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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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Written 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.

Written 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.

Written by Laura Riding Jackson | |

The Simple Line

 The secrets of the mind convene splendidly,
Though the mind is meek.
To be aware inwardly of brain and beauty Is dark too recognizable.
Thought looking out on thought Makes one an eye: Which it shall be, both decide.
One is with the mind alone, The other is with other thoughts gone To be seen from afar and not known.
When openly these inmost sights Flash and speak fully, Each head at home shakes hopelessly Of being never ready to see self And sees a universe too soon.
The immense surmise swims round and round And heads grow wise With their own bigness beatified In cosmos, and the idiot size Of skulls spells Nature on the ground, While ears listening the wrong way report Echoes first and hear words before sounds Because the mind, being quiet, seems late.
By ears words are copied into books, By letters minds are taught self-ignorance.
From mouths spring forth vocabularies To the assemblage of strange objects Grown foreign to the faithful countryside Of one king, poverty, Of one line, humbleness.
Unavowed and false horizons claim pride For spaces in the head The native head sees outside.
The flood of wonder rushing from the eyes Returns lesson by lesson.
The mind, shrunken of time, Overflows too soon.
The complete vision is the same As when the world-wideness began Worlds to describe The excessiveness of man.
But man's right portion rejects The surplus in the whole.
This much, made secret first, Now makes The knowable, which was Thought's previous flesh, And gives instruction of substance to its intelligence As far as flesh itself, As bodies upon themselves to where Understanding is the head And the identity of breath and breathing are established And the voice opening to cry: I know, Closes around the entire declaration With this evidence of immortality— The total silence to say: I am dead.
For death is all ugly, all lovely, Forbids mysteries to make Science of splendor, or any separate disclosing Of beauty to the mind out of body's book That page by page flutters a world in fragments, Permits no scribbling in of more Where spaces are, Only to look.
Body as Body lies more than still.
The rest seems nothing and nothing is If nothing need be.
But if need be, Thought not divided anyway Answers itself, thinking All open and everything.
Dead is the mind that parted each head.
But now the secrets of the mind convene Without pride, without pain To any onlookers.
What they ordain alone Cannot be known The ordinary way of eyes and ears But only prophesied If an unnatural mind, refusing to divide, Dies immediately Of too plain beauty Foreseen within too suddenly, And lips break open of astonishment Upon the living mouth and rehearse Death, that seems a simple verse And, of all ways to know, Dead or alive, easiest.

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Written by Paul Laurence Dunbar | |

Frederick Douglass

 A hush is over all the teeming lists,
And there is pause, a breath-space in the strife;
A spirit brave has passed beyond the mists
And vapors that obscure the sun of life.
And Ethiopia, with bosom torn, Laments the passing of her noblest born.
She weeps for him a mother's burning tears-- She loved him with a mother's deepest love He was her champion thro' direful years, And held her weal all other ends above.
When Bondage held her bleeding in the dust, He raised her up and whispered, 'Hope and Trust.
' For her his voice, a fearless clarion, rung That broke in warning on the ears of men; For her the strong bow of his pow'r he strung And sent his arrows to the very den Where grim Oppression held his bloody place And gloated o'er the mis'ries of a race.
And he was no soft-tongued apologist; He spoke straight-forward, fearlessly uncowed; The sunlight of his truth dispelled the mist And set in bold relief each dark-hued cloud; To sin and crime he gave their proper hue, And hurled at evil what was evil's due.
Thro' good and ill report he cleaved his way Right onward, with his face set toward the heights, Nor feared to face the foeman's dread array-- The lash of scorn, the sting of petty spites.
He dared the lightning in the lightning's track, And answered thunder with his thunder back.
When men maligned him and their torrent wrath In furious imprecations o'er him broke, He kept his counsel as he kept his path; 'Twas for his race, not for himself, he spoke.
He knew the import of his Master's call And felt himself too mighty to be small.
No miser in the good he held was he-- His kindness followed his horizon's rim.
His heart, his talents and his hands were free To all who truly needed aught of him.
Where poverty and ignorance were rife, He gave his bounty as he gave his life.
The place and cause that first aroused his might Still proved its pow'r until his latest day.
In Freedom's lists and for the aid of Right Still in the foremost rank he waged the fray; Wrong lived; His occupation was not gone.
He died in action with his armor on! We weep for him, but we have touched his hand, And felt the magic of his presence nigh, The current that he sent thro' out the land, The kindling spirit of his battle-cry O'er all that holds us we shall triumph yet And place our banner where his hopes were set! Oh, Douglass, thou hast passed beyond the shore, But still thy voice is ringing o'er the gale! Thou 'st taught thy race how high her hopes may soar And bade her seek the heights, nor faint, nor fail.
She will not fail, she heeds thy stirring cry, She knows thy guardian spirit will be nigh, And rising from beneath the chast'ning rod, She stretches out her bleeding hands to God!

Written by Petrarch | |



Fiamma dal ciel su le tue treccie piova.


Vengeaunce must fall on thee, thow filthie whore
Of Babilon, thow breaker of Christ's fold,
That from achorns, and from the water colde,
Art riche become with making many poore.
Thow treason's neste that in thie harte dost holde
Of cankard malice, and of myschief more
Than pen can wryte, or may with tongue be tolde,
Slave to delights that chastitie hath solde;
For wyne and ease which settith all thie store
Uppon whoredome and none other lore,
In thye pallais of strompetts yonge and olde
Theare walks Plentie, and Belzebub thye Lorde:
[Pg 136]Guydes thee and them, and doth thye raigne upholde:
It is but late, as wryting will recorde,
That poore thow weart withouten lande or goolde;
Yet now hathe golde and pryde, by one accorde,
In wickednesse so spreadd thie lyf abrode,
That it dothe stincke before the face of God.
(?) Wyatt.
May fire from heaven rain down upon thy head,
Thou most accurst; who simple fare casts by,
Made rich and great by others' poverty;
How dost thou glory in thy vile misdeed!
Nest of all treachery, in which is bred
Whate'er of sin now through the world doth fly;
Of wine the slave, of sloth, of gluttony;
With sensuality's excesses fed!
Old men and harlots through thy chambers dance;
Then in the midst see Belzebub advance
With mirrors and provocatives obscene.
Erewhile thou wert not shelter'd, nursed on down;
But naked, barefoot on the straw wert thrown:
Now rank to heaven ascends thy life unclean.

Written by Petrarch | |


[Pg 137]


Fontana di dolore, albergo d' ira.


Spring of all woe, O den of curssed ire,
Scoole of errour, temple of heresye;
Thow Pope, I meane, head of hypocrasye,
Thow and thie churche, unsaciat of desyre,
Have all the world filled full of myserye;
Well of disceate, thow dungeon full of fyre,
That hydes all truthe to breed idolatrie.
Thow wicked wretche, Chryste cannot be a lyer,
Behold, therefore, thie judgment hastelye;
Thye first founder was gentill povertie,
But there against is all thow dost requyre.
Thow shameless beaste wheare hast thow thie trust,
In thie whoredome, or in thie riche attyre?
Loe! Constantyne, that is turned into dust,
Shall not retourne for to mayntaine thie lust;
But now his heires, that might not sett thee higher,
For thie greate pryde shall teare thye seate asonder,
And scourdge thee so that all the world shall wonder.
(?) Wyatt.
Fountain of sorrows, centre of mad ire,
Rank error's school and fane of heresy,
Once Rome, now Babylon, the false and free,
Whom fondly we lament and long desire.
O furnace of deceits, O prison dire,
Where good roots die and the ill-weed grows a tree
Hell upon earth, great marvel will it be
If Christ reject thee not in endless fire.
Founded in humble poverty and chaste,
Against thy founders lift'st thou now thy horn,
Impudent harlot! Is thy hope then placed
In thine adult'ries and thy wealth ill-born?
Since comes no Constantine his own to claim,
The vext world must endure, or end its shame.

Written 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.

Written 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.

Written 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.

Written 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 

Written by Emanuel Xavier | |


 I want you to continue writing
because I will not always be around

With lips that will never touch mine
read your poems out loud
so that the words are left engraved 
on the wall
make me feel your voice rush through me
like a breeze from Oyá

I want to hear about Puerto Rico
about sisters with names like La Bruja
about educating youth about AIDS
I want to hear about life 
in the Boogie Down Bronx
surviving on the Down Low
don't leave out stories about men
you have loved and still love

I want you to write poems that you 
will never read
press hard on the paper 
so that the ink runs deep
hold the pen tight 
so that you control the details
prove to me that I inspire you
reveal yourself between the lines
hear my praise 
with each flicker of the candle
Write a poem for me

Do not choose a fresh page 
from a brand new journal
use paper that has been crumbled and tossed
thrown out by a spineless father 
only to be recycled
Save a tree for future poets to write under

Rewrite me into someone more attractive
stronger than life has made me
make me tough and sexy, 
aggressive like a tiger
stain the pages with cum, 
lube, the arousal you find
at the sight of naked boys, draw me sketches
bring the words to life with images
make me a man with this poem

Read it in front of the audience
with hidden messages just for me
be real and tell me why
I am only worth a haiku

Your epics are meant for others
I already know,
use red ink to match the blood 
from these wounds
with brutal honesty
let me die with your last sentence

Then resurrect me with rhyme
read from your gut
let me hear the wisdom of mi abuelo 
in your voice
let me find my father in you
remind me of all the men 
that left me broken promises

In your eyes I want to see a poem
when you bring me to tears
with painful memories
buried beneath your thick skin

Between teeth gapped like divas,
I want to hear quotes from books
I never read

Make me believe you want to be a poet

Make my heart break,
tell me why you could never love me
with just a few words
leave me lost and insecure
feel the admiration of others
bask in their desire
forget that I am there

Pound your fists in the air with passion
go off about politics, poverty, 
machismo and hate
scream poems that don't give a fuck
about traditions, slamming or scores
save your whispers 
for those who make love to you

Write a poem for me 
that makes me want to puff a joint

A poem that loses control
unafraid to be vulnerable
for once just make me believe
it is all worth letting go
when the smoke clears
I will understand
the reason 
I am just another face 
in the crowd

I want you to continue writing
because I will not always be around

Written 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.

Written 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!

Written by Ella Wheeler Wilcox | |

Poverty And Wealth

 The stork flew over a town one day, 
And back of each wing an infant lay; 
One to a rich man’s home he brought, 
And one he left at a labourer’s cot.
The rich man said, ‘My son shall be A lordly ruler o’er land and sea.
’ The labourer sighed, ‘’Tis the good God’s will That I have another mouth to fill.
’ The rich man’s son grew strong and fair, And proud with the pride of a millionaire.
His motto in life was, ‘Live while you may, ’ And he crowded years in a single day.
He bought position and name and place, And he bought him a wife with a handsome face.
He journeyed over the whole wide world, But discontent his heart lay curled Like a serpent hidden in leaves and moss, And life seemed hollow and gold was dross.
He scoffed at woman, and doubted God, And died like a beast and went back to the sod.
The son of the labourer tilled the soil, And thanked God daily for health and toil.
He wedded for love in his youthful prime, And two lives chorded in tune and time.
His wants were simple, and simple his creed, To trust God fully: it served his need, And lightened his labour, and helped him to die With a smile on his lips and a hope in his eye.
When all is over and all is done, Now which of these men was the richer one?

Written by John Matthew | |

Delhi – A Re-visitation

 It’s akin to visiting my foster mother, today, 
That I am returning to you, mother city, after twenty years,
I look at your broad, bereft blood-stained streets, mater,
Through which emperors, prime ministers cavalcaded,
In victory and defeat, through gates and triumphal arches,
That murmur of the pains of your rape and impregnation.
The sudden shock of your poverty upsets me, It is evident in the desperation of the cycle-rickshaw puller, His eyes intent on the ground, standing on his pedals, He pulls his woes, as if there is no halcyon tomorrows.
Your grimy streets are dusty, high walled, impenetrable, As if you wish to guard the gory secrets within.
Is this where histories, dynasties were erected, to fall? A dynasty now rules by proxy the city of the great Akbar, And a fratricide of a politician now fills you with awe, When you are the city of kingly fratricides and parricides.
Remember how Dara Shukoh was marched and beheaded, In your own street of Chandni Chowk, of not long ago? The secrets of your devious present and past mingle, Where now stand glitzy malls, I know, blood had flowed, In your dark corners soldiers, spies, princes plotted to kill, You witnessed the dethroning of emperor Shah Jehan, And the ascendance of his wily progeny, Aurangazeb, And you covered your face in the folds of your veil.
Yet, now, mother city, your tears are dry, your sobs silent, Slowly you die, spent and ravaged by your many lovers.
Though it is kitsch melodies that you hum today, you were, Serenaded by Tansen, and Amir Khushro Dehlavi, In your parlor once, poets and artists did conclave, Over the “daughter of grapes” and the smell of hafim!