CreationEarth Nature Photos
Submit Poems
Get Your Premium Membership

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.

Search for the best famous Depression poems, articles about Depression poems, poetry blogs, or anything else Depression poem related using the PoetrySoup search engine at the top of the page.

See also:

Written 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

Written 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.

Written by Charles Bukowski |

We Aint Got No Money Honey But We Got Rain

 call it the greenhouse effect or whatever
but it just doesn't rain like it used to.
I particularly remember the rains of the depression era.
there wasn't any money but there was plenty of rain.
it wouldn't rain for just a night or a day, it would RAIN for 7 days and 7 nights and in Los Angeles the storm drains weren't built to carry off taht much water and the rain came down THICK and MEAN and STEADY and you HEARD it banging against the roofs and into the ground waterfalls of it came down from roofs and there was HAIL big ROCKS OF ICE bombing exploding smashing into things and the rain just wouldn't STOP and all the roofs leaked- dishpans, cooking pots were placed all about; they dripped loudly and had to be emptied again and again.
the rain came up over the street curbings, across the lawns, climbed up the steps and entered the houses.
there were mops and bathroom towels, and the rain often came up through the toilets:bubbling, brown, crazy,whirling, and all the old cars stood in the streets, cars that had problems starting on a sunny day, and the jobless men stood looking out the windows at the old machines dying like living things out there.
the jobless men, failures in a failing time were imprisoned in their houses with their wives and children and their pets.
the pets refused to go out and left their waste in strange places.
the jobless men went mad confined with their once beautiful wives.
there were terrible arguments as notices of foreclosure fell into the mailbox.
rain and hail, cans of beans, bread without butter;fried eggs, boiled eggs, poached eggs; peanut butter sandwiches, and an invisible chicken in every pot.
my father, never a good man at best, beat my mother when it rained as I threw myself between them, the legs, the knees, the screams until they seperated.
"I'll kill you," I screamed at him.
"You hit her again and I'll kill you!" "Get that son-of-a-bitching kid out of here!" "no, Henry, you stay with your mother!" all the households were under seige but I believe that ours held more terror than the average.
and at night as we attempted to sleep the rains still came down and it was in bed in the dark watching the moon against the scarred window so bravely holding out most of the rain, I thought of Noah and the Ark and I thought, it has come again.
we all thought that.
and then, at once, it would stop.
and it always seemed to stop around 5 or 6 a.
m.
, peaceful then, but not an exact silence because things continued to drip drip drip and there was no smog then and by 8 a.
m.
there was a blazing yellow sunlight, Van Gogh yellow- crazy, blinding! and then the roof drains relieved of the rush of water began to expand in the warmth: PANG!PANG!PANG! and everybody got up and looked outside and there were all the lawns still soaked greener than green will ever be and there were birds on the lawn CHIRPING like mad, they hadn't eaten decently for 7 days and 7 nights and they were weary of berries and they waited as the worms rose to the top, half drowned worms.
the birds plucked them up and gobbled them down;there were blackbirds and sparrows.
the blackbirds tried to drive the sparrows off but the sparrows, maddened with hunger, smaller and quicker, got their due.
the men stood on their porches smoking cigarettes, now knowing they'd have to go out there to look for that job that probably wasn't there, to start that car that probably wouldn't start.
and the once beautiful wives stood in their bathrooms combing their hair, applying makeup, trying to put their world back together again, trying to forget that awful sadness that gripped them, wondering what they could fix for breakfast.
and on the radio we were told that school was now open.
and soon there I was on the way to school, massive puddles in the street, the sun like a new world, my parents back in that house, I arrived at my classroom on time.
Mrs.
Sorenson greeted us with, "we won't have our usual recess, the grounds are too wet.
" "AW!" most of the boys went.
"but we are going to do something special at recess," she went on, "and it will be fun!" well, we all wondered what that would be and the two hour wait seemed a long time as Mrs.
Sorenson went about teaching her lessons.
I looked at the little girls, they looked so pretty and clean and alert, they sat still and straight and their hair was beautiful in the California sunshine.
the the recess bells rang and we all waited for the fun.
then Mrs.
Sorenson told us: "now, what we are going to do is we are going to tell each other what we did during the rainstorm! we'll begin in the front row and go right around! now, Michael, you're first!.
.
.
" well, we all began to tell our stories, Michael began and it went on and on, and soon we realized that we were all lying, not exactly lying but mostly lying and some of the boys began to snicker and some of the girls began to give them dirty looks and Mrs.
Sorenson said, "all right! I demand a modicum of silence here! I am interested in what you did during the rainstorm even if you aren't!" so we had to tell our stories and they were stories.
one girl said that when the rainbow first came she saw God's face at the end of it.
only she didn't say which end.
one boy said he stuck his fishing pole out the window and caught a little fish and fed it to his cat.
almost everybody told a lie.
the truth was just too awful and embarassing to tell.
then the bell rang and recess was over.
"thank you," said Mrs.
Sorenson, "that was very nice.
and tomorrow the grounds will be dry and we will put them to use again.
" most of the boys cheered and the little girls sat very straight and still, looking so pretty and clean and alert, their hair beautiful in a sunshine that the world might never see again.
and

Written by Les Murray |

Travels With John Hunter

 We who travel between worlds 
lose our muscle and bone.
I was wheeling a barrow of earth when agony bayoneted me.
I could not sit, or lie down, or stand, in Casualty.
Stomach-calming clay caked my lips, I turned yellow as the moon and slid inside a CAT-scan wheel in a hospital where I met no one so much was my liver now my dire preoccupation.
I was sped down a road.
of treetops and fishing-rod lightpoles towards the three persons of God and the three persons of John Hunter Hospital.
Who said We might lose this one.
Twenty days or to the heat-death of the Universe have the same duration: vaguely half a hour.
I awoke giggling over a joke about Paul Kruger in Johannesburg and missed the white court stockings I half remembered from my prone still voyage beyond flesh and bone.
I asked my friend who got new lungs How long were you crazy, coming back? Five days, he said.
Violent and mad.
Fictive Afrikaner police were at him, not unworldly Oom Paul Kruger.
Valerie, who had sat the twenty days beside me, now gently told me tales of my time-warp.
The operative canyon stretched, stapled, with dry roseate walls down my belly.
Seaweed gel plugged views of my pluck and offal.
The only poet whose liver damage hadn't been self-inflicted, grinned my agent.
A momentarily holed bowel had released flora who live in us and will eat us when we stop feeding them the earth.
I had, it did seem, rehearsed the private office of the grave, ceased excreting, made corpse gases all while liana'd in tubes and overseen by cockpit instruments that beeped or struck up Beethoven's Fifth at behests of fluid.
I also hear when I lay lipless and far away I was anointed first by a mild metaphoric church then by the Church of no metaphors.
Now I said, signing a Dutch contract in a hand I couldn't recognise, let's go and eat Chinese soup and drive to Lake Macquarie.
Was I not renewed as we are in Heaven? In fact I could hardly endure Earth gravity, and stayed weak and cranky till the soup came, squid and vegetables, pure Yang.
And was sane thereafter.
It seemed I'd also travelled in a Spring-in-Winter love-barque of cards, of flowers and phone calls and letters, concern I'd never dreamed was there when black kelp boiled in my head.
I'd awoken amid my State funeral, nevermore to eat my liver or feed it to the Black Dog, depression which the three Johns Hunter seem to have killed with their scalpels: it hasn't found its way home, where I now dodder and mend in thanks for devotion, for the ambulance this time, for the hospital fork lift, for pethidine, and this face of deity: not the foreknowledge of death but the project of seeing conscious life rescued from death defines and will atone for the human.

Written 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.

Written 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.

Written 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.

Written by Barry Tebb |

MARGINALIA

 Here is a silence I had not hoped for

This side of paradise, I am an old believer

In nature’s bounty as God’s grace

To us poor mortals, fretting and fuming

At frustrated lust or the scent of fame 

Coming too late to make a difference

Blue with white vertebrae of cloud forms

Riming the spectrum of green dark of poplars

Lined like soldiers, paler the hue of hawthorn 

With the heather beginning to bud blue

Before September purple, yellow ragwort

Sways in the wind as distantly a plane hums

And a lazy bee bumbles by.
A day in Brenda’s flat, mostly play with Eydie, My favourite of her seven cats, they soothe better Than Diazepan for panic Seroxat for grief Zopiclone to make me sleep.
I smoke my pipe and sip blackcurrant tea Aware of the ticking clock: I have to be back To talk to my son’s key nurse when she comes on For the night shift.
Always there are things to sort, Misapprehensions to untangle, delusions to decipher, Lies to expose, statistics to disclose, Trust Boards And team meetings to attend, ‘Mental Health Monthly’ To peruse, funds for my press to raise – the only one I ever got will leave me out of pocket.
A couple sat on the next bench Are earnestly discussing child custody, broken marriages, Failed affairs, social service interventions – Even here I cannot escape complexity "I should never have slept with her once we split" "The kids are what matters when it comes to the bottom line" "Is he poisoning their minds against me?" Part of me nags to offer help but I’ve too much On already and the clock keeps ticking.
"It’s a pity she won’t turn round and clip his ear" But better not to interfere.
Damn my bloody superego Nattering like an old woman or Daisy nagging About my pipe and my loud voice on buses – No doubt she’s right – smoking’s not good And hearing about psychosis, medication and end-on-sections Isn’t what people are on buses for.
I long for a girl in summer, pubescent With a twinkle in her eye to come and say "Come on, let’s do it!" I was always shy in adolescence, too busy reading Baudelaire To find a decent whore and learn to score And now I’m probably impotent with depression So I’d better forget sex and read more of Andr? Green On metaphor from Hegel to Lacan and how the colloquium At Bonneval changed analytic history, a mystery I’ll not unravel if I live to ninety.
Ignorance isn’t bliss, I know enough to talk the piss From jumped-up SHO’s and locums who’d miss vital side effects And think all’s needed is a mother’s kiss.
I’ll wait till the heather’s purple and bring nail scissors To cut and suture neatly and renew my stocks Of moor momentoes vased in unsunny Surrey.
Can you believe it? Some arseholes letting off fireworks On the moor? Suburban excesses spread like the sores Of syphilis and more regulations in a decade of Blair Than in the century before.
"Shop your neighbours.
Prove it.
Bring birth certificates to A&E If you want NHS treatment free.
Be careful not to bleed to death While finding the certificate.
Blunkett wants us all to have ID Photo cards, genetic codes, DNA database, eye scans, the lot – And kiss good-bye to the last bits of freedom we’ve got" "At the end of the day she shopped me and all I’d done Was take a few pound from the till ’cos Jenny was ill And I didn’t have thirteen quid to get the bloody prescription done" To-morrow I’ll be back in the Great Wen, Two days of manic catching up and then Thistledown, wild wheat, a dozen kinds of grass, The mass of beckoning hills I’d love to make A poet’s map of but never will.
"Oh to break loose" Lowell’s magic lines Entice me still but slimy Fenton had to have his will And slate it in the NYB, arguing that panetone Isn’t tin foil as Lowell thought.
James you are a dreadful bore, A pedantic creep like hundreds more, five A4 pages Of sniping and nit-picking for how many greenbacks? A thousand or two I’d guess, they couldn’t pay you less For churning out such a king-size mess But not even you can spoil this afternoon Of watching Haworth heather bloom.

Written 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!

Written 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)

Written by Barry Tebb |

FOR JAMES SIMMONS

 Sitting in outpatients

With my own minor ills

Dawn’s depression lifts

To the lilt of amitryptilene,

A double dose for a day’s journey

To a distant ward.
The word was out that Simmons Had died eighteen months after An aneurism at sixty seven.
The meeting he proposed in his second letter Could never happen: a few days later A Christmas card in Gaelic - Nollaig Shona - Then silence, an unbearable chasm Of wondering if I’d inadvertently offended.
A year later a second card explained the silence: I joined the queue of mourners: It was August when I saw the Guardian obituary Behind glass in the Poetry Library.
How astonishing the colour photo, The mane of white hair, The proud mien, the wry smile, Perfect for a bust by Epstein Or Gaudier Brjeska a century earlier.
I stood by the shelves Leafing through your books With their worn covers, Remarking the paucity Of recent borrowings And the ommisions From the anthologies.
“I’m a bit out of fashion But still bringing out books Armitage didn’t put me in at all The egregarious Silkin Tried to get off with my wife - May he rest in peace.
I can’t remember what angered me About Geoffrey Hill, quite funny In a nervous, melancholic way, A mask you wouldn’t get behind.
Harrison and I were close for years But it sort of faded when he wrote He wanted to hear no more Of my personal life.
I went to his reading in Galway Where he walked in his cosy regalia Crossed the length of the bar To embrace me, manic about the necessity Of doing big shows in the Balkans.
I taught him all he knows, says aging poet! And he’s forgotten the best bits, He knows my work, how quickly vanity will undo a man.
Tom Blackburn was Gregory Fellow In my day, a bit mad But a good and kind poet.
” I read your last book The Company of Children, You sent me to review - Your best by so far It seemed an angel Had stolen your pen - The solitary aging singer Whispering his last song.

Written 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.
.
.