Poems about Life Lessons

Me We by Muhammad Ali

Comprising only two syllables, Ali’s ‘Me We’ is one of the shortest poems ever written. This poem evokes a wide array of meanings with just two simple pronouns.

Me We by Muhammad Ali Visual Representation

The Chambered Nautilus by Oliver Wendell Holmes

‘The Chambered Nautilus’ by Oliver Wendell Holmes is an interesting and beautiful poem. In it, the poet describes the nautilus and the life of struggle and improvement it engages in.

The Chambered Nautilus by Oliver Wendell Holmes Visual Representation

Departmental by Robert Frost

‘Departmental’ by Robert Frost is a clever poem that presents a satire of ant society. It suggests that the control and compartmentalization in the ant world would not work, or should not work, in human society.

Departmental by Robert Frost 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

Don’t Quit by Edgar Albert Guest

‘Don’t Quit’ by Edgar Albert Guest is a simple poem about facing the difficulties in one’s life and persevering through them.

Don't Quit by Edgar Albert Guest Visual Representation

As I Walked Out One Evening by W.H. Auden

‘As I Walked Out One Evening’ by W. H. Auden is a poem about the unconquerable nature of death and the imperfect nature of love. This piece was first published in 1940 in the poet’s collection Another Time.

As I Walked Out One Evening by W.H. Auden Visual Representation

When I Die by Mewlana Jalaluddin Rumi

‘When I Die’ is an incredible Rumi poem about eternal life after death. The poet proposes not to grieve his death as it’s just a means to a new beginning, not an end.

When I Die by Mewlana Jalaluddin Rumi Visual Representation

Hard Times by John Ashbery

Published in Shadow Train (1981), John Ashbery’s ‘Hard Times’ is about the poet’s take on the modern world and its future. It showcases people’s ignorance of the issues that troubles Ashbery the most.

Hard Times by John Ashbery Visual Representation

Money, O! by W.H. Davies

‘Money, O!’ by W.H Davies is a poem that argues that having a lot of money is not all that it’s cracked up to be. While being well off financially comes with its benefits, it comes at the expense of genuine relationships.

Money, Oh! By W.H. Davies Visual Representation

Notice by Robert Lowell

A thought-provoking piece from Robert Lowell’s incredible array of poetry, ‘Notice’ harks for capturing each and every moment of our lives, be it repeated or unbearable. We have to draw inspiration from tiny details in our lives.

Notice by Robert Lowell Visual Representation

Leap Before You Look by W. H. Auden

W. H. Auden’s instructive poem ‘Leap Before You Look’ (1940) counsels readers to take risks rather than being cautious in each step. This poem is written in a wise and caring tone.

Leap Before You Look by W. H. Auden Visual Representation

Song of the Powers by David Mason

Published in 1996, in David Mason’s award-winning collection, The Country I Remember, ‘Song of the Powers’ uses a children’s game, “stone, paper, scissors,” in order to comment on the futility of power.

Song of the Powers by David Mason Visual Representation

Hands by Robinson Jeffers

Robinson Jeffers’s poem ‘Hands’ is about the distance between modern civilization and past civilizations. It voices Jeffers’s philosophy of “inhumanism.”

Hands by Robinson Jeffers Visual Representation

Fiddler Jones by Edgar Lee Masters

Masters’ ‘Fiddler Jones’ highlights how following one’s passion, no matter what it is, is always worthwhile and helps lead a life without any regrets. As the title says, this poem is about a wayward fiddler devoted to his passion.

Fiddler Jones by Edgar Lee Masters Visual Representation

The Camel’s Hump by Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling’s ‘The Camel’s Hump’ is a fun poem on the repercussions of lethargy and inactivity. Humorously, we may grow a “Cameelious hump” if we feel like “we haven’t enough to do.”

The Camel's Hump by Rudyard Kipling Visual Representation

The Sower by Victor-Marie Hugo

‘The Sower’ by Victor-Marie Hugo reveals the musings of a poet persona as he observes an old sower working in his fields till night.

The Sower by Victor Marie Hugo Visual Representation

The Juggler by Richard Wilbur

‘The Juggler’ by Richard Wilbur is about the way that change can temporarily relieve some of the complacency human beings experience in life. 

The Juggler by Richard Wilbur Visual Representation

Samurai Song by Robert Pinsky

Robert Pinsky’s ‘Samurai Song’ shows readers a daunting path to achieve fearlessness, mental peace, and most importantly, freedom from all kinds of suffering.

Samurai Song by Robert Pinsky Visual Representation

Morning Poem by Mary Oliver

‘Morning Poem’ by Mary Oliver uses the dawn of a new day to speak of hope and new beginnings, offering an optimistic message.

Morning Poem by Mary Oliver Visual Representation

Monologue for an Onion by Suji Kwock Kim

‘Monologue for an Onion’ by Suji Kwock Kim is a memorable poem told from the perspective of an onion. It chastises the reader for living life the way they do.

Monologue for an Onion by Suji Kwock Kim Visual Representation

broken bowl by Penny Harter

‘broken bowl’ by Penny Harter is a short and memorable haiku about a broken bowl. The poem uses three very short lines to describe its rocking pieces. 

broken bowl by Penny Harter Visual Representation

Ask Me by William Stafford

‘Ask Me’ appears in William Stafford’s one of the best-known poetry collections, Ask Me: 100 Essential Poems of William Stafford. This metaphorical poem is bout life and memories.

Ask Me by William Stafford Visual Representation

The Clown’s Wife by John Agard

‘The Clown’s Wife’ by John Agard explores the theme of duality through a wife speaking about her clown husband and herself.

The Clown's Wife by John Agard 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

The Firebombers by Anne Sexton

‘The Firebombers’ by Anne Sexton is an unforgettable poem. In it, the speaker addresses America and the murders the country commits. This includes the deaths of women and children.

The Firebombers by Anne Sexton Visual Representation

What the Living Do by Marie Howe

‘What the Living Do’ by Marie Howe is a beautiful poem about contemporary life. Throughout, the speaker defines what it is the living do. 

What the Living Do by Marie Howe Visual Representation

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

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