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Short Poems

Finely crafted short poems can pack a lot of punch into just a few words. Below are some of the best short poems in the English language by well known poets, although there are obviously many others that could have been chosen, as well. Some achieve a state of near-perfection, which is usually easier to accomplish in short poems. Two -- "Variations: XII" and "Into my heart on air that kills" -- can evoke a wistful feeling with just a few words. These two poems are brilliant examples of what short poems can achieve. So is "Eight O' Clock," which has a rhythm and sound combinations that seem to embody what it describes. Another short poem, "The Negro Speaks of Rivers," offers a panorama of history in a few words, while the excerpt, "Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow," which functions as a short poem even though it is part of Macbeth, offers a despairing philosophy of life in just a few brilliantly evocative lines. Finally, "We Real Cool" hits the reader with an ironic ending after a mere twenty four words and eight abbreviated lines (not including a brief precede).

Enjoy these poems. They're short on words, but not on feeling or significant meaning.

Short Poems by A. E. Housman

Eight O' Clock
by A. E. Housman

Into my heart on air that kills
by A. E. Housman

Short Poems by Benjamin Franklin

Death is a Fisherman
by Benjamin Franklin

Time was my spouse and I could not agree
by Benjamin Franklin

Poems are from Poor Richard's Almanack
Titles are first lines

Short Poems by Robert Frost

For Once, Then, Something
by Robert Frost

The Road Not Taken
by Robert Frost

Short Poems by Alfred Lord Tennyson

The Making of Man
by Alfred Lord Tennyson

The Kraken
by Alfred Lord Tennyson

Short Poems by Gerard Manley Hopkins

As Kingfishers Catch Fire
by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Pied Beauty
by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Short Poems by Other Poets

An Irish Airman foresees his Death
by W.B. Yeats

We Real Cool
by Gwendolyn Brooks
Plus commentary

Variations: XII
by Conrad Aiken
(Highly recommended)

The Negro Speaks of Rivers
by Langston Hughes

by William Ernest Henley

One’s-Self I Sing
by Walt Whitman 

Personal Letter No. 3
Sonia Sanchez

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow
from Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Not exactly a short poem, since it is from a
play, but a short excerpt, anyway. 


Short Poems by the website author, Ken Sanes

Here are nine short poems (or in two cases, reasonably short poems) by
the creator and owner of this site. You can find more of these (long
and short) poems on the homepage.

Not by Design!
A New Day
Recipe for a Good Life
Time Scheme
We Seek Him
A Day, Just Now
This Is the Kind of Day
The Gift of Light

If you like this page on short poems or want to communicate something
else, you can send an email to letters@kensanes.com

or make contact via Facebook.

A note from the author

I have another website of prose essays at transparencynow.com,
and here is information about what people have said about that website,
and how it has been used in classrooms.

Short Poems is part of:
Poems About Life: Copyright © 2010-2014 Ken Sanes. 
All work, including short poems by Ken Sanes
is on file with the U.S. Copyright Office. 
The short poems by others on the website are out of copyright.