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50 of the most poignant lines from poetry

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Moving lines from poetry

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

    my mother sacrificed her dreams
    so i could dream

    By Rupi Kaur

  • 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

    Some days
    I am more wolf
    than woman
    and I am still learning
    how to stop apologising
    for my wild.

    Wolf and Woman by Nikita Gill

  • Courage is a Muscle

    Courage is the muscle we work night and day
    To get equal rights, to get equal pay

    From Courage is a Muscle by Salena Godden

  • Mother

    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

  • Lene Gammelgaard

    Now you’re a woman and that’s all
    they’ll know, no matter
    what you carry or how far
    you go, alone, in rationed light.

    From Lene Gammelgaard by Helen Mort

  • 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

  • coordinates

    Every time I travel
    I meet myself a little more.

    From coordinates by Yrsa Daley-Ward

  • Mirror

    I am not cruel, just truthful —
    The eye of a little god, four cornered.

    From Mirror by Sylvia Plath

  • Stank

    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

    Audre Lorde

    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
    promised
    I am
    woman
    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

  • Mrs Midas

    And who, when it comes to the crunch, can live
    with a heart of gold?

    From Mrs Midas by Carol Ann Duffy

  • Phenomenal Woman

    The span of my hips,
    The stride of my step,
    The curl of my lips.
    I’m a woman
    Phenomenally.
    Phenomenal woman,
    That’s me.

    From Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou

  • If

    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

  • Howl

    Allen Ginsberg

    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

  • Warning

    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

    Take every single person who lessened your shine and bury their memory,
    without mercy under glow of everything that makes you who you are.

    From You Are Hope In A Human Being by Nikita Gill

  • 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

  • To Autumn

    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

  • Sonnet 18

    Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
    Thou art more lovely and more temperate

    From Sonnet 18 by William Shakespeare

  • Departure

    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

    But
    if each day,
    each hour,
    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

    Langston Hughes

    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

  • immigrant

    they have no idea what it’s like
    to lose home at the risk of
    never finding home again

    From immigrant by Rupi Kaur

  • Trees

    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

  • An Evening

    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

  • Moments

    There are moments that cry out to be fulfilled.
    Like, telling someone you love them.
    Or giving your money away, all of it.

    From Moments by Mary Oliver

  • 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

  • A Girl

    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

    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,
    Half broken-hearted
    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

Images: Unsplash - Getty

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