Poems to share

Great message poems for you to enjoy, discover and share as National Poetry Day approaches.

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    Their name liveth for evermore

    by Denise Riley

    from Say Something Back  (Picador)
    Forward Prizes for Poetry Best Collection shortlist 2016

    Death’s tidied up in rows and lists.
    The scratched are ‘Known to

    17 Caterpillars

    by Sally Crabtree

    When the 17 caterpillars we had caught
    Escaped from the jar
    and went crawling round the kitchen,
    Mum went mad.

    I couldn’t understand

    A rucksack and a journey

    by Nicole May

    We are fragile fragments of ash
    learning to accept change
    like hearing the news and not despairing,

    It’s watching lives survive and leave wards,

    A Scherzo (A Shy Person’s Wishes)

    by Dora Greenwell

    With the wasp at the innermost heart of a peach,
    On a sunny wall out of tip-toe reach,
    With the trout in the darkest summer pool,

    A Small Step

    by Michaela Morgan

    From hopeless romantic…
    to helpless rheumatic…
    A small step.

    From hip hop to hip op
    A small (and creaky) step.


    Advice from a Caterpillar

    by Rachel Rooney

    When I was egg, I too, clung onto leaf
    in shaded safety, hidden underside.
    And fastened by a pinprick of belief
    I dared to dream

    All Grown Up

    by Sebbie Mudhai

    You wake up one day

    And it hits you that you are not a child anymore

    The gaps that were between your teeth

    An Ode to a Muckle

    by Rowan McCabe

    Oh who doesn’t love the way Geordies talk?
    With our vowels so inflated and happy;
    our souvenir shops are stuffed with bags and mugs

    Ariel’s Song

    by William Shakespeare

    Full fathom five thy father lies,
    Of his bones are coral made:
    Those are pearls that were his eyes,
    Nothing of him that doth fade,


    by Nora Gomringer


    In our 25th year, we are all about poems that speak Truth.  Here the brilliant poet Nora Gomringer shares a love poem… or is it?

    Being Human

    by Chrissie Gittins

    I am letting go of my senses,
    my brain is about to explode,

    there are pelicans flying around my limbs,
    we’re in for a

    Binsey Poplars

    by Gerard Manley Hopkins

    felled 1879

    My aspens dear, whose airy cages quelled,
    ..Quelled or quenched in leaves the leaping sun,
    ..All felled, felled, are all


    by Christina Rossetti

    Brown and furry
    Caterpillar in a hurry,
    Take your walk
    To the shady leaf, or stalk,
    Or what not,
    Which may be the

    Child’s Song in Spring

    by E. Nesbit

    The silver birch is a dainty lady,
    She wears a satin gown;
    The elm tree makes the old churchyard shady,
    She will not live in


    by Michael Longley

    You give me cloudberry jam from Lapland,
    Bog amber, snow-line titbits, scrumptious
    Cloudberries sweetened slowly by the cold,
    And costly enough for cloudberry wars


    by Katrina Naomi

    It’s over, I know that.
    But the grasses against my legs
    are my lover’s hands,
    the wind, his voice, urging me on.


    Dear March – Come in –

    by Emily Dickinson

    Dear March – Come in –
    How glad I am –
    I hoped for you before –
    Put down your Hat –
    You must


    by William Blake

    He who binds to himself a joy
    Does the winged life destroy
    He who kisses the joy as it flies
    Lives in eternity’s sunrise

    Everything Flows

    by Kate Fox

    Heraclitus: You cannot step twice into the same river


    You aren’t even the same person who stepped into your last bath.


    by Kat François

    from Unwritten: Caribbean Poems After the First World War, (Nine Arches)
    A National Poetry Day 2018 Recommendation



    Field Postcard: Rondeau-style

    by Vahni Capildeo

    Nothing is to be written on this side
    except the date and signature of the sender.
    Sentences not required may be erased.
    If anything else

    For Want of a Nail

    by Anon

    For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
    For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
    For want of a horse the rider was


    by Olive Runner

    Give me the long, straight road before me,
    __A clear, cold day with a nipping air,
    Tall, bare trees to run on beside me,

    Freedom Fighter

    by Matt Goodfellow

    (for Jacob, a true warrior)


    he doesn’t notice the smell
    of disinfectant any more

    or the lights
    and the

    Freedom Poem

    by Michaela Morgan

    Breathe in
    Breathe out
    S c r e a m
    Spread your arms W   I   D   E

    From the Irish

    by Ian Duhig

    According to Dinneen, a Gael unsurpassed
    in lexicographical enterprise, the Irish
    for moon means the white circle in a slice
    of half-boiled potato or turnip.

    Front Door

    by Imtiaz Dharker

    Wherever I have lived,
    walking out of the front door
    every morning
    means crossing over
    to a foreign country.

    One language inside

    Go Explore the Countryside

    by Paul Cookson

    A summer’s day, a bunch of friends
    Bows and arrows, building dens
    Make believe and let’s pretend
    All of this and much more when

    Greta Thunberg

    by Liz Brownlee

    When the whole world is deaf
    by greed and by choice,
    how do you change things
    with only your voice?

    It’s hard to

    High Flight

    by John Gillespie Magee

    Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
    And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
    Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth

    How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43)

    by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

    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

    I Cannot Remember My Mother

    by Rabindranath Tagore

    I cannot remember my mother

    only sometimes in the midst of my play

    a tune seems to hover over my playthings,



    by Laura Mucha

    No witness stands, confirms his claim.
    No doctor certifies he’s sane.
    Optician – none, his eyesight – poor,
    perhaps he might believe he saw

    I Had a Boat

    by Mary Coleridge

    I had a boat, and the boat had wings;
    __And I did dream that we went a flying
    Over the heads of queens and kings,

    I Know My Soul

    by Claude McKay

    I plucked my soul out of its secret place,
    And held it to the mirror of my eye,
    To see it like a star against the

    I Want A Poem

    by Shukria Rezaei

    I want a poem
    with the texture of a colander
    on the pastry.

    A verse
    of pastry so rich
    it leaves gleam

    I want to see you

    by Rumi (attributed)

    I want to see you.
    Know your voice.

    Recognize you when you
    first come round the corner.

    Sense your scent when I

    I’ll Tell You How the Sun Rose

    by Emily Dickinson

    I’ll tell you how the Sun rose –
    A Ribbon at a time –
    e Steeples swam in Amethyst –
    The news, like Squirrels, ran


    by Lola Ridge

    The earth is motionless
    And poised in space …
    A great bird resting in its flight
    Between the alleys of the stars.
    It is


    by William Ernest Henley

    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.

    It Is Everywhere

    by Remi Graves

    Green leaves. Wind kissed.
    Closed palms. Fresh hope.

    Deep river. Free flow.
    No signs. Open road.

    Wide sky. Grow wings.

    It’s easy for clouds

    by Juris Kronbergs

    Not one but three cloud poems by Juris Kronbergs, reproduced by kind permission of the author and Emma Press, and translated by Mara Rozitis & Richard O’Brien.


    by Joseph Coelho

    There is a legend of two murmurations of Starlings warring above the City of Cork in Ireland in the 1600s –Starlings have never been known to war in

    Late Love

    by Jackie Kay

    How they strut about, people in love,
    how tall they grow, pleased with themselves, their hair, glossy, their skin shining.
    They don’t remember who they have


    by Rachel Rooney

    I told a whopper, a fib, a lie.
    Slipped out of my mouth. It was slimy, sly.

    Save me, it hissed. 


    by Edward Thomas

    The last light has gone out of the world, except
    This moonlight lying on the grass like frost
    Beyond the brink of the tall elm’s shadow.


    by Joshua Seigal

    Whenever I start crying
    I say that I feel sick,
    and no one knows I’m lying –
    It always does the trick.


    Love and Friendship

    by Emily Brontë

    Love is like the wild rose-briar,
    Friendship like the holly-tree—
    The holly is dark when the rose-briar blooms
    But which will bloom most constantly?


    by Joshua Seigal

    A newborn baby in a cot
    that’s magic.
    A baked potato, piping hot
    that’s magic.
    A cartoon on a Saturday
    a muffin on

    Making Robert Learn Like Susan

    by Tara Bergin

    Everybody wants Robert to learn like Susan,
    but there are always more Roberts than Susans,
    aren’t there?
    Blaming Robert isn’t helpful.
    Susan is by

    My Heart Leaps Up

    by William Wordsworth

    My heart leaps up when I behold
    A rainbow in the sky:
    So was it when my life began;
    So is it now I am

    My Mother Country

    by Rukiya Khatun (17)

    I don’t remember her
    In the summer,
    Lagoon water sizzling,
    The kingfisher leaping,
    Or even the sweet honey mangoes
    They tell me I


    by Michael Rosen

    My father came to England
    from another country
    My father’s mother came to England from another country
    but my father’s father
    stayed behind.

    No Rack can torture me

    by Emily Dickinson

    No Rack can torture me—
    My Soul—at Liberty—
    Behind this mortal Bone
    There knits a bolder One—

    You cannot prick with saw—

    Ode on a Grecian Urn

    by John Keats

    Thou still unravish’d bride of quietness,
    Thou foster-child of silence and slow time,
    Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
    A flowery tale more sweetly than

    Our Father, Who art in Hendon

    by Momtaza Mehri

    In the car park, there are old men crying.

    They are holding onto one another like poplars.

    You tumble like them, like freshwater,

    Out Beyond Ideas

    by Rumi

    Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
    there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

    When the soul lies down in that grass,


    by Penelope Shuttle

    It is both sad and a relief to fold so carefully
    her outgrown clothes and line up the little worn shoes
    of childhood, so prudent, scuffed

    Paper News

    by Sophie McKeand

    I am panic
    I am the tearing
    I am nightmarish scenes greeting police
    I am sickened
    I am reviled
    I am dismay

    Please Can I Have a Man

    by Selima Hill

    Please can I have a man who wears corduroy.
    Please can I have a man
    who knows the names of 100 different roses;
    who doesn’t


    by Sidney Keyes

    Time was I was a plowman driving
    Hard furrows, never resting, under the moon
    Or in the frostbound bright-eyes morning
    Labouring still; my team sleek-hided

    Promises like Pie-crust

    by Christina Rossetti

    Promise me no promises
    So will I not promise you:
    Keep we both our liberties,
    Never false and never true:
    Let us hold the


    by Brian Bilston

    They have no need of our help
    So do not tell me
    These haggard faces could belong to you or me
    Should life have dealt


    by Brian Moses

    I’d love to be able to move
    through a city
    on rooftops,
    to take leaps of faith
    as I jump from one building

    Rosa Parks – 1st December 1955

    by Joseph Coehlo

    Lillie Mae Bradford – 11th May 1955
    Claudette Colvin – 2nd March 1955

    Not the first to sit.
    Not the first to get arrested.


    by Christina Rossetti

    SAFE where I cannot die yet,
    Safe where I hope to lie too,
    Safe from the fume and the fret;
    You, and you,


    by Abigail Parry

    What is it though?  That sound – like moving shale,
    the dull, ceramic clink of oyster shells
    or sharpened chitin, ticking on the hull.  

    Second Wind

    by Angela France

    There are secrets, well kept,
    about what may bloom in barren lands:
    Buddleia always finds a place to root
    in concrete, rubble, abandoned spaces

    Snow Fox

    by Liz Brownlee

    In the Arctic summer
    the cloud-grey fox
    listens for prey
    in the low shrubs and rocks

    grizzled and still
    as the permafrost

    Something Told the Wild Geese

    by Rachel Field

    Something told the wild geese
    It was time to go.
    Though the fields lay golden
    Something whispered,—‘Snow.’
    Leaves were green and stirring,

    Song of Myself

    by Walt Whitman

    The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me, he complains of my gab and my loitering.

    I too am not a bit tamed, I too am

    Song of Old Time

    by Eliza Cook

    I wear not the purple of earth-born kings,
    Nor the stately ermine of lordly things;
    But monarch and courtier, though great they be,
    Must fall

    Sonnet 138

    by William Shakespeare

    When my love swears that she is made of truth,
    I do believe her, though I know she lies,
    That she might think me some untutored


    by Paul Laurence Dunbar

    I know what the caged bird feels, alas!
    When the sun is bright on the upland slopes;
    When the wind stirs soft through the springing grass,

    Talking to Myself

    by Matt Goodfellow

    if I say that I don’t need you
    the clothes you wear aren’t cool
    laugh when I should hold you
    make you feel a fool

    Telling Tales

    by Brian Moses

    “We’ve got a pylon at the end of our garden.”

    “Oh that’s nothing,
    we’ve got a gasometer.”

    “Well we’ve got
    a weather

    The Alice Case

    by Joanne Limburg

    ‘The problem with Alice’, the Caterpillar says,
    ‘is her rigidity of thought’.

    ‘Yes’, says Humpty Dumpty
    ‘and her lack of empathy.’

    The Art of Deception

    by Rachel Rooney

    Deception is an art I’ve come to learn.

    Like webs that garden spiders carefully weave

    it takes a little effort, and in turn

    The Built Environment

    by Emily Hasler

         a waste and ownerless place

    There is in this place as little as can be
    imagined, so things stand in for

    The Call

    by Charlotte Mew

    From our low seat beside the fire
    Where we have dozed and dreamed and watched the glow
    Or raked the ashes, stopping so
    We scarcely

    The Collar

    by George Herbert

    I struck the board, and cried, “No more;
    I will abroad!
    What? shall I ever sigh and pine?
    My lines and life are free, free

    The Confirmation

    by Edward Muir

    Yes, yours, my love, is the right human face.
    I in my mind had waited for this long,
    Seeing the false and searching for the true,

    The Lake Isle of Innisfree

    by W. B. Yeats

    I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
    And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
    Nine bean-rows will I have

    The Lincoln Imp’s Birthday

    by Kirsten Irving

    In November the cathedral angel says, “Fine. A day then,”
    and transforms me to clamber stiffly from my arch. Ahhh!
    Wagging my dragon-ears, as the last

    The Mask of Anarchy [Excerpt]

    by Percy Bysshe Shelley

    Written on the Occasion of the Massacre at Manchester

    ‘And if then the tyrants dare
    Let them ride among you there,

    The Misinformation Age

    by Karl Nova

    We’re in a time when everyone thinks their opinion is truth
    They think every thought they spew is absolute
    everyone seems to be an expert and

    The New Colossus

    by Emma Lazarus

    Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
    With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
    Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

    The Old Stoic

    by Emily Brontë

    Riches I hold in light esteem,
    And Love I laugh to scorn;
    And lust of fame was but a dream,
    That vanished with the morn:

    The Seedling

    by Paul Laurence Dunbar

    As a quiet little seedling
    Lay within its darksome bed,
    To itself it fell a–talking,
    And this is what it said:

    “I am

    The Sun Box

    by John Clegg

    There is a field somewhere outside Bassingbourn
    across the A505 which in forty years
    will be the corner of a carpark: yours
    will be the

    The Way Through the Woods

    by Rudyard Kipling

    THEY shut the road through the woods
    Seventy years ago.
    Weather and rain have undone it again,
    And now you would never know

    The Windhover

    by Gerard Manley Hopkins

    To Christ Our Lord

    I caught this morning morning’s minion, king-
    dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
    Of the

    The Zigzag Path

    by John McCullough

    The day connives and you think you cannot live here,
    in your body, alone and rushing forward all the time

    like a silty river. All

    There Will Come Soft Rains

    by Sara Teasdale

    There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
    And swallows calling with their shimmering sound;

    And frogs in the pools singing at

    This and That

    by Andrew Graves

    It’s always been this, it’s always been that

    From this sandstone cave that was dug with the bones,
    carved in the stories of hooded thieves

    This is just to say

    by William Carlos Williams

    I have eaten
    the plums
    that were in
    the icebox

    and which
    you were probably
    for breakfast

    This Poem Is Not About Parakeets

    by Victoria Adukwei Bulley

    On the bus back, two men make noise and all else
    falls silent, or leans away. One woman gets off
    altogether. I pull my headphones out.

    Three Lies and One Truth about the Moon

    by Henry Normal

    1. The moon only exists at night, and occasionally during the day, in summer

    2. No-one has ever landed on the moon, and the Russian President


    by Thomas Hardy

    Portion of this yew
    Is a man my grandsire knew,
    Bosomed here at its foot:
    This branch may be his wife,
    A ruddy human


    by Joyce Kilmer

    I think that I shall never see
    A poem lovely as a tree.

    A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
    Against the earth’s sweet

    Truth or Dare

    by Rachel Rooney

    Have you peed in a swimming pool?
    Count to fifty without blinking.

    What do you secretly wish for most?
    Say exactly what you’re thinking.

    War Poetry

    by Kate Clanchy

    from Samarkand (Picador)
    Forward Prizes for Poetry Best Collection shortlist 1999

    The class has dropped its books. The janitor’s
    disturbed some wasps, broomed the nest

    We Wear the Mask

    by Paul Laurence Dunbar

    We wear the mask that grins and lies,
    It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—
    This debt we pay to human guile;
    With torn

    What On Earth Are You Talking About?

    by Chrissie Gittins

    My mum said I was in the doghouse –
    but our golden retriever already lives there.

    My sister said she was blowing her own trumpet

    Who Cares

    by James Carter

    Who cares
    If  we  poison  the  land,
    the seas? We fell

    Who Knew

    by Chrissie Gittins

    Who knew when
    two pigeons
    down the nave
    of St Paul’s Cathedral
    in Kolkata
    while a Bengali Choir
    sang Auld