Life Poems

Life poems from famous poets and best beautiful poems to feel good. Best life poems ever written. Read all poems about life.



Life Poets

9 Short Poems about Life | Poems For When Life Is Just Hard

Poetry, one of the art genres where we see the remnants of the past most, offers us many stories. These inspirational poems about life are among them. Poetry can be therapeutic for both its writers and its readers. It can give us advice about how to live and teach us important lessons about the past. Here are some famous and short poems about life…

Poetry, in Matthew Arnold's opinion, "is at its core a criticism of life." Poetry is approximately as much a "critique of life" as red-hot iron is a critique of fire, in Ezra Pound's words in response. Regardless of whether poetry is a "critical" of life, there are many poems on life itself, including those that discuss the business of living, what it is to live a complete life, and what "lived experience" can entail. The top 10 poems on life and living are presented here.

What Is This Life, by Sir Walter Raleigh. Raleigh (c. 1552–1618) is attributed with a number of accomplishments, including courtly poetry, bringing tobacco and potatoes to England (none of which he actually accomplished), laying down his cloak for Queen Elizabeth I (a later myth), and introducing tobacco to England.

According to Matthew Arnold, poetry is at bottom a criticism of life. Whether poetry is a ‘criticism’ of life, poems about life itself - about the business of living, about what it means to live a full life 

What Is Our Life? by Sir. Walter Raleigh

What is our life? A play of passion;

Our mirth the music of division;

Our mothers’ wombs the tiring-houses be,

Where we are dressed for this short comedy.

Heaven the judicious sharp spectator is,

That sits and marks still who doth act amiss;

Our graves that hide us from the searching sun

Are like drawn curtains when the play is done.

Thus march we, playing, to our latest rest,

Only we die in earnest – that’s no jest.

Short Poems About Life

Here are 9 of the most deep and meaningful poems about life. Some long, some short, some famous, some less so. We collect for our readers short poems about life from some popular poets.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ‘A Psalm of Life’. Let’s continue this pick of classic poems about life with one of Longfellow’s most famous, not least because of the memorable line about ‘footprints on the sands of time’. This poem has been popular at funerals in particular, suggesting as it does that we can make our mark on the world before we leave it.

Walt Whitman, ‘O Me! O Life!’. One of the shortest poems on this list, this poem was memorably featured in Dead Poets Society: Robin Williams’s character recites it to his class. It contains many of the features of Walt Whitman’s greatest poetry: the free verse rhythm, the alternation between long and short lines, the rhetorical (or not-so-rhetorical?) questions, the focus on the self.

Charlotte Brontë, ‘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?

So begins this poem from Charlotte Brontë (1816-55), the eldest of the three famous Brontë sisters, which offers an update take on life: after acknowledging the hardships present so often in people’s lives, the poet asserts that life is not so bad as all that.

Emily Dickinson, ‘Each Life Converges to some Centre’. This wonderful Emily Dickinson poem is another positive approach to life: every human life has a purpose, a goal, which we may ourselves be scarcely aware of – yet it nevertheless exists. It begins:

Each Life Converges to some Centre —

Expressed — or still —

Exists in every Human Nature

A Goal —


Embodied scarcely to itself — it may be —

Too fair

For Credibility’s presumption

To mar —


Adored with caution — as a Brittle Heaven —

To reach

Were hopeless, as the Rainbow’s Raiment

To touch …

D. H. Lawrence, ‘Full Life’. Let’s continue this pick of the greatest poems about life with a very short poem from the prolific poet, novelist, and short-story writer D. H. Lawrence. Indeed, this poem is so short it can be quoted in full here, as it simply reads: ‘A man can’t fully live unless he dies and ceases to care, ceases to care.’ Now there’s a paradox for you…

Philip Larkin, ‘Dockery and Son’. Beginning with Larkin returning to Oxford to look round his old student digs in college, this poem sees the poet comparing his life with a contemporary of his, a man named Dockery whose son is now up at Oxford, while Larkin remains childless and unmarried. The final stanza muses thoughtfully on what makes a good life. Whether we ‘use it’ or not, he concludes, it goes…

Anne Sexton, ‘The Room of My Life’. Sexton (1928-74), who took her own life following a long battle with depression, is often eclipsed by her contemporary and fellow American poet, Sylvia Plath. But Sexton’s poetry is even more stark than Plath’s in confronting the harsh realities of her own life experiences. Here, we get knives, eyeballs, ashtrays (to ‘cry into’), and other symbols of despair and pain, all inhabiting the ‘room’ that represents Sexton’s troubled life.

Maya Angelou, ‘Life Doesn’t Frighten Me’. A poem about overcoming fear and not allowing it to master you, ‘Life Doesn’t Frighten Me’ is a powerful declaration of self-belief and the importance of facing one’s fears. Angelou lists a number of things, from barking dogs to grotesque fairy tales in the Mother Goose tradition, but comes back to her mantra: ‘Life doesn’t frighten me at all’.

Sylvia Plath, ‘A Life’. As we mentioned Plath above, we thought we’d conclude this pick of the greatest poems about life and living with one simply titled ‘A Life’. The poem is about death almost as much as it is about life, since it was probably at least partly inspired by Plath’s memories of her suicide attempt in the early 1950s, and subsequent stay in hospital; she wrote it in 1960.

What are some good life poems?

Sir Walter Raleigh, 'What Is This Life'. ...
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 'A Psalm of Life'. ...
Walt Whitman, 'O Me! ...
Charlotte Brontë, 'Life'.
Emily Dickinson, 'Each Life Converges to some Centre'. ...
D. H. Lawrence, 'Full Life'. ...
Philip Larkin, 'Dockery and Son'.

Writing a poem is not about bringing some words together to create some charming sentences. It's so much deeper than that. Writing poetry is a bridge that allows people to express their feelings and make others live every single word they read. Poetry is to educate people, to lead them away from hate to love, from violence to mercy and pity. Writing poetry is to help this community better understand life and live it more passionately. contains an enormous number of famous poems from all over the world, by both classical and modern poets. You can read as many as you want, and also submit your own poems to share your writings with all our poets, members, and visitors.

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