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.

90 North by Randall Jarrell

’90 North’ by Randall Jarrell is concerned with dreams, aging, and the truth of success. The poet’s speaker realizes that success means nothing and that after achieving everything he wanted, his life is worthless. 

90 North by Randall Jarrell Visual Representation

Singapore by Mary Oliver

‘Singapore’ by Mary Oliver is a highly relatable poem that speaks about life’s struggles and the beauty of mundane and graceful work. It is set in an airport bathroom in Singapore. 

Singapore by Mary Oliver Visual Representation

A Woman Waits for Me by Walt Whitman

Formerly known as ‘Poem of Procreation,’ Whitman’s ‘A Woman Waits for Me’ is all about the power of regeneration, procreation, and creativity.

A Woman Waits for Me by Walt Whitman Visual Representation

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

Life’s Tragedy by Paul Laurence Dunbar

‘Life’s Tragedy’ by Paul Laurence Dunbar considers the elements of life that create tragedy and suffering. The speaker asserts that missing out on perfect love and the perfect song leads to an “accursed” life.

Life's Tragedy by Paul Laurence Dunbar Visual Representation

Home by Warsan Shire

The lines “no one leaves home unless/ home is the mouth of a shark” that made us rethink the global refugee crisis, appear in Somali-British poet Warsan Shire’s poem ‘Home.’ This poem vividly depicts the lived experiences of the refugees both inside and outside of their countries.

Home by Warsan Shire Visual Representation

Love is… by Adrian Henri

‘Love is…’ by Adrian Henri provides readers with various ways to consider love and how it tints even the smallest objects and experiences with more meaning.

Love is... by Adrian Henri Visual Representation

Sally’s Hair by John Koethe

‘Sally’s Hair’ by John Koethe is a short and effective poem in which the speaker looks back on someone he met thirty-seven years ago and wonders where she is now.

Sally's Hair by John Koethe Visual Representation

The Arrow and the Song by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

‘The Arrow and the Song’ by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is an interesting poem that utilizes quatrains. Throughout the piece, the speaker alludes to the unknown impact of his poetry before finding it in the heart of his friend in the last stanza.

The Arrow and the Song by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Visual Representation

Knocking Around by John Ashbery

‘Knocking Around’ by John Ashbery is a thoughtful and image-rich contemporary poem about life. The four stanzas use a variety of examples of figurative language to describe the lights and darks or the days and nights, or life. 

Knocking Around by John Ashbery 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

One’s-Self I Sing by Walt Whitman

‘One’s-Self I Sing’ by Walt Whitman is a short poem that explores a few of the themes Whitman is going to use in Inscriptions. The poem celebrates the beauty and wonder of the common and separate identities of humanity. 

One's-Self I Sing by Walt Whitman Visual Representation

The Yellow Dot by Robert Bly

‘The Yellow Dot,’ written in remembrance of poet Jane Kenyon, is about the inevitability of death and God’s despotic ruling over humankind. It was published in Robert Bly’s best-known collection, Morning Poems (1997).

The Yellow Dot by Robert Bly Visual Representation

Good-bye Fox by Mary Oliver

‘Good-bye Fox’ by Mary Oliver is a thoughtful poem that explores the meaning of life. It includes a conversation between a fox and a human being.

Good-bye Fox by Mary Oliver 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

Broadway by Walt Whitman

‘Broadway’ by Walt Whitman is a short, effective poem that speaks to the nature of contemporary life. It focuses in on one street in New York City.

Broadway by Walt Whitman 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

On My Boat on Lake Cayuga by William Cole

William Cole’s ‘On My Boat on Lake Cayuga’ is a light verse poem that presents a contrast between the sounds of a traditional boat and modern four-wheelers.

On My Boat on Lake Cayuga by William Cole 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

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