Life Lessons

Ebb by Derek Walcott

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

For Nanabhai Bhatt by Sujata Bhatt

‘For Nanabhai Bhatt’ is about the poet Sujata Bhatt’s grandfather, Nanabhai Bhatt, who was an educationist and activist active during the Indian independence movement.

On Easter Day by Oscar Wilde

‘On Easter Day’ by Oscar Wilde asks readers to consider how Christian teachings align with the modern-day Pope. It’s about the importance of not putting man-made desires and institutions ahead of God. 

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.

Solar by Philip Larkin

‘Solar’ by Philip Larkin is an unlikely Larkin poem that depicts the sun. The poet uses lyrical language to describe the sun through a series of metaphors and similes. 

Void in Law by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

‘Void in Law’ by Elizabeth Barrett Browning depicts the scuffle many Victorian women endured after getting married. The woman has been left alone with no real resources by a husband who prefers to spend time with his mistress.

Renouncement by Alice Meynell

‘Renouncement’ by Alice Meynell is a passionate poem in which the speaker fights to fend off thoughts of the person she loves. She refuses to allow herself to think about this person during the day.

My Grandmother by Jackie Kay

‘My Grandmother’ by Jackie Kay depicts the poet’s understanding of her grandmother. The includes a juxtaposition between her positive and negative qualities. 

Queenhood by Simon Armitage

‘Queenhood’ by Simon Armitage was written to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022. It celebrates the Queen’s lifetime of service and describes the unique features of her life. 

Muse by Meena Alexander

‘Muse’ by Meena Alexander is a poem about the poet’s muse or source of inspiration. The poet recalls meeting and being positively influenced by a girl in her youth. 

Wodwo by Ted Hughes

‘Wodwo’ by Ted Hughes is a dramatic monologue that depicts a “Wodwo” or fictional human-like creature. The creature investigates his surroundings and repetitively questions his existence.

Missing My Daughter by Stephen Spender

‘Missing My Daughter’ by Stephen Spender is a poem about a speaker’s desire to see his daughter and how he feel trapped in a prison of loneliness. 

Women and Roses by Robert Browning

‘Women and Roses’ by Robert Browning conveys a man’s perspective on women throughout time. They are represented by three apples on his metaphorical apple tree.

Holy Thursday (Songs of Experience) by William Blake

‘Holy Thursday’ by William Blake depicts the poor children of London attending church on Holy Thursday. Specifically, Blake describes their songs, appearance, and how their existence challenges the message the church is trying to convey.

I have never seen “Volcanoes”

‘I have never seen “Volcanoes”’ by Emily Dickinson is a clever, complex poem that compares humans and their emotions to a volcano’s eruptive power. 

I did not reach Thee

‘I did not reach Thee’ by Emily Dickinson is a complex poem about a speaker’s journey through life. She expresses both optimism and hesitation in the face of her death and attempts to reach God. 

On the Day of Judgment by Jonathan Swift

Jonathan Swift’s acerbic poem ‘On the Day of Judgment’ is about a speaker’s vision of the judgment day with Jove or Jupiter giving his final ruling on humankind’s offenses.

Epilogue by Robert Browning

‘Epilogue’ is a perfect bid-adieu poem to leave behind amidst a great body of poetic works if one is as great a poet as Victorian-era maestro Robert Browning.

Sonnet 16 by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

‘Sonnet 16’ by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, also known as ‘And yet, because thou overcomest so,’ speaks to the poet’s intention to live happily from now on.

Darling by Jackie Kay

‘Darling’ by Jackie Kay describes a woman’s death on a beautiful summer day and her close friend’s reaction. It was inspired by a personal loss the poet experienced. 

Me We by Muhammad Ali

Comprising only two syllables, Ali’s ‘Me We’ is one of the shortest poems ever written. This poem evokes a wide array of meanings with just two simple pronouns.

The Chambered Nautilus by Oliver Wendell Holmes

‘The Chambered Nautilus’ by Oliver Wendell Holmes is an interesting and beautiful poem. In it, the poet describes the nautilus and the life of struggle and improvement it engages in.

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