Aging Poems

In poems about aging, readers will find various depictions of the aging process and what it means to come to terms with the fact that everyone’s time on the planet is limited. Depending on the poet, some of these poems are far more optimistic than others, describing old age as something worth looking forward to.

In Memory of the Utah Stars

by William Matthews

‘In Memory of the Utah Stars’ captures the manner in which memories can provide us with both pleasure and pain.

The poem plots the players' growth as they age but also marks the time that passes in the life of a fan and ponders how they will continue to do so now that the team is no more.

Each of them must have terrified

his parents by being so big, obsessive

and exact so young, already gone

and leaving, like a big tipper,

‘Twas the old — road — through pain—

by Emily Dickinson

‘Twas the old — road — through pain—’ by Emily Dickinson describes a woman’s path from life to death and her entrance into Heaven. 

In this piece, Dickinson describes the woman walking through life and how her experienced changed as she aged.

In Chambers bright —

Too out of sight — though —

For our hoarse Good Night —

To touch her Head!

Explore more poems about Aging


by Frances Cornford

‘Childhood’ explores the transitory moment when a child becomes aware of the passing of time, and the process of growing old.

The poem's central issue is that of age, and the realisation of its inevitability.

Indian Weavers

by Sarojini Naidu

‘Indian Weavers’ explores the inevitability of death while celebrating the cycles of human existence and experience.

The poem's three stanzas engage with different stages in a person's life, condensing an entire lifetime into a single day's work.

Next Day

by Randall Jarrell

‘Next Day’ by Randall Jarrell is a confessional poem with a conversational tone that articulates the complex emotions of aging and change.

Jarrell's incredible ability to step into the shoes of his middle-aged female speaker is astonishing in this poem, as he skillfully captures the tone of a washed-up woman who is afraid of death. The woman's dismay at her aging appearance and fear of death are very relatable and understandable to the listener despite the speaker's vanity and massive ego.

“Why did you come” (#1 from Hermetic Definition: ‘Red Rose and a Beggar’)

by Hilda Doolittle

‘Why did you come’ by Hilda Doolittle is a free-verse poem about love, self-criticism, aging, and the human inability to control judgments and desires.

"Why did you come" expresses the emotions of Hilda Doolittle after developing feelings for a younger man. Her harsh self-criticism, guilt, and fear of judgment from others are undeniable, and yet she still feels attraction for her visitor. These complexities paint an interesting and unique picture of how love influences older people and how society looks down upon age gaps in relationships.

Yellow Stars and Ice

by Susan Stewart

‘Yellow Stars and Ice’ captures the unattainable nature of memory, even when it feels tantalizingly close at hand.

The poem explores the process of aging by reminding the reader that, with age comes new memories and every new memory alters a person's perception of their present. Likewise, every new memory is a moment that a person cannot return to.


by Elizabeth Alexander

‘Equinox’ by Elizabeth Alexander is a heartfelt poem about death and how all living things are forced to contend with it. The speaker uses a creative metaphor comparing bees on the equinox to her grandmother. 

Aging is one of the most important themes in this work. It speaks to a grandmother's age and illnesses as well as the way that a season's change can effect the way bees behave.

From The Complaints of Poverty

by Nicholas James

‘The Complaints of Poverty’ by Nicholas James uses rhetorical devices and rhyme to give the rich a good look at how unpleasant it is to be poor. James indirectly challenges the stigmas associated with both wealth and poverty, inviting the rich to treat poor people with compassion, sympathy, and generosity.

'The Complaints of Poverty' traces the stages of a poor man's life, starting from his childhood all the way to the day he dies. As the man ages, he never gets relief from his toil and begging. and he is always cold and hungry. This bleak image is the harsh reality for too many poor people today, revealing that we've never solved the poverty crisis.

Sunlight on the Garden

by Louis MacNeice

‘Sunlight on the Garden’ by Louis MacNeice is a poem about change, death, and accepting that life eventually ends.

The poet has to accept that everyone ages and that his life, too, is going to come to an end.

Winter Stars

by Larry Levis

‘Winter Stars’ by Larry Levis tries to reconcile the estranged relationship between a son and their dying father.

The speaker is spurred to reconcile their relationship with their father because of their aging. But they're also prevented from doing so because of it as well since memory loss has severely impaired their father's ability to communicate. In a lot of ways the poem is as much about finding closure as it is about dealing with the inevitable aging of a parent.

Carpe Diem

by William Shakespeare

‘Carpe Diem’ by William Shakespeare is a love song from Twelfth Night, sung by Feste the clown/fool. It’s about love and youth. 

Aging is one of the primary themes in this poem, as it is in many of Shakespeare's works. The speaker alludes to the face that beauty fades and that one should take advantage of youth while they have it.

Claudette Colvin Goes to Work

by Rita Dove

‘Claudette Colvin Goes to Work’ by Rita Dove depicts the life and struggles of Claudette Colvin, who is best known as a civil rights activist.

The fact this poem takes place many years beyond the event for which the narrator is best known for means that the poem is inherently connected to the theme of aging. This speaker is contending with a life that is similar to the lives that her parents have contended with.

At Pegasus

by Terrance Hayes

‘At Pegasus’ by Terrance Hayes is a powerful poem about identity that uses a youthful memory and a contemporary experience to speak about life.

While age is not discussed explicitly, it does play a role in this poem. A great deal of time has passed between the memory the speaker recalls and how old he is when he is talking about it.

From My Life: A name trimmed with colored ribbons

by Lyn Hejinian

‘A name trimmed with colored ribbons’ by Lyn Hejinian is a Language Poem that requires the listener to use their imagination and creativity to reconstruct and interpret the poet’s childhood fantasies.

'A name trimmed with colored ribbons' attempts to capture the fantastical wonder of childhood by defying interpretation and focusing its attention on colorful, kaleidoscopic images. This childish perception of aging recaptures the wonder and imagination of being a child through the lens of poetry.

Mr. Flood’s Party

by Edwin Arlington Robinson

‘Mr. Flood’s Party’ by Edwin Arlington Robinson describes a man’s later years in life and how lonely he has become. It suggests that a long life is not always a blessing. 

Mr. Flood's age and his continual aging is a critical part of the poem.

The Barefoot Boy

by John Greenleaf Whittier

‘The Barefoot Boy’ by John Greenleaf Whittier is a highly relatable poem that speaks on universal themes of aging and the beauty and joy of youth. The poem celebrates a young boy’s freedom and mourns the coming of age. 

Aging is one of the most important themes at work in this poem. The speaker is a grown man, and they spend the poem talking about how much they miss being young and appreciate the free life the young boy is experiencing.

Jenny Kiss’d Me

by Leigh Hunt

‘Jenny Kiss’d Me’ by Leigh Hunt is a powerful declaration of happiness in the face of the passage of time. A great deal of joy can be found in a single happy memory, the speaker suggests. 

Aging is certainly one of the most important themes in this poem. The poet indicates that the speaker is getting older and that time is taking things away from him. But it can't take the kiss that Jenny gave him.

Somebody’s Mother

by Mary Dow Brine

‘Somebody’s Mother’ by Mary Dow Brine is a heartbreaking and heartwarming poem about caring for strangers.

As one ages, this poem suggests, they need more help from those around them. Sometimes, those people are strangers, the speaker indicates. The elderly woman didn't have her own son there to help her, so someone else's had to.

The Idea of Ancestry

by Etheridge Knight

‘The Idea of Ancestry’ by Etheridge Knight is concerned with family relationships and how important being with those you’re related to is. 

Knight has learned a great deal about himself and others as he's aged.

The Minuet

by Mary Mapes Dodge

‘The Minuet’ by Mary Mapes Dodge alludes to the many changes that the passage of time presents. This is specially related to the way that one speaker’s grandmother has changed.

Aging, or the passage of time, is this poem's most important theme. The speaker alludes to how much time has passed since their grandmother was young and danced the minuet.

The Hermit

by Alan Paton

‘The Hermit’ by Alan Paton suggests that it is impossible to find peace by locking out the pain, hunger, and emotions of others. Justice and peace are only possible through human connection and compromise.

The hermit in this poem is an old man, and he is tired of helping others. However, despite his old age and weariness, he cannot find peace as long as he tries to hide from the world. Locking his doors and refusing to connect with other people just fill his older years with more fear, guilt, and bitterness.


by Sharon Olds

’35/10’ by Sharon Olds is a moving poem about the poet’s relationship with her daughter. The latter is coming into her own while the former is growing old.

A little Dog that wags his tail

by Emily Dickinson

In ‘A little Dog that wags his tail’ Emily Dickinson explores themes of human nature, the purpose of life, and freedom. She compares animals, cats and dogs, to adults and children.

All the world’s a stage

by William Shakespeare

‘All the world’s a stage’ is a well-known monologue found in William Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’. This speech of Jaques explores the seven ages of man and their implications.


by Adelaide Crapsey

‘Amaze’ by Adelaide Crapsey explores the poet’s hands and the emotions she experiences when she looks at them she sees her mother’s.

Amethyst Beads

by Eavan Boland

‘Amethyst Beads’ by Eavan Boland alludes to Greek mythology and the suffering of a child, Persephone, after she was separated from her mother, Demeter.

And Soul

by Eavan Boland

‘And Soul’ by Eavan Boland is a poem about death and a body’s dissolution into the elements that it is made up of. The poet emphasizes the connection between a human being made nearly entirely of water and a city that’s drenched by a particularly rainy summer season. 

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