Change Poems

Everyone experiences change in life. Witnesses to this natural event share their thoughts on the subject of change through poetry.

The Tables Turned

by William Wordsworth

In ‘The Tables Turned,’ Wordsworth invites us to break free from the constraints of modern society and rediscover the natural world’s beauty and wisdom.

'The Tables Turned' discusses the change in one's mindset when thinking about knowledge and education. The speaker wants to convince the reader that their way of thinking, which is also the way of most scholars, is incorrect and that the way the speaker is describing will teach them more in the long run. This is a profound and fundamental change to the reader, whether or not they decide the speaker is correct by the poem's end.

The Hill We Climb

by Amanda Gorman

Amanda Gorman’s poem ‘The Hill We Climb’ is a moving depiction of the United States as it was on the cusp of President Biden’s inauguration in 2021. 

The poet sees change as necessary and knows it's difficult for a country as large and diverse as the United States to accept this.

Gathering Leaves

by Robert Frost

‘Gathering Leaves’ is a profound poem that delves into the themes of man versus nature, productivity, and change.

The change in the leaves is ultimately misleading, as they will follow the exact same pattern in the years that follow. The real change lies in the people who observe them.


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.

Change is part of life, and what is unable to change is destined to fade away. Read Bleakney's 'Consolidation' in order to figure out how a mother copes with the change.

‘Twas the old — road — through pain—

by Emily Dickinson

‘Twas the old — road — through pain—’ by Emily Dickinson describes a woman’s path from life to death and her entrance into Heaven. 

The woman is expreince many changes as she ages on her journey. They are changes in mindset and experience.

My Grandmother’s Houses

by Jackie Kay

‘My Grandmother’s Houses’ by Jackie Kay is a thoughtful recollection of youth and a young speaker’s relationship with her eccentric grandmother, who is forced to move homes.

There are two forms of change in the poem; the grandmother's changing home and the child changing as they grow. The moments in which these concurrent processes converge are the catalyst for the poem.

The Idea of Ancestry

by Etheridge Knight

‘The Idea of Ancestry’ by Etheridge Knight is concerned with family relationships and how important being with those you’re related to is. 

It's clear the Knight wants to change and live differently than he has in the past.


by Amanda Gorman

‘Alarum’ by Amanda Gorman speaks about extinction and the climate crisis, alluding to the fate of humankind if nothing changes. 

Change is something that Gorman suggests is critical if the world wants to survive. She believes that climate change can't be avoided and that the world needs to act now if we all want to live.

August, Los Angeles, Lullaby

by Carol Muske-Dukes

‘August, Los Angeles, Lullaby’ by Carol Muske-Dukes is a contemporary poem about bringing life into the world and the worries that plague a mother after giving birth. 

Change is a very important part of this poem. The birth of her child is an immense change in the speaker's life. It's altered how she sees her future and her past.

Go to Ahmedabad

by Sujata Bhatt

‘Go to Ahmedabad’ shows the psychological struggle of an immigrant dealing with disturbing past events and contemporary issues with newly developed views.

The poem shows changing perspectives of an immigrant speaker as she gets exposed to a new culture and belief system. The poem deals with the change as it impacts the speaker's life.

Parades, Parades

by Derek Walcott

‘Parades, Parades’ by Derek Walcott is an interesting, allusion-filled poem that discusses Saint Lucia after the end of British colonial rule. 

Saint Lucia has gone through some changes but not quite enough in Walcott's mind.

Bloody Men

by Wendy Cope

‘Bloody Men’ by Wendy Cope is a short, contemporary poem by a British award-winning author. It uses a metaphor to compare men to buses.

The speaker knows that any choice she makes is going to result in some kind of change.

The Minuet

by Mary Mapes Dodge

‘The Minuet’ by Mary Mapes Dodge alludes to the many changes that the passage of time presents. This is specially related to the way that one speaker’s grandmother has changed.

The changes time presents are an important part of this poem. The speaker is amused and entertained by the image of their grandmother as a young woman and even imagines themselves in the future when they are her age.

Suicide’s Note

by Langston Hughes

‘Suicide’s Note’ is a three-line poem that speaks from the perspective of someone who wants to take their own life. They feel the “cool face” of the river asking them for a “kiss.”

Like all natural phenomena, the river is constantly changing and moving, reminding the speaker of the impermanence of all things and the fleeting nature of life itself.

Wolsey’s Farewell to His Greatness

by William Shakespeare

‘Wolsey’s Farewell to His Greatness’ by William Shakespeare is a set of lines found in Act III Scene 2 of Henry VIII, a famous history play. The lines are spoken by Cardinal Wolsey, one of the King’s closest advisors. 

Wolsey knows that his life is changing. Within these lines, he speaks about his true emotions regarding this life change, the King, and much more. He uses several metaphors and similes to elaborate on his life.

Anne Rutledge

by Edgar Lee Masters

‘Anne Rutledge’ by Edgar Lee Masters is an epitaph based on the life of someone who knew and loved Abraham Lincoln in her youth.

The speaker is looking toward the future and what the nation might be like as it changes.

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. 

Changes in one's age, disposition, and beauty are all things that work against one as time passes. The speaker knows that love is an emotion of the present and guarantees nothing for the future.

Dear Basketball

by Kobe Bryant

‘Dear Basketball’ by Kobe Bryant depicts the poet’s love for the sport. He expresses his appreciation for basketball and how it made him into the person he became.

Change is an important part of this poem. Bryant acknowledges that his life has changed; he's gotten older, and it's time to say goodbye to professional basketball.

First Flight

by U.A. Fanthorpe

‘First Flight’ by U.A. Fanthorpe follows a narrator’s first flight as they rise above the ground and commentate on their journey.

The poem reflects on the changes brought by air travel, noting how it confounds the forecasters and dismisses clocks and how it has come too high for history.

Lincoln, Man of the People

by Edwin Markham

‘Lincoln, Man of the People’ by Edwin Markham is a unique poem about Abraham Lincoln that paints him, and his legacy, in idealized, universal terms. The speaker spends the poem describing Lincoln the perfect leader.

One of the main things that the poet wants to draw the reader's attention to is the change that Lincoln implemented when he became president.

Mr. Flood’s Party

by Edwin Arlington Robinson

‘Mr. Flood’s Party’ by Edwin Arlington Robinson describes a man’s later years in life and how lonely he has become. It suggests that a long life is not always a blessing. 

The subject has experienced a great deal of change in his life, much of it leaving him sadder and more alone than he was before.

The Barefoot Boy

by John Greenleaf Whittier

‘The Barefoot Boy’ by John Greenleaf Whittier is a highly relatable poem that speaks on universal themes of aging and the beauty and joy of youth. The poem celebrates a young boy’s freedom and mourns the coming of age. 

One of the main themes and ideas at work in this poem is change. The poet implies that from youth to adulthood, many things change. So many things that one may forget their love for nature entirely and the freedom it provides.

The Suicide’s Soliloquy

by Abraham Lincoln

‘The Suicide’s Soliloquy’ is a dark poem about sorrow and suicide which some believe was written by the 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln.

The narrator seeks to escape the pain he is experiencing by taking a drastic step, committing suicide. He hopes that the act will bring him relief and release him from his suffering.

School’s Out

by Amanda Gorman

‘School’s Out’ by Amanda Gorman is a powerful poem that explores the experiences of young people during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Change is an integral part of this poem. The poet notes how hard the significant changes COVID-19 brought were for students to deal with and how it's impossible to recover missed experiences.

At Pegasus

by Terrance Hayes

‘At Pegasus’ by Terrance Hayes is a powerful poem about identity that uses a youthful memory and a contemporary experience to speak about life.

The speaker of this poem feels as though his life has changed a great deal since he was a child. Not only in the way that he's aged but also in how he sees and understands the world.

Failing and Flying

by Jack Gilbert

‘Failing and Flying’ by Jack Gilbert explores the idea that although something may ultimately fail, the process of arriving at that point may be a triumph.

The poem touches on the inevitability of change, particularly in relationships, and the idea that even when things don't work out, there can be value in the experience.

The Miracle of Morning

by Amanda Gorman

‘The Miracle of Morning’ by Amanda Gorman is a direct message of hope in the face of suffering. Specifically, Gorman uses this poem to discuss the coronavirus pandemic and its outcome. 

Rather than dwell on the many negative changes that the COVID-19 pandemic brought, the poet focused on the positive changes that would occur after it was over. She imagined a world where everyone started to care about one another more after dealing with so much grief.


by Edgar Guest

‘Home’ by Edgar Guest is a moving and highly relatable poem in which the poet describes the necessity of turning a house into a home and how that process plays out. 

The poet knows that change is an important part of life. Changes that play out in one's home and around one's home are key to forging a bond between the family and where they live.

Oh Do Not Wanton with Those Eyes

by Ben Jonson

‘Oh Do Not Wanton with Those Eyes’ by Ben Jonson is a short, interesting poem in which one person describes the effect another person’s eyes have on them. They suggest this person should avoid showing certain emotions, so they aren’t impacted.

Throughout this poem, the speaker is determined to make the listener change. He tells her over and over again that she's not allowed to feel one way or another, or more simply, that she's not allowed to show those feelings.


by William Carlos Williams

‘Tract’ by William Carlos Williams is a unique poem about funeral practices and how Williams’ speaker believed they should be altered to better serve the dead. 

Williams suggests several important changes, through a very confident and emphatic speaker, for funerals. His speaker is determined that the changes he has in mind would make funerals far better.

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