Daily Life Poems

The Quilting

by Paul Laurence Dunbar

‘The Quilting’ by Paul Laurence Dunbar is a very short love poem that reveals the speaker’s growing affection for a woman named Dolly.

As a part of the realist movement, Dunbar wrote prolifically about daily life for black Americans. This poem is an excellent example of that. While the poem never truly reveals any cues about race, that's part of its importance. The speaker and Dolly are generic human beings, and they both have work to do and emotions to feel.

A Bird, came down the Walk

by Emily Dickinson

‘A Bird, came down the Walk’ by Emily Dickinson is a beautiful nature poem. It focuses on the actions of a bird going about its everyday life.

The poem describes something that goes on every day around the world.

Tell all the truth but tell it slant

by Emily Dickinson

‘Tell the truth but tell it slant’ by Emily Dickinson is one of Dickinson’s best-loved poems. It explores an unknown “truth” that readers must interpret in their own way.

Telling the truth and dealing with tough situations is part of daily life, making this poem highly relevant.


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. 

This poem is filled with images of daily life, specifically, the poet's daily life (and the lives of others) in New York City. The poet describes average occurrences in New York City and imbues them with a great deal of meaning.

The Complaints of the Poor

by Robert Southey

‘The Complaints of the Poor’ by Robert Southey takes place in a city, likely London, and describes the desperate measures poverty drives people to. 

The poor in this poem experience a very different daily life to the "rich man."

‘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's daily life is very important in this poem. Dickinson depicted her in a way that allows readers of all variety to relate to her.

The Simple Truth

by Philip Levine

‘The Simple Truth’ by Philip Levine is a thoughtful narrative poem that explores life’s “simple truths” and how fundamental they are to our understanding of the world. 

The poem is rooted in the everyday experiences of the speaker, celebrating the beauty of simple things like boiled potatoes, butter, and salt.

[love is more thicker than forget]

by E.E. Cummings

‘[love is more thicker than forget]’ by E.E. Cummings conveys the idea that love can be a source of hope, comfort, and joy in times of darkness.

Cummings depicts love as something that is an integral part of daily life. It is far deeper and far more prevalent than most people realize, his speaker suggest.


by Alice Cary

‘Nobility’ by Alice Cary is a straightforward, inspirational poem about where honor and nobility truly come from. 

Living one's life daily is an important part of this poem. The speaker says it does not take grand gestures to live a good life and show kindness to others.

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 poet uses images and elements of daily life to compose her poem.

Cottage Street, 1953

by Richard Wilbur

‘Cottage Street, 1953’ by Richard Wilbur is a powerful poem based on the poet’s own experience. It depicts a simple social meeting between his family and the Plaths.

Meeting the speaker and his family are a part of feel like a normal part of daily life, but there is more at play (as the poem reveals). The speaker uses his recollection of afternoon tea with the Plaths to depict his mother-in-law's different life compared to Sylvia Plath.

Keep A-Goin’

by Frank Lebby Stanton

‘Keep A-Goin’’ by Frank Lebby Stanton is a simple poem about the path one walks in life and what should happen if one runs into hardship. 

This poem alludes to daily life's normal, mundane struggles and the troubles one might confront. Few of these are mentioned, but the poet manages to cover many different situations.

The Ballad of Aunt Geneva

by Marilyn Nelson

‘The Ballad of Aunt Geneva’ by Marilyn Nelson is about a Black woman’s life, relationships, and work. It is based on local rumors and assumptions about her character.

This poem passes judgment on the life and daily actions of a single woman, Aunt Geneva, who is described as having killed someone in a jealous rage and as sleeping with random men despite being quite old.

Before She Died

by Karen Chase

‘Before She Died’ by Karen Chase is a poem about how someone’s death, or impending death, changes the way that one understands the world. 

The influence of death and loss on daily life is very important. The speaker's experience of a simple walk with their dog changes because they can't help but think about the person they're going to lose.

Christmas Everywhere

by Phillips Brooks

‘Christmas Everywhere’ by Phillips Brooks is an uplifting Christmas and religious poem about the power of the season. The poet implies that if people wanted to, they could carry the same feeling of faithfulness throughout the whole year. 

While this poem focuses on Christmas, it also alludes to the importance of feeling like it's Christmas every day of the year. The poet implies that if people could carry these faithful feelings throughout the year, the world would be a better place.


by Josiah Gilbert Holland

‘Gradatim’ by Josiah Gilbert Holland is a poem about the lifetime of work it takes to climb the ladder to Heaven. One needs to dedicate themselves to a life of good deeds to reach God. 

The good deeds that the speaker alludes to in this poem need to happen daily. One should make reaching Heaven (or climbing the ladder to God, as the poem says) the main goal of their entire existence.

The Wind in the Dooryard

by Derek Walcott

‘The Wind in the Dooryard’ by Derek Walcott was written after the death of Eric Roach, a well-respected poet who died by suicide in 1974. This poem is dedicated to his life and work. 

This poem suggests that Roach was inspired by daily life and the history of his home. Images of daily life are included in Walcott's text and implied to be of interest to Roach as well.

The Eternal Goodness

by John Greenleaf Whittier

‘The Eternal Goodness’ by John Greenleaf Whittier is a relatively unknown 19th-century poem that explores religious themes and the various ways that God’s love comes through. 

One of the important elements of this poem that defines the speaker's belief is how he feels about God in his daily life. He believes that God is there no matter where he goes or what he does.

A Butterfly Talks

by Annette Wynne

‘A Butterfly Talks’ is a children’s poem written by the American poet Annette Wynne. In this short poem, the poet emphasizes the splendor of simple things in nature.

A little Dog that wags his tail

by Emily Dickinson

In ‘A little Dog that wags his tail’ Emily Dickinson explores themes of human nature, the purpose of life, and freedom. She compares animals, cats and dogs, to adults and children.

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 still— Volcano —Life

by Emily Dickinson

‘A still— Volcano —Life’ by Emily Dickinson is an unforgettable poem that uses an extended metaphor to describe the life of the poet. She compares herself to a volcano that erupts under the cover of darkness.

After Wings

by Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt

‘After Wings’ by Sarah Piatt is a short poem that centers on the wings of a butterfly. This poem highlights the importance of accepting change as it is the essence of life.

Air Raid

by Stephen Spender

Stephen Spender’s poem ‘Air Raid’ depicts the impact of the Blitz or German Luftwaffe air strike on the United Kingdom.

And Soul

by Eavan Boland

‘And Soul’ by Eavan Boland is a poem about death and a body’s dissolution into the elements that it is made up of. The poet emphasizes the connection between a human being made nearly entirely of water and a city that’s drenched by a particularly rainy summer season. 

Anne Hathaway

by Carol Ann Duffy

‘Anne Hathaway’ by Carol Ann Duffy is told from the perceptive of Shakespeare’s wife who discusses their enduring love through the symbol of a bed. 

At Grass

by Philip Larkin

‘At Grass’ by Philip Larkin is a poem about fame and happiness. It focuses on racehorses and how they found new homes away from their previous lives.

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