Hard Workers Poems

Poems about hard workers celebrate the dedication, perseverance, and contributions of those who consistently try to achieve their goals and make a positive impact. These poems remind us of the strength of the human spirit and the potential for growth, transformation, and triumph, even in the face of adversity.

Furthermore, these poems pay homage to the unsung heroes, the individuals who diligently contribute to their communities and society. They acknowledge the laborers, the caregivers, the teachers, and the countless others who work behind the scenes, often without recognition.

An Extraordinary Morning

by Philip Levine

‘An Extraordinary Morning’ by Philip Levine is a moving poem that exalts and admires the brotherly love shared between two laborers enjoying being off the clock.

Philip Levine's poems often feature people whose occupation would best be defined as hard labor. Their exact occupations might be ambiguous, though it's still clear the work these two men do is physically draining, as it's left them both tired and covered in the grime of their toils. Despite this, the speaker marvels at them and appears to echo their celebratory mood.

Two young men—you just might call them boys—

waiting for the Woodward streetcar to get

them downtown. Yes, they’re tired, they’re also

dirty, and happy. Happy because they’ve

As I Walk These Broad Majestic Days

by Walt Whitman

‘As I Walk These Broad Majestic Days’ by Walt Whitman offers a timeless examination of the poet’s purpose in a world that is constantly changing due to forces that only appear more tangible than poetry.

A topic that's addressed in Walt Whitman's poem is their love of hard workers. Initially, this sentiment is draped generally around all of humanity, with particular focus given to the United States. But near the end of the poem, the speaker mentions "the divine average," a phrase that appears elsewhere in Whitman's poetry and represents their reverence for the common man.

As I walk these broad majestic days of peace,

(For the war, the struggle of blood finish'd, wherein, O terrific Ideal,

Against vast odds erewhile having gloriously won,

Now thou stridest on, yet perhaps in time toward denser wars,


Claudette Colvin Goes to Work

by Rita Dove

‘Claudette Colvin Goes to Work’ by Rita Dove depicts the life and struggles of Claudette Colvin, who is best known as a civil rights activist.

The poet's speaker, Claudette Colvin, alludes to how hard life is for herself and the rest of her family. She's working hard to make a living, as her parents have before her.

Menial twilight sweeps the storefronts along Lexington 

as the shadows arrive to take their places

among the scourge of the earth. Here and there

a fickle brilliance lightbulbs coming on


by Walt Whitman

‘Mannahatta’ by Walt Whitman is a stunning poem that marvels over a city deeply admired by the poet, encompassing all the wondrous elements of its populace.

One of the prominent motifs that appears a number of times throughout the poem's various pieces of imagery is that of the industriousness and vitality of its people. To Whitman, this was the lifeblood of the city, the people who worked there to make it so, whether they are the ones literally constructing its skyline or hauling the goods that sustain it.

I was asking for something specific and perfect for my city,

Whereupon lo! upsprang the aboriginal name.

Now I see what there is in a name, a word, liquid, sane, unruly, musical, self-sufficient,

I see that the word of my city is that word from of old,

Autumn moonlight

by Matsuo Bashō

‘Autumn moonlight’ by Matsuo Bashō is a traditional haiku that’s beautiful written about the seasons. This translation was done by Robert Hass.

One of the ways one can analyze this poem is by focusing on the hard work the worm is engaged in. The worm is digging into the chestnut, a task that's surely not a simple one, and the poet suggests that it's going to make it all the way to the center. Matsuo Bashō could be trying to highlight the importance of diligence and hard work, reminding us of the value of persistence and perseverance.

Autumn moonlight--

a worm digs silently

into the chestnut.

Life Sculpture

by George Washington Doane

‘Life Sculpture’ by George Washington Doane is a poem heavily symbolic poem about realizing one’s true potential and purpose in life.

There is an element of pairing industriousness with faith present in the poem. Represented as the artisan sculptor, an individual who earns a living crafting laborious works of art, the poem valorizes those who through hard work create something of or for themselves.

Chisel in hand stood a sculptor boy

With his marble block before him,

And his eyes lit up with a smile of joy,

As an angel-dream passed o’er him. 


by Philip Larkin

‘Toads’ by Philip Larkin explores the confines of everyday life. Throughout, he uses a frog as a way to depict duel pressures in his life.

The poem can be seen as an ode to the hard worker who has been conditioned to prioritize obligations over personal satisfaction. Yet, it also serves as a cautionary tale, questioning the value of a life dominated by work at the expense of deeper aspirations.

Why should I let the toad work

Squat on my life?

Can't I use my wit as a pitchfork

And drive the brute off?


by Joaquin Miller

‘Columbus’ by Joaquin Miller is a perfectly rhymed poem that narrates a few moments in Columbus’ voyage to the new world. It focuses on the hardship the crew had to endure. 

It's clear from the allusions in this poem and the poet's use of sense imagery that the crew worked very hard to survive on the ship. They were living in terrible conditions that they were desperate to get out of.

Behind him lay the gray Azores,

Behind the Gates of Hercules;

Before him not the ghost of shores,

Before him only shoreless seas.


by Hone Tuwhare

‘Monologue’ by Hone Tuwhare is a contemporary poem about the difficulties workers face when looking for a job and how temporary those jobs can be. 

The speaker of this poem is a very hard worker. He struggles to make ends meet but is determined to make the best out of his situation. At the same time, he knows this job isn't last forever.

I like working near a door. I like to have my work-bench 

          close by, with a locker handy.

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. 

Hard work is at the heart of this poem. One needs to continue working through good times and bad to make sure that life proceeds, even when it's hard to make positive changes.

Ef you strike a thorn or rose,

    Keep a-goin'!

  Ef it hails, or ef it snows,

    Keep a-goin!

Explore more poems about Hard Workers

New Day’s Lyric

by Amanda Gorman

‘New Day’s Lyric’ by Amanda Gorman is poem written at the end of 2021 in order to usher in a more hopeful new year in 2022. The piece explores themes of hope and change. 

The poet speaks about the hard work of everyday life, the struggles that people face, and how it's only through both of these things that real change happens.

May this be the day

We come together.

Mourning, we come to mend,

Withered, we come to weather,

Atlantic City Waiter

by Countee Cullen

‘Atlantic City Waiter’ by Countee Cullen is a deeply thoughtful poem. In it, Cullen describes the actions, strength, and pride of an Atlantic City waiter.

Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio

by James Wright

‘Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio’ by James Wright is a poem about working-class men attending a football game to watch their sons. 

In the Shreve High football stadium,

I think of Polacks nursing long beers in Tiltonsville,

And gray faces of Negroes in the blast furnace at Benwood,

And the ruptured night watchman of Wheeling Steel,

Dreaming of heroes.

Blaen Cwrt

by Gillian Clarke

‘Blaen Cwrt,’ a poem by Welsh poet Gillian Clarke depicts the pleasant dwelling of the speaker in rural Ceredigion, West Wales.

Break of Day

by John Donne

‘Break of Day’ by John Donne is an aubade told from a female perspective. It conveys a woman’s understanding of her relationship with a busy lover. 

‘Tis true, ‘tis day, what though it be?

O wilt thou therefore rise from me?

Why should we rise because ‘tis light?

Did we lie down because ‘twas night?


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. 


by Paul Laurence Dunbar

‘Disappointed’ by Paul Laurence Dunbar is an inspirational poem in which Dunbar depicts an old man working hard in the last years of his life and losing everything he strove for. 

Don’t Quit

by Edgar Guest

‘Don’t Quit’ by Edgar Albert Guest is a simple poem about facing the difficulties in one’s life and persevering through them.

Field Poem

by Gary Soto

‘Field Poem’ by Gary Soto is a short and powerful poem that describes a speaker’s experience at the end of a workday. The poet uses imagery to depict leaving a cotton field and climbing on a bus.

When the foreman whistled

My brother and I

Shouldered our hoes,

Leaving the field.


by Angelina Weld Grimké

‘Fragment’ by Angelina Weld Grimké is a short and powerful poem in which a woman discusses, in simple terms, who she is and how she toils on a day-to-day basis.

From the Dark Tower

by Countee Cullen

‘From the Dark Tower’ by Countee Cullen is a thoughtful poem about the Black experience. It suggests that there is a brighter future on the horizon.

Going for Water

by Robert Frost

‘Going for Water’ by Robert Frost depicts a simple errand in joyful, uplifting language. The poem suggests that any task, no matter how annoying, can be enjoyed if one is outside. 

The well was dry beside the door,

  And so we went with pail and can

Across the fields behind the house

  To seek the brook if still it ran;

Hay for the Horses

by Gary Snyder

Gary Snyder’s ‘Hay for the Horses’ records the activities such as bringing hay to the barn, storing them in order, and having lunch. This piece appears in Riprap & Cold Mountain Poems (1959).

He had driven half the night

From far down San Joaquin

Through Mariposa, up the

Dangerous Mountain roads,

How They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix

by Robert Browning

‘How They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix’ by Robert Browning depicts three riders’ attempting to gallop from Ghent to Aix. The speaker makes it there, delivering a critical, although unknown, piece of news.

I sprang to the stirrup, and Joris, and he;

I galloped, Dirck galloped, we galloped all three;

‘Good speed!'’ cried the watch, as the gate-bolts undrew;

‘Speed!’ echoed the wall to us galloping through;

I Hear America Singing

by Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman’s poetic prose, ‘I hear America Singing’, free-flows with vibrancy, energy, and sheer respect for proletariat members of America.

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,

Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,

The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,

The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,


by Daya Dissanayake

‘Interview’ by Daya Dissanayake describes the societal pressures put on all workers. These pressures requires one to change in order to find happiness. 


by Al Hafiz Sanusi

‘Lorry’ by Al Hafiz Sanusi depicts the ways that change can improve lives but also complicate and damage them. The poet uses the poem to discuss the need for better transportation standards for migrant workers.


by Philip Larkin

Philip Larkin’s poem, ‘Money,’ is a powerful critique of the consumerist culture inherent in modern society through the personification of money itself.

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