Canadian Poems

Canadian poetry encompasses a diverse and vibrant literary tradition that reflects the country’s multicultural heritage, vast landscapes, and complex history. From early Indigenous oral traditions to contemporary works, Canadian poets have explored a wide range of themes, including nature, identity, social justice, and cultural diversity.

Notable Canadian poets such as Margaret Atwood, Leonard Cohen, and E.J. Pratt have made significant contributions to the global literary landscape. Canadian poetry often captures the unique experiences and perspectives of the country.

Morning in the Burned House

by Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood’s ‘Morning in the Burned House’ is an eerie portrait of a child eating breakfast in the ashes of her burned home. Through the speaker’s perspective, Atwood vividly depicts the thought process of someone grieving a terrible loss.

Margaret Atwood is one of the best-known Canadian poets today. Her style and body of work continue to be influential in both Canadian and American literature and media. This poem is a good, although not incredibly well-known, example of her verse.

In the burned house I am eating breakfast.

You understand: there is no house, there is no breakfast,

yet here I am.

The City Planners

by Margaret Atwood

‘The City Planners’ by Margaret Atwood is an image-rich poem in which the poet depicts the fundamentally flawed nature of the suburbs. 

Margaret Atwood is a celebrated figure in Canadian literature, and 'The City Planners' falls in line with Canadian themes of landscape and identity. It is a really wonderful example of Canadian poetry but doesn't directly address Canadian issues.

Cruising these residential Sunday

streets in dry August sunlight:

what offends us is

the sanities:

Around the Campfire

by Emilie Pinet

Amidst scarlet flames and camaraderie, ‘Around the Campfire’ captures transformative connections. Vivid imagery illuminates rekindled friendships, binding souls in tranquility.

This poem by Emilie Pinet stands out among Canadian poems due to its vivid imagery, capturing the essence of shared human experiences. While acknowledging Pinet's significance, the poem itself shines through its universal themes of camaraderie and transformation. Its descriptive richness and introspective quality distinguish it, showcasing the poet's ability to evoke emotions. In comparing Canadian poems, Pinet's work impresses with its evocative portrayal of nature's role in forging connections.

Rising from the fire like a phoenix,

ash morphs into flights of flaming darts.

And shadows mark the fringes of light,

extinguishing all unwary sparks.

 

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. 

Margaret Atwood is one of the most important contemporary Canadian authors. Her poetry is nearly as well-known as her prose is, and this is one of her best pieces. Her poetry often deals with feminist themes, and this piece is no different.

Your lungs fill & spread themselves,

wings of pink blood, and your bones

empty themselves and become hollow.

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.

A memorable and inspiring poem from a talented Canadian poet.

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?

Bunnies

by Ena Hawken

‘Bunnies’ by Ena Hawken is a light-hearted poem zooming in on one natural trait of rabbits. The poem caters to children with its short retainable stanzas, rhyme, and meter akin to that of a nursery rhyme. By its nature of telling of bunnies, the poem is also regarded as an Easter poem.

This piece by Ena Hawken is fairly known by Canadian society today. It has gained popularity over the years as a nursery rhyme published on children's websites or a poem tied to Easter. However, 'Bunnies' is largely overshadowed by older nursery rhymes or children's poetry like 'Humpty Dumpty.'

Every little bunny

Has a habit that is funny.

 

Explore more Canadian poems

A Sad Child

by Margaret Atwood

You're sad because you're sad.

It's psychic. It's the age. It's chemical.

Go see a shrink or take a pill,

or hug your sadness like an eyeless doll

Bored

by Margaret Atwood

Bored by Margaret Atwood is a single stanza poem that reads as a fluid thought (or thoughts) ruminating on a complex experience of boredom throughout the speaker’s life.

All those times I was bored

out of my mind. Holding the log

while he sawed it. Holding

the string while he measured, boards,

Bull Song

by Margaret Atwood

‘Bull Song’ by Margaret Atwood describes the short life of a bull who is forced to fight in a ring against human “gods” and is then cut up for the victors.

For me there was no audience

no brass music either,

only wet dust, the cheers

buzzing at me like flies,

Death of a Young Son by Drowning

by Margaret Atwood

‘Death of a Young Son by Drowning’ by Margaret Atwood is a beautiful and impactful poem about the death of Susanna Moodie’s young son. Atwood explores the grief of the mother and how her life changed. 

He, who navigated with success

the dangerous river of his own birth

once more set forth

Earth Voices

by Bliss Carman

‘Earth Voices’ by Bliss Carman is a clever poem that utilizes personification in order to convey the perspective of the sun, the wind, and the rain.

Half Hanged Mary

by Margaret Atwood

Rumour
was
loose
in
the
air

hunting
for
some
neck
to
land
on.

I
was
milking
the
cow,

the
barn
door
open
to
the
sunset

In Flanders Fields

by John McCrae

‘In Flanders Fields’ by John  McCrae is a well-known, and much revered, poem concerning the many lived lost in the Flanders area of Belgium during World War I.

Marshlands

by Emily Pauline Johnson

‘Marshlands’ by Emily Pauline Johnson paints a picture of the life residing in a marshland as night approaches and casts the ecosystem into silence. 

My Book

by Robert Service

In writing ‘My Book,’ Robert Service reminds his readers about the importance of avoiding judgement on others and instead focusing on themselves.

Before I drink myself to death,

God, let me finish up my Book!

At night, I fear, I fight for breath,

And wake up whiter than a spook;

My Masterpiece

by Robert Service

‘My Masterpiece’ seems to be the poem Robert Service wrote to warn the reader about the regrets they may discover too late in their lives.

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