‘Dream Variations’ by Langston Hughes details two slightly different dreams a Black speaker has as he is confronted with the “white day.”
‘As I Grew Older’ by Langston Hughes is about breaking through the “wall” that racism constructs. The speaker, a Black man from the African American community, spends the poem discussing the light of forgotten dreams he’s newly determined to attain.
‘An American Sunrise’ by Joy Harjo is a powerful poem about Native American culture written by the current Poet Laureate of the United States. The poem explores the struggles of the poet’s community as well as the successes and celebrations.
‘Live Your Life’ by Chief Tecumseh is an easy-to-read and powerful poem. It was written with the intention of sharing the poet’s beliefs about how to live life and embrace death without fear.
‘Freedom’ by Rabindranath Tagore is a powerful and effective poem about freedom. The speaker spends the seventeen lines of the poem describing the kind of freedom he hopes his country will find.
‘The Vagabond’ by Robert Louis Stevenson is a poem about one speaker’s desire to live a life close to nature and far from the rules of contemporary society.
‘The Soul has Bandaged Moments’ by Emily Dickinson is a powerful poem that explores the human soul. It uses personification skillfully to describe the “Soul” and “Fear.”
‘Sometimes in Winter’ by Linda Pastan is an interesting poem about freedom, happiness, and caring for those one loves.
‘Camping Out’ by Gina Marie Lauchner is a celebration of camping and the joys of spending time outside when it’s dark.
‘Language Lesson 1976’ by Heather McHugh is a thoughtful poem. In it, the speaker uses language cleverly to make statements about America and love.
‘Catch the Fire’ by Sonia Sanchez is a thoughtful and inspiring poem. In it, the poet encourages readers to catch their fire and use their passion to fuel their lives.
‘Women’ is a short poem praising previous generations of African American women who fought for the education of girls.
‘Show It At the Beach’ by Shel Silverstein addresses taboos in contemporary society. Specifically, the poem considers when nudity is appropriate and when it isn’t (on the beach).
‘The Unfinished’ by Laurie Sheck is a complex and powerful poem about meaning, the purpose of life, and free will.
The Tradition is the titular poem from Pulitzer Prize winner Jericho Brown’s poetry collection. It brings to light the maltreatment of African Americans in the present US, while relating it to the past.
‘Harriet Tubman’ by Eloise Greenfield is a moving and simple piece of poetry about Tubman’s life. The poet explores her bravery and determination in the face of impossible odds.
‘Oh, oh, you will be sorry for that word!’ by Edna St. Vincent Millay is a powerful poem about a woman’s decision to assert her independence.
‘Two Women’ by Marcus Wilcox is a thoughtful and complex poem about identity. The speaker spends the text discussing the lives of two different women.
‘Middle Passage’ by Robert Hayden is a narrative poem written in the 1940s. It describes the happenings of the Atlantic Slave Trade, as told from the perspective of several white narrators.
‘The Forest Path’ by Lucy Maud Montgomery is an uplifting nature poem that describes the beauty and magic one can find in the forest.
What’s actually blowin’ in the wind? What’s already there yet deliberately ignored? The answer, my friend, is there in the memorable lyrics of Bob Dylan’s best-loved song ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’.
‘I Dream A World’ by Langston Hughes is a powerful, short poem that outlines the poet’s vision of a utopian world. There, no one is judged on the color of their skin and all people have access to the same freedoms.
‘Enlightenment’ by Natasha Trethewey is a powerful poem about race and racism. The poet depicts the ways in which history can be interpreted.
‘won’t you celebrate with me’ by Lucille Clifton addresses racism and inherent gender inequality. The speaker has overcome every hurdle and modeled herself in her own image.
‘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.
‘Wild Swans’ by Edna St. Vincent Millay tells of a speaker’s desperation to get out of her current physical and emotional space and find a bird-like freedom.
‘The house was still—the room was still’ by Charlotte Brontë is a fragment of an unfinished work that speaks on freedom and captivity.
‘The Collar’ by George Herbert describes a speaker’s desire to escape from his religious life and turn to one of greater freedom.
‘To Althea, from Prison’ by Richard Lovelace describes a poet’s attempts at maintaining his freedom while imprisoned in Gatehouse Prison in 1642.