, as lines of varying lengths with occasional rhyme constantly mix things up.


by Hugo Williams

‘Toilet’ by Hugo Williams is a humorous poem that describes a man’s struggles to speak to a beautiful woman on a train.

This is a humorous poem that's composed of four stanzas, each of which contains six lines, also known as sestets. It's a good example of the form.

Carpe Diem

by William Shakespeare

‘Carpe Diem’ by William Shakespeare is a love song from Twelfth Night, sung by Feste the clown/fool. It’s about love and youth. 

This short poem is divided into two sets of six lines, for a total of twelve. This sets this section of text apart from its larger literary source, Twelfth Night, which is divided into shorter, and longer, sections of dialogue.

A Dirge

by Christina Rossetti

‘A Dirge’ by Christina Rossetti is a thoughtful and moving poem about death. It speaks on the birth and death of an important person in the speaker’s life.


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. 

Epitaph on a Tyrant

by W.H. Auden

‘Epitaph on a Tyrant’ by W.H. Auden is a thoughtful poem written at the beginning of WWII. The piece describes a tyrant’s beliefs and his power over everything around him. 

How Poetry Comes to Me

by Gary Snyder

‘How Poetry Comes to Me’ by Gary Snyder is a thoughtful poem about receiving inspiration. The poet uses symbolism and other literary devices to depict poetic inspiration as an animal moving through the woods of his mind.

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. 

Missing My Daughter

by Stephen Spender

‘Missing My Daughter’ by Stephen Spender is a poem about a speaker’s desire to see his daughter and how he feel trapped in a prison of loneliness. 


by Meena Alexander

‘Muse’ by Meena Alexander is a poem about the poet’s muse or source of inspiration. The poet recalls meeting and being positively influenced by a girl in her youth. 

My Grandmother

by Elizabeth Jennings

‘My Grandmother’ by Elizabeth Jennings is a thoughtful poem about one person’s relationship with her grandmother and her grandmother’s passion—collecting antiques. 

Only a Dad

by Edgar Guest

‘Only a Dad’ by Edgar Albert Guest is dedicated to the poet’s father. The poem describes the man’s willingness to self-sacrifice and do whatever he can to make his children happy. 


by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

‘Snow-flakes’ by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is a graceful and melodic poem that describes a snowfall as the sky sharing and shedding its grief. 

The Freedom of the Moon

by Robert Frost

‘The Freedom of the Moon’ by Robert Frost is a poem about humanity’s freedom. It uses beautiful figurative language to define the human experience.

The Juggler

by Richard Wilbur

‘The Juggler’ by Richard Wilbur is about the way that change can temporarily relieve some of the complacency human beings experience in life. 

Walking the Dog

by Howard Nemerov

‘Walking the Dog’ by Howard Nemerov is a poem about an owner, his dog, and the walks they go on. The poet expresses the various sights he sees with his pet and the things they do and don’t share. 

Windy Nights

by Robert Louis Stevenson

‘Windy Nights’ by Robert Louis Stevenson is a children’s poem about a nighttime storm. It was first published in 1885 in A Child’s Garden of Verses. 

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