Poems about Life

Life is one of the enduring themes in poems around the globe. Poets try to explore its meaning and value and cherish it with their poetic words.

On this list concerning the poems about life, readers can come across poems that are going to stick with their hearts forever. Some of them will teach them the lessons to lead a better life. While some pieces will dive deeper into its intricacies. You can also read about the best-known poems about life curated by our poetry experts.

Waking from Sleep by Robert Bly

Robert Bly’s ‘Waking from Sleep’ is a symbolic poem about the awakening from the deep slumber of ignorance and thralldom. It evokes the imagery of a “harbor at dawn” in order to present this theme.

Waking from Sleep by Robert Bly Visual Representation

The Beach by Robert Graves

‘The Beach’ by Robert Graves is a poem about the contrast between childhood innocence and an adult mindset. The poem depicts this dichotomy by demonstrating the difference between how a boatman and a group of children interact with the ocean.

The Beach by Robert Graves Visual Representation

I Know a Man by Robert Creeley

Creeley’s ‘I Know a Man’ is about the growing darkness gnawing at the human soul, affecting its light and diminishing its inherent goodness. This poem hints at the condition of humankind in modern times.

I Know a Man by Robert Creeley Visual Representation

Chord by W.S. Merwin

W.S. Merwin’s ‘Chord’ depicts the life and death of John Keats in parallel to the cutting of Sandalwood trees in Hawaii. It centers on the theme of exploitation vs. inspiration.

Chord by W.S. Merwin Visual Representation

Air by W.S. Merwin

‘Air’ appears in W.S. Merwin’s 1963 collection of poetry, The Moving Target. This piece is about the personified air, introspecting on its role in nature.

Air by W.S. Merwin Visual Representation

Saint Francis and the Sow by Galway Kinnell

‘Saint Francis and the Sow,’ a poem from Galway Kinnell’s collection Mortal Acts, Mortal Words (1980), explores the spiritual beauty inside each creature that is needed to be retaught and retouched for spiritual growth.

Saint Francis and the Sow by Galway Kinnell

The City Limits by A.R. Ammons

‘The City Limits’ by A.R. Ammons is a powerful poem about nature. In it, the speaker supports spending more time in the natural world versus time in industrialized city centers. 

The City Limits by A.R. Ammons Visual Representation

The Orchard by Robert A. Ayres

Robert A. Ayres’s ‘The Orchard’ depicts a desolate garden that the speaker visited in the past. This image-rich poem explores the theme of the transience of life.

The Orchard by Robert A. Ayres Visual Representation

Hay for the Horses by Gary Snyder

Gary Snyder’s ‘Hay for the Horses’ records the activities such as bringing hay to the barn, storing them in order, and having lunch. This piece appears in Riprap & Cold Mountain Poems (1959).

Hay for the Horses by Gary Snyder Visual Representation

To a Locomotive in Winter by Walt Whitman

‘To a Locomotive in Winter’ by Walt Whitman is a memorable poem written in Whitman’s skilled free verse. It addresses a train and celebrates its sounds, images, and strength.

To a Locomotive in Winter by Walt Whitman 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

Poem at Thirty by Sonia Sanchez

Sonia Sanchez’s ‘Poem at Thirty’ describes a speaker’s journey from being wounded to growing stronger. The pain reminds her of the metaphorical “midnight” of her life and her community.

Poem at Thirty by Sonia Sanchez 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

Song of the Builders by Mary Oliver

‘Song of the Builders’ by Mary Oliver is a lovely poem that uses nature as a metaphor. The poet compares human beings and the way we should treat our lives to the way a cricket works humbly. 

Song of the Builders by Mary Oliver Visual Representation

The Death of Fred Clifton by Lucille Clifton

This poem is about the death of Lucille Clifton’s husband, Fred James Clifton, who passed away on 11 October 1984 at the age of 49. It evokes the spirit of Fred and describes his discovery of something new.

The Death of Fred Clifton by Lucille Clifton Visual Representation

To My Father, Who Died by Dawn Garisch

Dawn Garisch’s poem ‘To My Father, Who Died’ is about the relationship of the poet’s father with the sea. It depicts the cycle of life and death through the metaphor of the sea.

To My Father, Who Died by Dawn Garisch Visual Representation

Classic Ballroom Dances by Charles Simic

The Siberian American poet Charles Simic’s ‘Classic Ballroom Dances’ is about how a speaker finds similarities between simple daily activities and the art of dancing.

Classic Ballroom Dances by Charles Simic 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

The Dead by Billy Collins

‘The Dead’ eliminates the gap between the living and the poor. It draws our attention to the fact that the dead are always watching us and waiting for our arrival.

The Dead by Billy Collins Visual Representation

Carpe Diem by Robert Frost

‘Carpe Diem’ by Robert Frost is a poem that encourages the reader to live in the present and comments on people’s tendency to focus on the past and the future instead.

Carpe Diem by Robert Frost 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

We Were Simply Talking by Andrew Hudgins

‘We Were Simply Talking’ appears in the American poet Andrew Hudgins’ poetry collection Babylon in a Jar (1998). This piece is about a car accident the speaker managed to avoid.

We Were Simply Talking by Andrew Hudgins 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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