Poems about America

In these poems, readers will find content written from an American perspective or specifically about American culture, politics, history, and more. These poems are quite different from one another but are united in their common origin and vaguely similar interest.

90 North by Randall Jarrell

’90 North’ by Randall Jarrell is concerned with dreams, aging, and the truth of success. The poet’s speaker realizes that success means nothing and that after achieving everything he wanted, his life is worthless. 

90 North by Randall Jarrell Visual Representation

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

The Lyric in a Time of War by Eloise Klein Healy

‘The Lyric in a Time of War’ by Eloise Klein Healy is a poem about war, writing, and artistic cconnection throughout time. The poem is dedicated to how writing can create a connection between two people over time and space. 

The Lyric in a Time of War by Eloise Klein Healy Visual Representation

Only a Dad by Edgar Albert Guest

‘Only a Dad’ by Edgar Albert Guest is dedicated to the poet’s father. The poem describes the man’s willingness to self-sacrifice and do whatever he can to make his children happy. 

Only a Dad by Edgar Albert Guest Visual Representation

The Yachts by William Carlos Williams

‘The Yachts’ by William Carlos Williams depicts the winners, or yacht-owners, in the capitalist system and the losers, or the poor, who are drowning in the waters around the boats. 

The Yachts Poem Visual Representation

Who in One Lifetime by Muriel Rukeyser

‘Who in One Lifetime’ by Muriel Rukeyser is a poem about resistance in the face of war and suffering. The speaker asserts that a woman referred to only as “she” is standing strong despite what she’s seen. 

Who in One Lifetime by Muriel Rukeyser Visual Representation

Peter Quince at the Clavier by Wallace Stevens

‘Peter Quince at the Clavier’ by Wallace Stevens is a musical depiction of the story of Susanna and the Elders from the Book of Daniel. It describes the “feeling” of “music” and the nature of beauty.

Peter Quince at the Clavier by Wallace Stevens Visual Representation

Abuelito Who by Sandra Cisneros

‘Abuelito Who’ by Sandra Cisneros is a powerful poem about the importance of family. The poem conveys the ways that illness and change within the family dynamic can have on a child.

Abuelito Who by Sandra Cisneros Visual Representation

Howl by Allen Ginsberg

‘Howl’ is Allen Ginsberg’s best-known poem and is commonly considered his greatest work. It is an indictment of modern society and a celebration of anyone living outside it.

Howl by Allen Ginsberg Visual Representation

Patterns by Amy Lowell

‘Patterns’ by Amy Lowell is an unforgettable poem about a woman’s loss during World War I. It describes the “patterns” of a speaker’s life and how, with the knowledge that her fiancé has died in the War, she’s doing to be confined to a far more sorrowful one. 

Patterns by Amy Lowell Visual Representation

A Brave and Startling Truth by Maya Angelou

‘A Brave and Startling Truth’ by Maya Angelou is a commonly quoted poem about humanity’s future. The poet alludes to the “truth” that humanity will arrive at when “we” realize we are the one true wonder of the world. 

A Brave and Startling Truth by Maya Angelou Visual Representation

Persimmons by Li-Young Lee

‘Persimmons’ by Li-Young Lee is a beautiful poem that describes the poet’s interest in language. It explores how a persimmon comes to symbolize both his family connections and his feelings of alienation from his peers. 

Persimmons by Li-Young Lee Visual Representation

Immigrant Blues by Li-Young Lee

How does it feel when the body and the soul are not in conjunction? Read Li-Young Lee’s meditative piece ‘Immigrant Blues’ to understand what it really feels like.

Immigrant Blues by Li-Young Lee Visual Representation

Ma Rainey by Sterling A. Brown

This heartfelt Sterling A. Brown poem is all about the famous 20th-century blues artist Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, also known as the “Mother of the Blues.”

Ma Rainey by Sterling A. Brown Visual Representation

A Wounded Deer—leaps highest by Emily Dickinson

‘A Wounded Deer—leaps highest’ by Emily Dickinson is a highly relatable poem that speaks about the difference between what someone or something looks like and the truth. She uses the examples of a fatally wounded deer and someone dying of tuberculosis.

A Wounded Deer--leaps highest by Emily Dickinson 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

Singapore by Mary Oliver

‘Singapore’ by Mary Oliver is a highly relatable poem that speaks about life’s struggles and the beauty of mundane and graceful work. It is set in an airport bathroom in Singapore. 

Singapore by Mary Oliver Visual Representation

Nightmare Begins Responsibility by Michael S. Harper

‘Nightmare Begins Responsibility’ by Michael S. Harper is an unforgettable poem in which the speaker describes the loss of a child. While struggling to trust the doctors caring for his newborn son, the speaker watches on helplessly. 

Grandfather by Michael S. Harper

‘Grandfather’ by Michael S. Harper describes the treatment Harper’s grandfather endured and alludes to racism within the United States more generally. 

Grandfather by Michael S. Harper Visual Representation

The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver by Edna St. Vincent Millay

‘The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver’ by Edna St. Vincent Millay depicts the lengths mothers will go to in order to protect their children. The speaker recalls watching his mother sacrifice herself for him when he was a young boy, weaving an enormous pile of clothing with a harp. 

The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver by Edna St. Vincent Millay Visual Representation

Old Timers by Carl Sandburg

‘Old Timers’ by Carl Sandburg speaks on the nature of war. Sandburg alludes to the ways in which history repeats itself no matter which country or time period one is in. 

Old Timers by Carl Sandburg Visual Representation

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