Just one beautiful line of poetry can stay with you forever.
“Poetry begins with a lump in the throat.” So said the late, great Robert Frost. While Frost was referring to the poet’s writing process, the same can be said of poetry’s ability to strike a chord. Just a few beautifully composed lines can have more power and pull than whole reams of prose.
Below, we’ve rounded up some of the very best and most moving lines of poetry ever written – the ones that, once read, will stay with you for days, months and even years to come.
Hope Is The Thing With Feathers
Hope is the thing with feathers —
That perches in the soul —
And sings the tune without the words —
And never stops at all —
From Hope Is The Thing With Feathers by Emily Dickinson
my mother sacrificed her dreams
Lionmouth Door Knocker
At any given moment in the middle of a city
there’s a million epiphanies occurring,
in the blurring of the world beyond the curtain
From Let Them Eat Chaos by Kate Tempest
Wolf and Woman
Courage is a Muscle
At home, by the kitchen table
I watch my mother’s hands spin the yarn
of meals and housework
of duty and obligation.
From Mother by Nadine Aisha Jassat
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.
From I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
The Unbearable Weight of Staying
I think of lovers as trees, growing to and
from one another, searching for the same light.
From The Unbearable Weight of Staying by Warsan Shire
I am not cruel, just truthful —
The eye of a little god, four cornered.
From Mirror by Sylvia Plath
Each morning I stitch a scowl
over my smile. Let my eyes sass
every person standing between me
& the bus stop.
From Stank by Fatimah Asghar
A Woman Speaks
I have been woman
for a long time
beware my smile
I am treacherous with old magic
and the noon’s new fury
with all your wide futures
and not white.
From A Woman Speaks by Audre Lorde
To My Wife
And when wind and winter harden
All the loveless land,
It will whisper of the garden,
You will understand.
From To My Wife by Oscar Wilde
Stop All the Clocks
He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.
From Stop All The Clocks by WH Auden
I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils
From I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud by William Wordsworth
Nancy Meyers and My Dream of Whiteness
I can’t be sorry
enough. I have learned
everything is urgent.
From Nancy Meyers and My Dream of Whiteness by Morgan Parker
And who, when it comes to the crunch, can live
with a heart of gold?
From Mrs Midas by Carol Ann Duffy
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
From Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And — which is more — you’ll be a Man, my son!
From If by Rudyard Kipling
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night
From Howl by Allan Ginsberg
The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
From The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost
i carry your heart with me
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
From i carry your heart with me by EE Cummings
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
From Warning by Jenny Joseph
How Do I Love Thee?
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
From How Do I Love Thee? by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
homage to my hips
these hips have never been enslaved,
they go where they want to go
they do what they want to do.
From homage to my hips by Lucille Clifton
You Are Hope In A Human Being
For the young who want to
Talent is what they say
you have after the novel
is published and favorably
reviewed. Beforehand what
you have is a tedious
delusion, a hobby like knitting.
From For the young who want to by Marge Piercy
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run
From To Autumn by John Keats
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate
From Sonnet 18 by William Shakespeare
I wish I could walk for a day and a night,
And find me at dawn in a desolate place,
With never the rut of a road in sight,
Or the roof of a house, or the eyes of a face.
From Departure by Edna St. Vincent Millay
A Daughter of Eve
A fool I was to sleep at noon,
And wake when night is chilly
Beneath the comfortless cold moon;
A fool to pluck my rose too soon,
A fool to snap my lily.
From A Daughter of Eve by Christina Rossetti
Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
From Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening by Robert Frost
If You Forget Me
if each day,
you feel that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness,
if each day a flower
climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated
From If You Forget Me by Pablo Neruda
Let America Be America Again
I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.
From Let America Be America Again by Langston Hughes
Heart, we will forget him!
Heart, we will forget him!
You and I, to-night!
You may forget the warmth he gave,
I will forget the light.
From Heart, we will forget him! by Emily Dickinson
If You Think You are Beaten
Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster man,
But soon or late the man who wins
Is the man WHO THINKS HE CAN!”
From If You Think You are Beaten by Walter D. Wintle
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
From Trees by Joyce Kilmer
When You are Old
When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep
From When You are Old by WB Yeats
Scarcely a tear to shed;
Hardly a word to say;
The end of a summer day;
Sweet Love dead.
From An Evening by Gwendolyn Brooks
Dear, Though the Night Is Gone
Our whisper woke no clocks,
We kissed and I was glad
At everything you did,
Indifferent to those
Who sat with hostile eyes
In pairs on every bed,
Arms round each other’s neck,
Inert and vaguely sad.
From Dear, Though the Night Is Gone by WH Auden
Do not go gentle into that good night
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
From Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas
Tree you are,
Moss you are,
You are violets with wind above them.
A child - so high - you are,
And all this is folly to the world.
From A Girl by Ezra Pound
Happiness. It comes on
unexpectedly. And goes beyond, really,
any early morning talk about it.
From Happiness by Raymond Carver
The Tide Rises, the Tide Falls
Darkness settles on roofs and walls,
But the sea, the sea in the darkness calls;
The little waves, with their soft, white hands,
Efface the footprints in the sands,
And the tide rises, the tide falls.
From The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
A Red, Red Rose
O my Luve is like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve is like the melody
That’s sweetly played in tune.
From A Red, Red Rose by Robert Burns
The Children's Hour
Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day’s occupations,
That is known as the Children’s Hour.
From The Children’s Hour by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
When We Two Parted
When we two parted
In silence and tears,
To sever for years,
Pale grew thy cheek and cold,
Colder thy kiss;
Truly that hour foretold
Sorrow to this.
From When We Two Parted by George (Lord) Byron
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