Poems about Imagination

The Map by Elizabeth Bishop

‘The Map,’ written in 1934, is the signature poem of Elizabeth Bishop that transcends the boundaries of the real and imaginatively inspects the topographical features within a map.

The Map by Elizabeth Bishop Visual Representation

The Writer by Richard Wilbur

‘The Writer’ by Richard Wilbur depicts a father watching his daughter create her first piece of writing. The poet uses clever and creative examples of figurative language in order to depict the struggle new and experienced writers go through. 

Life's Tragedy by Paul Laurence Dunbar 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

Teaching English from an Old Composition Book by Gary Soto

Gary Soto’s ‘Teaching English from an Old Composition Book’ is about a teacher instructing some Mexican-American immigrant students in a night school. Soto portrays their harsh living conditions and the struggle to cope in a new culture.

Teaching English from an Old Composition Book by Gary Soto Visual Representation

Let Me Tell You by Miller Williams

In ‘Let Me Tell You,’ Miller Williams suggests prospective poets aspiring to express their thoughts through imaginative works. His suggestion is to devour each detail from the commonplace.

Let Me Tell You by Miller Williams Let Me Tell You by Miller Williams Visual Representation

Wrong Train by Ted Berrigan

Ted Berrigan’s poem ‘Wrong Train’ connects a speaker’s experiences while waiting for a train to the afterlife. Berrigan presents this idea with vivid imagery.

Wrong Train by Ted Berrigan Visual Representation

The Prediction by Mark Strand

Mark Strand’s poem ‘The Prediction’ is about the inevitability of death. It depicts a moonlit night where a lady anticipates her imminent death.

The Prediction by Mark Strand Visual Representation

Two or Three Wishes by Carl Dennis

‘Two or Three Wishes’ belongs to Carl Dennis’s poetry collection Ranking the Wishes (1997). This piece is about the veracity of imagination and the role of truth.

Two or Three Wishes by Carl Dennis Visual Representation

What is Poetry? by John Ashbery

‘What is Poetry?’ by John Ashbery is a complex poem about poetry and what exactly it is. It uses Ashbery’s traditional obscure language and meaning. 

What is Poetry? By John Ashbery Visual Representation

Cartoon Physics, part 1 by Nick Flynn

‘Cartoon Physics, part 1’ appears in Nick Flynn’s Some Ether (2000). This poem mocks the humorous concepts of animation that defy real physics and biology.

Cartoon Physics, part 1 by Nick Flynn Visual Representation

Stone by Charles Simic

‘Stone’ by Charles Simic is a short and impactful poem. In it, the speaker describes why he’d like to be a stone more than another living creature, like a dove or tiger.

Stone by Charles Simic Visual Representation

Why I Am Not a Painter by Frank O’Hara

‘Why I Am Not a Painter’ by Frank O’Hara is a poem inspired by O’Hara’s experience with painters in New York. It details an interaction with Michael Goldberg.

Why I Am Not a Painter by Frank O’Hara Visual Representation

Fork by Charles Simic

‘Fork’ by Charles Simic is a surprising and imaginative poem. In it, the speaker uses interesting examples of figurative language to depict a fork.

Fork by Charles Simic Visual Representation

The Plain Sense of Things by Wallace Stevens

‘The Plain Sense of Things’ by Wallace Stevens is a thoughtful poem about creativity. The speaker notes the “plain” times when one is forced to contend with a weakened imagination. 

The Plain Sense of Things by Wallace Stevens Visual Representation

The Secret Sits by Robert Frost

‘The Secret Sits’ by Robert Frost is a thoughtful, short poem about life and its secrets. Its only two lines long, but packs a punch in its use of imagery and allusion. 

The Secret Sits by Robert Frost Visual Representation

How Poetry Comes to Me by Gary Snyder

‘How Poetry Comes to Me’ by Gary Snyder is a thoughtful poem about receiving inspiration. The poet uses symbolism and other literary devices to depict poetic inspiration as an animal moving through the woods of his mind.

How Poetry Comes to Me by Gary Snyder Visual Representation

The Sugar-Plum Tree by Eugene Field

‘The Sugar-Plum Tree’ by Eugene Field is an image-rich poem that describes a colorful and entertaining dream world. It depicts a specific tree and how children can get sweets from its branches.

The Sugar-Plum Tree by Eugene Field Visual Representation

If I Were King by A.A. Milne

‘If I Were King’ by A.A. Milne is a highly entertaining poem. It contains the fantastical thoughts of a young boy who wants to be king.

A Former Life by Charles Baudelaire

‘A Former Life’ by Charles Baudelaire speaks on a the poet’s own imagination and how his creative works are born there and are at his beck and call. 

Meru by William Butler Yeats

‘Meru’ by William Butler Yeats describes the illusion of civilization and the importance of embarking on a spiritual journey.

In Your Mind by Carol Ann Duffy

‘In Your Mind’ by Carol Ann Duffy describes a detailed daydream in which the reader of the poem embarks on a strangely familiar trip.

The Three Fates by Rosemary Dobson

‘The Three Fates’ by Rosemary Dobson describes the life of a man who is forced to live through the same events, in reverse, for eternity. 

Lioness Asleep by Babette Deutsch

‘Lioness Asleep’ by Babette Deutsch describes the plight of a captive lioness who’s only temporary escape is through her dreams. 

Fra Lippo Lippi by Robert Browning

‘Fra Lippo Lippi’ by Robert Browning details the difficult, tumultuous, and sometimes scandalous life of the painter Fra Lippo Lippi.

De Profundis by Christina Rossetti

‘De Profundis’ by Christina Rossetti describes a speaker’s longing for heaven, and the impossibility of reaching it during one’s lifetime. 

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