Journey Poems

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by Imtiaz Dharker

‘Tissue’ by Imtiaz Dharker is a beautifully thoughtful poem about the power paper has in human lives and how, by understanding it, one can also understand humanity.

The theme of journey emerges in this poem as the poet contemplates the transient nature of existence and the transformative power of experiences. The metaphorical journey of constructing a structure with paper reflects the larger journey of life, where buildings, maps, and even fine slips from grocery shops can represent the different stages and encounters readers face.

Paper that lets the light

shine through, this

is what could alter things.

Early Death

by Elizabeth Eleanor Siddal

‘Early Death’ by Elizabeth Eleanor Siddal is a haunting meditation on mortality and spiritual transcendence. Written in the mid-19th century, the poem’s evocative imagery and simple yet powerful language have made it a lasting contribution to the canon of Victorian poetry. 

The poem presents death as a journey from this life to the afterlife, with the speaker passing through the gates of heaven to be reunited with loved ones who have passed on before her. This journey is depicted as peaceful and joyful, with the promise of eternal life and happiness.

Oh grieve not with thy bitter tears

The life that passes fast;

The gates of heaven will open wide

And take me in at last.

First autumn morning

by Murakami Kijo

‘First autumn morning’ by Murakami Kijo explores the process of aging and how one learns more about their parents as one gets older. 

The act of staring into the mirror in 'First Autumn Morning' can be seen as a metaphorical journey of self-discovery. The speaker embarks on an inner quest, exploring their own identity and connections to their father. This journey is one of introspection and reflection, where the speaker confronts the past and contemplates the paths that have led them to the present moment.

First autumn morning:

the mirror I stare into

shows my father's face.

Heaven-Haven: A Nun Takes the Veil

by Gerard Manley Hopkins

IN ‘Heaven-Haven: A Nun Takes the Veil’ the speaker yearns for a tranquil sanctuary, free from life’s storms, desiring a realm of eternal springs and serene beauty.

The poem looks into the theme of journey through the speaker's longing and desire for a transformative experience. The act of taking the veil represents a significant journey of commitment and devotion. The speaker seeks to embark on a journey to a realm beyond the storms and challenges of life, symbolizing a spiritual quest for transcendence and growth.

I have desired to go

Where springs not fail,

To fields where flies no sharp and sided hail

And a few lilies blow.

A Rhyme for Halloween

by Maurice Kilwein Guevara

‘A Rhyme for Halloween’ by Maurice Kilwein Guevara captures the ethereal macabre essence of the holiday in a poem that is as captivating as it is haunting.

An adjacent theme in the poem is the journey the speaker takes the reader on over the poem. The opening stanza characterizes them in a way that insinuates they, too, are part of the supernatural elements that emerge on Halloween night. From there, the speaker journeys into town and then explores its outskirts, which include the cemetery and haunted lake.

Tonight I light the candles of my eyes in the lee

And swing down this branch full of red leaves.

Yellow moon, skull and spine of the hare,

Arrow me to town on the neck of the air.


by Joaquin Miller

‘Columbus’ by Joaquin Miller is a perfectly rhymed poem that narrates a few moments in Columbus’ voyage to the new world. It focuses on the hardship the crew had to endure. 

Columbus' journey and the perseverance it took to continue on that journey is the main theme of this poem. When everyone else wanted to turn around, Columbus stayed true to what he wanted to accomplish, believing they'd get there eventually.

Behind him lay the gray Azores,

Behind the Gates of Hercules;

Before him not the ghost of shores,

Before him only shoreless seas.

Come In

by Robert Frost

‘Come In’ by Robert Frost is a poem that takes a look at how we as people project ourselves onto nature.

Frost's poem finds the speaker in the middle of a walk at dusk, and as such (as is the case with many of his poems), the whole thing could be considered a comment on the things encountered through life. The poem does have an allegorical wealth of symbolism to offer and might be interpreted as a greater comment on life's journey.

As I came to the edge of the woods,

Thrush music — hark!

Now if it was dusk outside,

Inside it was dark.

I tie my Hat—I crease my Shawl

by Emily Dickinson

‘I tie my Hat—I crease my Shawl’ by Emily Dickinson is a deeply melancholic poem that elucidates the ways in which people try to go on living when they’ve lost all love of life.

This poem depicts life as a journey that must be suffered through in disappointment and silence. It's a bleak view of life that stems from the speaker's belief that one cannot find true fulfillment or rest until death. This explains why the speaker yearns for death as a flawed but accepted chance at finding some closure and reprieve from life.

I tie my Hat—I crease my Shawl—

Life's little duties do—precisely—

As the very least

Were infinite—to me—

In Celebration of My Uterus

by Anne Sexton

‘In Celebration of My Uterus’ by Anne Sexton is an uplifting poem about the meaning of womanhood. The poem explores Sexton’s perspective on feminine identity.

Though it is not as obvious in the poem, Sexton had gone on a journey of self-discovery to write 'In Celebration of My Uterus.' She had to define what it meant to be a woman and likely come to terms with any unhappiness she had with herself.

Sweet weight,

in celebration of the woman I am

and of the soul of the woman I am

and of the central creature and its delight



by Tupac Shakur

‘Jada’ is a romantic poem written by Tupac to Jada, a woman he loves.

Tupac Shakur's poem explores the theme of journey because, from his words, we know how far he and Jada have come and how they have been friends for a very long time. This is made clear because, in the last stanza, he calls her a friend. Even though the poem explores this as a theme, it is important to mention that it is not amongst the best when it comes to poems with the theme of journey.

U R the omega of my heart

The foundation 4 my conception of Love

When I think of what a black woman should be

Its u that I First think of

O Captain! My Captain!

by Walt Whitman

Saddened by the results of the American civil war, Walt Whitman wrote the elegy, ‘O Captain! My Captain!’ in memory of deceased American President Abraham Lincoln in 1865. The civil war occurred during his lifetime with Whitman a staunch supporter of unionists.

The journey described in 'O Captain My Captain' reflects the struggles and sacrifices made during the Civil War and Lincoln's presidency. The "ship" represents the United States, which was battered by the storms of war and divided by sectionalism. Lincoln, as the "captain," is praised for his steady leadership and his determination to guide the ship safely through these troubled waters.

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,

The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,

The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,

While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;

Rhapsody on a Windy Night

by T.S. Eliot

‘Rhapsody on a Windy Night,’ with its spooky mood and setting, captures the tortured and fragmented human psyche amidst a destructed modern world.

The poem metaphorically reflects the speaker's journey deep into the chaos of his psyche as he gradually moves more and more into the creepy urban street. The uncanny visuals represent the disturbed psyche of the speaker in the uncertain modern world as his thoughts become increasingly incoherent and fragmented.

Twelve o'clock.

Along the reaches of the street

Held in a lunar synthesis,

Whispering lunar incantations


by Jennie S. Redling

‘Scent’ by Jennie S. Redling is a reflective poem that tells us about the speaker’s unrealized ambition that is causing her agony.

The poem elucidates the non-linear nature of life's journey, replete with unexpected twists and turns. It portrays how certain aspects we believe to have left behind can linger, akin to nagging pain. Just as the documents are a stark reminder of her past life, they evoke memories of former passions that now seem elusive.

My finger

Stroke old artwork,

Programs I designed once to

Align myself with small theatre companies

Whoever You Are Holding Me Now in Hand

by Walt Whitman

‘Whoever You Are Holding Me Now in Hand’ by Walt Whitman presents itself as a declaration of how best to engage with the poet’s ardently intimate verses.

The journey that Whitman engages in within this poem is an internal one but also external. Engaging with his poetry is not only a spiritual undertaking but also a physical one, requiring its readers to go outside and experience life. To remain cooped up in a library reading Transcendentalism poetry is not the ideal way to experience what is being conveyed.

Whoever you are holding me now in hand,

Without one thing all will be useless,

I give you fair warning before you attempt me further,

I am not what you supposed, but far different.


by Adrienne Rich

Adrienne Rich’s ‘Orion’ explores the emotional depths of relationships and the search for self-identity amidst societal pressures.

Through the speaker's internal exploration and self-discovery, the theme of journey is explored. The poem depicts a personal journey of reflection and introspection, as the speaker looks back on her past experiences and relationships. The references to the addressee's youthful energy and the speaker's own aging signify a passage of time and the transformative nature of life's journey, suggesting a process of growth and evolution in one's understanding of themselves and the world.

Far back when I went zig-zagging

through tamarack pastures

you were my genius, you

my cast-iron Viking, my helmed


by Edgar Guest

Edgar Albert Guest’s ‘Thanksgiving’ radiates familial warmth, intertwining laughter, gratitude, and time-honored traditions in shared gatherings.

This poem addresses the theme of journey through the imagery of family members coming "home from the east land an’ home from the west." This description symbolizes the physical journeys taken to reunite under the same roof. The mention of "wanderers" finding their way back to the familial "nest" reflects the idea of journeys leading to a central place of belonging and togetherness.

Gettin’ together to smile an’ rejoice,

An’ eatin’ an’ laughin’ with folks of your choice;

An’ kissin’ the girls an’ declarin’ that they

Are growin’ more beautiful day after day;

The Broken Oar

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Longfellow’s contemplative journey reveals the weariness of the human experience and the limitations of language.

This Longfellow poem addresses the theme of journey through the poet's contemplative quest for a final word. The poet embarks on an internal journey, seeking resolution and closure. The encounter with the broken oar becomes a pivotal moment, leading to self-reflection and a transformative realization. The poem explores the journey of the poet's thoughts and emotions, as well as the universal journey of the human experience.

Once upon Iceland's solitary strand

A poet wandered with his book and pen,

Seeking some final word, some sweet Amen,

Wherewith to close the volume in his hand.

The crow has flown away

by Natsume Sōseki

‘The crow has flown away’ by Natsume Sōseki is a beautifully contemplative haiku about a crow, tree, and the whole natural world

This poem captures a moment within the larger journey of life. It portrays the crow's departure and the tree's stillness as markers of change and transition. It encourages contemplation about the paths readers take and the significance of the moments in between.

The crow has flown away;

swaying in the evening sun,

a leafless tree.

Dream Song 149

by John Berryman

In ‘Dream Song 149,’ Berryman mourns Delmore’s death and reflects on their profound connection amidst disillusionment with the world.

This poem addresses the theme metaphorically through the speaker's introspective reflections. The mention of their shared experiences at Harvard and the memories of their time together suggest a journey of personal growth and discovery. The poem captures the journey of emotions, from disillusionment and loss to remembrance and contemplation, reflecting the transformative nature of the speaker's emotional and intellectual journey.

This world is gradually becoming a place

where I do not care to be anymore. Can Delmore die?

I don’t suppose

in all them years a day ever went by

Still I Rise

by Maya Angelou

‘Still I Rise’ is an inspiring and emotional poem that’s based around Maya Angelou’s experiences as a Black woman in America. It encourages readers to love themselves fully and persevere in the face of every hardship.

The concept of a journey is central to this poem. The piece chronicles the speaker's journey of self-discovery, growth, and empowerment. Maya Angelou uses vivid language and powerful metaphors to illustrate the arduous path of overcoming oppression and discrimination. The journey depicted in the poem represents not only the individual experience of the speaker but also the collective journey of marginalized communities striving for equality and justice.

You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may trod me in the very dirt

But still, like dust, I'll rise.


by Edgar Allan Poe

‘Ulalume’ explores the depths of sorrow and the haunting impact of loss, as the speaker navigates a dark and mysterious landscape.

The poem looks into the theme of journey through the speaker's exploration of a dark and mysterious landscape. The poem traces the emotional journey of the speaker as they confront grief, memories, and the haunting presence of lost love. The physical journey through familiar landscapes also symbolizes an introspective and spiritual journey, adding depth to the exploration of the theme.

The skies they were ashen and sober;

The leaves they were crispéd and sere—

The leaves they were withering and sere;

It was night in the lonesome October

A Contribution to Statistics

by Wislawa Szymborska

‘A Contribution to Statistics’ by Wislawa Szymborska provides a statistical yet poignant snapshot of human behavior, attitudes, and emotional states.

Though not a narrative of physical travel, the poem takes readers on a conceptual journey through the labyrinth of human characteristics. As each 'statistic' is revealed, the reader navigates through the maze of human qualities, ultimately ending at the universal destination of mortality.

Out of a hundred people

those who always know better

-- fifty-two

I felt a Funeral, in my Brain

by Emily Dickinson

‘I felt a Funeral, in my Brain’ by Emily Dickinson is a popular poem. In it, she depicts a very unusual idea of life after death.

The poem portrays a psychological journey rather than a physical one. It follows the speaker's descent into madness as they navigate the labyrinth of their own mind. The funeral procession becomes a metaphorical journey through the speaker's inner landscape, marked by confusion, despair, and the eventual silence and darkness.

I felt a Funeral, in my Brain,

And Mourners to and fro

Kept treading - treading - till it seemed

That Sense was breaking through -


by William Ernest Henley

‘Invictus’ is W.E. Henley’s most famous and inspirational poem, that resonates with people worldwide. He wrote the poem in 1875 and dedicated it Scottish flour merchant named Robert Thomas Hamilton Bruce.

This poem can be seen as a metaphorical journey, representing the struggles and challenges encountered throughout life. The poem emphasizes the importance of resilience and determination in navigating this journey, highlighting the power of the human spirit to overcome obstacles.

Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.

Last Lesson of the Afternoon

by D.H. Lawrence

‘Last Lesson of the Afternoon’ portrays a disillusioned teacher’s weariness with unengaged students and the futility of teaching.

The poem indirectly addresses the theme of journey as the speaker reflects on his teaching experience and the students' learning process. The poem depicts the speaker's weariness and frustration, symbolizing a challenging journey within the educational system. The journey is one of disillusionment, highlighting the lack of progress and the perceived futility in trying to impart knowledge and engage the students on a meaningful educational journey.

When will the bell ring, and end this weariness?

How long have they tugged the leash, and strained apart,

My pack of unruly hounds! I cannot start

Them again on a quarry of knowledge they hate to hunt,

Over the wintry

by Natsume Sōseki

‘Over the wintry’ by Natsume Sōseki is a short, evocative poem that captures the desolate beauty of a winter landscape. It’s written in the form of a haiku.

The poem implies a journey, not necessarily a physical one, but a metaphorical passage through the wintry landscape. It invites readers to reflect on the harshness and beauty encountered along the way, symbolizing personal growth and transformation through difficult experiences.

Over the wintry

forest, winds howl in rage

with no leaves to blow.

The Mariner’s Progress

by Ishion Hutchinson

In ‘The Mariner’s Progress,’ amidst shifting landscapes, souls lift and fall, echoing life’s transient beauty, ancestry’s embrace, and enduring legacy.

This poem portrays a multifaceted journey encompassing personal experiences and cultural legacies. Through vivid imagery and introspection, the poem navigates memory, identity, and the impact of history. It depicts life as a transformative voyage, resonating with the theme of journey on both individual and collective levels.

“With never a whisper on the main,” so the snow falls,

glaring through the festschrift of acacia leaves

at sunrise and seeping a dye of immortelle

on mild fleece, shrinking back eternity


by Boey Kim Cheng

‘Reservist’ describes the repetitive nature of war and the preparations that go into arming reserve soldiers and preparing them for battle.

Journey is a metaphorical motif frequently used in literature to represent personal growth, change, and exploration. In Boey Kim Cheng's poem, the soldiers' repeated marches along familiar paths symbolize the cyclical nature of life's journey. The poem suggests that these journeys, though monotonous and seemingly never-ending, hold the potential for personal transformation and resilience.

Time again for the annual joust, the regular fanfare,

a call to arms, the imperative letters stern

as clarion notes, the king's command, upon

My Number

by Billy Collins

‘My Number’ by Billy Collins takes a jocular approach to wrangling with the existential anxieties brought on when thinking about death.

The journey from life to death is another major part of this poem that Collins alludes to. All people follow the same path from birth to death; although some are shorter or longer than others, this doesn't stop humankind from fearing the end of their journey.

Is Death miles away from this house,

reaching for a widow in Cincinnati

or breathing down the neck of a lost hiker

in British Columbia?

All You Have is a Country

by Ha Jin

“All You Have is A Country” by Ha Jin explores patriotism and how it can be negatively ingrained into someone’s personality.

Journey is an important theme in the poem, as the speaker embarks on a physical and emotional journey in exile. They long to return to China but must learn to adapt to their new life and find a sense of purpose and belonging in a foreign land.

You are so poor that all you have is a country.

Whenever you open your mouth

you talk about the country

to which you can no longer return.

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