‘Two Scavengers in a Truck, Two Beautiful People in a Mercedes’ by Lawrence Ferlinghetti explores wealth and class differences in the United States.
‘The Yachts’ by William Carlos Williams depicts the winners, or yacht-owners, in the capitalist system and the losers, or the poor, who are drowning in the waters around the boats.
‘The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver’ by Edna St. Vincent Millay depicts the lengths mothers will go to in order to protect their children. The speaker recalls watching his mother sacrifice herself for him when he was a young boy, weaving an enormous pile of clothing with a harp.
In ‘Nikki-Rosa,’ Nikki Giovanni explores her experiences while growing up in a closely-knit black community in 1950s America.
Delmore Schwartz’s ‘Baudelaire’ is an emotional depiction of a poet’s desperation caused by poverty and the vicious cycle of hopelessness.
‘Fragment’ by Angelina Weld Grimké is a short and powerful poem in which a woman discusses, in simple terms, who she is and how she toils on a day-to-day basis.
‘Sadie and Maud’ by Gwendolyn Brooks is a poem about finding happiness, dealing with sexism, and society’s expectations. It features the stories of two sisters-Maud and Sadie who take different paths in life.
George Starbuck’s ‘Sonnet in the Shape of a Potted Christmas Tree’ is a concrete poem written in the shape of a potted Christmas tree. It explores the theme of social inequality with respect to the central image.
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.
Naomi Shihab Nye’s ‘The Trashpickers, Madison Street’ describes the morning routine of trash pickers across Madison Street and their way of searching for happiness from the trash.
Published in Robert Bly’s award-winning collection, The Light Around the Body (1967), ‘The Great Society’ satirizes the set of domestic programs launched by Democratic President Lyndon Baines Johnson in 1964-65 by presenting contrasting imagery from contemporary American society.
‘New Day’s Lyric’ by Amanda Gorman is poem written at the end of 2021 in order to usher in a more hopeful new year in 2022. The piece explores themes of hope and change.
‘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.
‘Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio’ by James Wright is a poem about working-class men attending a football game to watch their sons.
‘Cross’ by Langston Hughes uses a stereotypical image of a biracial man to explore identity and the inequalites one might encounter.
Ai’s poem ‘Cuba, 1962’ appears in her poetry collection Vice: New and Selected Poems (1999), winner of the National Book Award for Poetry. This piece is written in the context of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.
‘To a Poor Old Woman’ by William Carlos Williams is a thoughtful poem. In it, the speaker describes the experience of an old woman eating a bag of ripe plums.
The poem used in the Nationwide advert, ‘The Birth of the Building Society’ by Stephen Morrison-Burke, was written to tell the origin story of building societies. It also seeks to differentiate them from banks in customer’s eyes.
‘Harlem Hopscotch’ by Maya Angelou is a thoughtful poem. It explores what it’s like to grow up Black in Harlem, New York.
‘Decomposition’ is written by the Pakistani-American poet Zulfikar Ghose. This poem centers on a photograph of an old beggar sleeping on the pavement and contrasts artistic composition with physical decomposition.
‘The Good Life’ by Tracy K. Smith is an incredibly relatable poem. In it, the poet asks the reader to consider their relationship with money and what the ‘good life’ really is.
Allen Ginsberg’s ‘America’ deals with the turbulent times in America. It was written during and focused on the period after the Second World War.
‘Winter’ by Anne Hunter cleverly personifies winter as a “tyrant” who has complete control over those most in need.
‘At a Potato Digging’ written by Seamus Heaney. The poem consists of four sections that depict men’s relationship with the land.
‘These Yet To Be United States’ by Maya Angelou explores the complexities of the United States. The poet suggests that the country has not lived up to its potential.
Imagine waking up in London in the 1800s. You might find yourself surrounded by prostitutes, the homeless, and many more suffering in dilapidated housing. These are only a few of the haunting sights William Blake documents in ‘London.’