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Best Famous Depression Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Depression poems. This is a select list of the best famous Depression poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Depression poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of depression poems.

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See also: Best Member Poems

by Erin Belieu | |

For Catherine: Juana Infanta of Navarre

 Ferdinand was systematic when
he drove his daughter mad.
With a Casanova's careful art, he moved slowly, stole only one child at a time through tunnels specially dug behind the walls of her royal chamber, then paid the Duenna well to remember nothing but his appreciation.
Imagine how quietly the servants must have worked, loosening the dirt, the muffled ring of pick-ends against the castle stone.
The Duenna, one eye gauging the drugged girl's sleep, each night handing over another light parcel, another small body vanished through the mouth of a hole.
Once you were a daughter, too, then a wife and now the mother of a baby with a Spanish name.
Paloma, you call her, little dove; she sleeps in a room beyond you.
Your husband, too, works late, drinks too much at night, comes home lit, wanting sex and dinner.
You feign sleep, shrunk in the corner of the queen-sized bed.
You've confessed, you can't feel things when they touch you; take Prozac for depression, Ativan for the buzz.
Drunk, you call your father who doesn't want to claim a ha!fsand-niggergrandkid.
He says he never loved your mother.
No one remembers Juana; almost everything's forgotten in time, and if I tell her story, it's only when guessing what she loved, what she dreamed about, the lost details of a life that barely survives history.
God and Latin, I suppose, what she loved.
And dreams of mice pouring out from a hole.
The Duenna, in spite of her black, widow's veil, leaning to kiss her, saying Juana, don't listen.
.
.


by Barry Tebb | |

INFAMOUS POET

 I never did fit in – at six or sixty one –

I stand out in a crowd, too young or old

And gather pity like a shroud.
"Is that real silk?" A teenager inquired.
"As real as Oxfam ever is For one pound fifty.
" The vast ballroom was growing misty And blurred with alcohol I’ve never had the taste for.
"Fuck off" a forty-plus dyed blonde said half in jest.
So I chose the only Asian girl in Squares with hair like jet And danced with her five minutes centre stage – I’ve lost all inhibitions in old age.
A Malaysian architecture Student invited me to sit and get my breath back "Le Corbusier described a house as a machine for living in," I quipped; she slipped a smile and sipped her drink and said "I love Leeds and its people; in seven years I’ve never Heard a single racist comment, whatever the papers say" Malaysian girls are rightly known for their sensual beauty But I made my pitiful excuses and slipped away.
I knew I couldn’t make it, couldn’t even fake it With all this damned depression in the way.
Leeds boys are always friendlier than the girls, They see themselves grown older in my years And push the girls towards me with a glance "Go and give the poor old man a dance!" And dance I do and show my poems around Like calling cards and jot lines on my palms.
Reading Lacan into the night I thought things through But somehow none of them was half as good as you.


by Donald Justice | |

Pantoum Of The Great Depression

 Our lives avoided tragedy
Simply by going on and on,
Without end and with little apparent meaning.
Oh, there were storms and small catastrophes.
Simply by going on and on We managed.
No need for the heroic.
Oh, there were storms and small catastrophes.
I don't remember all the particulars.
We managed.
No need for the heroic.
There were the usual celebrations, the usual sorrows.
I don't remember all the particulars.
Across the fence, the neighbors were our chorus.
There were the usual celebrations, the usual sorrows Thank god no one said anything in verse.
The neighbors were our only chorus, And if we suffered we kept quiet about it.
At no time did anyone say anything in verse.
It was the ordinary pities and fears consumed us, And if we suffered we kept quiet about it.
No audience would ever know our story.
It was the ordinary pities and fears consumed us.
We gathered on porches; the moon rose; we were poor.
What audience would ever know our story? Beyond our windows shone the actual world.
We gathered on porches; the moon rose; we were poor.
And time went by, drawn by slow horses.
Somewhere beyond our windows shone the actual world.
The Great Depression had entered our souls like fog.
And time went by, drawn by slow horses.
We did not ourselves know what the end was.
The Great Depression had entered our souls like fog.
We had our flaws, perhaps a few private virtues.
But we did not ourselves know what the end was.
People like us simply go on.
We had our flaws, perhaps a few private virtues, But it is by blind chance only that we escape tragedy.
And there is no plot in that; it is devoid of poetry.


More great poems below...

by Philip Levine | |

On The Meeting Of García Lorca And Hart Crane

 Brooklyn, 1929.
Of course Crane's been drinking and has no idea who this curious Andalusian is, unable even to speak the language of poetry.
The young man who brought them together knows both Spanish and English, but he has a headache from jumping back and forth from one language to another.
For a moment's relief he goes to the window to look down on the East River, darkening below as the early light comes on.
Something flashes across his sight, a double vision of such horror he has to slap both his hands across his mouth to keep from screaming.
Let's not be frivolous, let's not pretend the two poets gave each other wisdom or love or even a good time, let's not invent a dialogue of such eloquence that even the ants in your own house won't forget it.
The two greatest poetic geniuses alive meet, and what happens? A vision comes to an ordinary man staring at a filthy river.
Have you ever had a vision? Have you ever shaken your head to pieces and jerked back at the image of your young son falling through open space, not from the stern of a ship bound from Vera Cruz to New York but from the roof of the building he works on? Have you risen from bed to pace until dawn to beg a merciless God to take these pictures away? Oh, yes, let's bless the imagination.
It gives us the myths we live by.
Let's bless the visionary power of the human— the only animal that's got it—, bless the exact image of your father dead and mine dead, bless the images that stalk the corners of our sight and will not let go.
The young man was my cousin, Arthur Lieberman, then a language student at Columbia, who told me all this before he died quietly in his sleep in 1983 in a hotel in Perugia.
A good man, Arthur, he survived graduate school, later came home to Detroit and sold pianos right through the Depression.
He loaned my brother a used one to compose his hideous songs on, which Arthur thought were genius.
What an imagination Arthur had!


by Anne Sexton | |

The Fury Of Rainstorms

 The rain drums down like red ants, 
each bouncing off my window.
The ants are in great pain and they cry out as they hit as if their little legs were only stitche don and their heads pasted.
And oh they bring to mind the grave, so humble, so willing to be beat upon with its awful lettering and the body lying underneath without an umbrella.
Depression is boring, I think and I would do better to make some soup and light up the cave.


by Rg Gregory | |

absinthe and stained glass

 (i)
absinthe makes the hurt grow fonder
the green fairy burbles what's this 'ere
when vincent (sozzled) knifes his lug off
all spirits then succumb to fear
depression takes the gloss off wonder
and people (lost) tell god to bug off
the twentieth century drowns in sheer
excuse that life is comic blunder
temporality dons its gear
forbidden thought soon rips its gag off

stained glass (you think) must be bystander
its leaded eyes seek far not near
the day's bleak dirt it learns to shrug off

(ii)
the history of the race confuses
heady spirit with bloody need
nothing can stop the sky from tingling
intrinsic hope rewords its screed
assumes it must outlive its bruises

stained glass deigns to face the mingling
of atavistic search for creed
with each desire gets what it chooses
it tries to suck out truth from greed
and calmly pacifies the wrangling

lasting spirit allows no ruses
what's bottled dreads to pay much heed
between the two meek life is dangling

(from le trianon - stained glass window by berge)


by Edgar Bowers | |

Mary

 The angel of self-discipline, her guardian
Since she first knew and had to go away
From home that spring to have her child with strangers,
Sustained her, till the vanished boy next door
And her ordeal seemed fiction, and the true
Her mother’s firm insistence she was the mother
And the neighbors’ acquiescence.
So she taught school, Walking a mile each way to ride the street car— First books of the Aeneid known by heart, French, and the French Club Wednesday afternoon; Then summer replacement typist in an office, Her sister’s family moving in with them, Depression years and she the only earner.
Saturday, football game and opera broadcasts, Sunday, staying at home to wash her hair, The Business Women’s Circle Monday night, And, for a treat, birthdays and holidays, Nelson Eddy and Jeanette McDonald.
The young blond sister long since gone to college, Nephew and nieces gone, her mother dead, Instead of Caesar, having to teach First Aid, The students rowdy, she retired.
The rent For the empty rooms she gave to Thornwell Orphanage, Unwed Mothers, Temperance, and Foster Parents And never bought the car she meant to buy; Too blind at last to do much more than sit All day in the antique glider on the porch Listening to cars pass up and down the street.
Each summer, on the grass behind the house— Cape jasmine, with its scent of August nights Humid and warm, the soft magnolia bloom Marked lightly by a slow brown stain—she spread, For airing, the same small intense collection, Concert programs, worn trophies, years of yearbooks, Letters from schoolgirl chums, bracelets of hair And the same picture: black hair in a bun, Puzzled eyes in an oval face as young Or old as innocence, skirt to the ground, And, seated on the high school steps, the class, The ones to whom she would have said, “Seigneur, Donnez-nous la force de supporter La peine,” as an example easy to remember, Formal imperative, object first person plural.


by Hilaire Belloc | |

The Night

 Still a mystery,

I can’t figure out;

Race home from work,

Where life is without.
***** I race to see you, And hold you to me; My mind says you’re there, And my heart won’t see.
***** I open the door, It’s still a surprise: You’re not there, And tears fill my eyes.
***** I need someone, Or call on the phone; But nothing breaks the silence, Of these walls made of stone.
***** I punish myself, By refusing to eat: Depression is silent, I hear my heart beat.
***** Where can I go, Or should I stay: Shy to choose, In bed I lay.
***** Time will pass, And the dark sets in; Laying there wishing, I could still touch your skin.
***** Lying there hurting, I wish I could die; Missing you so much, Again I start to cry.
***** Sometimes I wonder, If you even know; The way that I need you, Would you still go.
***** I can’t sleep now, Again a long night; Are you this lonely, Do you share in my fright.
***** Written 09-27-90