Beaches Poems

Poems about beaches take their inspiration from the great outdoors. Specifically, ocean scenes are usually highly relatable to readers from various backgrounds.

There are many different poems about beaches, but most describe the natural world in joyful language. Poets usually use image-rich words to depict the texture of the sand, the roaring sound of the waves, brilliant blue skies, soft white clouds, and perhaps even a horizon dotted with ships.

While most beach poems describe the shoreline in a lighthearted and peaceful way, not every poem takes such a positive tone. There are others, such as poems by Walt Whitman or those dating from WWI, that use the beach as a metaphor for much darker events, like death and loss. It’s a place where two worlds meet–the ocean and the land, and therefore lends itself to depictions of loved ones crossing into the afterlife or powerful transitions or changes in one’s personal life.

On the Beach at Night Alone

by Walt Whitman

‘On the Beach at Night Alone’ by Walt Whitman is a powerful poem. In it, Whitman discusses how everything that has ever existed or will ever exist is connected.

The poem is set on a beach at night, which is a place where one can contemplate the vastness of the ocean and the stars above. The beach is a metaphor for the boundary between the known and the unknown, the finite and the infinite. The poem has an interesting structure. In the second stanza, the lines begin with the word “All.” It is an example of anaphora. Whitman uses this device to depict how a vast similitude interlocks everything around the beach with beauty and peace.

A vast similitude interlocks all,

All spheres, grown, ungrown, small, large, suns, moons, planets,

All distances of place however wide,

All distances of time, all inanimate forms,

The Beach

by Robert Graves

‘The Beach’ by Robert Graves is a poem about the contrast between childhood innocence and an adult mindset. The poem depicts this dichotomy by demonstrating the difference between how a boatman and a group of children interact with the ocean.

‘The Beach’ is a short poem that consists of ten unrhymed lines. It describes how a speaker looks at the sea and what they see. While standing on a beach, the speaker describes a group of children shouting and enjoying themselves. There is also an experienced boatman who warns them about the reality of the ocean. It is a symbolic reference to human life and growing up.

Louder than gulls the little children scream

Whom fathers haul into the jovial foam;

But others fearlessly rush in, breast high,

Laughing the salty water from their mouthes—

Two Lovers and a Beachcomber by the Real Sea

by Sylvia Plath

‘Two Lovers and a Beachcomber by the Real Sea’ by Sylvia Plath explores imagination. Reality, the speaker realizes, doesn’t always live up to what one imagined.

The poem presents a lonely beachcomber surrounded by kaleidoscope shells and taunting gulls, suggesting a desolate and abandoned atmosphere. The poem's atmosphere is rather dark and dreary, something that's common in Plath's verses. Many beautiful images relate to the beach, each of which builds upon the next.
Cold and final, the imagination Shuts down its fabled summer house; Blue views are boarded up; our sweet vacation Dwindles in the hour-glass.  

Dover Beach

by Matthew Arnold

‘Dover Beach’ by Matthew Arnold is dramatic monologue lamenting the loss of true Christian faith in England during the mid 1800s.

Beaches play an important role in the poem, representing a liminal space between the land and the sea. The sound of the waves crashing onto the beach creates a sense of sadness and uncertainty, reflecting the broader themes of the poem. The beach also serves as a metaphor for the transitory nature of life, as the waves constantly wash away the sand and reshape the shoreline.

The sea is calm tonight.

The tide is full, the moon lies fair

Upon the straits; on the French coast the light

Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,

My Garden — like the Beach

by Emily Dickinson

‘My Garden — like the Beach’ by Emily Dickinson is a beautiful, short poem. It compares the speaker’s garden to the beach and the summer to the sea. Read the full poem, with a complete analysis.

The beach is a powerful symbol of nature's vast and mysterious beauty. Dickinson compares the garden to the beach to underscore the connection between different aspects of nature. She also compares herself to a pearl in the depths of the ocean.

My Garden—like the Beach—

Denotes there be—a Sea—

That's Summer—

Show It At the Beach

by Shel Silverstein

‘Show It At the Beach’ by Shel Silverstein addresses taboos in contemporary society. Specifically, the poem considers when nudity is appropriate and when it isn’t (on the beach). 

The poem highlights the restrictions and limitations placed on the display of nudity at the beach. It speaks to the idea that nudity is seen as inappropriate or indecent in certain public spaces, such as the beach. The poem suggests that society is quick to judge and regulate certain behaviors in public, even when they are accepted in other settings. It challenges the idea of freedom and acceptance at the beach, emphasizing the need for more open-mindedness and tolerance.

Oh, they won't let us show it at the beach.

No, they won't let us show it at the beach.

They think we're gonna grab it if it gets within our reach.

And they won't let us show it at the beach.

Facing West From California’s Shores

by Walt Whitman

‘Facing West From California’s Shores’ by Walt Whitman is a unique poem that alludes to the state of California and the potential expansion of the United States.

The poem evokes the journey and discovery that comes with exploring new shores and territories as the speaker looks out towards the sea and imagines the lands beyond. The beach serves as a symbol of the world's potential. Standing there, Whitman's speaker can imagine anything and everything.

Facing west, from California's shores,

Inquiring, tireless, seeking what is yet unfound,

I, a child, very old, over waves, towards the house of maternity, the

land of migrations, look afar,


I Saw From the Beach

by Thomas Moore

‘I Saw From the Beach’ by Thomas Moore is a thoughtful poem. It considers the soul and passion and how the two things change over time as one ages. 

The beach is a significant setting in the poem, where the speaker is observing a bark moving over the water. The poem is centered on the water of the sea and a boat near the shore. Moore portrays the boat as a metaphor for the soul and the sea to human passion. According to him, the boat floats on the water. But when the water recedes, it makes the boat look motionless and desolate. It makes him think about how passions grow in our hearts.

I saw from the beach, when the morning was shining,

A bark o’er the waters move gloriously on;

I came when the sun o’er that beach was declining,

The bark was still there, but the waters were gone.

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.’

The poem is set on a beach where the Walrus and the Carpenter take a walk and invite the Oysters to join them. The sand is described as wet, while the sky is clear and cloud free. The beach adds a great deal to the poem and helps readers imagine what exactly is playing out in this unique Carroll poem.

The sun was shining on the sea,

Shining with all his might;

He did his very best to make

The billows smooth and bright—

Beach Burial

by Kenneth Slessor

‘Beach Burial’ by Kenneth Slessor is a deeply emotional poem about the cost of war. It uses hard-to-forget images of bodies washing up on a beach to highlight this fact.

'Beach Burial' portrays the haunting image of dead sailors washed up on the shore and buried in makeshift graves. The poem's focus on the beach as a site of death and mourning challenges the traditional association of beaches with leisure and relaxation. Instead, the poem emphasizes the power of the sea and the toll it takes on human life, drawing attention to the violence and tragedy that can occur even in seemingly idyllic locations.

Softly and humbly to the Gulf of Arabs

The convoys of dead sailors come;

At night they sway and wander in the waters far under,

But morning rolls them in the foam.


by Derek Walcott

‘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.

By situating this poem by the seaside on a beach in Walcott's hometown, the poem takes place in a liminal space. Walcott frequently depicts the conflict between light and dark by juxtaposing the deep sea with a brilliant warm sunset. Additionally, the uses the contrast between lamplight and the dark, starry night sky the world becomes an ocean at night, where only the fireflies and car headlights can pierce through the darkness.

Closest at lampfall

Like children, like the moth-flame metaphor,

The Coleman's humming jet at the sea's edge

Explore more poems about Beaches

On the Beach at Fontana

by James Joyce

‘On the Beach at Fontana’ by James Joyce is a poem about paternal love and protectiveness. Read the poem with, a summary and complete analysis.

This piece is about two lovers. In this poem, Joyce describes how a speaker loves to embrace her beloved on the beach. However, there is a tone of sadness regarding their separation in the last few lines of the poem.

Wind whines and whines the shingle,

The crazy pier-stakes groan;

A senile sea numbers each single

Slime-silvered stone.

California Dreaming

by Charles Wright

‘California Dreaming’ by Charles Wright, written in 1983, is a poem about Wright’s departure from Laguna Beach, CA, where he lived for six years. In ‘California Dreaming,’ the poet-speaker describes how Californians are similar to another evolution of people from the East.

'California Dreaming' by Charles Wright primarily takes place on the coast of Laguna Beach, where the poet lived when he taught at The University of California in Irvine. The poet's focus on the weather, the sun, the cliffs, and the attractive tan people who surf and do drugs on the beach is his attempt to understand California - but he never quite settles in.

We are not born yet, and everything’s crystal under our feet.

We are not brethren, we are not underlings.

We are another nation,


by Jean Bleakney

Jean Bleakney’s ‘Consolidation’ is a deeply personal poem about the act of rearranging the cowry shells that the speaker and her children gathered in the past.

Though this poem is not entirely about beaches, readers can find the reference to Innishkeel, a tidal island off the coast of Donegal, Ireland.

Some sunny, empty afternoon

I’ll pool our decade’s worth

and more of cowrie shells

gathered from that gravel patch

A Former Life

by Charles Baudelaire

‘A Former Life’ by Charles Baudelaire speaks on a the poet’s own imagination and how his creative works are born there and are at his beck and call. 


by Gillian Clarke

‘Clocks’ by Gillian Clarke is a unique and deep poem that reflects the passage of time and the wonders of growing older.


by Derek Walcott

Derek Walcott’s poem ‘Ebb’ is about a car journey by the shore and comments on aging, industrialization, and the past.

Homecoming: Anse La Raye

by Derek Walcott

‘Homecoming: Anse La Raye’ by Derek Walcott is a complex and interesting poem about when a homecoming doesn’t feel like coming home. It is rich with allusions and connections to Walcott’s real-life experience.

The Phantom Horsewoman

by Thomas Hardy

‘The Phantom Horsewoman’ by Thomas Hardy describes a man plagued by a reoccurring vision of a lost “horsewoman” throughout every moment of his life.

The Widening Sky

by Edward Hirsch

‘The Widening Sky’ by Edward Hirsch describes a speaker’s emotionally revelatory journey into a darkening seaside landscape. 

There was an Indian

by J.C. Squire

‘There was an Indian’ by J.C. Squire describes the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the new world and the reaction of one Native American man. 

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