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Nature Poetry by Well Known Poets

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Poems About Life

by Ken Sanes

Jump down to Poems About Life: A Selection

Or jump down to poems with little or no rhyme

The poems that are linked to on this page (with the exception of some poems at the bottom) are by me. Their subject is the essentials of life and the human condition, which is to say, they are about love and compassion, and joy in nature, as well as about the more disturbing aspects of life, including suffering, war and death. Some are about the passage of time and the meaning of art, and about our sense of fascination and bewilderment at the mystery of the world. 

The purpose of these "poems about life" is to use the power of words to evoke an experience in you that can deepen and enrich your perceptions. And to evoke experiences in you that are deep and rich in themselves. 

The poems take a number of forms. Some rhyme, and play with words and ideas in a way that I think many readers will enjoy. Some are filled with poetic elements even though they don't include rhyme. And some have a more prose-like quality in which most of the lines are still coherent units of meaning that unfold on the page.

A fair number tell stories. Some -- especially some of the better poems that use little or no rhyme -- try to evoke a sense of empathy with the speakers.

But whatever form they take, most of these poems depict humanity trying to find what is good and true -- but also driven by fear and destructiveness -- as it struggles with a difficult world and with motivations that are hard to understand. Some depict humanity's struggle with the ultimate limitation -- mortality -- which makes them poems about life as well as death.

Most are relatively easy to follow, so people who have come to think of reading a poem as a chore (or a test!) may still find a lot to like here. A few of the poems are more enigmatic and complex because they need to be that way to have their effect.

In their essence, all are performances. Or at least they are more like performances than they are like essays (which is true of poetry in general). They are patterns of words that use meanings, stories, sounds, imagery and ideas to offer unique aesthetic experiences, which can deepen the reader's perceptions of life.

On another page, there are also a handful of short stories, some of which have themes and perspectives similar to what is found in the poems. And there is a page of commentaries on one category of poems about life -- nature poems by well-known poets. These expand on the themes of the website by revealing how nature poetry is an expression of the human condition. Finally, there is a page of exceptional short poems by famous poets, many of which are also about the essentials of life.

On this page, below, I recommend starting with the rhymed and unrhymed poetry in the first section, titled: "Poems About Life: A Selection". It contains some of the best work, including "The Lookout", which is one of a number of ars poeticas that describe why I write poetry. The second section is "Poems About Life: Unrhymed Poems." The third and fourth sections are additional rhymed and unrhymed poems. Finally, the last section, as stated below, are the poet's dreaded long poems. There are also a handful of links to poems about life by other writers at the bottom of the page.

Of course, it can be said that all poetry is about life or, at least, about life and death. But many of these poems explore this theme in a self-conscious way and try to get at the essence of things in a way that I think many readers will appreciate. 

I hope you like what I have to offer. If these poems about life and death work for you, they will put you more in touch with your own humanity, and deepen your experience of yourself and the world around you.

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Poems About Life: A Selection

Some of my best rhymed and unrhymed poems about life.

The Bard's Last Tale
A short poem about life and love.

Things To Do While Waiting
One of a number of rhymed poems about life and
death, written in a popular style that many readers
will find ironic, fun and a little bit haunting.

One of a number of related poems about life
and light, in which the speakers describes
waking up to the sun and a new day.

One of a number of poems about life in a
postmodern age, that asks how can we reconcile
ourselves to the world revealed by science.

The Food Addict's Dilemma
One of a number of fun poems about life and food.
If you've ever tried to go on a healthier diet,
you'll appreciate this.

We Seek Him
A brief, spiritually oriented poem based on

The Lookout
One of a number of poems about life and nature,
as seen through the lens of an extraordinary experience.
It has similarioties to the poem, "Lookout at the Lake".

Bed Bugs
Life in bed.

One of a number of story poems about life,
the passage of generations and selfless love.

Not by Design
One of a number of briefer poems about life
and death.

Gnosis Darkness and light.

An Idea From Mystical Philosophy
One of a number of poems about life as an illusion.
This one conveys an idea from mysticism
in which the world is described as something
that is being thought by a cosmic mind.

The Quest for Perfection
A broad overview in a poem about life in history.
In three stanzas.

A Meditation on Life and Death
One of a number of unrhymed poems about life
and death that looks at how our lives unfold. This
poem tells the truth about mortality in a direct way.

The world is like a movie
One of a number of short poems about life
in the universe.

Time Scheme
One of my briefer poems about life in time,
which is also about poetry and death.


Gothic horror through punctuation, in a poetry
form I call a punctuation pictogram. And, yes,
that's the title.

A gothic horror poem about life in death, and about
one of the most distressing aspects of the contemporary
world: automated customer service voicemail.

The Gift of Light
One of  number of short poems about life and light,
in which the speakers describes waking up to the sun
and a new day.

A New Day
Another short poem about life and light.

Every morning we rise with the sun
A darker take on the theme of life and light.

The Marchers
A poem about the living dead, in which fascist marchers
go Gothic. The poem uses an unusual technique to create
its effect.

One of a number of poems about life as an illusion.
The poem asks if we can know the world, or even
ourselves, or if everything we think we know
is just a representation in the brain.

Lookout at the Lake
One of a number of poems about life and nature,
seen through the lens of an extraordinary experience.

Danse Macabre
A poem about a living thing studied by science
that invades the bodies of ants and turns them
into zombies.   

There is only one story
One of a number of poems about life and its
connection to storytelling. This is a description
in poetic form of why we tell stories.       

The weight of the world
One of a number of poems about how we should
live and see the world when the universe revealed
by physics doesn't make any sense.

The Curatorís Love Poem
A poem about life and love in a museum.

Day Dreams
Another of my poems about life and light --
and the motivation for writing poetry.

To His Reluctant Sweetheart
One of a number of poems about life and physics,
in which a suitor, of sorts, offers another take on how
we should live in an impossible universe.

They fly in eight hours
A modernist poem about geese that fly over
the Himalayas.

A Day, Just Now
Joy in nature, briefly put.

I'd Like to Raise a Poem From The Deep Spring of Life
One of a number of
poems about life's deepest

The End of History
This poem is an expression of horror at the history
of violence and the way it could culminate in a
nuclear war. Some people may find its depiction
of the end of human life disturbing.

This Is the Kind of Day
This poem is an expression of joy at the arrival of new life
in spring. It appeared in Decanto Magazine in April, 2012.

Poems About Life: Unrhymed Poems

Poems with little or no rhyme that will hopefully evoke awe,
amusement, compassion and other responses in readers.

To live in time
One of a number of poems about life divided.

Call and Response
This story poem about summer camp offers a
perspective on why we tell stories and write
poems about life.

The Dance
A poem about life as a dance.

Pie Talk
An apple pie a la mode with a convincing sales
pitch tries to talk someone out of listening to a
very frustrated broccoli.

Library Book Sale
An unexplained occurrence in a library basement.

Looking at a Poet on a Bridge, Looking
If this poem works for you, it will be a roller
coaster ride through a vision of history.

When the sun sets in the evening
One of a half dozen poems about life in which
the speakers describes waking up to the sun
and a new day.

Awe of Nature
A poem that asks: how can we be in awe of
nature's beauty when we are appalled by all the
death and suffering?

The Stuff of Life
The last of six poems about life in which the
speaker describes waking up to the sun and a
new day. But this one asks if the world is a
jigsaw puzzle with pieces that don't fit together.

The Self
Human narcissism and self-involvement.

The Leader
A story about fascism that has similarities to
"The Marchers" but with a very different form.

It is an important truth
A philosophical statement in poetic form about
why we tell stories.   

A poem about life in the ultimate dysfunctional

Parents' Lament
A collective lament by parents.

Apostrophe To Winter
The speaker in this poem talks to winter about the
snow, the darkness and the cold -- and about spring --
until finally it becomes clear the speaker is also
talking about something else.

Another Way
One of a number of poems about life as seen through
an extraordinary experience.


More Rhymed Poems About Life

The first of three poems about some of the things in life
that many of us would like to be protected from.

Away from Our Door
Poem two.

Grocery Wish List
Poem three.

How can we live in a universe like this?
How should we respond when the universe
revealed by physics doesn't make any sense.

Recipe for a Good Life
A short poem about life's meaning and fulfillment.

Clues To a Crime
Another of various poems about life and the
meaning of things.

Ars Poetica

Nuclear Voice Mail
A poem about the twin horrors of modern life:
nuclear holocaust and customer service voice mail.

Ars Footsie
Poetry as footsie.


More Unrhymed Poems About Life

The World After
A gothic story about the long sweep of history. It started
life as a poem but reads like a work of short fiction, now.

We Remember Maria
One of a number of poems about life, death,
memory, and love.

I Am the Venus of Laussel
An ancient work of art speaks about the past
and present.   

The Ruin and Ice Dragon


Long Poems

These are the poet's obligatory, dreaded long poems.

Seeing With a Cosmic Eye
This is a hybrid of a story, essay and poem about life
in a vast universe. Two notes: it is for the patient and
motivated reader, and your perception of the world
may change after delving into it.

Let Me Tell You a Story
This is a long poem about life and storytelling, seen
against the panorama of history.  The poem is in nine
sections. Among other things, it portrays humanity
caught in the snare of time -- and its own foibles.


Bonus page: Short Poems

A few other poetry websites and off-site poems about life:

PoetryCircle Forum

Life Poems

Poems about Life

Life Poems and Poetry

Poems on Life

Stream Of Life by Rabindranath Tagore

Life by Charlotte Bronte

A Psalm of Life by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Poems About Life by Maya Angelou: Alone

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

Poems About Life by William Shakespeare:

Sonnet 73

and Sonnet 55

All the world's a stage from As You Like It

Poems About life by Samuel Taylor Coleridge:

What Is Life?

Human Life

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Note: A literary device that is used (or used in a modified form) in a small number of these poems can variously be described as fragmentation, juxtaposition, the creation of collage-like forms or spatial form. This is where parts of the poem don't follow the conventional progression of narrative flow, description or the unfolding of an argument. Instead, there is a break between parts of the poem, so the poem seems to jump from one thing to another in a way that, hopefully, intensifies the reader's experience.

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A note from the author

I have another website of prose essays at

And here is some (older) information about what people have said about that website and how it has been used in classrooms.

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Poems About Life: Copyright © 2010-2014 Ken Sanes. Most of this work is on file with the U.S. Copyright Office. 

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