Mythology Poems

These unique and memorable poems delve into the tapestry of ancient myths and legends. They transport readers to realms of gods, goddesses, heroes, and mythical creatures.

These lyrical poems weave timeless tales of creation, heroism, love, and betrayal. Poets explore the symbolism and allegories embedded in mythology, drawing parallels to contemporary human experiences.

These poems celebrate the enduring fascination with mythology, reflecting on its role in shaping cultures, morals, and collective imagination throughout history.

Odysseus to Telemachus

by Joseph Brodsky

‘Odysseus to Telemachus’ by Joseph Brodsky is told from the perspective of the epic hero, Odysseus, while he is stranded on Circe’s island. 

Mythological references imbue the poem with a sense of timeless grandeur and metaphorical resonance. Drawing upon ancient Greek mythology, the poem explores themes of heroism, fate, and the influence of the gods, weaving these mythic elements into the narrative to illuminate the human struggles and desires at play.

My dear Telemachus,

The Trojan War

is over now; I don't recall who won it.

The Greeks, no doubt, for only they would leave


by Thomas Babington Macaulay

‘Horatius’ by Thomas Babington Macaulay is a long narrative ballad about Horatius Cocles, a legendary hero from early Roman history.

The legend of Horatius Cocles is a part of the Roman political myths about the end of the Roman monarchy and the beginning of the Republic. While there's no evidence of a real Horatius Cocles, some people, like the Romans did, believe that he was a real man. However, regardless of whether he is real or not, his legend lives on in the myths of Rome.

LARS Porsena of Clusium

By the Nine Gods he swore

That the great house of Tarquin

Should suffer wrong no more.

Not my Best Side

by U.A. Fanthorpe

‘Not my Best Side’ by U. A. Fanthorpe depicts a humorous transformation of the dynamic between the characters in Paolo Uccello’s Saint George and the Dragon. 

The poem subverts traditional mythology about dragons and knights, highlighting how these stories can be inaccurate or unfair.
Not my best side, I'm afraid. The artist didn't give me a chance to Pose properly, and as you can see, Poor chap, he had this obsession with  


by Friedrich Schiller 

‘Evening’ by Friedrich Schiller contains a speaker’s plea to Apollo that he allow the sun to set and rest, and love to descend.

The references to Tethys, Cupid, and Phoebus draw upon classical mythology, adding depth and richness to the poem, while also highlighting the timeless aspects of human experiences explored within the context of ancient stories.

Oh! thou bright-beaming god, the plains are thirsting,

Thirsting for freshening dew, and man is pining;

Wearily move on thy horses--

Let, then, thy chariot descend!

The Lady of Shalott

by Alfred Lord Tennyson

The Lady of Shalott by Alfred Lord Tennyson is a popular ballad that illustrates the life of a woman isolated in a tower in a tower far from what she wants to live and experience.

On either side the river lie

Long fields of barley and of rye,

That clothe the wold and meet the sky;

And thro' the field the road runs by

Kubla Khan (Xanadu)

by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

‘Kubla Khan’ by Samuel Taylor Coleridge is a poem that describes the poet’s dream of visiting the palace of Kubla Khan, a Mongol emperor who ruled over the ancient Chinese Yuan Dynasty.

The poem draws upon various mythological and cultural traditions, such as the Biblical story of Eden and the legend of Xanadu. These references add to the dream-like quality of the poem and create a sense of mystery and wonder.

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan

A stately pleasure-dome decree:

Where Alph, the sacred river, ran

Through caverns measureless to man

Bards of Passion and of Mirth

by John Keats

‘Bards of Passion and of Mirth’ by John Keats is one of the poet’s early odes. In it, Keats confirms that bards, or authors, have two souls, with one rising to heaven, and the other staying on earth.

Keats, as always, incorporates Classical mythology into his poetry like a pro. His deep, comprehensive understanding of the Classical world enriches his writing, adding depth to his vision of the afterlife and the deities that reside there. However, the beauty of this poem is how well he synthesizes this mythology with Christian ideas and the personalities of writers throughout time.

    Bards of Passion and of Mirth,  

Ye have left your souls on earth!  

Have ye souls in heaven too,  

Doubled-lived in regions new?  


by C. P. Cavafy

‘Ithaka’ is a Greek language poem, written by the Greek poet Constantine Peter Cavafy. This piece features Odysseus’s journey to Ithaca, his home island.

Mythology plays a subtle role in the poem, with references to Laistrygonians, Cyclops, and Poseidon. These mythological figures symbolize the adversities one may encounter on their journey, emphasizing the need to confront and overcome inner obstacles.

As you set out for Ithaka

hope your road is a long one,

full of adventure, full of discovery.

Laistrygonians, Cyclops,


by Hilda Doolittle

‘Circe’ by Hilda Doolittle is a poem that gives voice to Circe, a goddess and master of magical enchantments. Despite her power, she laments that she cannot control love.

Circe, as a prominent character in Greek myth and the Greek epic cycle, is an interesting choice as a speaker. While, in Greek myth, she functions to help and serve heroes, in this poem, she has her own sets of wants and needs - most of which are not met. She is also capable of love, an emotion that she never gets to express in Ancient texts.

It was easy enough

to bend them to my wish,

it was easy enough

to alter them with a touch,

The Song of Hiawatha Introduction

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

‘The Song of Hiawatha’ Introduction by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is the first in a series of sections, or cantos, from the long epic poem, ‘The Song of Hiawatha.’

Drawing from various tribal legends, 'The Song of Hiawatha' is imbued with mythology. These myths not only enrich the narrative but also emphasize the universality of certain themes and motifs in human stories.

Should you ask me, whence these stories?

Whence these legends and traditions,

With the odors of the forest

With the dew and damp of meadows,

Explore more poems about Mythology

The Changeling

by Charlotte Mew

‘The Changeling’ by Charlotte Mew is a unique poem told from the perspective of a child who thinks she’s a fairy and longs to return to the fairy world. 

Mythology plays a crucial role in 'The Changeling' as the poem draws on the concept of changelings from European folklore. The belief in fairies and the exchange of human and fairy children provides a mythological framework for the speaker's sense of being a misfit in the human world.

Toll no bell for me, dear Father, dear Mother,

Waste no sighs;

There are my sisters, there is my little brother

Who plays in the place called Paradise,


Hiawatha’s Childhood

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

‘Hiawatha’s Childhood’ by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow describes how the protagonist of ‘The Song of Hiawatha’ grew up and learned about his surroundings. It also focuses on the life of his grandmother.

Another element of life that Hiawatha learns about as a child is mythology. He learns about his people, the Ojibwe, and the many stories that identify their history.

By the shores of Gitche Gumee,

By yhr shining Big-Sea-Water,

Stood the wigwam of Nokomis,

Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis.


by Carol Ann Duffy

‘Beautiful’ by Carol Ann Duffy explores the physical and mental damage that can come from beauty by tracing the lives of four women.

The poem refers to the classical Greek myth of Helen of Troy, who was known for her beauty and whose abduction by Paris triggered the Trojan War. The poem explores the idea of how beauty can be a curse and a source of power that can drive men to war.

She was born from an egg,

a daughter of the gods,

divinely fair, a pearl, drop-dead

gorgeous, beautiful, a peach,

Love Cycle

by Chinua Achebe

‘Love Cycle’ by Chinua Achebe describes sunrise, sunset, and their effects on Earth using the metaphor of a barely happy couple.

The poem draws on the archetypal imagery of sun gods and Earth goddesses. These universal symbols enrich the metaphor, linking it to a broader human understanding and age-old storytelling traditions.

At dawn slowly

the sun withdraws his

long misty arms of

embrace. Happy lovers

Far over the misty mountains cold

by J.R.R. Tolkien

‘Far over the misty mountains cold’ by J.R.R. Tolkien depicts the destruction of Thorin Oakenshield’s home and his desire to win it back from Smaug. 

This Tolkien poem uses mythical creatures like dragons, elves, and dwarves to create a sense of wonder and magic.

Far over the misty mountains cold

To dungeons deep and caverns old

We must away ere break of day

To seek the pale enchanted gold.

Two Lovers and a Beachcomber by the Real Sea

by Sylvia Plath

‘Two Lovers and a Beachcomber by the Real Sea’ by Sylvia Plath explores imagination. Reality, the speaker realizes, doesn’t always live up to what one imagined.

The mermaid hair and Venus reference suggest mythological themes, highlighting the power of imagination and the allure of the unknown.

Cold and final, the imagination

Shuts down its fabled summer house;

Blue views are boarded up; our sweet vacation

Dwindles in the hour-glass.

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 reference to Icarus, a character from Greek mythology who flew too close to the sun, highlights the universal themes of human hubris and the consequences of overreaching.

Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.

It's the same when love comes to an end,

or the marriage fails and people say

Lady Lazarus

by Sylvia Plath

‘Lady Lazarus’ is one of the best poems of Sylvia Plath and an ideal example of Plath’s diction. This poem contains Plath’s poetic expression of her suicidal thoughts.

Plath uses the figure of Lazarus as a mythological reference to explore themes of death and rebirth. The poem also draws on the mythology to examine issues of identity and performance.

I have done it again.

One year in every ten

I manage it——

A Musical Instrument

by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

‘A Musical Instrument’ by Elizabeth Barrett Browning describes the decimation of a riverbed and the crafting of the god Pan’s famous flute. 

High on the shore sate the great god Pan,

    While turbidly flowed the river ;

And hacked and hewed as a great god can,

With his hard bleak steel at the patient reed,

A Picture of Otto

by Ted Hughes

‘A Picture of Otto’ by Ted Hughes is addressed to Sylvia Plath’s father, Otto. It contains Hughes’ disagreements about how he and Otto were depicted in Plath’s work.


by A. E. Stallings

‘Actaeon’ by A. E. Stallings is based on the captivating mythological story of Actaeon and is told from the perspective of a speaker who taunts the main character for how he lost his life.

The hounds, you know them all by name.

You fostered them from purblind whelps

At their dam’s teats, and you have come

To know the music of their yelps:

Amethyst Beads

by Eavan Boland

‘Amethyst Beads’ by Eavan Boland alludes to Greek mythology and the suffering of a child, Persephone, after she was separated from her mother, Demeter.


by Carol Ann Duffy

‘Circe’ by Carol Ann Duffy is a poem about Circe’s reassertion of control over her life and how she now considers men. 

I'm fond, nereids and nymphs, unlike some, of the pig,

of the tusker, the snout, the boar and the swine.

One way or another, all pigs have been mine -

under my thumb, the bristling, salty skin of their backs,

in my nostrils here, their yobby, porky colognes.


by Carol Ann Duffy

‘Delilah’ by Carol Ann Duffy focuses on the story of Delilah. It illuminates her individuality and how she felt about Samson. 

Teach me, he said—

we were lying in bed—

how to care.

I nibbled the purse of his ear.

What do you mean?

Tell me more.

He sat up and reached for his beer


by Edward Field

‘Icarus’ by Edward Field places the Icarus of Greek mythology in a modern context to explore themes of alienation and displacement.

In the Bleak Midwinter

by Christina Rossetti

‘In the Bleak Midwinter’ describes the birth of the Christ child on a “bleak midwinter” day and those who came to see him. 

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,

Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;

Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,

In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Leda and the Swan

by William Butler Yeats

Published in Yeats’ collection of Later Poems in 1926, ‘Leda and the Swan’ is a sonnet based on a myth from Greek mythology. According to Greek myth, Leda was the mother of mankind.

A sudden blow: the great wings beating still

Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed

By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,

He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.

We're glad you like visiting Poem Analysis...

We've got everything you need to master poetry

But, are you ready to take your learning

to the next level?