Culture Poems

The Almond Trees

by Derek Walcott

‘The Almond Trees’ By Derek Walcott is a confessional poem about identity, history, and cultural identity.

'The Almond Trees' main topic is cultural identity. The poem shows how the speaker's cultural identity has changed through time as the culture was uprooted, brutalized, and enslaved. The concept of cultural shifts because of colonization is a concerning topic for the speaker to process.

There's nothing here

this early;

cold sand

cold churning ocean, the Atlantic,

no visible history,

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Love of Country

by Sir Walter Scott

‘Love of Country’ presents a world in which patriotism is the most important virtue of all and the lack of it is unforgivable.

The poem regards one's culture as being entwined with one's national identity. Likewise, the narrator suggests that being omitted from a nation's culture and art is the greatest way to punish the non-patriotic.


by Sir Walter Scott

‘Lochinvar’ is a ballad about a young and courageous knight who saves his beloved, the fair lady Ellen, from marrying another man.

'Lochinvar' offers a limited view into the cultural differences between the Scottish and English people living along the border. Lochinvar has limited possessions, and seems to live a semi-nomadic lifestyle. On the other hand, Ellen's family lives in a grand fortified fortress with a great hall for dances and political discourse. These differences may reflect Sir Walter Scott's views on the Scottish vs the English.

My Life had stood – a Loaded Gun

by Emily Dickinson

‘My Life had stood – a Loaded Gun’ by Emily Dickinson is a complex, metaphorical poem. The poet depicts a woman who is under a man’s control and sleeps like a load gun.

The poem alludes to cultural norms, specifically how women are treated.

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. 

The parade Walcott describes in the poem is a cultural event that does not have the same poignance that it should.

I’m Nobody! Who are you?

by Emily Dickinson

‘I’m Nobody! Who are you?’ by Emily Dickinson reflects the poet’s emotions. It reveals her disdain for publicity and her preference for privacy.

The poet alludes to cultural pressure to pursue fame and her desire to avoid it.

The Powwow at the End of the World

by Sherman Alexie

‘The Powwow at the End of the World’ by Sherman Alexie is a stunning poem that reveals the apocalyptic price of an indigenous person’s forgiveness.

Native culture is exceptionally important to Sherman Alexie's poem. The powwow and salmon specifically are symbolic and tangible pieces of that culture, with the author utilizing both to emphasize both what was lost and needs to be returned for true forgiveness to begin.

The Virgins

by Derek Walcott

Derek Walcott’s poem ‘The Virgins’ gives a holistic view of the life, economy, and culture of one of the Virgin Islands of the US, Saint Croix.

Walcott laments about the loss of the native Caribbean culture in his poem 'The Virgins.'


by Amanda Gorman

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

Cultural division is one of the primary drivers of the climate crisis, the poet suggests. Unless people are willing to set aside their differences, nothing will ever change.

Behaving Like a Jew

by Gerald Stern

‘Behaving Like a Jew’ by Gerald Stern is a lyric poem with elements of an elegy. It includes poet’s understanding of how suffering and death should be approached.

Cultural history plays a very important role in this poem. The poet leans on his history as a Jewish man, the same as his speaker, to inform his depiction of the man and his reaction to the opossum.


by Frank O’Hara

‘Steps’ by Frank O’Hara is one of the poet’s many pieces that explores life in New York City. It is written in his characteristic style and is filled with allusions that are sometimes hard to interpret. 

Throughout this piece, the poet alludes to culturally important places and people, like Lana Turner and Greta Garbo, and New York buildings. The poem can be hard to understand without prior knowledge of these people and places.


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. 

The poet's interested in discussing the cultural norms that make people set up funerals in a certain way. Traditions fuel culture, and the traditions are based on what people think is "right" at a funeral. The poet's speaker disagrees with most of the choices of a specific group of townspeople.

Don’t kill yourself today

by Hannah Dains

‘Don’t kill yourself today’ by Hannah Dains is a thoughtful and powerful poem about suicide. The poet explores all the reasons someone has to stay alive and expresses her love for those struggling with depression.

The poem touches on culture by referencing things like Starbucks and Netflix. These references might resonate with a certain cultural demographic and offer reasons to stay alive that are specific to that culture.

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.

One of the secondary elements this poem is concerned with is culture. The grandmother makes it clear that the dancing her grandchild engages in is very different from that which she enjoyed as a young woman.

We Rise

by Amanda Gorman

‘We Rise’ by Amanda Gorman is a beautiful and inspirational poem that explores women’s power. The poet emphasizes how important it is for women to raise each other and ensure everyone has a voice. 

Culture is one of the many topics at work in this poem. The poet alludes to the long-lasting culture of women feeling like and being treated like second-class citizens and depicts her hopeful vision of the future.


by Amanda Gorman

‘Earthrise’ by Amanda Gorman is a powerful contemporary poem about climate change, the Apollo 8 mission to the moon, and the future of the Earth.

Culture is an intrinsic part of this poem. The poet alludes to the many different ways people look at the climate crisis and how important it is to unify the world's people to fight it.

3 November 1984

by Sujata Bhatt

In ‘3 November 1984,’ Indian-English poet Sujata Bhatt shows how history plays a vital role in the process of writing poetry, and their interconnectedness.

A Different History

by Sujata Bhatt

‘A Different History’ by Sujata Bhatt is not a raging piece of protest, rather it teaches how to revisit one’s cultural past in a curious, sensible way.

A Long Journey

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 Welsh Landscape

by Ronald Stuart Thomas

‘A Welsh Landscape’ portrays R. S Thomas’ views about Wales and Welsh culture. Moreover, the poem depicts the people of Wales, based on this landscape portrait. R. S. Thomas focuses on negative aspects and develops a pessimistic look at Welshness.

An American Sunrise

by Joy Harjo

‘An American Sunrise’ by Joy Harjo is a powerful poem about Native American culture written by the current Poet Laureate of the United States. The poem explores the struggles of the poet’s community as well as the successes and celebrations. 

An Unknown Girl

by Moniza Alvi

‘An Unknown Girl’ by Moniza Alvi is a free verse poem that describes the intense connection between an “unknown girl,” a bazaar, and Indian culture.


by Naomi Shihab Nye

‘Arabic’, a thoughtful poem by Naomi Shihab Nye appears in Red Suitcase: Poems (1994). This poem features a speaker’s forgetfulness concerning her mother tongue (Arabic) and culture.

Beware: Do Not Read This Poem

by Ishmael Reed

‘Beware: Do Not Read This Poem’ by Ishmael Reed is a thoughtful poem about culture and how language is used to tell stories. The poem warns against becoming too consumed within one method of storytelling.

Christmas Comes to Moccasin Flat

by James Welch

‘Christmas Comes to Moccasin Flat’ was written during the Native American Renaissance. This poem features the activities of a Native American community during Christmas.


by Anna Akhmatova

‘Courage’ by Anna Akhmatova is a passionate poem about courage in the face of war. Specifically, Akhmatova was writing about World War II. 

For Sidney Bechet

by Philip Larkin

‘For Sidney Bechet’ is a poetic tribute to Sidney Bechet, one of the early jazz maestros that poet Philip Larkin admired the most.

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