Adversity

Adversity poems deal with topics including loss, economic hardship, social inequity, racial prejudice, and much more. Some, which address the topics from an optimistic point of view, present ways that characters and writers have overcome these obstacles, while others are far darker.

The Double Shame by Stephen Spender

by Stephen Spender

‘The Double Shame’ by Stephen Spender conveys a depiction of what the world feels like when one loses a very important person in their life. Everything is transformed in a way that makes a living from day to day difficult. 

A Jet Ring Sent by John Donne

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 Long Journey by Musaemura Zimunya

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.

A Picture of Otto by Ted Hughes

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.

Anorexic by Eavan Boland

by Eavan Boland

‘Anorexic’ by Eavan Boland conveys the mindset of a woman determined to destroy her physical body through starvation and filled with hatred for her sinful past, as according to the Biblical story of Adam and Eve.

Australia 1970 by Judith Wright

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.

Contusion by Sylvia Plath

by Sylvia Plath

‘Contusion’ by Sylvia Plath is a memorable, short poem about death and a loss of passion or meaning in one’s life. It is a dramatic monologue written 12 days before the poet’s death. 

Divorce by Jackie Kay

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. 

Elegy V: His Picture by John Donne

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.

Fame is a bee

by Emily Dickinson

‘Fame is a bee’ by Emily Dickinson uses a bee to describe the fleeting nature of fame. She uses clever images and original poetic writing throughout.

From cocoon forth a butterfly

by Emily Dickinson

‘From cocoon forth a butterfly,’ also known as ‘The Butterfly’s Day,’ is a beautiful poem written by the American poet Emily Dickinson. This poem presents the themes of the vanity of life and oblivion.

Got You by Jackie Kay

by Jackie Kay

‘Got You’ by Jackie Kay is an interesting poem about sibling jealousy and the strength of sisterhood. The speaker is a discouraged child who believes her sister is superior to her in every way.

Holy Sonnet II by John Donne

by John Donne

‘Holy Sonnet II’ by John Donne is the second in a series of religious sonnets that Donne is well-known for. This poem is directed to God and explores a speaker’s concerns about their fate. 

I can wade Grief-

by Emily Dickinson

‘I can wade Grief-‘ by Emily Dickinson is a fairly simple poem about strength in the face of sorrow. The speaker describes the detrimental effect of happiness during a period of struggle.

I cautious, scanned my little life

by Emily Dickinson

‘I cautious, scanned my little life’ by Emily Dickinson is a clever, metaphorical poem that addresses change and one’s legacy. The poet struggles to understand her changed attitude towards her literary accomplishments after a period of time has elapsed. 

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 dreaded that first Robin

by Emily Dickinson

’I dreaded that first Robin’ by Emily Dickinson is a surprising poem about nature. The speaker confesses to an unusual opinion about the season throughout the lines.

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