Religion Poems

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Life Sculpture

by George Washington Doane

‘Life Sculpture’ by George Washington Doane is a poem heavily symbolic poem about realizing one’s true potential and purpose in life.

Religion is important to the poem because it's the lens through which George Washington Doane views the world and wrote the piece. But all that's truly necessary to understand is that the author holds to a higher power and believe people's true fulfillment is found outside of this world.

Chisel in hand stood a sculptor boy

With his marble block before him,

And his eyes lit up with a smile of joy,

As an angel-dream passed o’er him. 

The Hag

by Robert Herrick

‘The Hag’ by Robert Herrick is short poem that imagines with haunting detail a witch’s emergence into the night.

As a member of the Church of England, religion often finds its way into Herrick's poetry. What makes this poem interesting is the hyper-focus on such a sacrilege topic as witchcraft, though the poem clearly paints her in a critical and disgusting light. Regardless, elements of the poet's theology crop up in the form of the religious beliefs that surrounded witches at the time.

The Hag is astride,

This night for to ride;

The Devill and shee together:

Through thick, and through thin,


Epistle to a Young Friend

by Robert Burns

Presented as compact packages of advices, ‘Epistle to a Young Friend’ is a lovely and melodious representation of life’s complexities.

Although subtly woven into the poem, the theme of religion is present. There is significant emphasis on the notion that a person's actions should be guided by their conscience. The sense of morality and integrity is also stressed. The poem suggests that a relationship with a divine power can serve as a moral compass, helping individuals make ethical choices.

I lang hae thought, my youthfu’ friend,

A Something to have sent you,

Tho’ it should serve nae other end

Than just a kind memento;

A Thanksgiving Poem

by Paul Laurence Dunbar

In grateful hymns, Dunbar lauds God’s mercy, human flaws, and divine abundance in a harmonious ode.

This poem addresses the theme of religion by portraying a humble acknowledgment of God's benevolence. The poet offers thanks for divine protection, emphasizing the role of providence in sparing them from adversities. Through religious imagery, the poem underscores the concept of grace and mercy, inviting readers to reflect on their relationship with God and the significance of gratitude within their religious beliefs.

The sun hath shed its kindly light,

Our harvesting is gladly o’er

Our fields have felt no killing blight,

Our bins are filled with goodly store.


by Chinua Achebe

‘Dereliction’ by Chinua Achebe is an ambiguous poem in which three speakers elaborate on the action of, a probable consequence of, and probable pardon for, failing to fulfil one’s duties.

The Christian faith is the highlight of stanza two. Christianity is alluded to using words like "priestly elder" and symbolized using a "merciless race" by "the faithful one." In this stanza, one deduces the second speaker is traumatized by his failures and fears the repercussions of his action. However, this is not the central theme of the poem.

I quit the carved stool

in my father’s hut to the swelling

chant of saber-tooth termites

raising in the pith of its wood

a white-bellied stalagmite


by Josiah Gilbert Holland

‘Gradatim’ by Josiah Gilbert Holland is a poem about the lifetime of work it takes to climb the ladder to Heaven. One needs to dedicate themselves to a life of good deeds to reach God. 

Religion is, without a doubt, the most important theme at work in this 19th-century poem. The poet wrote this piece intending to share their beliefs about God and the afterlife.

Heaven is not reached at a single bound;

But we build the ladder by which we rise

From the lowly earth, to the vaulted skies,

And we mount to its summit round by round.

I, the Poet

by Leonard Gorski

‘I, the Poet’ by Leonard Gorski is a thought-provoking and multi-layered free-verse poem that explores themes of identity, mortality, and the search for meaning in an often confusing and uncertain world. 

The poem references several religious and spiritual figures and practices, such as Buddha and the act of prayer, but ultimately emphasizes a personal and individual approach to spirituality and faith.

I, the poet, wandering and amazed

Nailed by unhappiness to the wall

By age and poverty,

On which floor of stupidity or ignorance I dwell?

Night, Death, Mississippi

by Robert Hayden

‘Night, Death, Mississippi’ by Robert Hayden is a historical narrative told mostly from the perspective of a Klansman. In the poem, the Klansman lauds his son for lynching black men while telling of the days he himself participated in the perpetration of racial violence.

Though religion is mentioned in the poem, it is only mentioned in passing to create irony. Both the perpetrators and victims are known and shown believers in Christianity. Yet, the actions produced by this belief differ greatly from one believer to another. This is ironic since the message of Jesus Christ is one of love and should have, therefore, produced an action similarly born from love, not the lynching this white supremacist family is involved in.

Then we beat them, he said,

beat them till our arms was tired

and the big old chains

messy and red.

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.

There is a hidden attack on religion in 'The Complaints of Poverty.' The parishes unwillingly give away welfare money to the poor, and even the doctors appointed by heaven are far too expensive and in high demand to serve the poor. Thus, all men are not equal in this society, and even religious figures look down on the poor.

MAY poverty, without offence, approach

The splendid equipage, the gilded coach?

May it with freedom all its wants make known?

And will not wealth and pow'r assume a frown?

The Fool’s Prayer

by Edward Rowland Sill

‘The Fool’s Prayer’ by Edward Rowland Sill is a religious poem that reminds readers, and all the characters in the poem, what it takes to live a good, morally righteous life. 

Religion and living a good life, according to the principles of Christianity are at the heart of this poem. The speaker seeks to remind everyone listening and reading what a Christian life looks like.

The royal feast was done; the King

Sought some new sport to banish care,

And to his jester cried: “Sir Fool,

Kneel now, and make for us a prayer!”

I Loved You

by Alexander Pushkin

‘I Loved You’ by Alexander Pushkin is a simple but effective poem in which the speaker expresses his devotion and respect for a woman he loved.

Religion subtly weaves into the poem through the mention of God. The speaker's wish for someone else to love the beloved suggests a selfless and compassionate attitude, invoking the belief in divine intervention and the hope for the beloved's happiness, even if it is not with the speaker.

I loved you: yet the love, maybe,

Has not extinguished in my heart;

But hence may not it trouble thee;

I do not want to make you sad.

The Eternal Goodness

by John Greenleaf Whittier

‘The Eternal Goodness’ by John Greenleaf Whittier is a relatively unknown 19th-century poem that explores religious themes and the various ways that God’s love comes through. 

Religion is, without a doubt, the most important theme in this poem. The poet addresses religious ideas several times throughout the poem and elaborates on his beliefs specifically.

O friends! with whom my feet have trod

The quiet aisles of prayer,

Glad witness to your zeal for God

And love of man I bear.


Each In His Own Tongue

by William Herbert Carruth

‘Each In His Own Tongue’ by William Herbert Carruth depicts the world and all its beauty and suffering, attributing the elements to evolution, longing, consecration, or God. 

Religion is one of the primary themes at work in this poem. The poet spends a great deal of time describing the world before alluding to the fact that God may or may not be responsible.

A fire mist and a planet,

A crystal and a cell,

A jellyfish and a saurian,

And caves where the cave men dwell;

Imagining Their Own Hymns

by Brigit Pegeen Kelly

‘Imagining Their Own Hymns’ by Brigit Pegeen Kelly is a memorable poem that speaks about the difference between how something appears and its reality. 

Religion and the influence it has on someone whose quite young is an important part of this poem. Much of the poem also takes place in a Christian church.

What fools they are to believe the angels

in this window are in ecstasy. They

do not smile. Their eyes are rolled back in annoyance

not in bliss, as my mother’s eyes roll back

Christmas Everywhere

by Phillips Brooks

‘Christmas Everywhere’ by Phillips Brooks is an uplifting Christmas and religious poem about the power of the season. The poet implies that if people wanted to, they could carry the same feeling of faithfulness throughout the whole year. 

Religion, and the way it inspires people to act kindly, is the poem's main theme. The Christmas season fills people with faithful feelings, and the poet hopes that people can carry these feelings through the entire year.

Everywhere, everywhere, Christmas to-night!

Christmas in lands of the fir-tree and pine,

Christmas in lands of the palm-tree and vine,

Christmas where snow-peaks stand solemn and white,

A Different History

by Sujata Bhatt

‘A Different History’ by Sujata Bhatt is not a raging piece of protest, rather it teaches how to revisit one’s cultural past in a curious, sensible way.


by W.H. Auden

‘Adolescence’ by W.H. Auden is an interesting and complex poem. In it, the speaker analyzes and describes the life and experiences of a young man.

By landscape reminded once of his mother's figure

The mountain heights he remembers get bigger and bigger:

With the finest of mapping pens he fondly traces

All the family names on the familiar places.


by Eavan Boland

‘Anorexic’ by Eavan Boland conveys the mindset of a woman determined to destroy her physical body through starvation and filled with hatred for her sinful past, as according to the Biblical story of Adam and Eve.

Belfast Confetti

by Ciaran Carson

Ciaran Carson’s poem ‘Belfast Confetti’ describes how external conflicts influence a speaker’s mind. It speaks on the aftermath of the Troubles in Belfast.


by Andrew Marvell

Where the remote Bermudas ride

In th’ ocean’s bosom unespy’d,

From a small boat, that row’d along,

The list’ning winds receiv’d this song.


by Kay Ryan

‘Blandeur’ by Kay Ryan is a thoughtful poem that shows a deep love for the natural world and depicts it as all a part of God’s creation.

Christ of Everywhere

by Henry van Dyke

‘Christ of Everywhere’ by Henry Van Dyke is a poem about the presence of Christ in all living things. Throughout this piece, Van Dyke uses simple and relatable language that allows all readers to connect with his words.

Christmas Comes to Moccasin Flat

by James Welch

‘Christmas Comes to Moccasin Flat’ was written during the Native American Renaissance. This poem features the activities of a Native American community during Christmas.

Crossing the Bar

by Alfred Lord Tennyson

‘Crossing the Bar’ by Alfred Lord Tennyson is about the journey into death from life. This poem sees death as a promising opportunity to move from mortality to something better.

Sunset and evening star,

And one clear call for me!

And may there be no moaning of the bar,

When I put out to sea,

Crow Sickened

by Ted Hughes

‘Crow Sickened’ is a brilliant example of Hughes’ playful style, in which Crow attempts to work out the cause of his misery.


by Carol Ann Duffy

‘Delilah’ by Carol Ann Duffy focuses on the story of Delilah. It illuminates her individuality and how she felt about Samson. 

Teach me, he said—

we were lying in bed—

how to care.

I nibbled the purse of his ear.

What do you mean?

Tell me more.

He sat up and reached for his beer

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