52 Greatest Poems About Life

Life is truly a rollercoaster ride. Sometimes, it raises us up to the happiest moments of our lives and brings us down to the saddest parts. We never know what tomorrow holds, yet we just hope it’ll be better.

From being hopeful for things to work out to being religious after facing difficulties in our lives, these are fifty-two (52) greatest poems about life that you can relate to. If you want to ride this rollercoaster ride of emotions once again, these poems are for you.

Keep reading!

Hopeful Poems About Life


Oh! I feel the growing glory
Of our life upon this sphere,
Of the life that like a river
Runs forever and forever,
From the somewhere to the here,
And still on and onward flowing,
Leads us out to larger knowing,
Through the hidden, to the clear.

And I feel a deep thanksgiving
For the sorrows I have known;
For the worries and the crosses,
And the grieving and the losses,
That along my path were sown.
Now the great eternal meaning
Of each trouble I am gleaning,
And the harvest is my own.

I am opulent with knowledge
Of the Purpose and the Cause.
And I go my way rejoicing,
And in singing seek the voicing
Of love’s never-failing laws.
From the now, unto the Yonder,
Full of beauty and of wonder,
Life flows ever without pause.

And I feel the exaltation
Of a child that loves its play,
Though the ranks of friends are thinning,
Still the end is but beginning
Of a larger, fuller day,
And the joy of life is spilling
From my spirit, as all willing
I go speeding on my way.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox


Oh! that my young life were a lasting dream!
My spirit not awakening, till the beam
Of an Eternity should bring the morrow.
Yes! tho’ that long dream were of hopeless sorrow,
‘Twere better than the cold reality
Of waking life, to him whose heart must be,
And hath been still, upon the lovely earth,
A chaos of deep passion, from his birth.
But should it be, that dream eternally
Continuing, as dreams have been to me
In my young boyhood, should it thus be given,
‘Twere folly still to hope for higher Heaven.
For I have revell’d, when the sun was bright
I’ the summer sky, in dreams of living light
And loveliness, have left my very heart
In climes of my imagining, apart
From mine own home, with beings that have been
Of mine own thought, what more could I have seen?
‘Twas once, and only once, and the wild hour
From my remembrance shall not pass, some power
Or spell had bound me, ’twas the chilly wind
Came o’er me in the night, and left behind
Its image on my spirit, or the moon
Shone on my slumbers in her lofty noon
Too coldly, or the stars, howe’er it was
That dream was as that night-wind, let it pass.

I have been happy, tho’ in a dream.
I have been happy, and I love the theme:
Dreams! in their vivid coloring of life,
As in that fleeting, shadowy, misty strife

Of semblance with reality, which brings
To the delirious eye, more lovely things
Of Paradise and Love, and all our own!
Than young Hope in his sunniest hour hath known.

Edgar Allan Poe


Life, thou art misery, or as such to me;
One name serves both, or I no difference see;
Tho’ some there live would call thee heaven below,
But that’s a nickname I’ve not learn’d to know:
A wretch with poverty and pains replete,
Where even useless stones beneath his feet
Cannot be gather’d up to say “they’re mine,”
Sees little heaven in a life like thine.
Hope lends a sorry shelter from thy storms,
And largely promises, but small performs.
O irksome life! were but this hour my last!
This weary breath fain sighs for its decay;
O that my soul death’s dreary vale had past,
And met the sunshine of a better day!

John Clare


Oh! that my young life were a lasting dream!
My spirit not awakening, till the beam
Of an Eternity should bring the morrow.
Yes! tho’ that long dream were of hopeless sorrow,
‘Twere better than the cold reality
Of waking life, to him whose heart must be,
And hath been still, upon the lovely earth,
A chaos of deep passion, from his birth.
But should it be, that dream eternally
Continuing, as dreams have been to me
In my young boyhood, should it thus be given,
‘Twere folly still to hope for higher Heaven.
For I have revell’d, when the sun was bright
I’ the summer sky, in dreams of living light
And loveliness, have left my very heart
In climes of my imagining, apart
From mine own home, with beings that have been
Of mine own thought, what more could I have seen?
‘Twas once, and only once, and the wild hour
From my remembrance shall not pass, some power
Or spell had bound me, ’twas the chilly wind
Came o’er me in the night, and left behind
Its image on my spirit, or the moon
Shone on my slumbers in her lofty noon
Too coldly, or the stars, howe’er it was
That dream was as that night-wind, let it pass.

I have been happy, tho’ in a dream.
I have been happy, and I love the theme:
Dreams! in their vivid coloring of life,
As in that fleeting, shadowy, misty strife
Of semblance with reality, which brings
To the delirious eye, more lovely things
Of Paradise and Love, and all our own!
Than young Hope in his sunniest hour hath known.

Edgar Allan Poe

Life Is Jolly

This life is jolly, O!
I envy no man’s lot;
My eyes can much admire,
And still my heart crave not;
There’s no true joy in gold,
It breeds desire for more;
Whatever wealth man has,
Desire can keep him poor.

This life is jolly, O!
Power has his fawning slaves,
But if he rests his mind,
Those wretches turn bold knaves.
Fame’s field is full of flowers,
It dazzles as we pass,
But men who walk that field
Starve for the common grass.

This life is jolly, O!
Let others know they die,
Enough to know I live,
And make no question why;
I care not whence I came,
Nor whither I shall go;
Let others think of these,
This life is jolly, O!

William Henry Davies


A crust of bread and a corner to sleep in,
A minute to smile and an hour to weep in,
A pint of joy to a peck of trouble,
And never a laugh but the moans come double;
And that is life!
A crust and a corner that love makes precious,
With a smile to warm and the tears to refresh us;
And joy seems sweeter when cares come after,
And a moan is the finest of foils for laughter;
And that is life!

Paul Laurence Dunbar

Life is Struggle

To wear out heart, and nerves, and brain,
And give oneself a world of pain;
Be eager, angry, fierce, and hot,
Imperious, supple God knows what,
For what’s all one to have or not;
O false, unwise, absurd, and vain!
For ’tis not joy, it is not gain,
It is not in itself a bliss,
Only it is precisely this
That keeps us all alive.

To say we truly feel the pain,
And quite are sinking with the strain;
Entirely, simply, undeceived,
Believe, and say we ne’er believed
The object, e’en were it achieved,
A thing we e’er had cared to keep;
With heart and soul to hold it cheap,
And then to go and try it again;
O false, unwise, absurd, and vain!
O, ’tis not joy, and ’tis not bliss,
Only it is precisely this
That keeps us still alive.

Arthur Hugh Clough


A dewy flower, bathed in crimson light,
May touch the soul–a pure and beauteous sight;
A golden river flashing ‘neath the sun,
May reach the spot where life’s dark waters run;
Yet, when the sun is gone, the splendor dies,
With drooping head the tender flower lies.
And such is life; a golden mist of light,
A tangled web that glitters in the sun;
When shadows come, the glory takes its flight,
The treads are dark and worn, and life is done.
Oh! tears, that chill us like the dews of eve,
Why come unbid–why should we ever grieve?
Why is it, though life hath its leaves of gold,
The book each day some sorrow must unfold!
What human heart with truth can dare to say
No grief is mine–this is a perfect day?
Oh! poet, take your harp of gold and sing,
And all the earth with heavenly music fill!
You may do this, yet song can never bring
One sunbeam back, let song be what it will.
Oh! painter, you can catch the glowing light
That tints the skies before the coming night;
With throbbing heart and upward lifted eyes,
You paint the splendor of the purple skies;
Yet tell me, does your genius hold the key
To life’s strange secrets and its mystery?
Oh! life is sad, yet sunshine, too, is there;
We cannot tell what spell the years may weave–
Perchance a song that dies upon the air–
Perhaps a shadow that the sun doth leave.

By Fannie Isabelle Sherrick

Life In A Love

Escape me?
While I am I, and you are you,
So long as the world contains us both,
Me the loving and you the loth
While the one eludes, must the other pursue.
My life is a fault at last, I fear
It seems too much like a fate, indeed!
Though I do my best I shall scarce succeed
But what if I fail of my purpose here?
It is but to keep the nerves at strain,
To dry one’s eyes and laugh at a fall,
And, baffled, get up and begin again,
So the chace takes up one’s life ‘that’s all.
While, look but once from your farthest bound
At me so deep in the dust and dark,
No sooner the old hope goes to ground
Than a new one, straight to the self-same mark,
I shape me

Robert Browning

Life Is Love

Is anyone sad in the world, I wonder?
Does anyone weep on a day like this,
With the sun above and the green earth under?
Why, what is life but a dream of bliss?

With the sun and the skies and the birds above me,
Birds that sing as they wheel and fly –
With the winds to follow and say they loved me –
Who could be lonely? O ho, not I!

Somebody said in the street this morning,
As I opened my window to let in the light,
That the darkest day of the world was dawning;
But I looked, and the East was a gorgeous sight

One who claims that he knows about it
Tells me the Earth is a vale of sin;
But I and the bees and the birds – we doubt it,
And think it a world worth living in.

Someone says that hearts are fickle,
That love is sorrow, that life is care,
And the reaper Death, with his shining sickle,
Gathers whatever is bright and fair.

I told the thrush, and we laughed together –
Laughed till the woods were all a-ring;
And he said to me, as he plumed each feather,
“Well, people must croak, if they cannot sing!”

Up he flew, but his song, remaining,
Rang like a bell in my heart all day,
And silenced the voices of weak complaining
That pipe like insects along the way.

O world of light, and O world of beauty!
Where are there pleasures so sweet as thine?
Yes, life is love, and love is duty;
And what heart sorrows? O no, not mine!

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Life’s Harmonies

Let no man pray that he know not sorrow,
Let no soul ask to be free from pain,
For the gall of to-day is the sweet of to-morrow,
And the moment’s loss is the lifetime’s gain.

Through want of a thing does its worth redouble,
Through hunger’s pangs does the feast content,
And only the heart that has harbored trouble,
Can fully rejoice when joy is sent.

Let no man shrink from the bitter tonics
Of grief, and yearning, and need, and strife,
For the rarest chords in the soul’s harmonies,
Are found in the minor strains of life.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Life’s Joys.
I have been pondering what our teachers call
The mystery of Pain; and lo! my thought
After it’s half-blind reaching out has caught
This truth and held it fast. We may not fall
Beyond our mounting; stung by life’s annoy,
Deeper we feel the mystery of Joy.

Sometimes they steal across us like a breath
Of Eastern perfume in a darkened room,
These joys of ours; we grope on through the gloom
Seeking some common thing, and from its sheath
Unloose, unknowing, some bewildering scent
Of spice-thronged memories of the Orient.

Sometimes they dart across our turbid sky
Like a quick flash after a heated day.
A moment, where the sombrous shadows lay
We see a glory. Though it passed us by
No earthly power can filch that dazzling glow
From memory’s eye, that instant’s shine and show.

Life is so full of joys. The alluring sea,
This morning clear and placid, may, ere night,
Toss like a petulant child, and when the light
Of a new morning dawns sweep grand and free
A mighty power. If fierce, or mild, or bright,
With every tide flows in a fresh delight.

I can remember well when first I knew
The fragrance of white clover. There I lay
On the warm July grass and heard the play
Of sun-browned insects, and the breezes blew
To my drowsed sense the scent the blossoms had;
The subtle sweetness stayed, and I was glad.

Nor passed the gladness. Though the years have gone
(A many years, Beloved, since that day,)
Whenever by the roadside or away
In radiant summer fields, wandering alone
Or with glad children, to my restless sight
Shows that pale head, comes back the old delight.

Oh! the dark water, and the filling sail!
The scudding like a sea-mew, with the hand
Firm on the tiller! See, the red-shored land
Receding, as we brave the hastening gale!
White gleam the wave-tops, and the breakers’ roar
Sounds thunderingly on the far distant shore.

This mad hair flying in the breeze blows wild
Across my face. See, there, the gathering squall,
That dark line to the eastward, watch it crawl
Stealthily towards us o’er the snow-wreaths piled
Close on each other! Ah! what joy to be
Drunk with salt air, in battle with the sea!

So many joys, and yet I have but told
Of simple things, the joys of air and sea!
Not all these things are worth one hour with thee,
One moment, when thy daring arms enfold
My body, and all other, meaner joys,
Fade from me like a child’s forgotten toys.

One thought is ever with me, glorying all
Life’s common aims. Surely will dawn a day
Bright with an unknown rapture, when thy way
Will be my journey-road, and I can call
These joys our joys, for thou wilt walk with me
Down budding pathways to the abounding sea.

Sophie M. (Almon) Hensley

Life’s Key

The hand that fashioned me, tuned my ear
To chord with the major key,
In the darkest moments of life I hear
Strains of courage, and hope, and cheer
From choirs that I cannot see.
And the music of life seems so inspired
That it will not let me grow sad or tired.

Yet through and under the major strain,
I hear with the passing of years,
The mournful minor measure of pain,
Of souls that struggle and toil in vain
For a goal that never nears.
And the sorrowful cadence of good gone wrong,
Breaks more and more into earth’s glad song.

And oft in the dark of the night I wake
And think of sorrowing lives,
And I long to comfort the hearts that ache,
To sweeten the cup that is bitter to take,
And to strengthen each soul that strives.
I long to cry to them ‘Do not fear,
Help is coming and aid is near.’

However desolate, weird, or strange
Life’s melody sounds to you,
Before to-morrow the air may change,
And the Great Director of music arrange
A programme perfectly new.
And the dirge in minor may suddenly be
Turned into a jubilant song of glee.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

A Life’s Parallels.

Never on this side of the grave again,
On this side of the river,
On this side of the garner of the grain,
Never, –

Ever while time flows on and on and on,
That narrow noiseless river,
Ever while corn bows heavy-headed, wan,
Ever, –
Never despairing, often fainting, ruing,

But looking back, ah never!
Faint yet pursuing, faint yet still pursuing

Christina Georgina Rossetti

The Change Has Come

The change has come, and Helen sleeps–
Not sleeps; but wakes to greater deeps
Of wisdom, glory, truth, and light,
Than ever blessed her seeking sight,
In this low, long, lethargic night,
Worn out with strife
Which men call life.

The change has come, and who would say
“I would it were not come to-day”?
What were the respite till to-morrow?
Postponement of a certain sorrow,
From which each passing day would borrow!
Let grief be dumb,
The change has come.

Paul Laurence Dunbar

Romantic Poems About Life

Life And I

Life and I are lovers, straying
Arm in arm along:
Often like two children Maying,
Full of mirth and song,

Life plucks all the blooming hours
Growing by the way;
Binds them on my brow like flowers,
Calls me Queen of May

Then again, in rainy weather,
We sit vis-a-vis,
Planning work we’ll do together
In the years to be.

Sometimes Life denies me blisses,
And I frown or pout;
But we make it up with kisses
Ere the day is out.

Woman-like, I sometimes grieve him,
Try his trust and faith,
Saying I shall one day leave him
For his rival, Death.

Then he always grows more zealous,
Tender, and more true;
Loves the more for being jealous,
As all lovers do.

Though I swear by stars above him,
And by worlds beyond,
That I love him – love him – love him;
Though my heart is fond;

Though he gives me, doth my lover,
Kisses with each breath – 
I shall one day throw him over,
And plight troth with Death.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox


Oh Life! I breathe thee in the breeze,
I feel thee bounding in my veins,
I see thee in these stretching trees,
These flowers, this still rock’s mossy stains.

This stream of odours flowing by
From clover-field and clumps of pine,
This music, thrilling all the sky,
From all the morning birds, are thine.

Thou fill’st with joy this little one,
That leaps and shouts beside me here,
Where Isar’s clay-white rivulets run
Through the dark woods like frighted deer.

Ah! must thy mighty breath, that wakes
Insect and bird, and flower and tree,
From the low trodden dust, and makes
Their daily gladness, pass from me,

Pass, pulse by pulse, till o’er the ground
These limbs, now strong, shall creep with pain,
And this fair world of sight and sound
Seem fading into night again?

The things, oh LIFE! thou quickenest, all
Strive upwards toward the broad bright sky,
Upward and outward, and they fall
Back to earth’s bosom when they die.

All that have borne the touch of death,
All that shall live, lie mingled there,
Beneath that veil of bloom and breath,
That living zone ‘twixt earth and air.

There lies my chamber dark and still,
The atoms trampled by my feet,
There wait, to take the place I fill
In the sweet air and sunshine sweet.

Well, I have had my turn, have been
Raised from the darkness of the clod,
And for a glorious moment seen
The brightness of the skirts of God;

And knew the light within my breast,
Though wavering oftentimes and dim,
The power, the will, that never rest,
And cannot die, were all from him.

Dear child! I know that thou wilt grieve
To see me taken from thy love,
Wilt seek my grave at Sabbath eve,
And weep, and scatter flowers above.

Thy little heart will soon be healed,
And being shall be bliss, till thou
To younger forms of life must yield
The place thou fill’st with beauty now.

When we descend to dust again,
Where will the final dwelling be
Of Thought and all its memories then,
My love for thee, and thine for me?

William Cullen Bryant


On a bleak, bald hill with a dull world under,
The dreary world of the Commonplace,
I have stood when the whole world seemed a blunder
Of dotard Time, in an aimless race.
With worry about me and want before me – 
Yet deep in my soul was a rapture spring
That made me cry to the grey sky o’er me:
‘Oh, I know this life is a goodly thing!’

I have given sweet years to a thankless duty
While cold and starving, though clothed and fed,
For a young heart’s hunger for joy and beauty
Is harder to bear than the need of bread.
I have watched the wane of a sodden season,
Which let hope wither, and made care thrive,
And through it all, without earthly reason,
I have thrilled with the glory of being alive.

And now I stand by the great sea’s splendour,
Where love and beauty feed heart and eye.
The brilliant light of the sun grows tender
As it slants to the shore of the by and by.
I prize each hour as a golden treasure – 
A pearl Time drops from a broken string:
And all my ways are the ways of pleasure,
And I know this life is a goodly thing.

And I know, too, that not in the seeing,
Or having, or doing the things we would,
Lies that deep rapture that comes from being
And not from Pleasure the heart may borrow
That rare contentment for which we strive,
Unless through trouble, and want, and sorrow
It has thrilled with the glory of being alive.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Life In A Dream

There is nothing so sweet as our life in our dreams,
When we soar far on fancy’s swift wing;
For a thing in our dreams is all that it seems,
And the songs are so sweet that we sing.
Ah! the sun shines the brightest, and stars twinkle lightest
At the moon in her silvery beams!

There is nothing so gay as the life in our dreams,
With its joy and its laughter and mirth;
For the pleasure that teems is far greater, one deems,
Than any he finds in the earth.
There are homes are our natal, and nothing is fatal
In the beautiful land of our dreams!

There is nothing so bright as the life in our dreams,
Far away from earth’s trickery chance;
There the music’s wild screams and the wine in its streams
Are both lost in the song and the dance.
Oh! our joy is the sweetest and life is completest,
Ah! the life in our beautiful dreams!

There is nothing serene as the life in our dreams,
When the dove to his mate softly cooes
In the groves by the streams and the moon’s silver beams,
Where the swain oft his maid gently wooes.
There the swains are the rarest and maids are the fairest,
And their love is as true as it seems!

Edward Smyth Jones

O Thou that walkest with nigh hopeless feet
Past the one harbour, built for thee and thine.
Doth no stray odour from its table greet,
No truant beam from fire or candle shine?

At his wide door the host doth stand and call;
At every lattice gracious forms invite;
Thou seest but a dull-gray, solid wall
In forest sullen with the things of night!

Thou cravest rest, and Rest for thee doth crave,
The white sheet folded down, white robe apart.–
Shame, Faithless! No, I do not mean the grave!
I mean Love’s very house and hearth and heart.

George MacDonald

Sad Poems About Life


Life, believe, is not a dream
So dark as sages say;
Oft a little morning rain
Foretells a pleasant day.
Sometimes there are clouds of gloom,
But these are transient all;
If the shower will make the roses bloom,
O why lament its fall?
Rapidly, merrily,
Life’s sunny hours flit by,
Gratefully, cheerily
Enjoy them as they fly!
What though Death at times steps in,
And calls our Best away?
What though sorrow seems to win,
O’er hope, a heavy sway?
Yet Hope again elastic springs,
Unconquered, though she fell;
Still buoyant are her golden wings,
Still strong to bear us well.
Manfully, fearlessly,
The day of trial bear,
For gloriously, victoriously,
Can courage quell despair!

Charlotte Bronte


The list is long, the stories read the same;
Strong mortal man is but a flesh-hued toy;
Some have their ending in a life of shame;
Others drink deeply from the glass of joy;
Some see the cup dashed dripping from their lip
Or drinking, find the wine has turned to gall,
While others taste the sweets they fain would sip
And then Death comes–the sequel to it all.

Edwin C. Ranck


This world that we’re a-livin’ in
Is mighty hard to beat,
For you get a thorn with every rose –
But ain’t the roses sweet!



Life, like a romping schoolboy, full of glee,
Doth bear us on his shoulder for a time.
There is no path too steep for him to climb.
With strong, lithe limbs, as agile and as free,
As some young roe, he speeds by vale and sea,
By flowery mead, by mountain peak sublime,
And all the world seems motion set to rhyme,
Till, tired out, he cries, “Now carry me!”
In vain we murmur; “Come,” Life says, “Fair play!”
And seizes on us.    God! he goads us so!
He does not let us sit down all the day.
At each new step we feel the burden grow,
Till our bent backs seem breaking as we go,
Watching for Death to meet us on the way.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox


Hearken, O dear, now strikes the hour we die;
We, who in our strange kiss
Have proved a dream the world’s realities,
Turned each from other’s darkness with a sigh,
Need heed no more of life, waste no more breath
On any other journey, but of death.

And yet: Oh, know we well
How each of us must prove Love’s infidel;
Still out of ecstasy turn trembling back
To earth’s same empty track
Of leaden day by day, and hour by hour, and be
Of all things lovely the cold mortuary.

Walter De La Mare

Life And Death

Life is not sweet. One day it will be sweet
To shut our eyes and die:
Nor feel the wild flowers blow, nor birds dart by
With flitting butterfly,
Nor grass grow long above our heads and feet,
Nor hear the happy lark that soars sky high,
Nor sigh that spring is fleet and summer fleet,
Nor mark the waxing wheat,
Nor know who sits in our accustomed seat.

Life is not good. One day it will be good
To die, then live again;
To sleep meanwhile: so not to feel the wane
Of shrunk leaves dropping in the wood,
Nor hear the foamy lashing of the main,
Nor mark the blackened bean-fields, nor where stood
Rich ranks of golden grain
Only dead refuse stubble clothe the plain:
Asleep from risk, asleep from pain.

Christina Georgina Rossetti

Life And Death

“Death after life” shall we sigh as we say it,
Sigh as if death were the end for us all,
Pale at the thought, as in silence we weigh it,
Yield our dull souls to it, bending in thrall?

“Life after death” – look ahead, weakling spirit –
Sure is the way to a world that is ours.
Death is fruition, why then should we fear it?
Death – the fruition of life’s budding powers.

Helen Leah Reed

Life Is The Body’s Light

Life is the body’s light; which, once declining,
Those crimson clouds i’ th’ cheeks and lips leave shining:
Those counter-changed tabbies in the air,
The sun once set, all of one colour are:
So, when death comes, fresh tinctures lose their place,
And dismal darkness then doth smutch the face.

Robert Herrick

Life Laughs Onward  

Rambling I looked for an old abode
Where, years back, one had lived I knew;
Its site a dwelling duly showed,
But it was new.

I went where, not so long ago,
The sod had riven two breasts asunder;
Daisies throve gaily there, as though
No grave were under.

I walked along a terrace where
Loud children gambolled in the sun;
The figure that had once sat there
Was missed by none.

Life laughed and moved on unsubdued,
I saw that Old succumbed to Young:
‘Twas well. My too regretful mood
Died on my tongue.

Thomas Hardy

The Life Of Earth

The life of earth, how full of pain,
Which greets us on our day of birth,
Nor leaves us while we yet retain
The life of earth.

There is a shadow on our mirth,
Our sun is blotted out with rain,
And all our joys are little worth.

Yet oh, when life begins to wane,
And we must sail the doubtful firth,
How wild the longing to regain
The life of earth!

Robert Fuller Murray

Life Or Death?

Is there a secret Joy, that may not weep,
For every flower that ends its little span,
For every child that groweth up to man,
For every captive bird a cage doth keep,
For every aching eye that went to sleep
Long ages back, when other eyes began
To see and know and love as now they can,
Unravelling God’s wonders heap by heap?
Or doth the Past lie ‘mid Eternity
In charnel dens that rot and reek alway,
A dismal light for those that go astray,
A pit of foul deformity–to be,
Beauty, a dreadful source of growth for thee
When thou wouldst lift thine eyes to greet the day?

George MacDonald

Life’s Burying-Ground.

My graveyard holds no once-loved human forms,
Grown hideous and forgotten, left alone,
But every agony my heart has known, –
The new-born trusts that died, the drift of storms.

I visit every day the shadowy grove;
I bury there my outraged tender thought;
I bring the insult for the love I sought,
And my contempt, where I had tried to love.

Rose Hawthorne Lathrop

Life’s Seasons

    When all the world was Mayday,
    And all the skies were blue,
    Young innocence made playday
    Among the flowers and dew;
    Then all of life was Mayday,
    And clouds were none or few.

    When all the world was Summer,
    And morn shone overhead,
    Love was the sweet newcomer
    Who led youth forth to wed;
    Then all of life was Summer,
    And clouds were golden red.

    When earth was all October,
    And days were gray with mist,
    On woodways, sad and sober,
    Grave memory kept her tryst;
    Then life was all October,
    And clouds were twilight-kissed.

    Now all the world’s December,
    And night is all alarm,
    Above the last dim ember
    Grief bends to keep him warm;
    Now all of life’s December,
    And clouds are driven storm.

Madison Julius Cawein

Life’s Trades.

It’s such a little thing to weep,
So short a thing to sigh;
And yet by trades the size of these
We men and women die!

Emily Elizabeth Dickinson

Life’s Tragedy

It may be misery not to sing at all
And to go silent through the brimming day.
It may be sorrow never to be loved,
But deeper griefs than these beset the way.

To have come near to sing the perfect song
And only by a half-tone lost the key,
There is the potent sorrow, there the grief,
The pale, sad staring of life’s tragedy.

To have just missed the perfect love,
Not the hot passion of untempered youth,
But that which lays aside its vanity
And gives thee, for thy trusting worship, truth–

This, this it is to be accursed indeed;
For if we mortals love, or if we sing,
We count our joys not by the things we have,
But by what kept us from the perfect thing.

Paul Laurence Dunbar

A Life Lesson

There! Little girl; don’t cry!
They have broken your doll, I know;
And your tea-set blue,
And your play-house too,
Are things of the long ago;
But childish troubles will soon pass by.
There! Little girl; don’t cry!

There! Little girl; don’t cry!
They have broken your slate, I know;
And the glad, wild ways
Of your school-girl days
Are things of the long ago;
But life and love will soon come by.
There! Little girl; don’t cry!

There! Little girl; don’t cry!
They have broken your heart, I know;
And the rainbow gleams
Of your youthful dreams
Are things of the long ago;
But heaven holds all for which you sigh.
There! Little girl; don’t cry!

James Whitcomb Riley

My Life Is Full Of Weary Days

My life is full of weary days,
But good things have not kept aloof,
Nor wander’d into other ways:
I have not lack’d thy mild reproof,
Nor golden largess of thy praise.

And now shake hands across the brink
Of that deep grave to which I go:
Shake hands once more: I cannot sink
So far’far down, but I shall know
Thy voice, and answer from below.

When in the darkness over me
The four-handed mole shall scrape,
Plant thou no dusky cypress-tree,
Nor wreathe thy cap with doleful crape,
But pledge me in the flowing grape.

And when the sappy field and wood
Grow green beneath the showery gray,
And rugged barks begin to bud,
And thro’ damp holts new-flush’d with may,
Ring sudden scritches of the jay,

Then let wise Nature work her will,
And on my clay her darnel grow;
Come only, when the days are still,
And at my headstone whisper low,
And tell me if the woodbines blow. 

Alfred Lord Tennyson

The Sonnets LXXV – So are you to my thoughts as food to life

So are you to my thoughts as food to life,
Or as sweet-seasoned showers are to the ground;
And for the peace of you I hold such strife
As ‘twixt a miser and his wealth is found.
Now proud as an enjoyer, and anon
Doubting the filching age will steal his treasure;
Now counting best to be with you alone,
Then bettered that the world may see my pleasure;
Sometimes all full with feasting on your sight,
And by and by clean starvèd for a look;
Possessing or pursuing no delight
Save what is had, or must from you be took.
Thus do I pine and surfeit day by day,
Or gluttoning on all, or all away.

William Shakespeare

Life Is Bitter

Life is bitter. All the faces of the years,
Young and old, are grey with travail and with tears.
Must we only wake to toil, to tire, to weep?
In the sun, among the leaves, upon the flowers,
Slumber stills to dreamy death the heavy hours . . .
Let me sleep.

Riches won but mock the old, unable years;
Fame’s a pearl that hides beneath a sea of tears;
Love must wither, or must live alone and weep.
In the sunshine, through the leaves, across the flowers,
While we slumber, death approaches though the hours! . . .
Let me sleep.

William Ernest Henley

Religious Poems About Life


A baby played with the surplice sleeve
Of a gentle priest; while in accents low,
The sponsors murmured the grand “I believe,”
And the priest bade the mystic waters to flow
In the name of the Father, and the Son,
And Holy Spirit — Three in One.

Spotless as a lily’s leaf,
Whiter than the Christmas snow;
Not a sign of sin or grief,
And the babe laughed, sweet and low.

A smile flitted over the baby’s face:
Or was it the gleam of its angel’s wing
Just passing then, and leaving a trace
Of its presence as it soared to sing?
A hymn when words and waters win
To grace and life a child of sin.

Not an outward sign or token,
That a child was saved from woe;
But the bonds of sin were broken,
And the babe laughed, sweet and low.

A cloud rose up to the mother’s eyes,
And out of the cloud grief’s rain fell fast;
Came the baby’s smiles, and the mother’s sighs,
Out of the future, or the past?
Ah! gleam and gloom must ever meet,
And gall must mingle with the sweet.

Yea, upon the baby’s laughter
Trickled tears:    ’tis ever so —
Mothers dread the dark hereafter;
But the babe laughed sweet and low.

And the years like waves broke on the shore
Of the mother’s heart, and her baby’s life;
But her lone heart drifted away before
Her little boy knew an hour of strife;
Drifted away on a Summer’s eve,
Ere the orphaned child knew how to grieve

Her humble grave was gently made
Where roses bloomed in Summer’s glow;
The wild birds sang where her heart was laid,
And her boy laughed sweet and low.

He drifted away from his mother’s grave,
Like a fragile flower on a great stream’s tide,
Till he heard the moan of the mighty wave,
That welcomed the stream to the ocean wide.
Out from the shore and over the deep,
He sailed away and learned to weep.

Furrowed grew the face once fair,
Under storms of human woe;
Silvered grew the dark brown hair,
And he wailed so sad and low.

The years swept on as erst they swept,
Bright wavelets once, dark billows now;
Wherever he sailed he ever wept,
A cloud hung over the darkened brow —
Over the deep and into the dark,
But no one knew where sank his bark.

Wild roses watched his mother’s tomb,
The world still laughed, ’tis ever so —
God only knows the baby’s doom,
That laughed so sweet and low.

Abram Joseph Ryan

Life Is A Privilege

Life is a privilege.    Its youthful days
Shine with the radiance of continuous Mays.
To live, to breathe, to wonder and desire,
To feed with dreams the heart’s perpetual fire;
To thrill with virtuous passions and to glow
With great ambitions – in one hour to know
The depths and heights of feeling – God! in truth
How beautiful, how beautiful is youth!
Life is a privilege.    Like some rare rose

The mysteries of the human mind unclose.
What marvels lie in earth and air and sea,
What stores of knowledge wait our opening key,
What sunny roads of happiness lead out
Beyond the realms of indolence and doubt,
And what large pleasures smile upon and bless
The busy avenues of usefulness.

Life is a privilege.    Though noontide fades
And shadows fall along the winding glades;
Though joy-blooms wither in the autumn air,
Yet the sweet scent of sympathy is there.
Pale sorrow leads us closer to our kind,
And in the serious hours of life we find
Depths in the soul of men which lend new worth
And majesty to this brief span of earth.

Life is a privilege.    If some sad fate
Sends us alone to seek the exit gate;
If men forsake us as the shadows fall,
Still does the supreme privilege of all
Come in that reaching upward of the soul
To find the welcoming presence at the goal,
And in the knowledge that our feet have trod
Paths that lead from and must lead back to God.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

The Life Of The Blessed. – From The Spanish Of Luis Ponce De Leon. (Translations.)

Region of life and light!
Land of the good whose earthly toils are o’er!
Nor frost nor heat may blight
Thy vernal beauty, fertile shore,
Yielding thy blessed fruits for evermore!

There without crook or sling,
Walks the good shepherd; blossoms white and red
Round his meek temples cling;
And to sweet pastures led,
His own loved flock beneath his eye is fed.

He guides, and near him they
Follow delighted, for he makes them go
Where dwells eternal May,
And heavenly roses blow,
Deathless, and gathered but again to grow.

He leads them to the height
Named of the infinite and long-sought Good,
And fountains of delight;
And where his feet have stood
Springs up, along the way, their tender food.

And when, in the mid skies,
The climbing sun has reached his highest bound,
Reposing as he lies,
With all his flock around,
He witches the still air with numerous sound.

From his sweet lute flow forth
Immortal harmonies, of power to still
All passions born of earth,
And draw the ardent will
Its destiny of goodness to fulfil.

Might but a little part,
A wandering breath of that high melody,
Descend into my heart,
And change it till it be
Transformed and swallowed up, oh love! in thee.

Ah! then my soul should know,
Beloved! where thou liest at noon of day,
And from this place of woe
Released, should take its way
To mingle with thy flock and never stray.

William Cullen Bryant


All in the dark we grope along,
And if we go amiss
We learn at least which path is wrong,
And there is gain in this.

We do not always win the race,
By only running right,
We have to tread the mountain’s base
Before we reach its height.

The Christs alone no errors made;
So often had they trod
The paths that lead through light and shade,
They had become as God.

As Krishna, Buddha, Christ again,
They passed along the way,
And left those mighty truths which men
But dimly grasp to-day.

But he who loves himself the last
And knows the use of pain,
Though strewn with errors all his past,
He surely shall attain.

Some souls there are that needs must taste
Of wrong, ere choosing right;
We should not call those years a waste
Which led us to the light.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Life And Nature

I passed through the gates of the city,
The streets were strange and still,
Through the doors of the open churches
The organs were moaning shrill.

Through the doors and the great high windows
I heard the murmur of prayer,
And the sound of their solemn singing
Streamed out on the sunlit air;

A sound of some great burden
That lay on the world’s dark breast,
Of the old, and the sick, and the lonely,
And the weary that cried for rest.

I strayed through the midst of the city
Like one distracted or mad.
“Oh, Life! Oh, Life!” I kept saying,
And the very word seemed sad.

I passed through the gates of the city,
And I heard the small birds sing,
I laid me down in the meadows
Afar from the bell-ringing.

In the depth and the bloom of the meadows
I lay on the earth’s quiet breast,
The poplar fanned me with shadows,
And the veery sang me to rest.

Blue, blue was the heaven above me,
And the earth green at my feet;
“Oh, Life! Oh, Life!” I kept saying,
And the very word seemed sweet.

Archibald Lampman


“What is life?” I asked a lad,
As on with joyful bound,
He went to join the merry troop,
Upon the cricket ground.

He paus’d at once with pleasant look,
This bright-ey’d, laughing boy,
“Why, life,” said he, “is sport and mirth;
With me ’tis mostly joy.

“The tasks which I receive at school,
I feel to be unkind;
But when I get my ball and bat,
I drive them from my mind.

“With other boys I run and shout,
I throw and catch the ball,
Oh, life is a right jolly thing,
To take it all in all.”

“And what is life?” I asked a maid,
Who trod, as if on air,
So lightly she did trip along,
So bright she look’d, and fair.

The maiden stopp’d her graceful steps,
And to my words replied,
“Oh, life’s a lovely dream,” she said,
With some slight boons denied.

“But love, and health, and beauty crowns
My lot so filled with cheer,
That joy beams forth from ev’rything,
To favor’d mortals here.

“The birds and flow’rs are fill’d with joy,
With joy the birds do sing;
The very rain that comes from heav’n,
Seems loads of joy to bring.

“And when I look to future years,
The view seems brighter still,
And brighter grow the perfum’d flow’rs,
As I go up the hill.”

“And what is life?” I asked a man,
A man of middle years.
“This world is truly call’d,” he said,
“A vale of bitter tears.

“I thought this earth a bright, fair spot,
But that was long ago;
I view it now, with truer sight,
And see a world of woe.

“With disappointment and regret,
And hopes thrown to the ground,
I live, but with an aching heart
I tread life’s weary round.”

“And what is life?” This time a man
With hoary hair replied:
“This life consists of gracious boons,
With evils by their side.

“To leave the bad, and choose the good,
Is done but by the few,
And that is why mankind are such
A discontented crew.

“With greed, the pleasure now is grasp’d,
Or what they deem is so,
Not thinking that each pleasure now,
May bring a future woe.

“My son, take heed to what I say,
And see thou mark it well,
All earthly joys, too much indulg’d
Will lead you down to hell.

“For Heaven’s sake, I pray you now
To curb your youthful will,
Nor give your headstrong passions play,
To use their deadly skill.

“There’s joy, my son, all through this life,
To meet, as well as woe,
And if mankind would act aright,
Much more of it they’d know.

“With prudence, virtue, for your friends,
And caution by your side,
And faith in God’s o’erruling pow’r,
Your life will calmly glide.

“Content to bear the ills you meet,
Mix’d always with your joy,
For human prudence can’t avert
Some woes, which still annoy.

“Pray that your mind be strong and clear,
And vigorous your frame,
Your heart inspir’d with love and fear
For your Creator’s name.”

Thomas Frederick Young

Life Is Too Short.

Life is too short for any vain regretting;
Let dead delight bury its dead, I say,
And let us go upon our way forgetting
The joys and sorrows of each yesterday
Between the swift sun’s rising and its setting
We have no time for useless tears or fretting:

Life is too short.
Life is too short for any bitter feeling;
Time is the best avenger if we wait;
The years speed by, and on their wings bear healing;
We have no room for anything like hate.
This solemn truth the low mounds seem revealing
That thick and fast about our feet are stealing:
Life is too short.

Life is too short for aught but high endeavor – 
Too short for spite, but long enough for love.
And love lives on forever and forever;
It links the worlds that circle on above:
‘Tis God’s first law, the universe’s lever.
In His vast realm the radiant souls sigh never
“Life is too short.”

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Life’s Changes.

A fair young girl was to the altar led
By him she loved, the chosen of her heart;
And words of solemn import there were said,
And mutual vows were pledged till death should part.

But life was young, and death a great way off,
At least it seemed so then, on that bright morn;
And they no doubt, expected years of bliss,
And in their path the rose without a thorn.

Cherished from infancy with tenderest care,
A precious only daughter was the bride;
And when that young protector’s arm she took,
She for the first time left her parents’ side.

With all a woman’s tender, trustful heart,
She gave herself away to him she loved;
Why should she not, was he not all her own,
A choice by friends and parents too approved?

How rapidly with him the days now fly,
With him the partner of her future life;
Happy and joyous as a child she’d been,
Happy as daughter, happier still as wife.

But ere eight months in quick succession passed,
One to each human heart a dreaded foe,
Entered her house, and by a single stroke,
Blasted her hopes, and laid her idol low.

Three months of bitter anguish was endured,
But hope again revived, and she was blest,
When pressing to her heart a darling child,
Whose little head she pillowed on her breast.

Not long is she permitted to enjoy,
This sweetest bud of promise to her given;
Short as an angel’s visit was its stay,
When God, who gave it, took it up to heaven.

Ah, what a contrast one short year presents!
Replete with happiness – replete with woe;
In that brief space, a maiden called, and wife,
Widow and mother written – childless too.

Surely my friend, I need not say to thee,
Look not to earth for what it can’t bestow;
‘Tis at the best a frail and brittle reed,
Which trusting for support, will pierce thee through.

Then let us look above this fleeting earth,
To heaven and heavenly joys direct our eyes;
No lasting happiness this world affords – 
“He builds too low who builds below the skies.”

Mary Ann H. T. Bigelow

Life’s Day.

“Life’s day is too brief,” he said at dawn,
“I would it were ten times longer,
For great tasks wait for me further on.”
At noonday the wish was stronger.

His place was in the thick of the strife,
And hopes were nearing completeness,
While one was crowning the joys of life
With love’s own wonderful sweetness.

“Life’s day is too brief for all it contains,
The triumphs, the fighting, the proving,
The hopes and desires, the joys and the pains –
Too brief for the hating and loving.”

* * * * *

To-night he sits in the shadows gray,
While heavily sorrow presses.
O the long, long day! O the weary day,
With its failures and successes!

He sits in the shadows and turns his eyes
On the years that lie behind him.
“I am tired of all things now,” he cries,
And the hot tears rise and blind him.

“Rest and stillness is all that I crave,
Such robbing of strength has grief done.
Make room, dear love, in your lowly grave –
Life’s day, thank God, is a brief one!”

Jean Blewett

Life’s Grandest Things.

What is the greatest work of all?
The work that comes every day;
The work that waits us on ev’ry hand
Is work that, for us, is truly grand,
And the love of work is our pay.

What is the highest life of all?
It is living, day by day,
True to ourselves and true to the right,
Living the truth from dawn till the night,
And the love of truth for our pay.

What is the grandest thing of all – 
Is it winning Heaven some day?
No, and a thousand times say no;
‘Tis making this old world thrill and glow
With the sun of love till each shall know
Something of Heaven here below,
And God’s well done for our pay.

Thank God For Life

Thank God for life, in such an age as this,
Rich with the promises of better things.
Thank God for being part of this great nation’s heart,
Whose strong pulsations are not ruled by kings.

Our thanks for fearless and protesting speech
When cloven hoofs show ‘neath the robes of state.
For us no servile song of ‘Kings can do no wrong.’
Not royal birth, but worth, makes rulers great.

Thank God for peace within our border lands,
And for the love of peace within each soul.
Who thinks on peace has wrought, mosaic-squares of thought
In the foundation of our future goal.

Our thanks for love, and knowledge of love’s laws.
Love is a greater power than vested might.
Love is the central source of all enduring force.
Love is the law that sets the whole world right.

Our thanks for that increasing torch of light
The tireless hand of science holds abroad.
And may its growing blaze shine on all hidden ways
Till man beholds the silhouette of God.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Sonnets Upon The Punishment Of Death – In Series, 1839 – X – Our Bodily Life, Some Plead, That Life The Shrine

Our bodily life, some plead, that life the shrine
Of an immortal spirit, is a gift
So sacred, so informed with light divine,
That no tribunal, though most wise to sift
Deed and intent, should turn the Being adrift
Into that world where penitential tear
May not avail, nor prayer have for God’s ear
A voice that world whose veil no hand can lift
For earthly sight. “Eternity and Time,”
‘They’ urge, “have interwoven claims and rights
Not to be jeopardised through foulest crime:
The sentence rule by mercy’s heaven-born lights.”
Even so; but measuring not by finite sense
Infinite Power, perfect Intelligence.

William Wordsworth

Death And Life.

Apparently with no surprise
To any happy flower,
The frost beheads it at its play
In accidental power.
The blond assassin passes on,
The sun proceeds unmoved
To measure off another day
For an approving God.

Emily Elizabeth Dickinson

So, here is the greatest compilation of poems about life.

Let me know which one is your favorite! 😉


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