Be encouraged and inspired by our collection of famous poems. What makes a poem famous? Is it the poet's fame? We feel a famous poem is one that has stood the test of time. They are truly classic verses that inspire and encourage us. Famous poems are ones
that are shared and that inspire us.
Poetry is truly an art form, with words and verses that move us. Many times we can feel the passion of the poet. Poetry can make us stop and think. We may find ourselves reflecting on life as we know it and considering how others see a similar situation.
The best poetry opens our hearts and our eyes and makes us realize that in many of the issues we face today, people have faced the same challenges hundreds of years ago.
Our collection of famous poems also provides a link to more poems and a brief biography of the poet. We hope you find them inspiring and encouraging. You may also be inspired by
a short biography and more poems by these Famous Poets.
Poet: Edgar A. Guest
When he has more than he can eat
To feed a stranger's not a feat.
When he has more than he can spend
It isn't hard to give or lend.
Who gives but what he'll never miss
Will never know what giving is.
He'll win few praises from his Lord
Who does but what he can afford.
The widow's mite to heaven went
Because real sacrifice it meant.
My One Talent
Poet: Berton Braley
If I were but a painter
I'd make your picture, dear,
In hues which grow no fainter,
But brighten year by year;
And if I were a singer
With voice that caroled true,
That voice would be the bringer
Of notes of love to you!
A poet or a writer
I'd pen your glory, too;
A soldier or a fighter-
The fight should be for you!
But I'm so ordinary,
So plain and commonplace,
I know no way to vary
The praises of your grace;
My ways of turtle-doving
Are simple, tried and few,
My only art is lover-
And all my love's for you
Every Ten Years
Poet: Catherine Pulsifer
When you're a kid the years go slow
You can't wait to grow and grow
Then the twenties come along
And your life is going strong
And before you know it the big three O
And you may feel like you want age to slow
Turn around and forty strikes
Where did the time go, oh yikes!!
Fifty is a milestone year
One where others laugh and cheer
And when sixty does appear
You truly wonder what happen to the years!
Time does go quickly more than we realize it
So live each day to the limit!
Poet: Elizabeth Barrett Browning
When I attain to utter forth in verse
Some inward thought, my soul throbs audibly
Along my pulses, yearning to be free
And something farther, fuller, higher, rehearse.
To the individual, true, and the universe.
In consummation of right harmony:
But, like a wind-exposed distorted tree.
We are blown against for ever by the curse
Which breathes through Nature. Oh, the world is weak!
The effluence of each is false to all,
And what we best conceive we fail to speak.
Wait, soul, until thine ashen garments fall.
And then resume thy broken strains, and seek
Fit peroration without let or thrall.
Tall and trim the pine tree grows,
Every limb with verdure glows;
Winter keen or autumn sere
Finds it green through all the year.
Life hath snow like winter hath ;
Cold winds blow across my path.
Wind and drift go swirling by;
Let me lift my head on high.
Boreas, roll thy thunder car —
Still my soul shall seek the star.
Winds may sweep life's woodland through-
I will keep my spirit true.
Poet: Patience Strong
There's a grandfather clock in the quiet old hall -
And it strikes with a deep-throated chime;
He booms out the hours with a terrible voice,
And he cuts up our lives into Time.
He's a century old and he looks with disdain
On the folks who stare into his face;
He knows that when their little lives flicker out,
He'll be still standing there in his place. . . .
And he whirrs and he chuckles deep down in his works-
For he knows that we're all in his power -
As, relentless, he roars our his challenge to men -
And he can't take back one single hour.
The Easier Task
Poet: Strickland Gillilan
No matter what the treatment he accord me,
I will not let dislike embitter me;
Whate'er unrest unkindness might afford me,
I will keep sweet, however hard it be.
For I have learned and oh, how slow the learning,
And with what costly grief has it been mated!
Hate in its author's heart has fiercest burning
'Tis harder work to hate than to be hated.
Year after year a man may hate his brother
Each waking hour with bitterness be filled.
This hate may bring discomfort to the other
But, in the hater, joy is well-nigh killed.
And so I will not harbor hate, nor hoard it
I've learned my lesson, though perchance belated.
The honest truth is this: I can't afford it;
'Tis costlier to hate than to be hated.
This World Is Not Conclusion
Poet: Emily Dickinson
This world is not conclusion;
A sequel stands beyond,
Invisible, as music,
But positive, as sound.
It beckons and it baffles;
Philosophies don’t know,
And through a riddle, at the last,
Sagacity must go.
To guess it puzzles scholars;
To gain it, men have shown
Contempt of generations,
And crucifixion known.
The Hill Wife
Poet: Robert Frost
One ought not to have to care
So much as you and I
Care when the birds come round the house
To seem to say good-bye;
Or care so much when they come back
With whatever it is they sing;
The truth being we are as much
Too glad for the one thing
As we are too sad for the other here–
With birds that fill their breasts
But with each other and themselves
And their built or driven nests.
Poet: Sara Teasdale
I asked the heaven of stars
What I should give my love -
It answered me with silence,
I asked the darkened sea
Down where the fishermen go -
It answered me with silence,
Oh, I could give him weeping,
Or I could give him song -
But how can I give silence
My whole life long?
Poet: Wilhelmina Stitch
You’re winning. You simply cannot fail.
The only obstacle is doubt;
There’s not a hill you cannot scale
Once fear is put to rout.
Don’t think defeat, don’t talk defeat,
The word will rob you of your strength.
"I will succeed," This phrase repeat
Throughout the journey’s length.
The minute that “I can’t is said –
You slam a door right in your face.
Why not exclaim, "I will" instead?
Half won then is the race.
You close the door to your success
By entertaining one small fear.
Think happiness, talk happiness,
Watch joy then coming near.
The word "impossible" is black.
“I can" is like a flame of gold.
No whining, heart! Eyes! look not back;
Be strong, O Will! and bold.
You’re winning, though the journey’s slow;
You’re gaining steadily each day.
O Courage! what a warmth and glow
You shed along your way.
Keep Forever At It
Poet: David V. Bush
A toast to the man who works like a trooper,
Who makes hard work his great habit.
The gods shall descend with life's blessing when
A fellow forever keeps at it.
There are prizes in life for the worker and toiler,
To those who make work their chief habit.
There are diamonds all set in life's coronet
For the man who forever keeps at it.
There are honors and friendships by work oft cemented.
For those who make work their one habit.
There are souls knit together to breast life's roughest weather,
For those who forever keep at it.
Now And Waitahile
Poet: Nixon Waterman
Little Jimmie Waitawhile and little Johnnie Now
Grew up in homes just side by side; and that, you see, is how
I came to know them both so well, for almost every day
I used to watch them in their work and also in their play.
Little Jimmie Waitawhile was bright and steady, too.
But never ready to perform what he was asked to do;
"Wait just a minute," he would say, "I'll do it pretty soon,"
And things he should have done at morn were never done at noon.
He put off studying until his boyhood days were gone;
He put off getting him a home till age came stealing on;
He put off everything and so his life was not a joy,
And all because he waited ''just a minute" while a boy.
But little Johnnie Now would say, when he had work to do,
"There's no time like the present time," and gaily put it through.
And when his time for play arrived he so enjoyed the fun;
His mind was not distressed with thoughts of duties left undone.
In boyhood he was studious and laid him out a plan
Of action to be followed when he grew to be a man;
And life was as he willed it, all because he'd not allow
His tasks to be neglected, but would always do them "now."
Today - Tomorrow
Poet: John Imrie
'Tis lessons from the past we borrow,-
To-day is ours, but not to-morrow;
Then, smile to-day, leave care and sorrow
One day a-head, say - "Yes, to-morrow"
Make friends to-day for use to-morrow,
They'll help to drive away dull sorrow;
And from their friendship sweetness borrow
To bless each day and crown each morrow.
"To-morrow never comes" but each "to-day,"
Links out life's chain from cradle to decay!
The Poet And His Song
Poet: Paul Laurence Dunbar
A song is but a little thing,
And yet what joy it is to sing!
In hours of toil it gives me zest,
And when at eve I long for rest;
When cows come home along the bars,
And in the fold I hear the bell,
As Night, the shepherd, herds his stars,
I sing my song, and all is well.
There are no ears to hear my lays,
No lips to lift a word of praise;
But still, with faith unfaltering,
I live and laugh and love and sing.
What matters yon unheeding throng?
They cannot feel my spirit’s spell,
Since life is sweet and love is long,
I sing my song, and all is well.
My days are never days of ease;
I till my ground and prune my trees.
When ripened gold is all the plain,
I put my sickle to the grain.
I labor hard, and toil and sweat,
While others dream within the dell;
But even while my brow is wet,
I sing my song, and all is well.
Sometimes the sun, unkindly hot,
My garden makes a desert spot;
Sometimes a blight upon the tree
Takes all my fruit away from me;
And then with throes of bitter pain
Rebellious passions rise and swell;
But - life is more than fruit or grain,
And so I sing, and all is well.
One Step At A Time
Poet: Lillian E. Curtis
If a long and toilsome ladder
You were trying to climb,
You would not reach the top at once,
But by one step at a time.
Doubtless all of you are trying,
Different ladders to climb,
But be sure you only take
One step at a time.
One step and take it surely,
Not like a conceited fop,
And soon you'll find my friend.
That you have reached the top.
A Little Word
Poet: Daniel C. Colesworthy
A little word in kindness spoken,
A motion or a tear,
Has often healed the heart that's broken,
And made a friend sincere.
A word -- a look -- has crushed to earth
Full many a budding flower,
Which, had a smile but owned its birth,
Would bless life's darkest hour.
Then deem it not an idle thing,
A pleasant word to speak;
The face you wear - the thoughts you bring -
A heart may heal or break.
A Will Is Half Of Labor
Poet: J. J. Thorne
A will is a way and preparation
Our duties to fulfill,
A field cleared and nicely walled
For those that are willing to till.
A plow to upturn the sod
And also run the row
A drill to sow and cover well
That the seed may sprout and grow.
A hoe to thin out the plants
And keep the weeds away
A crop flourishing to advance
The tiller double pay.
If You Can
by William Arthur Ward
If you can imagine it,
You can possess it.
If you can dream it,
You can become it.
If you can envision it,
You can attain it.
If you can picture it,
You can achieve it.
by Henry VanDyke
Four things a man must learn to do
If he would make his record true:
To think without confusion clearly;
To love his fellow-men sincerely;
To act from honest motives purely;
To trust in God and Heaven securely.
by Mary C. Ryan
Fair as a rainbow in summer
After a chilling blast,
Is the sweet smile of forgiveness
When anger's clouds are past.
For hearts estranged by mere trifles,
Are united again,
If both will relent and forget
A transient throe of pain.
Poet: Ella Wheeler Wilcox
The hurry of the times affects us so
In this swift rushing hour, we crowd, and press,
And thrust each other backward, as we go,
And do not pause to lay sufficient stress
Upon that good, strong, true word, Earnestness.
In our impetuous haste, could we but know
Its full, deep meaning, its vast import, oh,
Then might we grasp the secret of success!
In that receding age when men were great,
The bone, and sinew, of their purpose lay
In this one word. God likes an earnest soul -
Too earnest to be eager. Soon or late
It leaves the spent horde breathless by the way,
And stands serene, triumphant, at the goal.
Poet: Caleb Davis Bradlee
To God I look, the Judge of all,
My Father and my King!
While at his feet I humbly fall.
And grateful praises bring.
In Christ I trust, God's Son, I know,
The life, the truth, the way;
And in whatever place I go
My solace and my stay!
God's Spirit is my comfort sure,
In all the steps I take;
And all things I can well endure,
If that my conscience wake!
The "Holy Book" God's blessed truth,
Is all the "creed" I know;
My help and light from early youth,
My peace in joy and woe.
Poet: Arthur Franklin Fuller
You who are gentle, generous, kind,
Will care to own this book -
Whose sympathies are all refined -
Its faults will overlook;
You will love the aspiration
Esteem the work, the thought -
Your warm appreciation
Is all that's wished or sought.
Poet: Eloise A. Skimings
"Silence is golden," Seneca spoke most truly;
When envy and discord are borne on the stream.
Pour oil on the waters when the waves prove unruly,
nd joy and contentment will rule there supreme.
Bless'd are the peacemakers, tis the Lord who has spoken,
For they shall inherit the kingdom of Heaven;
Then strew seeds of forgiveness, of silence mute token,
And to him who requires most, let much be given.
Poet: Eugene Field
I love the May because it seems to me
So full of secrets and of whisperings;
Telling the heart in confidence of things,
Yet unaccomplished and mysteriously,
Like a fleet harbinger of victory,
With glowing, undefined prefigurings,
Reveals an opulence of spoils ; and brings
A present joy in what is yet to be.
How like the far-off ringing of a chime.
The soft south wind; and each succeeding day.
Moved by this prelude of a sunnier clime.
Sings a new song and finds a theme more gay.
It is a gay, it is a hopeful time.
And this is why I love the month of May.
Poet: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
As a fond mother, when the day is o’er,
Leads by the hand her little child to bed,
Half willing, half reluctant to be led,
And leave his broken playthings on the floor,
Still gazing at them through the open door,
Nor wholly reassured and comforted
By promises of others in their stead,
Which, though more splendid, may not please him more;
So Nature deals with us, and takes away
Our playthings one by one, and by the hand
Leads us to rest so gently, that we go
Scarce knowing if we wish to go or stay,
Being too full of sleep to understand
How far the unknown transcends the what we know.
by Ralph Waldo Emerson
For this is Love's nobility:
Not to scatter bread and gold.
Goods and raiment, bought and sold;
But to hold fast our simple sense,
And speak the speech of innocence,
And with hand and body and blood
To make our bosom counsel good.
For he that feeds men serveth few;
He serves all who dares be true.
Poet: Ellwood Haines Stokes
Up from the solemn sea,
Lo! the bright sun! and as his beams unfold,
Sky, clouds and sea, are all baptized with gold!
The splendor widens - more than all can hold!
So are God's gifts to me,
And this sun-glory on the sea and sky,
Is but overflowings of His throne on high.
A Fair Exchange!
Poet: Althea Randolph
Teach me, little birdie,
How to sing like you;
I shall do exactly
What you tell me to!
Then in turn I'll show you
How to talk like me;
That will be, dear birdie.
Fair as fair can be!
I Thank Thee
Poet: Alice Cary
I thank Thee that the grass and the red rose
Do what they can to tell
How spirit through all forms of matter flows;
For every thistle by the common way,
Wearing its homely beauty; for each spring
That, sweet and homeless, runneth where it will;
For night and day;
For the alternate seasons, - everything
Pertaining to life's marvelous miracle.
Poet: Phoebe Cary
Let no kindness see the blindness
Of my eyes' last, long eclipse.
Never think of me as lying
By the dismal mould o'erspread:
But about the soft white piilow
Folded underneath my head.
And of summer flowers weaving
Their rich broidery o'er my bed.
Think of the immortal spirit
Living up above the sky,
And of how my face is wearing
Light of immortality;
Looking earthward, is o'erleaning
The white bastion of tbe sky.
A Fixed Idea
Poet: Amy Lowell
What torture lurks within a single thought
When grown too constant, and however kind.
However welcome still, the weary mind
Aches with its presence. Dull remembrance taught
Remembers on unceasingly; unsought
The old delight is with us but to find
That all recurring joy is pain refined.
Become a habit, and we struggle, caught.
You lie upon my heart ad on a nest.
Folded in peace, for you can never know
How crushed I am with having you at rest
Heavy upon my life, I love you so
You bind my freedom from its rightful quest.
In mercy lift your drooping wings and go.
Poet: Christina Rossetti
I wish I were a little bird
That out of sight doth soar;
I wish I were a song once heard
But often pondered o'er,
Or shadow of a lily stirred
By wind upon the floor,
Or echo of a loving word
Worth all that went before,
Or memory of a hope deferred
That springs again no more.
In My Thinking Castle
Poet: James Henry Thomas
'Tis in my castle snug and neat
That thoughts both old and new;
Are welcome. These I always greet,
For they to me are true.
New thoughts the old ones introduce;
Their hands I grasp and shake,
I tightly hold and turn not loose.
To my dull senses wake.
Old thoughts I reverence with care,
For they have paved the way
For new ones that are bright and rare, -
Which Nature's truths convey.
'Tis in my thinking castle that
I with these thougihts converse,
We have a pleasant social chat
While them with care I nurse.
Then by God's help I mold new ones,
New thoughts formed in my mold.
Each helpful thought that through me runs
At some time will be told.
Poet: Ardeen Foster
Where in the shadow is yesterday's dawn?
Pah! but a mite in the whirlwind of space —
Off, linking arms with the centuries gone:
Though she has willed us to-day in her place.
Calling The Flowers
Poet: Mary Mapes Dodge
Blow loud for the blossoms that live in the trees,
And low for the daisies and clover;
But as soft as I can for the violets shy,
Yes softly — and over and over.
Poet: Edgar Allan Poe
From childhood's hour I have not been
As others were - I have not seen
As others saw - I could not bring
My passions from a common spring -
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow - I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone -
And all I lov'd - I lov'd alone -
Then - in my childhood - in the dawn
Of a most stormy life - was drawn
From ev'ry depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still -
From the torrent, or the fountain -
From the red cliff of the mountain -
From the sun that 'round me roll'd
In its autumn tint of gold -
From the lightning in the sky
As it pass'd me flying by -
From the thunder, and the storm -
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view
Poet: Robert Louis Stevenson
Of speckled eggs the birdie sings
And nests among the trees;
The sailor sings of ropes and things
In ships upon the seas.
The children sing in far Japan,
The children sing in Spain;
The organ with the organ man
Is singing in the rain.
By Faith and Not By Sight
Poet: Clara McAlister Brooks
Following Jesus from day to day,
Gently He leads me along the way;
E’er will I trust Him all foes despite,
By faith and not by sight.
Walking with Jesus I’m in the light,
Walking with Jesus in robes of white;
Walking with Jesus my way is bright,
By faith and not by sight.
Poet: Rudyard Kipling
If I have taken the common clay
And wrought it cunningly
In the shape of a God that was digged a clod,
The greater honour to me.
If thou hast taken the common clay,
And thy hands be not free
From the taint of the soil, thou hast made thy spoil
The greater shame to thee.
Poet: John Kendrick Bangs
When comes some dull and dreary morn
When you're deserted and forlorn,
By strangers all begirt, alone,
With not a friend to call your own,
Seek out some breezy garden-close
Where bloom the lily and the rose.
Their friendly nod, so frank and free.
Will ease your lack of company.
Poet: Kate Louise Wheeler
We never know what we can do, until we try;
He who accomplishes the least, stands idly by;
While he who makes the most of life, keeps plodding on,
And earns at least his perfect rest when strength is gone.
We never know what we can do, until we dare;
He who would gain the victor’s place, must not despair;
For tho’ life’s burdens seem too great, the way too long,
He will succeed who conquers doubt by prayer and song.
Clouds on Whiteface
Poet: Lucy Larcom
So lovingly the clouds caress his head
The mountain-monarch ; he, severe and hard,
With white face set like flint horizon-ward;
They weaving softest fleece of gold and red,
And gossamer of airiest silver thread,
To wrap his form, wind-beaten, thunder-scarred.
They linger tenderly, and fain would stay,
Since he, earth-rooted, may not float away.
He upward looks, but moves not; wears their hues;
Draws them unto himself; their beauty shares;
And sometimes his own semblance seems to lose,
His grandeur and their grace so interfuse;
And when his angels leave him unawares,
A sullen rock, his brow to heaven he bares.
Poems (sorted by topic) to Encourage and Inspire
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