If you’re in need of a little encouragement, read on for ten poems that are sure to lift your spirits.
Sometimes, a poem can really alter your outlook, especially if you are feeling down or defeated. Some of these poems you will already know, and some might be new to you.
Here are ten encouraging poems you need to read that we think will change your outlook and encourage you in your next venture in life.
10. ‘Song of Myself’, Walt Whitman – a lesson in life experience
“I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.
I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass…”
This is one of Walt Whitman’s most inspirational poems that deals with one’s relationship with the self, others, and with nature.
9. ‘Ella: Of Infinite Possibilities’, Jacqueline Seewald – peace of mind for our loved ones
“Wide-eyed in wonder,
Ella beholds the world.
“How old are you?”
her grandfather asks.
She holds up five fingers.
Ella traces her grandfather’s mosaic of wrinkles,
touching his face with those same five fingers.
Seeing tears form in her dark, dark eyes,
he asks: “Why so sad?”
“Because you are shrinking.”
“But I am not sad,” Grandfather replies.
“Because you are growing.”
This is a beautiful and uplifting poem about family support and love. The world offers us endless possibilities, and as long as we have the support of those who love us, we can conquer all.
8. ‘“Hope” is the thing with feathers’, Emily Dickinson – a hero in literary history
““Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity.”
Emily Dickinson’s ‘”Hope” is the thing with feathers’ is one of the most encouraging poems you need to read. It reminds us that hope lives within us all, even at the darkest and most trying times.
7. ‘Opportunity’, Berton Braley – a lovely poem of encouragement
“With doubt and dismay you are smitten
You think there’s no chance for you, son?
Why, the best books haven’t been written
The best race hasn’t been run,
The best score hasn’t been made yet,
The best song hasn’t been sung,
The best tune hasn’t been played yet,
Cheer up, for the world is young!”
This is one of the most beautiful and encouraging poems to remind you that the world is just waiting for you to leave your mark.
6. ‘More Than’, William Arthur Ward – know your worth
“I am more than happy;
I am joyful.
I am more than healthy;
I am whole.
I am more than alive;
I am radiant.
I am more than successful;
I am free.
I am more than caring;
I am loving.
I am more than tranquil;
I am peaceful.
I am more than interested;
I am involved.
I am more than adequate;
I am triumphant…”
This is a fantastic poem as it outlines that there is so much more to life than what seems important at the surface level.
5. ‘Don’t Quit’, Edgar A. Guest – one of the best poems of encouragement
“When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low but 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 strange with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many failures turn about
“When we might have won had we stuck it out.
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow –
You may succeed with another blow.”
Written by Edward Guest in the 1920s, ‘Don’t Quit’ is a gentle reminder that no matter what hardships you are facing, there is always a brighter tomorrow.
4. ‘Page 137, ‘Milk and Honey’, Rupi Kaur – simple and effective
“I am water
to offer life
to drown it away”
Rupi Kaur’s collection of poems, Milk and Honey, has become legendary all over the world. This short poem refers to the deep power that is within us.
3. ‘Still I Rise’, Maya Angelou – a strong and beautiful poem
“You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod 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.”
Maya Angelou is a phenomenal woman who wrote some of the best poems and novels of her time. As a black woman, and an American woman, ‘Still I Rise’ is about powering through in the face of adversity.
It is a great poem for women as it deals with self-confidence and self-respect, and pushing boundaries to be heard.
2. ‘Hope’, Langston Hughes – a simple but inspiring poem by American poet Langston Hughes
“Sometimes when I’m lonely,
Don’t know why,
Keep thinkin’ I won’t be lonely
By and by.”
Langston Hughes was one of the most important writers and thinkers of the Harlem Renaissance. ‘Hope’ is a short poem with a number of crucial layers. What we can take away from it is how strong and powerful hope can be.
1. ‘My Mind to Me a Kingdown Is’, Sir Edward Dyer – urges you to encourage yourself
“My mind to me a kingdom is;
Such perfect joy therein I find
That it excels all other bliss
Which God or nature hath assign’d.
Though much I want that most would have,
Yet still my mind forbids to crave.
No princely port, nor wealthy store,
No force to win a victory,
No wily wit to salve a sore,
No shape to win a loving eye;
To none of these I yield as thrall,—
For why? my mind despise them all.”
Other notable mentions
‘Life Passes By’, Catherine Pulsifer: This is an important poem as it reminds us to live in the moment as we don’t know when life will come to an end.
‘I’m Busy’, Brooke Hampton: This is a unique poem that discusses being present and the struggle of keeping in touch with the important things.
FAQs about encouraging poems
What is the most influential poem?
As just one example, T.S. Eliot’s ‘The Waste Land’ is known as one of the most influential poems of the 20th century and still has an impact today.
What are some good poems about life?
Any of the poems above carry important messages about life.
What are 5 line poems called?
A quintain or pentastich is a poem containing five lines.