Poems about Freedom

Dream Variations by Langston Hughes

‘Dream Variations’ by Langston Hughes details two slightly different dreams a Black speaker has as he is confronted with the “white day.”

Dream Variations by Langston Hughes Visual Representation

As I Grew Older by Langston Hughes

‘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.

As I Grew Older by Langston Hughes Visual Representation

An American Sunrise by Joy Harjo

‘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. 

An American Sunrise by Joy Harjo Visual Representation

Live Your Life by Chief Tecumseh

‘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.

Live Your Life by Chief Tecumseh Visual Representation

Freedom by Rabindranath Tagore

‘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.

Freedom by Rabindranath Tagore Visual Representation

The Vagabond by Robert Louis Stevenson

‘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 Vagabond by Robert Louis Stevenson Visual Representation

Language Lesson 1976 by Heather McHugh

‘Language Lesson 1976’ by Heather McHugh is a thoughtful poem. In it, the speaker uses language cleverly to make statements about America and love. 

Language Lesson 1976 by Heather McHugh Visual Representation

Catch the Fire by Sonia Sanchez

‘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.

Catch the Fire by Sonia Sanchez Visual Representation

Women by Alice Walker

‘Women’ is a short poem praising previous generations of African American women who fought for the education of girls.

Women by Alice Walker Visual Representation

Show It At the Beach by Shel Silverstein

‘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). 

Show it at the beach by shel silverstein

The Unfinished by Laurie Sheck

‘The Unfinished’ by Laurie Sheck is a complex and powerful poem about meaning, the purpose of life, and free will.

the unfinished by laurie sheck

The Tradition by Jericho Brown

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.

The Tradition Poem Visual Representation

Harriet Tubman by Eloise Greenfield

‘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.

Harriet Tubman by Eloise Greenfield Visual Representation

Two Women by Marcus Wilcox

‘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.

two women by marcus wilcox

Middle Passage by Robert Hayden

‘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.

Middle Passage by Robert Hayden Visual Representation

Blowin’ in the Wind by Bob Dylan

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’.

Blowin’ in the Wind by Bob Dylan Visual Representation

I Dream a World by Langston Hughes

‘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

‘Enlightenment’ by Natasha Trethewey is a powerful poem about race and racism. The poet depicts the ways in which history can be interpreted.

Toads by Philip Larkin

‘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

‘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 Collar by George Herbert

‘The Collar’ by George Herbert describes a speaker’s desire to escape from his religious life and turn to one of greater freedom. 

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