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Best Famous Poverty Poems

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

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See also: Best Member Poems

by Tupac Shakur | |

Life Through My Eyes

Life through my bloodshot eyes
would scare a square 2 death
and never a moment 2 rest
Fun and games are few
but treasured like gold 2 me
cuz I realize that I must return
2 my spot in poverty
But mock my words when I say
my heart will not exist
unless my destiny comes through
and puts an end 2 all of this 

by Ben Jonson | |

To my Muse


Away, and leave me, thou thing most abhorr'd
That hast betray'd me to a worthless lord ;
Made me commit most fierce idolatry
To a great image through thy luxury :
Be thy next master's more unlucky muse,
And, as thou'st mine, his hours and youth abuse,
Get him the time's long grudge, the court's ill will ;
And reconcil'd, keep him suspected still.
Make him lose all his friends ; and, which is worse,
Almost all ways to any better course.
With me thou leav'st an happier muse than thee,
And which thou brought'st me, welcome poverty :
She shall instruct my after-thoughts to write
Things manly, and not smelling parasite.
But I repent me : stay — Whoe'er is raised,
For worth he has not, he is tax'd not praised.

by Ben Jonson | |

To Alchemists

If all you boast of your great art be true ;
Sure, willing poverty lives most in you.

    Adriaen Jansz van Ostade.

    Adriaen Jansz van Ostade.

More great poems below...

by William Lisle Bowles | |

IX. O Poverty! though from thy haggard eye...

 O POVERTY! though from thy haggard eye, 
Thy cheerless mein, of every charm bereft, 
Thy brow, that hope's last traces long have left, 
Vain Fortune's feeble sons with terror fly; 
Thy rugged paths with pleasure I attend; -- 
For Fancy, that with fairest dreams can bless; 
And Patience, in the Pall of Wretchedness, 
Sad-smiling, as the ruthless storms descend; 
And Piety, forgiving every wrong, 
And meek Content, whose griefs no more rebel; 
And Genius, warbling sweet her saddest song; 
And Pity, list'ning to the poor man's knell, 
Long banish'd from the world's insulting throng; 
With Thee, and loveliest Melancholy, dwell.

by William Lisle Bowles | |

Sonnet: O Poverty! Though From Thy Haggard Eye

 O, Poverty! though from thy haggard eye,
Thy cheerless mien, of every charm bereft,
Thy brow that Hope's last traces long have left,
Vain Fortune's feeble sons with terror fly;
I love thy solitary haunts to seek.
For Pity, reckless of her own distress; And Patience, in her pall of wretchedness, That turns to the bleak storm her faded cheek; And Piety, that never told her wrong; And meek Content, whose griefs no more rebel; And Genius, warbling sweet her saddest song; And Sorrow, listening to a lost friend's knell, Long banished from the world's insulting throng; With thee, and thy unfriended offspring, dwell.

by Petrarch | |



Quella per cui con Sorga ho cangiat' Arno.


She, for whose sake fair Arno I resign,
And for free poverty court-affluence spurn,
Has known to sour the precious sweets to turn
On which I lived, for which I burn and pine.
Though since, the vain attempt has oft been mine
That future ages from my song should learn
Her heavenly beauties, and like me should burn,
My poor verse fails her sweet face to define.
The gifts, though all her own, which others share,
Which were but stars her bright sky scatter'd o'er,
Haply of these to sing e'en I might dare;
But when to the diviner part I soar,
[Pg 266]To the dull world a brief and brilliant light,
Courage and wit and art are baffled quite.

by Kathleen Raine | |

Worry About Money

 Wearing worry about money like a hair shirt
I lie down in my bed and wrestle with my angel.
My bank-manager could not sanction my continuance for another day But life itself wakes me each morning, and love Urges me to give although I have no money In the bank at this moment, and ought properly To cease to exist in a world where poverty Is a shameful and ridiculous offence.
Having no one to advise me, I open the Bible And shut my eyes and put my finger on a text And read that the widow with the young son Must give first to the prophetic genius From the little there is in the bin of flour and the cruse of oil.

by Wallace Stevens | |

The Planet On The Table

 Ariel was glad he had written his poems.
They were of a remembered time Or of something seen that he liked.
Other makings of the sun Were waste and welter And the ripe shrub writhed.
His self and the sun were one And his poems, although makings of his self, Were no less makings of the sun.
It was not important that they survive.
What mattered was that they should bear Some lineament or character, Some affluence, if only half-perceived, In the poverty of their words, Of the planet of which they were part.

by Robert William Service | |

My Brothers

 While I make rhymes my brother John
Makes shiny shoes which dames try on,
And finding to their fit and stance
They buy and wear with elegance;
But mine is quite another tale,--
 For song there is no sale.
My brother Tom a tailor shop Is owner of, and ladies stop To try the models he has planned, And richly pay, I understand: Yet not even a dingy dime Can I make with my rhyme.
My brother Jim sells stuff to eat Like trotters, tripe and sausage meat.
I dare not by his window stop, Lest he should offer me a chop; For though a starving bard I be, To hell, say I, with charity! My brothers all are proud of purse, But though my poverty I curse, I would not for a diadem Exchange my lowly lot with them: A garret and a crust for me, And reams and dreams of Poetry.

by Robert William Service | |

My Neighbors

 To rest my fagged brain now and then,
When wearied of my proper labors,
I lay aside my lagging pen
And get to thinking on my neighbors;
For, oh, around my garret den
There's woe and poverty a-plenty,
And life's so interesting when
A lad is only two-and-twenty.
Now, there's that artist gaunt and wan, A little card his door adorning; It reads: "Je ne suis pour personne", A very frank and fitting warning.
I fear he's in a sorry plight; He starves, I think, too proud to borrow, I hear him moaning every night: Maybe they'll find him dead to-morrow.

by Robert William Service | |

Tom Paine

 An Englishman was Thomas Paine
 Who bled for liberty;
But while his fight was far from vain
 He died in poverty:
Though some are of the sober thinking
 'Twas due to drinking.
Yet this is what appeals to me: Cobbet, a friend, loved him so well He sailed across the surly sea To raw and rigid New Rochelle: With none to say: 'Take him not from us!' He raped the grave of Thomas.
And in his library he set These bones so woe-begone; I have no doubt his eyes were wet To scan that skeleton.
That grinning skull from which in season Emerged the Age of Reason.
Then Cobbet in his turn lay dead, And auctioneering tones Over his chattels rudely said: 'Who wants them bloody bones?' None did, so they were scattered far And God knows where they are.
A friend of Franklin and of Pitt He lived a stormy span; The flame of liberty he lit And rang the Rights of Man.
Yet pilgrims from Vermont and Maine In hero worship seek in vain The bones of Thomas Paine.

by Robert William Service | |

Compensation Pete

 He used to say: There ain't a doubt
Misfortune is a bitter pill,
But if you only pry it out
You'll find there's good in every ill.
There's comfort in the worst of woe, There's consolation in defeat .
Oh what a solace-seeker! So We called him Compensation Pete.
He lost his wealth - but was he pipped? Why no - "That's fine," he used to say.
"I've got the government plumb gypped - No more damn income tax to pay.
From cares of property set free, And with no pesky social ties, Why, even poverty may be A benediction in disguise.
" He lost his health: "Okay," he said; "I'm getting on, may be the best.
I've always loved to lie abed, And now I have the right to rest.
Such heaps o' things I want to do, I'll have no time to fret or brood.
I'll read the dam ol' Bible through: Guess it'll do me plenty good.
" He has that line of sunny shine That makes a blessing of a curse, And he would say: "Don't let's repine, Though things are bad they might be worse.
" And so he cherished to the end Philosophy so sane and sweet That everybody was his friend .
With optimism hard to beat - God bless old Compensation Pete.

by Robert William Service | |


 When I have come with happy heart to sixty years and ten,
I'll buy a boat and sail away upon a summer sea;
And in a little lonely isle that's far and far from men,
In peace and praise I'll spend the days the Gods allow to me.
For I am weary of a strife so pitiless and vain; And in a far and fairy isle, bewilderingly bright, I'll learn to know the leap and glow of rapture once again, And welcome every living dawn with wonder and delight.
And there I'll build a swan-white house above the singing foam, With brooding eaves, where joyously rich roses climb and cling; With crotons in a double row, like wine and honeycomb, And flame trees dripping golden rain, and palms pavilioning.
And there I'll let the wind and wave do what they will with me; And I will dwell unto the end with loveliness and joy; And drink from out the crystal spring, and eat from off the tree, As simple as a savage is, as careless as a boy.
For I have come to think that Life's a lamentable tale, And all we break our hearts to win is little worth our while; For fame and fortune in the end are comfortless and stale, And it is best to dream and rest upon a radiant isle.
So I'll blot out the bitter years of sufferance and scorn, And I'll forget the fear and fret, the poverty and pain; And in a shy and secret isle I'll be a man newborn, And fashion life to heart's desire, and seek my soul again.
For when I come with happy heart to sixty years and ten, I fondly hope the best of life will yet remain to me; And so I'll burn my foolish books and break my futile pen, And seek a tranced and tranquil isle, that dreams eternally.
I'll turn my back on all the world, I'll bid my friends adieu; Unto the blink I'll leave behind what gold I have to give; And in a jewelled solitude I'll mould my life anew, And nestling close to Nature's heart, I'll learn at last .
to live.

by Robert William Service | |

Munition Maker

 I am the Cannon King, behold!
I perish on a throne of gold.
With forest far and turret high, Renowned and rajah-rich am I.
My father was, and his before, With wealth we owe to war on war; But let no potentate be proud .
There are no pockets in a shroud.
By nature I am mild and kind, To gentleness and ruth inclined; And though the pheasants over-run My woods I will not touch a gun.
Yet while each monster that I forge Thunders destruction form its gorge.
Death's whisper is, I vow, more loud .
There are no pockets in a shroud.
My time is short, my ships at sea Already seem like ghosts to me; My millions mock me I am poor As any beggar at my door.
My vast dominion I resign, Six feet of earth to claim is mine, Brooding with shoulders bitter-bowed .
There are no pockets in a shroud.
Dear God, let me purge my heart, And be of heaven's hope a part! Flinging my fortune's foul increase To fight for pity, love and peace.
Oh that I could with healing fare, And pledged to poverty and prayer Cry high above the cringing crowd: "Ye fools! Be not Mammon cowed .
There are no pockets in a shroud.

by Robert William Service | |

The Buyers

 Father drank himself to death,--
 Quite enjoyed it.
Urged to draw a sober breath He'd avoid it.
'Save your sympathy,' said Dad; 'Never sought it.
Hob-nail liver, gay and glad, Sure,--I bought it.
' Uncle made a heap of dough, Ponies playing.
'Easy come and easy go,' Was his saying.
Though he died in poverty Fit he thought it, Grinning with philosophy: 'Guess I bought it.
' Auntie took the way of sin, Seeking pleasure; Lovers came, her heart to win, Bringing treasure.
Sickness smote,--with lips that bled Brave she fought it; Smiling on her dying bed: 'Dears, I bought it.
' My decades of life are run, Eight precisely; Yet I've lost a lot of fun Living wisely.
Too much piety don't pay, Time has taught it; Hadn't guts to go astray; Life's a bloody bore today,-- Well, I've bought it.

by Robert William Service | |


 Because my teeth are feebly few
I cannot bolt my grub like you,
But have to chew and chew and chew
 As you can see;
Yet every mouthful seems so good
I would not haste it if I could,
And so I salivate my food
 With ecstasy.
Because my purse is poor in pence I spend my dough with common-sense, And live without the least pretence In simple state; The things I can't afford to buy Might speed the day I have to die, So pleased with poverty am I And bless my fate.
Because my heart is growing tired, No more by foolish passion fired, Nor by ambitious hope inspired, As in my youth, I am content to sit and rest, And prove the last of life's the best, And ponder with a cheerful zest Some saintly truth.
Because I cannot do the things I used to, comfort round me clings, And from the moil of market brings Me rich release; So welcome age with tranquil mind; Even infirmities are kind, And in our frailing we may find Life's crown of peace.

by James Tate | |

My Great Great Etc. Uncle Patrick Henry

 There's a fortune to be made in just about everything
in this country, somebody's father had to invent
everything--baby food, tractors, rat poisoning.
My family's obviously done nothing since the beginning of time.
They invented poverty and bad taste and getting by and taking it from the boss.
O my mother goes around chewing her nails and spitting them in a jar: You shouldn't be ashamed of yourself she says, think of your family.
My family I say what have they ever done but paint by numbers the most absurd and disgusting scenes of plastic squalor and human degradation.
Well then think of your great great etc.
Uncle Patrick Henry.

by Edward Taylor | |

My Great Great Etc. Uncle Patrick Henry

 There's a fortune to be made in just about everything
in this country, somebody's father had to invent
everything--baby food, tractors, rat poisoning.
My family's obviously done nothing since the beginning of time.
They invented poverty and bad taste and getting by and taking it from the boss.
O my mother goes around chewing her nails and spitting them in a jar: You shouldn't be ashamed of yourself she says, think of your family.
My family I say what have they ever done but paint by numbers the most absurd and disgusting scenes of plastic squalor and human degradation.
Well then think of your great great etc.
Uncle Patrick Henry.

by Dylan Thomas | |

On No Work Of Words

 On no work of words now for three lean months in the
Belly of the rich year and the big purse of my body
I bitterly take to task my poverty and craft:

To take to give is all, return what is hungrily given
Puffing the pounds of manna up through the dew to heaven,
The lovely gift of the gab bangs back on a blind shaft.
To lift to leave from treasures of man is pleasing death That will rake at last all currencies of the marked breath And count the taken, forsaken mysteries in a bad dark.
To surrender now is to pay the expensive ogre twice.
Ancient woods of my blood, dash down to the nut of the seas If I take to burn or return this world which is each man's work.

by Derek Walcott | |

Sabbaths W.I.

 Those villages stricken with the melancholia of Sunday,
in all of whose ocher streets one dog is sleeping

those volcanoes like ashen roses, or the incurable sore
of poverty, around whose puckered mouth thin boys are
selling yellow sulphur stone

the burnt banana leaves that used to dance
the river whose bed is made of broken bottles
the cocoa grove where a bird whose cry sounds green and
yellow and in the lights under the leaves crested with
orange flame has forgotten its flute

gommiers peeling from sunburn still wrestling to escape the sea

the dead lizard turning blue as stone

those rivers, threads of spittle, that forgot the old music

that dry, brief esplanade under the drier sea almonds
where the dry old men sat

watching a white schooner stuck in the branches
and playing draughts with the moving frigate birds

those hillsides like broken pots

those ferns that stamped their skeletons on the skin

and those roads that begin reciting their names at vespers

mention them and they will stop
those crabs that were willing to let an epoch pass
those herons like spinsters that doubted their reflections
inquiring, inquiring

those nettles that waited
those Sundays, those Sundays

those Sundays when the lights at the road's end were an occasion

those Sundays when my mother lay on her back
those Sundays when the sisters gathered like white moths
round their street lantern

and cities passed us by on the horizon

by Isaac Watts | |

Psalm 16 part 1

 Confession of our poverty.
Preserve me, Lord, in time of need, For succor to thy throne I flee, But have no merits there to plead: My goodness cannot reach to thee.
Oft have my heart and tongue confessed How empty and how poor I am; My praise can never make thee blessed, Nor add new glories to thy name.
Yet, Lord, thy saints on earth may reap Some profit by the good we do; These are the company I keep, These are the choicest friends I know.
Let others choose the sons of mirth To give a relish to their wine; I love the men of heav'nly birth, Whose thoughts and language are divine.

by Isaac Watts | |

Psalm 127

 The blessing of God on the business and comforts of life.
If God succeed not, all the cost And pains to build the house are lost; If God the city will not keep, The watchful guards as well may sleep.
What if you rise before the sun, And work and toil when day is done; Careful and sparing eat your bread, To shun that poverty you dread; 'Tis all in vain, till God hath blessed; He can make rich, yet give us rest: Children and friends are blessings too, If God our Sovereign make them so.
Happy the man to whom he sends Obedient children, faithful friends: How sweet our daily comforts prove When they are seasoned with his love!

by Gerard Manley Hopkins | |

The Habit Of Perfection

 Elected Silence, sing to me
And beat upon my whorlèd ear,
Pipe me to pastures still and be
The music that I care to hear.
Shape nothing, lips; be lovely-dumb: It is the shut, the curfew sent From there where all surrenders come Which only makes you eloquent.
Be shellèd, eyes, with double dark And find the uncreated light: This ruck and reel which you remark Coils, keeps, and teases simple sight.
Palate, the hutch of tasty lust, Desire not to be rinsed with wine: The can must be so sweet, the crust So fresh that come in fasts divine! Nostrils, your careless breath that spend Upon the stir and keep of pride, What relish shall the censers send Along the sanctuary side! O feel-of-primrose hands, O feet That want the yield of plushy sward, But you shall walk the golden street And you unhouse and house the Lord.
And, Poverty, be thou the bride And now the marriage feast begun, And lily-coloured clothes provide Your spouse not laboured-at nor spun.

by Helen Hunt Jackson | |

A Calendar of Sonnets: August

 Silence again.
The glorious symphony Hath need of pause and interval of peace.
Some subtle signal bids all sweet sounds cease, Save hum of insects' aimless industry.
Pathetic summer seeks by blazonry Of color to conceal her swift decrease.
Weak subterfuge! Each mocking day doth fleece A blossom, and lay bare her poverty.
Poor middle-aged summer! Vain this show! Whole fields of Golden-Rod cannot offset One meadow with a single violet; And well the singing thrush and lily know, Spite of all artifice which her regret Can deck in splendid guise, their time to go!

by Edgar Lee Masters | |

Elizabeth Childers

 Dust of my dust, 
And dust with my dust, 
O, child who died as you entered the world, 
Dead with my death! 
Not knowing breath, though you tried so hard, 
With a heart that beat when you lived with me, 
And stopped when you left me for Life.
It is well, my child.
For you never traveled The long, long way that begins with school days, When little fingers blur under the tears That fall on the crooked letters.
And the earliest wound, when a little mate Leaves you alone for another; And sickness, and the face of Fear by the bed; The death of a father or mother; Or shame for them, or poverty; The maiden sorrow of school days ended; And eyeless Nature that makes you drink From the cup of Love, though you know it's poisoned; To whom would your flower-face have been lifted? Botanist, weakling? Cry of what blood to yours?--- Pure or fool, for it makes no matter, It's blood that calls to our blood.
And then your children---oh, what might they be? And what your sorrows? Child! Child! Death is better than Life!