Famous Inspirational Poems

Famous Inspirational Poems

Words of Wisdom: Powerful Poems of Motivation and Encouragement

Many poems, and poets for that matter, earn fame because of their ability to inspire others. Such poems give people the internal strength they need to overcome a problem, reach a goal, or let go of their resentment or guilt. Poems can even inspire people to work towards a cause or become a better person. Many famous poets had the keen ability to use the written word to reach hearts and souls, motivating people to action. They used their gift in the most noble of ways by creating powerful inspirational poems that touched, and continue to touch, people with a positive message even today.

42 Motivational Poems by Famous Poets

  1. 1. If

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    Rudyard Kipling was an English poet who lived from 1865-1936. He also wrote many children's stories. The poem's line, "If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two impostors just the same," is written on the wall of the players' entrance at Wimbledon.

    If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
    If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too:
    If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
    Or being hated don't give way to hating,
    And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

    If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim,
    If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same:.
    If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
    Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build'em up with worn-out tools;

    If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
    And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
    And never breathe a word about your loss:
    If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
    And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

    If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
    If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much:
    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!

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  3. 2. The Invitation

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    The Invitation is a prose poem by Oriah Mountain Dreamer. Many years after the poem was written and had become famous, the author wrote a book based on the poem, The Invitation (1999), by Oriah Mountain Dreamer. Oriah is a spiritual counselor and story teller, among other things. This poem offers an invitation to every single one of us to "show up" in the universe. She reminds us that we do not serve the universe by being small. Rather, we serve the universe by making the most out of our lives.

    It doesn't interest me
    what you do for a living.
    I want to know
    what you ache for
    and if you dare to dream
    of meeting your heart's longing.

    It doesn't interest me
    how old you are.
    I want to know
    if you will risk
    looking like a fool
    for love
    for your dream
    for the adventure of being alive.

    It doesn’t interest me
    what planets are
    squaring your moon...
    I want to know
    if you have touched
    the centre of your own sorrow
    if you have been opened
    by life's betrayals
    or have become shrivelled and closed
    from fear of further pain.

    I want to know
    if you can sit with pain
    mine or your own
    without moving to hide it
    or fade it
    or fix it.

    I want to know
    if you can be with joy
    mine or your own
    if you can dance with wildness
    and let the ecstasy fill you
    to the tips of your fingers and toes
    without cautioning us
    to be careful
    to be realistic
    to remember the limitations
    of being human.

    It doesn't interest me
    if the story you are telling me
    is true.
    I want to know if you can
    disappoint another
    to be true to yourself.
    If you can bear
    the accusation of betrayal
    and not betray your own soul.
    If you can be faithless
    and therefore trustworthy.

    I want to know if you can see Beauty
    even when it is not pretty
    every day.
    And if you can source your own life
    from its presence.

    I want to know
    if you can live with failure
    yours and mine
    and still stand at the edge of the lake
    and shout to the silver of the full moon,
    "Yes."

    It doesn't interest me
    to know where you live
    or how much money you have.
    I want to know if you can get up
    after the night of grief and despair
    weary and bruised to the bone
    and do what needs to be done
    to feed the children.

    It doesn't interest me
    who you know
    or how you came to be here.
    I want to know if you will stand
    in the centre of the fire
    with me
    and not shrink back.

    It doesn't interest me
    where or what or with whom
    you have studied.
    I want to know
    what sustains you
    from the inside
    when all else falls away.

    I want to know
    if you can be alone
    with yourself
    and if you truly like
    the company you keep
    in the empty moments.

    The Invitation By Oriah Mountain Dreamer

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  5. 3. Keep Going

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    Edgar Guest (1881-1959) was a prolific American poet – publishing a poem every day in the Detroit Free Press for 30 years. Known as the People’s Poet, Edgar Guest wrote easy-to-read poems about many relatable topics. He wrote encouraging life messages about topics such as family and work. This particular poem encourages readers not to give up when they are faced with challenges. Even when things are not going well, keep pushing on. You never know how close you are to success and making it to the other side.

    When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
    When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill,
    When the funds are low and the debts are high,
    And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
    When care is pressing you down a bit,
    Rest if you must—but don’t you quit.

    Life is queer with its twists and turns,
    As every one of us sometimes learns,
    And many a failure turns about
    When he might have won had he stuck it out;
    Don’t give up, though the pace seems slow—
    You may succeed with another blow.

    Often the goal is nearer than
    It seems to a faint and faltering man,
    Often the struggler has given up
    When he might have captured the victor’s cup,
    And he learned too late, when the night slipped down,
    How close he was to the golden crown.

    Success is failure turned inside out—
    The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
    And you never can tell how close you are,
    It may be near when it seems afar;
    So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit—
    It’s when things seem worst that you mustn’t quit.

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  6. 4. Have You Earned Your Tomorrow

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    This famous poem, "Have You Earned Your Tomorrow", is by Edgar A. Guest who was known as the People's Poet for his simple uplifting style of writing poetry, and first published in the Detroit Free Press around 1916. There are different versions of the poem around and it has been attributed to other authors and with other titles such as "The Day's Results", "The Day's Work", "At Day's End", and "Is Anybody Happier".

    Is anybody happier because you passed his way?
         Does anyone remember that you spoke to him today?
    This day is almost over, and its toiling time is through;
         Is there anyone to utter now a kindly word of you?

    Did you give a cheerful greeting to the friend who came along?
       Or a churlish sort of "Howdy" and then vanish in the throng?
    Were you selfish pure and simple as you rushed along the way,
       Or is someone mighty grateful for a deed you did today?

    Can you say tonight, in parting with the day that's slipping fast,
         That you helped a single brother of the many that you passed?
    Is a single heart rejoicing over what you did or said;
         Does a man whose hopes were fading now with courage look ahead?

    Did you waste the day, or lose it, was it well or sorely spent?
         Did you leave a trail of kindness or a scar of discontent?
    As you close your eyes in slumber do you think that God would say,
         You have earned one more tomorrow by the work you did today?

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  7. 5. Still I Rise

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    Maya Angelou is one of the most celebrated American Poets of our time. Born in 1928, her life has spanned much of the African American struggle for racial equality. She was a confidant of Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In this poem about African American Courage, Angelou embodies the power, courage and tenacity of the African American experience.

    You may write me down in history
    With your bitter, twisted lies,
    You may tread me in the very dirt
    But still, like dust, I'll rise.

    Does my sassiness upset you?
    Why are you beset with gloom?
    'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
    Pumping in my living room.

    Just like moons and like suns,
    With the certainty of tides,
    Just like hopes springing high,
    Still I'll rise.

    Did you want to see me broken?
    Bowed head and lowered eyes?
    Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
    Weakened by my soulful cries.

    Does my haughtiness offend you?
    Don't you take it awful hard
    'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
    Diggin' in my own back yard.

    You may shoot me with your words,
    You may cut me with your eyes,
    You may kill me with your hatefulness,
    But still, like air, I'll rise.

    Does my sexiness upset you?
    Does it come as a surprise
    That I dance like I've got diamonds
    At the meeting of my thighs?

    Out of the huts of history's shame
    I rise
    Up from a past that's rooted in pain
    I rise
    I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
    Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
    Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
    I rise
    Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
    I rise
    Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
    I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
    I rise
    I rise
    I rise.

    Still I Rise By Maya Angelou

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  8. 6. Phenomenal Woman

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    Maya Angelou is one of the most influential women of our time. Her writing pulls on the hearts of many readers. In addition to her proliferous writing career, Maya Angelou has been a civil rights activist. This poem shows how even though someone is not beautiful on the outside compared to society's standards, there is an inner beauty that makes a woman even more beautiful.

    Analysis of Form and Technique

    Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
    I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
    But when I start to tell them,
    They think I'm telling lies.
    I say,
    It's in the reach of my arms
    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.

    I walk into a room
    Just as cool as you please,
    And to a man,
    The fellows stand or
    Fall down on their knees.
    Then they swarm around me,
    A hive of honey bees.
    I say,
    It's the fire in my eyes,
    And the flash of my teeth,
    The swing in my waist,
    And the joy in my feet.
    I'm a woman
    Phenomenally.
    Phenomenal woman,
    That's me.

    Men themselves have wondered
    What they see in me.
    They try so much
    But they can't touch
    My inner mystery.
    When I try to show them
    They say they still can't see.
    I say,
    It's in the arch of my back,
    The sun of my smile,
    The ride of my breasts,
    The grace of my style.
    I'm a woman

    Phenomenally.
    Phenomenal woman,
    That's me.

    Now you understand
    Just why my head's not bowed.
    I don't shout or jump about
    Or have to talk real loud.
    When you see me passing
    It ought to make you proud.
    I say,
    It's in the click of my heels,
    The bend of my hair,
    the palm of my hand,
    The need of my care,
    'Cause I'm a woman
    Phenomenally.
    Phenomenal woman,
    That's me.

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  9. 7. Invictus

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    We are the master of our destiny. We are responsible for our own happiness. This famous inspirational poem charges us to accept responsibility for our lives no matter our circumstances. Invictus in Latin means unconquered.
    William Ernest Henley (1849-1903), an English Poet, had one of his legs amputated at the age of 17. The poem, which he wrote while healing from the amputation, is a testimony to his refusal to let his handicap disrupt his life. Indeed, he led a meaningful life as a poet and editor until he passed away at age 53.

    Out of the night that covers me,
       Black as the pit from pole to pole,
    I thank whatever gods may be
        For my unconquerable soul.

    In the fell clutch of circumstance
        I have not winced nor cried aloud.
    Under the bludgeonings of chance
        My head is bloody, but unbowed.

    Beyond this place of wrath and tears
        Looms but the Horror of the shade,
    And yet the menace of the years
        Finds and shall find me unafraid.

    It matters not how strait the gate,
       How charged with punishments the scroll,
    I am the master of my fate,
       I am the captain of my soul.

    Invictus By William Ernest Henley

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  10. 8. If I Can Stop One Heart From Breaking

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    This poem is by Emily Dickinson (1830-1886). Like all the rest of her poems, the poem does not have a title and is called by the first line of the poem. Dickinson had the gift of saying a tremendous amount in a few perfectly succinct words. The poem's message is simple and self-explanatory. If I can ease the burden of a fellow living creature, "I shall not live in vain."

    If I can stop one heart from breaking,
    I shall not live in vain;
    If I can ease one life the aching,
    Or cool one pain,
    Or help one fainting robin
    Unto his nest again,
    I shall not live in vain.

    If I Can Stop One Heart From Breaking By Emily Dickinson

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  11. 9. Good Timber

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    Douglas Malloch (1877-1938), known as the "Lumbermen's Poet," compares good men to good timber in this famous metaphorical poem. The message of this poem is that people, like trees, grow and reach their true potential by overcoming adversity. It is only through struggles, like a tree fighting through forest growth to reach the sun, that we grow and discover our true potential. Malloch lived in Michigan where he grew up amongst logging camps and lumber yards. He wrote his first published poem when he was still a boy; it was published in the Detroit News.

    The tree that never had to fight
         For sun and sky and air and light,
    But stood out in the open plain
         And always got its share of rain,
    Never became a forest king
         But lived and died a scrubby thing.

    The man who never had to toil
         To gain and farm his patch of soil,
    Who never had to win his share
         Of sun and sky and light and air,
    Never became a manly man
         But lived and died as he began.

    Good timber does not grow with ease,
         The stronger wind, the stronger trees,
    The further sky, the greater length,
         The more the storm, the more the strength.
    By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
         In trees and men good timbers grow.

    Where thickest lies the forest growth
         We find the patriarchs of both.
    And they hold counsel with the stars
         Whose broken branches show the scars
    Of many winds and much of strife.
         This is the common law of life.

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  12. 10. See It Through

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    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.

    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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  13. 11. Human Family

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    In this beautiful and powerful poem, Maya Angelou, teaches us that we are all people, and so much more alike than different. Imagine the change we would see in the world if we all lived this simple truth!

    I note the obvious differences
    in the human family.
    Some of us are serious,
    some thrive on comedy.

    Some declare their lives are lived
    as true profundity,
    and others claim they really live
    the real reality.

    The variety of our skin tones
    can confuse, bemuse, delight,
    brown and pink and beige and purple,
    tan and blue and white.

    I've sailed upon the seven seas
    and stopped in every land,
    I've seen the wonders of the world
    not yet one common man.

    I know ten thousand women
    called Jane and Mary Jane,
    but I've not seen any two
    who really were the same.

    Mirror twins are different
    although their features jibe,
    and lovers think quite different thoughts
    while lying side by side.

    We love and lose in China,
    we weep on England's moors,
    and laugh and moan in Guinea,
    and thrive on Spanish shores.

    We seek success in Finland,
    are born and die in Maine.
    In minor ways we differ,
    in major we're the same.

    I note the obvious differences
    between each sort and type,
    but we are more alike, my friends,
    than we are unalike.

    We are more alike, my friends,
    than we are unalike.

    We are more alike, my friends,
    than we are unalike.

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  14. 12. The Road Not Taken

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    This poem by Robert Frost (1874-1963) is probably one of the most famous and celebrated American poems. The poem depicts the agony of a decision making and the rewards of forging your own path. The subject of the poem is faced with a decision of taking the "safe" route that others have taken before or breaking new ground. He says that he took the "road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference." He finds that making original and independent choices makes life rewarding.
    The Road Not Taken has four stanzas of five lines. The rhyme scheme is ABAAB.

    Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
    And sorry I could not travel both
    And be one traveler, long I stood
    And looked down one as far as I could
    To where it bent in the undergrowth;

    Then took the other, as just as fair,
    And having perhaps the better claim
    Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
    Though as for that the passing there
    Had worn them really about the same,

    And both that morning equally lay
    In leaves no step had trodden black.
    Oh, I kept the first for another day!
    Yet knowing how way leads on to way
    I doubted if I should ever come back.

    I shall be telling this with a sigh
    Somewhere ages and ages hence:
    Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
    I took the one less traveled by,
    And that has made all the difference

    The Road Not Taken By Robert Frost

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  15. 13. Dreams

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    Langston Hughes was an American poet who became famous for his work during the Harlem Renaissance. He was the first African American to support himself as a writer. In this poem, Langston Hughes shares the importance of having dreams. Without dreams, our lives do not feel complete. We do not have anything to work toward, so holding onto the dreams strengthens and empowers us. In this short poem, he pulls the reader’s attention to this theme by using the repetition of the phrase, “Hold fast to dreams.” Dreams is written in Quatrains (4 line stanzas) and follows the ABCB rhyme scheme.

    Hold fast to dreams
    For if dreams die
    Life is a broken-winged bird
    That cannot fly.

    Hold fast to dreams
    For when dreams go
    Life is a barren field
    Frozen with snow.

    Dreams By Langston Hughes

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    I so get it. Dreams are hope to a lot of us. I've heard it said that before you get it you have to dream it. I think when we stop dreaming we stop reaching, and when we stop reaching we stop...

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  16. 14. The World's Greatest Need

    • By C. Austin Miles

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    In "The World's Greatest Need" by C. Austin Miles (1868-1946), the poet uses concise and impactful language to convey a powerful message. Through the use of contrast and repetition, he emphasizes the importance of kindness, generosity, empathy, unity, and joy. The poem urges for a shift in perspective, from individualism to collective well-being, and highlights the significance of nurturing positive relationships and spreading happiness. By painting a vivid picture of the choices we make and their consequences, Miles reminds us of the urgency to prioritize compassion and connection in a world that often struggles with greed and indifference.

    A little more kindness and a little less greed;
    A little more giving and a little less need;
    A little more smile and a little less frown;
    A little less kicking a man when he's down;
    A little more 'we' and a little less 'I';
    A little more laughs and a little less cry;
    A little more flowers on the pathway of life;
    And fewer on graves at the end of the strife.

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  17. 15. Equipment

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    Edgar A. Guest was born in 1881 in England, but his family moved to the United States when he was 10. It is believed that he wrote more than 11,000 poems. Guest wrote about family, work, children, and God. In this poem, he shows that each person has the ability to do amazing things, but we must each work hard to get to where we want to be. We must look within ourselves to find the strength and courage needed to do great things with what God has given us. This is a poem of encouragement and motivation. Within each stanza are sets of rhyming couplets.

    Figure it out for yourself, my lad,
    You've all that the greatest of men have had,
    Two arms, two hands, two legs, two eyes,
    And a brain to use if you would be wise.
    With this equipment they all began,
    So start for the top and say "I can."

    Look them over, the wise and great,
    They take their food from a common plate
    And similar knives and forks they use,
    With similar laces they tie their shoes,
    The world considers them brave and smart.
    But you've all they had when they made their start.

    You can triumph and come to skill,
    You can be great if only you will,
    You're well equipped for what fight you choose,
    You have legs and arms and a brain to use,
    And the man who has risen, great deeds to do
    Began his life with no more than you.

    You are the handicap you must face,
    You are the one who must choose your place,
    You must say where you want to go.
    How much you will study the truth to know,
    God has equipped you for life, But He
    Lets you decide what you want to be.

    Courage must come from the soul within,
    The man must furnish the will to win,
    So figure it out for yourself, my lad,
    You were born with all that the great have had,
    With your equipment they all began.
    Get hold of yourself, and say: "I can."

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    I lost my wife Donna in April 2021. Edgar Albert Guest's poem is inspiring me to carry on and get on with things. Life is too short.

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  18. 16. It Couldn't Be Done

    Famous Poem


    Edgar Albert Guest (1881-1959) published more than twenty volumes of poetry and over 11,000 poems. His first published poem and many more were published in the Detroit Free Press where he was a columnist. He later had both popular radio and television shows. Guest has been called "the poet of the people." Of his poems he said, "I take simple everyday things that happen to me and I figure it happens to a lot of other people and I make simple rhymes out of them."

    Somebody said that it couldn’t be done
          But he with a chuckle replied
    That "maybe it couldn't," but he would be one
          Who wouldn't say so till he'd tried.
    So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
          On his face. If he worried he hid it.
    He started to sing as he tackled the thing
          That couldn’t be done, and he did it!

    Somebody scoffed: "Oh, you’ll never do that;
          At least no one ever has done it;"
    But he took off his coat and he took off his hat
          And the first thing we knew he'd begun it.
    With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
          Without any doubting or quiddit,
    He started to sing as he tackled the thing
          That couldn't be done, and he did it.

    There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
          There are thousands to prophesy failure,
    There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
          The dangers that wait to assail you.
    But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
          Just take off your coat and go to it;
    Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing
          That "cannot be done," and you'll do it.

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    Yes, I too memorized this poem, probably over 70 years ago since I am now 85. I was looking it up today to be sure I was quoting it accurately in an e-mail to my son, bragging about...

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  19. 17. A Psalm Of Life

    Famous Poem


    This inspiring poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, (1807 - 1882) was first published in 1838. It uses an ABAB rhyming pattern. Longfellow explained the poem's purpose as "a transcript of my thoughts and feelings at the time I wrote, and of the conviction therein expressed, that Life is something more than an idle dream." A very famous line from the poem is, "Footprints on the sands of time".

    Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
         Life is but an empty dream!—
    For the soul is dead that slumbers,
         And things are not what they seem.

    Life is real! Life is earnest!
         And the grave is not its goal;
    Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
         Was not spoken of the soul.

    Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
         Is our destined end or way;
    But to act, that each to-morrow
         Find us farther than to-day.

    Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
         And our hearts, though stout and brave,
    Still, like muffled drums, are beating
         Funeral marches to the grave.

    In the world's broad field of battle,
         In the bivouac of Life,
    Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
         Be a hero in the strife!

    Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant!
         Let the dead Past bury its dead!
    Act,—act in the living Present!
         Heart within, and God o'erhead!

    Lives of great men all remind us
         We can make our lives sublime,
    And, departing, leave behind us
         Footprints on the sands of time;

    Footprints, that perhaps another,
         Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
    A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
         Seeing, shall take heart again.

    Let us, then, be up and doing,
         With a heart for any fate;
    Still achieving, still pursuing,
         Learn to labor and to wait.

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    My deceased husband introduced me to this poem 55 years ago, and I've always considered it a great gift.

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  20. 18. The Paradoxical Commandments

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    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.

    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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    This poem is very touching. I think the poem is all about staying positive no what happens in life. People won't appreciate you for the your good deeds, but still have a positive attitude...

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  21. 19. Be The Best Of Whatever You Are

    Famous Poem


    In this poem, Douglas Malloch (1877-1938) shares an encouraging message for readers of all ages. Although we don't all hold prestigious jobs, we can all be the best at who we are. Our position in life doesn't make us more or less valuable. The beauty of this world is shown when each person does what he has been called to do and does it with great pride. When we measure our success by the standards of this world, many of us will feel as though we've fallen short. Douglas Malloch reminds us that success is measured by being the best at whoever you are. Like many, he came from humble roots, but he used his gift of writing to touch the lives of many people.

    If you can't be a pine on the top of the hill,
      Be a scrub in the valley — but be
    The best little scrub by the side of the rill;
      Be a bush if you can't be a tree.

    If you can't be a bush be a bit of the grass,
      And some highway happier make;
    If you can't be a muskie then just be a bass —
      But the liveliest bass in the lake!

    We can't all be captains, we've got to be crew,
      There's something for all of us here,
    There's big work to do, and there's lesser to do,
      And the task you must do is the near.

    If you can't be a highway then just be a trail,
      If you can't be the sun be a star;
    It isn't by size that you win or you fail —
      Be the best of whatever you are!

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  22. 20. Caged Bird

    Famous Poem


    Caged Bird By Maya Angelou was first published in her book, "Shaker, Why Don't You Sing?" in 1983. The poem is a Metaphor illustrating the differences between African-Americans and Whites during the civil rights era. The author, a black woman who grew up in the South during this era, is expressing her feelings at the discrimination she faced during her life. Her first autobiography published in 1970 is titled, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings"

    Analysis of Form and Technique

    The free bird leaps
    on the back of the wind
    and floats downstream
    till the current ends
    and dips his wings
    in the orange sun rays
    and dares to claim the sky.

    But a bird that stalks
    down his narrow cage
    can seldom see through
    his bars of rage
    his wings are clipped and
    his feet are tied
    so he opens his throat to sing.

    The caged bird sings
    with fearful trill
    of the things unknown
    but longed for still
    and his tune is heard
    on the distant hill for the caged bird
    sings of freedom

    The free bird thinks of another breeze
    and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
    and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn
    and he names the sky his own.

    But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
    his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
    his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
    so he opens his throat to sing

    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.

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    I remember this poem from my guided reading class in 5th grade. I remember it well. This poem really touched me, and reading it again just made my day. This poem, I remember it being about...

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