Poems about Aging

In poems about aging, readers will find various depictions of the aging process and what it means to come to terms with the fact that everyone’s time on the planet is limited. Depending on the poet, some of these poems are far more optimistic than others, describing old age as something worth looking forward to.

Touch Me by Stanley Kunitz

‘Touch Me’ by Stanley Kunitz is a moving poem about aging, the loss of identity, and desire. It explores what keeps people, and creatures of all varieties, going as they enter the final “season” of their life. 

Touch Me by Stanley Kunitz Visual Representation

How to Like it by Stephen Dobyns

‘How to Like It’ by Stephen Dobyns was written in order to explore a man’s struggle to accept change as he ages. The poem uses humor and very relatable emotions in order to appeal to readers. 

How to Like It by Stephen Dobyns Visual Representation

Splendour in the Grass by William Wordsworth

‘Splendour in the Grass’ by William Wordsworth is an excerpt from the poet’s much longer, ‘Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood.’ The excerpt describes aging and where, after their youth has ended, one should seek strength and happiness.

Splendour in the Grass by William Wordsworth Visual Representation

Parents by William Meredith

‘Parents’ by William Meredith is an interesting and relatable poem about childhood and parenthood. It is at times moving and comedic.

Parents by William Meredith Visual Representation

Our revels now are ended by William Shakespeare

‘Our revels now are ended’ is the name given to one of the best-known speeches from William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. It can be found in Act IV, Scene 1, and is spoken by Prospero. 

Our revels now are ended by William Shakespeare Visual Representation

Why Flowers Change Color by Robert Herrick

‘Why Flowers Change Color’ by Robert Herrick is a short poem that speaks about virginity, virgins, and the reason that flowers change colors. The poem is often interpreted in different ways due to the few details Herrick provides in the four lines. 

Why Flowers Change Colors by Robert Herrick Visual Representation

Traveling Light by Alice Fulton

‘Traveling Light’ by Alice Fulton is a powerful poem that weaves together images of the present and the past. Throughout, readers can explore Fulton’s understanding of her relationship with her father and her current relationship with the landscape around her.

Traveling Light by Alice Fulton Visual Representation

Babies by Alice Fulton

‘Babies’ by Alice Fulton describes the different ways that children and adults understand the world. The latter’s perspective is informed by years of conflict, lies that can’t be apologized for, and the realization that some parts of one’s life are so important that you only get one shot at them.

Babies by Alice Fulton Visual Representation

Bresson’s Movies by Robert Creeley

‘Bresson’s Movies’ by Robert Creeley was a poet of the Black Mountain School. He wrote this piece in his characteristic style, exploring his connection of the films of French director Robert Bresson. 

Bresson's Movies by Robert Creeley Visual Representation

Carpe Diem by Robert Frost

‘Carpe Diem’ by Robert Frost is a poem that encourages the reader to live in the present and comments on people’s tendency to focus on the past and the future instead.

Carpe Diem by Robert Frost Visual Representation

The Youngest Daughter by Cathy Song

‘The Youngest Daughter’ was published in Cathy Song’s first poetry collection Picture Bride (1983). This poem explores the relationship of an aging daughter and her mother.

The Youngest Daughter by Cathy Song Visual Representation

The Mountain by Elizabeth Bishop

‘The Mountain’ by Elizabeth Bishop is a poem portraying the transience of nature and life from the viewpoint of a personified mountain.

The Mountain by Elizabeth Bishop Visual Representation

to my last period by Lucille Clifton

‘to my last period’ by Lucille Clifton is a thoughtful poem. In it, the speaker mourns for her lost youth and acknowledges further changes to come. 

to my last period by Lucille Clifton Visual Representation

35/10 by Sharon Olds

’35/10’ by Sharon Olds is a moving poem about the poet’s relationship with her daughter. The latter is coming into her own while the former is growing old.

35:10 by sharon olds

Money 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.

Money by Philip Larkin Visual Representation

Sonnet 138 by William Shakespeare

‘Sonnet 138,’ also known as ‘When my love swears that she is made of truth,’ is a poem about the lies at the heart of a relationship. It depicts the necessity of two lovers misleading one another. 

Sonnet 123 by William Shakespeare

‘Sonnet 123,’ also known as ‘No, Time, thou shalt not boast that I do change,’ is a poem about time and change. The speaker asserts that time isn’t going to change him as it does others. 

Sonnet 123 by William Shakespeare Visual Representation

Sonnet 108 by William Shakespeare

Read Shakespeare’s Sonnet 108, ‘What’s in the brain that ink may character,’ with a summary and complete analysis of the poem.

XII: An Epitaph by A.E. Housman

In Housman’s ‘XII: An Epitaph,’ readers will hear from a speaker who knows he’s about to die and is happy to accept his fate. 

Loveliest of Trees by A. E. Housman

‘Loveliest of Trees’ by A.E. Housman is a joyful nature poem in which the speaker describes how powerful the image of cherry blossom trees is in his life. He takes a great deal of pleasure from looking at them.

When I Was One-and-Twenty by A. E. Housman

‘When I Was One-and-Twenty’ by A. E. Housman is a relatable poem that explores how easy it is to make mistakes in one’s love life, even when one knows exactly what they should do.

Now We Are Six by A. A. Milne

‘Now We Are Six’ by A. A. Milne is a funny poem. The young speaker talks about what life was like when they were younger than they are now.

Dreamwood by Adrienne Rich

‘Dreamwood’ by Adrienne Rich jumps between the incredible imagination of a child to the wiser outlook of an older woman.

Growing Old by Matthew Arnold

‘Growing Old’ is about the reality of aging and how ones youthful expectations will not be fulfilled as one’s body losing beauty and strength.

Amaze by Adelaide Crapsey

‘Amaze’ by Adelaide Crapsey explores the poet’s hands and the emotions she experiences when she looks at them she sees her mother’s.

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