‘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.
‘Who in One Lifetime’ by Muriel Rukeyser is a poem about resistance in the face of war and suffering. The speaker asserts that a woman referred to only as “she” is standing strong despite what she’s seen.
‘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.
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.
‘Yet Do I Marvel’ by Countee Cullen is a poem about faith. No matter the darkness the speaker sees in the world, he maintains his faith in his own role in God’s plan.
E. E. Cummings’ ‘a man who had fallen among thieves’ is a modern retelling of the parable of the Good Samaritan who helped a robbed man lying unconscious on the road. In this poem, the speaker helps one such person who faced a similar accident.
‘Sorrow’ by Edna St. Vincent Millay is a lyric poem written about a speaker’s depression. The short piece is filled with evocative depictions of what feeling all-encompassing sorrow is like.
Whitman’s ‘An Army Corps on the March’ is a moving depiction of soldiers marching forward tirelessly during the Civil War. No matter how exhausted they were, they had a goal to fulfill and a dream to achieve!
Carl Sandburg’s ‘Flash Crimson’ is an emotionally charged, devotional poem where a speaker is eager to ask God for more hardships. It deals with the themes of devotion, morality, legacy, and the afterlife.
‘Boots’ by Rudyard Kipling is a memorable poem. In it, Kipling uses repetition to emphasize the struggle of soldiers on a forced march.
‘A Prayer for my Son,’ written from the perspective of a father who wants to protect his son against all odds during the brewing war in Ireland. Read the poem with a complete analysis.
‘Affirmative Action Blues’ appears in Elizabeth Alexander’s Body of Life (1996). This poem is about the incident of police brutality on Rodney King in 1991.
‘Jesus! thy Crucifix’ by Emily Dickinson is a short poem in the form of a prayer to Jesus. Th speaker wants to make sure he remembers that humanity suffers on earth.
‘I’m a Fool to Love You’ by Cornelius Eady is a moving poem. It details the choices of a young black woman, the speaker’s mother, and why she did what she did.
The Tradition is the titular poem from Pulitzer Prize winner Jericho Brown’s poetry collection. It brings to light the maltreatment of African Americans in the present US, while relating it to the past.
‘There is a pain—so utter’ by Emily Dickinson is a complicated poem. It uses abstract language to describe pain.
‘Everything I touch’ by Kobayashi Issa is a beautiful Japanese haiku written by one of the four great haiku masters. This piece speaks on what one might receive in return when they reach out with tenderness.
‘Parade’s End’ was published in the British poet Daljit Nagra’s debut collection “Look We Have Coming to Dover!” published in 2007. This poem taps on the themes of racism and the suffering of Asian immigrants in the UK in the 20th century.
Cathy Park Hong’s ‘Sonnet’ is not a conventional poem having fourteen lines or a specific structure. This piece is filled with images that collectively tap on the theme of suffering.
A Jew waiting to fall apart into pieces, German soldiers waiting to kill more; this theme is featured in many holocaust poems of the 20th century and Carol Ann Duffy’s ‘Shooting Stars’ is one of them. This piece tells the story of a Jewish girl who speaks of the sufferings she endured.
Have you ever imagined what it felt like observing innocent lives being traded at the slave auction? It is vividly portrayed through the eyes of Frances Harper in her poem ‘The Slave Auction’.
‘Sonnet 139,’ also known as ‘O, call not me to justify the wrong,’ expresses the speaker’s longing that the Dark Lady stop treating him so cruelly. By the end, he gives in and accepts his fate.
‘Duplex’ by Jericho Brown explores physical and mental abuse, looking at how memory can impact a person.
‘I wake and feel the fell of dark, not day’ by Gerard Manley Hopkins tells of a speaker’s suffering as he tries to understand the role of God in his life.