Famous Life Poems

Published: December 16, 2022

Famous Poems On The Human Experience And Life's Journey

Since the dawn of civilization, artists of all forms have sought to express the essence of the human condition and the full range of human experience. Poetry has been one of the most common forms of this expression from the ancients until now. These words have an ability to capture the abstract emotions and concrete experiences that have been part of our humanity throughout the ages. Turning to the words of classic poems can help us to clarify and understand our own experiences better by connecting us to those others who have sought to do the same.

This collection of famous poems explores the human experience and the journey of life. From love and loss to joy and sorrow, these poems delve into the emotions and challenges that shape our lives. Whether you're seeking inspiration or a deeper understanding of the world around you, these poems offer a poignant and thought-provoking look at the human condition.

30 Famous Poems On The Human Experience And Life's Journey

  1. 1. Leisure

    We are often in such a hurry in life that we move from one thing to the next without stopping to notice the beauty around us. Famous poet W.H. Davies (1871-1940) reminds us that life passes by quickly, and he encourages readers to take moments to “stand and stare.” W.H. Davies was a Welsh poet who devoted himself to writing poetry in his late 20s. Many of his poems were filled with themes of hardship and the natural world.

    in Famous Sad Poems

    What is this life if, full of care,
    We have no time to stand and stare

    No time to stand beneath the boughs,
    And stare as long as sheep and cows

    No time to see, when woods we pass,
    Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass

    No time to see, in broad daylight,
    Streams full of stars, like skies at night

    No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
    And watch her feet, how they can dance

    No time to wait till her mouth can
    Enrich that smile her eyes began

    A poor life this if, full of care,
    We have no time to stand and stare

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  2. 2. Love After Love

    Much of the inspiration for Derek Walcott's poetry comes from the history of Saint Lucia, where he was born. This poem has a theme of accepting yourself as you are. Before you can love others, you need to love yourself.

    in Famous Inspirational Poems

    The time will come
    when, with elation,
    you will greet yourself arriving
    at your own door, in your own mirror,
    and each will smile at the other's welcome,

    And say, sit here. Eat.
    You will love again the stranger who was yourself.
    Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
    to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

    all your life, whom you ignored
    for another, who knows you by heart.
    Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

    the photographs, the desperate notes,
    peel your own image from the mirror.
    Sit. Feast on your life.

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  4. 3. See It Through

    Many of the poems by Edgar Guest (1881-1959) are encouraging and share important life lessons. In this poem, he shares powerful advice about standing strong in the face of trials and dark days. The poetic technique of repetition is used at the end of each stanza with the line, “See it through.” That brings the reader's attention to the themes of courage and perseverance.

    in Famous Inspirational Poems

    When you’re up against a trouble,
        Meet it squarely, face to face;
    Lift your chin and set your shoulders,
        Plant your feet and take a brace.
    When it’s vain to try to dodge it,
        Do the best that you can do;
    You may fail, but you may conquer,
        See it through!

    Black may be the clouds about you
        And your future may seem grim,
    But don’t let your nerve desert you;
        Keep yourself in fighting trim.
    If the worst is bound to happen,
        Spite of all that you can do,
    Running from it will not save you,
        See it through!

    Even hope may seem but futile,
        When with troubles you’re beset,
    But remember you are facing
        Just what other men have met.
    You may fail, but fall still fighting;
        Don’t give up, whate’er you do;
    Eyes front, head high to the finish.
        See it through!

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  5. 4. The Paradoxical Commandments

    This selection, entitled, "The Paradoxical Commandments", was written by Kent M. Keith in 1968 when he was a 19 year old Harvard Student. Since then, it has been quoted by millions and even mistakenly attributed to Mother Teresa who had a version hung as a poem on a wall in her Children's Home in Calcutta. The text contains 10 commandments. The theme and the paradox is to persevere in doing good for humanity and acting with integrity even if your efforts aren't appreciated.

    in Famous Inspirational Poems

    People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
       Love them anyway.
    If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
       Do good anyway.
    If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
       Succeed anyway.
    The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
       Do good anyway.
    Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
       Be honest and frank anyway.
    The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
       Think big anyway.
    People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
       Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
    What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
       Build anyway.
    People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
       Help people anyway.
    Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
       Give the world the best you have anyway.

    The Paradoxical Commandments By Kent M. Keith

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  7. 5. I, Too

    Langston Hughes (1902-1967) settled in Harlem, New York, in 1924 and was a prominent figure of the Harlem Renaissance. In this poem, he wrote of the reality that faced many in the black community and how they were regarded as “less than” by other people. The poem ends with the hope that one day it would be different. He shared the expectation that those who looked down on them would be ashamed.

    in Famous Poems

    I, too, sing America.

    I am the darker brother.
    They send me to eat in the kitchen
    When company comes,
    But I laugh,
    And eat well,
    And grow strong.

    I’ll be at the table
    When company comes.
    Nobody’ll dare
    Say to me,
    “Eat in the kitchen,"

    They’ll see how beautiful I am
    And be ashamed—

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  8. 6. Men At Forty

    • By Donald Justice

    As time passes, life changes. As people age, they become more reminiscent as they move farther from their childhoods. This poem shows the actions of a man entering the second half of his life. The poem is split into stanzas, but they do not follow a specific rhyme scheme. Donald Justice (1925-2004) was a teacher of poetry, and he experimented with and mastered a variety of poetic techniques.

    in Famous Family Poems

    Men at forty
    Learn to close softly
    The doors to rooms they will not be
    Coming back to.

    At rest on a stair landing,
    They feel it
    Moving beneath them now like the deck of a ship,
    Though the swell is gentle.

    And deep in mirrors
    They rediscover
    The face of the boy as he practices trying
    His father’s tie there in secret

    And the face of that father,
    Still warm with the mystery of lather.
    They are more fathers than sons themselves now.
    Something is filling them, something

    That is like the twilight sound
    Of the crickets, immense,
    Filling the woods at the foot of the slope
    Behind their mortgaged houses.

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  9. 7. Windows

    You’ve probably heard the saying, “The grass is greener on the other side.” This poem captures that sentiment. Often, we look longingly at what others have while looking down on what is ours. The irony is that others see such beauty in what we have.

    in Famous Sad Poems

    I looked through others' windows
    On an enchanted earth
    But out of my own window--
    solitude and dearth.

    And yet there is a mystery
    I cannot understand--
    That others through my window
    See an enchanted land.

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  10. 8. Time Is

    Time feels different for different people. Depending on the situation we’re facing, our perception of time is altered. Sometimes, time moves slowly, and other times, it flashes in the blink of an eye. “Time Is” is one of Henry van Dyke’s best-known poems. It was originally written to be inscribed on a sundial. This was published in the 1904 collection “Music and Other Poems,” and it was read aloud at the funeral of Princess Diana in 1997.

    in Famous Inspirational Poems

    Time is
    Too Slow for those who Wait,
    Too Swift for those who Fear,
    Too Long for those who Grieve,
    Too Short for those who Rejoice;
    But for those who Love,
    Time is not.

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  11. 9. Work

    When we look at our work as a burden, we can quickly become discouraged and discontent. Often, people wish they didn't have to work, but there's a blessing in being able to work. To have a job is to have a gift. Henry van Dyke (1852-1933) challenges himself and others to change the way we look at our jobs. Even when work is challenging, exhausting, tedious, or overwhelming, let's look at the blessing we have.

    in Famous Sad Poems

    Let me but do my work from day to day,
    In field or forest, at the desk or loom,
    In roaring market-place or tranquil room;
    Let me but find it in my heart to say,
    When vagrant wishes beckon me astray,
    "This is my work; my blessing, not my doom;
    "Of all who live, I am the one by whom
    "This work can best be done in the right way."

    Then shall I see it not too great, nor small,
    To suit my spirit and to prove my powers;
    Then shall I cheerful greet the labouring hours,
    And cheerful turn, when the long shadows fall
    At eventide, to play and love and rest,
    Because I know for me my work is best.

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  12. 10. It's Fine Today

    In this world, we face troubles of many kinds. Things are not always going to go our way. Some people wallow in that misery, but others have a positive perspective and can push past the trouble they face. What makes the difference? Douglas Malloch (1877-1938) shares the answer in this poem. When we don’t focus on our problems, they get smaller and smaller. We can’t worry about what happened in the past or what could happen in the future. Instead, we need to look at what is positive for us today. Douglas Malloch came from simple roots, and that simplicity is seen in the dialect of this poem.

    in Famous Sad Poems

    Sure, this world is full of trouble
         I ain't said it ain't.
    Lord, I've had enough and double
         Reason for complaint;
    Rain and storm have come to fret me,
         Skies are often gray;
    Thorns and brambles have beset me
         On the road — but say,
         Ain't it fine today?

    What's the use of always weepin',
         Making trouble last?
    What's the use of always keepin'
         Thinkin' of the past?
    Each must have his tribulation —
         Water with his wine;
    Life, it ain't no celebration,
         Trouble? — I've had mine —
         But today is fine!

    It's today that I am livin',
         Not a month ago.
    Havin'; losin'; takin'; givin';
         As time wills it so.
    Yesterday a cloud of sorrow
         Fell across the way,
    It may rain again tomorrow,
         It may rain — but say,
         Ain't it fine today?

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  13. 11. Fire And Ice

    A poem about the end of days, when the world will end by either fire or ice. "Fire and Ice" is one of Robert Frost's most popular poems. It was first published in 1920 in Harper's Magazine.

    in Famous Sad Poems

    Some say the world will end in fire,
    Some say in ice.
    From what I've tasted of desire
    I hold with those who favor fire.
    But if it had to perish twice,
    I think I know enough of hate
    To say that for destruction ice
    Is also great
    And would suffice.

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  14. 12. A Naughty Little Comet

    This classic, fun, and rhythmic poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919) is a cautionary tale about a mother-daughter struggle that will be familiar to many parents of teenagers. The lesson taught is the virtues of a cautious and modest approach to life. The bold and fun loving daughter doesn't listen to the scolding of her wise mother and instead runs wild, reveling in her youth and beauty. In the end the mother's fears come true.

    in Famous Funny Poems

    There was a little comet who lived near the Milky Way!
    She loved to wander out at night and jump about and play.

    The mother of the comet was a very good old star;
    She used to scold her reckless child for venturing out too far.

    She told her of the ogre, Sun, who loved on stars to sup,
    And who asked no better pastime than in gobbling comets up.

    But instead of growing cautious and of showing proper fear,
    The foolish little comet edged up nearer, and more near.

    She switched her saucy tail along right where the Sun could see,
    And flirted with old Mars, and was as bold as bold could be.

    She laughed to scorn the quiet stars who never frisked about;
    She said there was no fun in life unless you ventured out.

    She liked to make the planets stare, and wished no better mirth
    Than just to see the telescopes aimed at her from the Earth.

    She wondered how so many stars could mope through nights and days,
    And let the sickly faced old Moon get all the love and praise.

    And as she talked and tossed her head and switched her shining trail
    The staid old mother star grew sad, her cheek grew wan and pale.

    For she had lived there in the skies a million years or more,
    And she had heard gay comets talk in just this way before.

    And by and by there came an end to this gay comet's fun.
    She went a tiny bit too far-and vanished in the Sun!

    No more she swings her shining trail before the whole world's sight,
    But quiet stars she laughed to scorn are twinkling every night.

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  15. 13. Life Is Fine

    In this poem, the speaker is considering giving up on life, but he can’t go through with it. He finds that since he hasn’t died, he has something to live for. This poem has a strong sense of structure. It’s made up of single lines and quatrains with the ABCB rhyme scheme.

    in Famous Poems

    I went down to the river,
    I set down on the bank.
    I tried to think but couldn't,
    So I jumped in and sank.

    I came up once and hollered!
    I came up twice and cried!
    If that water hadn't a-been so cold
    I might've sunk and died.

         But it was      Cold in that water!      It was cold!

    I took the elevator
    Sixteen floors above the ground.
    I thought about my baby
    And thought I would jump down.

    I stood there and I hollered!
    I stood there and I cried!
    If it hadn't a-been so high
    I might've jumped and died.

        But it was      High up there!      It was high!

    So since I'm still here livin',
    I guess I will live on.
    I could've died for love—
    But for livin' I was born

    Though you may hear me holler,
    And you may see me cry—
    I'll be dogged, sweet baby,
    If you gonna see me die.

       Life is fine!      Fine as wine!      Life is fine!

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  16. 14. All The World's A Stage

    William Shakespeare (1564-1616) is regarded by many as one of the greatest poets/playwrights in history. This poem is an excerpt from his play "As You Like It." The poem compares the world to a stage and life to a play, and catalogs seven stages in a man's life: infant, schoolboy, lover, soldier, justice, aging man, and finally facing imminent death. The poem suggests that each stage in a man's life calls upon him to play another role.

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    All the world's a stage,
    And all the men and women merely players:
    They have their exits and their entrances;
    And one man in his time plays many parts,
    His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
    Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
    And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
    And shining morning face, creeping like snail
    Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
    Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
    Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
    Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
    Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
    Seeking the bubble reputation
    Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,
    In fair round belly with good capon lined,
    With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
    Full of wise saws and modern instances;
    And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
    Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,
    With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
    His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
    For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
    Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
    And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
    That ends this strange eventful history,
    Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
    Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

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  17. 15. Beat! Beat! Drums!

    Walt Whitman was known as the founding father of American poetry. This poem was first published in 1861, the year the Civil War began. Although this poem depicts life during wartime in the 1860s, it shows a broad picture of how war changes the everyday lives of communities. No matter the time period, war impacts people in many ways.

    in Famous Poems

    Beat! beat! drums!—blow! bugles! blow!
    Through the windows—through doors—burst like a ruthless force,
    Into the solemn church, and scatter the congregation,
    Into the school where the scholar is studying,
    Leave not the bridegroom quiet—no happiness must he have now with his bride,
    Nor the peaceful farmer any peace, ploughing his field or gathering his grain,
    So fierce you whirr and pound you drums—so shrill you bugles blow.

    Beat! beat! drums!—blow! bugles! blow!
    Over the traffic of cities—over the rumble of wheels in the streets;
    Are beds prepared for sleepers at night in the houses? no sleepers must sleep in those beds,
    No bargainers’ bargains by day—no brokers or speculators—would they continue?
    Would the talkers be talking? would the singer attempt to sing?
    Would the lawyer rise in the court to state his case before the judge?
    Then rattle quicker, heavier drums—you bugles wilder blow.

    Beat! beat! drums!—blow! bugles! blow!
    Make no parley—stop for no expostulation,
    Mind not the timid—mind not the weeper or prayer,
    Mind not the old man beseeching the young man,
    Let not the child’s voice be heard, nor the mother’s entreaties,
    Make even the trestles to shake the dead where they lie awaiting the hearses,
    So strong you thump O terrible drums—so loud you bugles blow.

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  18. 16. My Lost Youth

    This poem could be considered a lyrical autobiography of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s early years. He remembers his hometown and the boy he was many years ago. Even though he has grown, he can still feel like a child again by returning to his hometown of Portland, Maine (which was still part of Massachusetts when he was born in 1807). All his memories are tucked into the many places of the city. This poem has a strong sense of structure with the repetition of the last two lines of each stanza.

    in Famous Narrative Poems

    Often I think of the beautiful town
          That is seated by the sea;
    Often in thought go up and down
    The pleasant streets of that dear old town,
          And my youth comes back to me.
                And a verse of a Lapland song
                Is haunting my memory still:
          "A boy's will is the wind's will,
    And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts."

    I can see the shadowy lines of its trees,
          And catch, in sudden gleams,
    The sheen of the far-surrounding seas,
    And islands that were the Hesperides
          Of all my boyish dreams.
                And the burden of that old song,
                It murmurs and whispers still:
          "A boy's will is the wind's will,
    And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts."

    I remember the black wharves and the slips,
          And the sea-tides tossing free;
    And Spanish sailors with bearded lips,
    And the beauty and mystery of the ships,
          And the magic of the sea.
                And the voice of that wayward song
                Is singing and saying still:
          "A boy's will is the wind's will,
    And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts."

    I remember the bulwarks by the shore,
          And the fort upon the hill;
    The sunrise gun, with its hollow roar,
    The drum-beat repeated o'er and o'er,
          And the bugle wild and shrill.
                And the music of that old song
                Throbs in my memory still:
          "A boy's will is the wind's will,
    And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts."

    I remember the sea-fight far away,
          How it thundered o'er the tide!
    And the dead captains, as they lay
    In their graves, o'erlooking the tranquil bay,
          Where they in battle died.
                And the sound of that mournful song
                Goes through me with a thrill:
          "A boy's will is the wind's will,
    And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts."

    I can see the breezy dome of groves,
          The shadows of Deering's Woods;
    And the friendships old and the early loves
    Come back with a Sabbath sound, as of doves
          In quiet neighborhoods.
                And the verse of that sweet old song,
                It flutters and murmurs still:
          "A boy's will is the wind's will,
    And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts."

    I remember the gleams and glooms that dart
          Across the school-boy's brain;
    The song and the silence in the heart,
    That in part are prophecies, and in part
          Are longings wild and vain.
                And the voice of that fitful song
                Sings on, and is never still:
          "A boy's will is the wind's will,
    And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts."

    There are things of which I may not speak;
          There are dreams that cannot die;
    There are thoughts that make the strong heart weak,
    And bring a pallor into the cheek,
          And a mist before the eye.
                And the words of that fatal song
                Come over me like a chill:
          "A boy's will is the wind's will,
    And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts."

    Strange to me now are the forms I meet
          When I visit the dear old town;
    But the native air is pure and sweet,
    And the trees that o'ershadow each well-known street,
          As they balance up and down,
                Are singing the beautiful song,
                Are sighing and whispering still:
          "A boy's will is the wind's will,
    And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts."

    And Deering's Woods are fresh and fair,
          And with joy that is almost pain
    My heart goes back to wander there,
    And among the dreams of the days that were,
          I find my lost youth again.
                And the strange and beautiful song,
                The groves are repeating it still:
          "A boy's will is the wind's will,
    And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts."

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    I was born in a village away from the busy city. My village was blessed with many natural resources like streams, mountains, and small scale waterfalls. Most of the villagers were farmers....

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  19. 17. Let America Be America Again

    For many people, it has been a struggle to attain the American dream. Langston Hughes (1902-1967) shares how many groups of people have not been able to experience the America that people dream it to be. They have struggled for freedom and equality. Langston Hughes himself experienced the difficulty of living out his dream of being a writer because it was difficult to earn money in that profession. Although this poem has a very somber feel, hope is presented at the end. Many of the lines in this poem use alliteration (multiple words beginning with the same sound).

    in Famous Poems

    Let America be America again.
    Let it be the dream it used to be.
    Let it be the pioneer on the plain
    Seeking a home where he himself is free.

    (America never was America to me.)

    Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
    Let it be that great strong land of love
    Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
    That any man be crushed by one above.

    (It never was America to me.)

    O, let my land be a land where Liberty
    Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
    But opportunity is real, and life is free,
    Equality is in the air we breathe.

    (There's never been equality for me,
    Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

    Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
    And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

    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.

    I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
    Tangled in that ancient endless chain
    Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
    Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
    Of work the men! Of take the pay!
    Of owning everything for one's own greed!

    I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
    I am the worker sold to the machine.
    I am the Negro, servant to you all.
    I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
    Hungry yet today despite the dream.
    Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
    I am the man who never got ahead,
    The poorest worker bartered through the years.

    Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
    In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
    Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
    That even yet its mighty daring sings
    In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
    That's made America the land it has become.
    O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
    In search of what I meant to be my home—
    For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
    And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
    And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
    To build a "homeland of the free."

    The free?

    Who said the free?  Not me?
    Surely not me?  The millions on relief today?
    The millions shot down when we strike?
    The millions who have nothing for our pay?
    For all the dreams we've dreamed
    And all the songs we've sung
    And all the hopes we've held
    And all the flags we've hung,
    The millions who have nothing for our pay—
    Except the dream that's almost dead today.

    O, let America be America again—
    The land that never has been yet—
    And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
    The land that's mine—the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME—
    Who made America,
    Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
    Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
    Must bring back our mighty dream again.

    Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
    The steel of freedom does not stain.
    From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
    We must take back our land again,

    O, yes,
    I say it plain,
    America never was America to me,
    And yet I swear this oath—
    America will be!

    Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
    The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
    We, the people, must redeem
    The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
    The mountains and the endless plain—
    All, all the stretch of these great green states—
    And make America again!

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  20. 18. My Wage

    This poem encourages us to get the most out of life and push the boundaries. Famous poet Jessie B. Rittenhouse encourages us not to become complacent. We need to keep pushing forward. Sometimes we aim too low, and where you aim, you will hit.

    in Famous Poems

    I bargained with Life for a penny,
    And Life would pay no more,
    However I begged at evening
    When I counted my scanty store;

    For Life is a just employer,
    He gives you what you ask,
    But once you have set the wages,
    Why, you must bear the task.

    I worked for a menial's hire,
    Only to learn, dismayed,
    That any wage I had asked of Life,
    Life would have paid.

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  21. 19. "It Might Have Been"

    Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919) uses this poem to show that people have the power to make their own destiny. Most of the stanzas start with “We will (be/do/climb),” which brings attention to the belief that we will each become what we set out to become. This poem is made up of quatrains (four-line stanzas) that follow the ABAB rhyme scheme. Although Ella Wheeler Wilcox was born to poor family and received many rejection letters for her poetry, she remained optimistic and kept working hard for what she wanted.

    in Famous Inspirational Poems

    We will be what we could be. Do not say,
        "It might have been, had not or that, or this."
    No fate can keep us from the chosen way;
        He only might who is.

    We will do what we could do. Do not dream
        Chance leaves a hero, all uncrowned to grieve.
    I hold, all men are greatly what they seem;
        He does who could achieve.

    We will climb where we could climb. Tell me not
        Of adverse storms that kept thee from the height.
    What eagle ever missed the peak he sought?
        He always climbs who might.

    I do not like the phrase, "It might have been!"
        It lacks all force, and life's best truths perverts:
    For I believe we have, and reach, and win,
        Whatever our deserts.

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  22. 20. I Hear America Singing

    Walt Whitman was an American poet who lived from 1819-1892. Some of his poetry was controversial because of the nature of its content, but he is believed to be the father of free verse (but he did not invent this form of poetry). He is also seen as a "poet of democracy" because he wrote so strongly about the American character. In this poem, Whitman shows how America is made up of a variety of people. It's the stories of those people who make America the strong and unique nation that it is.

    in Famous Family Poems

    I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
    Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,
    The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
    The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,
    The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck,
    The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands,
    The wood-cutter's song, the ploughboy's on his way in the morning, or at noon intermission or at sundown,
    The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of the girl sewing or washing,
    Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
    The day what belongs to the day - at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,
    Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.

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