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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 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 Henry Lawson |

Ill tell you what you Wanderers

 I'll tell you what you wanderers, who drift from town to town; 
Don't look into a good girl's eyes, until you've settled down.
It's hard to go away alone and leave old chums behind- It's hard to travel steerage when your tastes are more refined- To reach a place when times are bad, and to be standing there, No money in your pocket nor a decent rag to wear.
But be forced from that fond clasp, from that last clinging kiss- By poverty! There is on earth no harder thing than this.

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 

More great poems below...

Written by Robert Burns |

395. Sonnet on the Author's Birthday

 SING on, sweet thrush, upon the leafless bough,
 Sing on, sweet bird, I listen to thy strain,
 See aged Winter, ’mid his surly reign,
At thy blythe carol, clears his furrowed brow.
So in lone Poverty’s dominion drear, Sits meek Content with light, unanxious heart; Welcomes the rapid moments, bids them part, Nor asks if they bring ought to hope or fear.
I thank thee, Author of this opening day! Thou whose bright sun now gilds yon orient skies! Riches denied, thy boon was purer joys— What wealth could never give nor take away! Yet come, thou child of poverty and care, The mite high heav’n bestow’d, that mite with thee I’ll share.

Written by Dale Harcombe |

Bruise blue

 Frail as smoke, she drifts
  through the crowded train, 
  bringing with her 
  the cold ashes of poverty.
Without a word, her bruise-blue eyes try to niggle each passenger to part with coins or a note.
The sign pleads her story: Three children in foster care.
Like promises of happier times, some passengers toss hard-edged confetti at her, before hiding behind newspapers or over-loud conversations.
Others dismiss her like an errant child with swift, silent shakes of their heads.
I look at her canescent face and know I have seen her before, on a grey, Sydney day in George Street.
‘Homeless, hungry, and cold’ her sign read then, as she curled like a cloud on the footpath near Town Hall.
In the dusk of a blustery day, people, toting bags emblazoned with designer labels, walked past.
Their gaze sliding away from her like water, they turned toward the nimbus of lights across the street, glittering like angels in the trees.
I walked on too, then wished I had turned back.
But the tide flowed against me.
With nothing else to give I came home and wrote a poem.
© May 2003 Dale Harcombe First published Artlook February 2005

Written by Joyce Kilmer |

The Proud Poet

 (For Shaemas O Sheel)

One winter night a Devil came and sat upon my bed,
His eyes were full of laughter for his heart was full of crime.
"Why don't you take up fancy work, or embroidery?" he said, "For a needle is as manly a tool as a pen that makes a rhyme!" "You little ugly Devil," said I, "go back to Hell For the idea you express I will not listen to: I have trouble enough with poetry and poverty as well, Without having to pay attention to orators like you.
"When you say of the making of ballads and songs that it is woman's work You forget all the fighting poets that have been in every land.
There was Byron who left all his lady-loves to fight against the Turk, And David, the Singing King of the Jews, who was born with a sword in his hand.
It was yesterday that Rupert Brooke went out to the Wars and died, And Sir Philip Sidney's lyric voice was as sweet as his arm was strong; And Sir Walter Raleigh met the axe as a lover meets his bride, Because he carried in his soul the courage of his song.
"And there is no consolation so quickening to the heart As the warmth and whiteness that come from the lines of noble poetry.
It is strong joy to read it when the wounds of the spirit smart, It puts the flame in a lonely breast where only ashes be.
It is strong joy to read it, and to make it is a thing That exalts a man with a sacreder pride than any pride on earth.
For it makes him kneel to a broken slave and set his foot on a king, And it shakes the walls of his little soul with the echo of God's mirth.
"There was the poet Homer had the sorrow to be blind, Yet a hundred people with good eyes would listen to him all night; For they took great enjoyment in the heaven of his mind, And were glad when the old blind poet let them share his powers of sight.
And there was Heine lying on his mattress all day long, He had no wealth, he had no friends, he had no joy at all, Except to pour his sorrow into little cups of song, And the world finds in them the magic wine that his broken heart let fall.
"And these are only a couple of names from a list of a thousand score Who have put their glory on the world in poverty and pain.
And the title of poet's a noble thing, worth living and dying for, Though all the devils on earth and in Hell spit at me their disdain.
It is stern work, it is perilous work, to thrust your hand in the sun And pull out a spark of immortal flame to warm the hearts of men: But Prometheus, torn by the claws and beaks whose task is never done, Would be tortured another eternity to go stealing fire again.

Written 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.

Written by Emily Dickinson |

This was a Poet -- It is That

 This was a Poet -- It is That
Distills amazing sense
From ordinary Meanings --
And Attar so immense

From the familiar species
That perished by the Door --
We wonder it was not Ourselves
Arrested it -- before --

Of Pictures, the Discloser --
The Poet -- it is He --
Entitles Us -- by Contrast --
To ceaseless Poverty --

Of portion -- so unconscious --
The Robbing -- could not harm --
Himself -- to Him -- a Fortune --
Exterior -- to Time --

Written by Percy Bysshe Shelley |

To Wordsworth

 Poet of Nature, thou hast wept to know 
That things depart which never may return: 
Childhood and youth, friendship and love's first glow, 
Have fled like sweet dreams, leaving thee to mourn.
These common woes I feel.
One loss is mine Which thou too feel'st, yet I alone deplore.
Thou wert as a lone star, whose light did shine On some frail bark in winter's midnight roar: Thou hast like to a rock-built refuge stood Above the blind and battling multitude: In honored poverty thy voice did weave Songs consecrate to truth and liberty,-- Deserting these, thou leavest me to grieve, Thus having been, that thou shouldst cease to be.

Written by Sylvia Plath |

Tale Of A Tub

 The photographic chamber of the eye
records bare painted walls, while an electric light
lays the chromium nerves of plumbing raw;
such poverty assaults the ego; caught
naked in the merely actual room,
the stranger in the lavatory mirror
puts on a public grin, repeats our name
but scrupulously reflects the usual terror.
Just how guilty are we when the ceiling reveals no cracks that can be decoded? when washbowl maintains it has no more holy calling than physical ablution, and the towel dryly disclaims that fierce troll faces lurk in its explicit folds? or when the window, blind with steam, will not admit the dark which shrouds our prospects in ambiguous shadow? Twenty years ago, the familiar tub bred an ample batch of omens; but now water faucets spawn no danger; each crab and octopus -- scrabbling just beyond the view, waiting for some accidental break in ritual, to strike -- is definitely gone; the authentic sea denies them and will pluck fantastic flesh down to the honest bone.
We take the plunge; under water our limbs waver, faintly green, shuddering away from the genuine color of skin; can our dreams ever blur the intransigent lines which draw the shape that shuts us in? absolute fact intrudes even when the revolted eye is closed; the tub exists behind our back; its glittering surfaces are blank and true.
Yet always the ridiculous nude flanks urge the fabrication of some cloth to cover such starkness; accuracy must not stalk at large: each day demands we create our whole world over, disguising the constant horror in a coat of many-colored fictions; we mask our past in the green of Eden, pretend future's shining fruit can sprout from the navel of this present waste.
In this particular tub, two knees jut up like icebergs, while minute brown hairs rise on arms and legs in a fringe of kelp; green soap navigates the tidal slosh of seas breaking on legendary beaches; in faith we shall board our imagined ship and wildly sail among sacred islands of the mad till death shatters the fabulous stars and makes us real.

Written 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.

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.

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 Thomas Hood |

The Song of the Shirt

 With fingers weary and worn, 
With eyelids heavy and red, 
A woman sat, in unwomanly rags, 
Plying her needle and thread-- 
Stitch! stitch! stitch! 
In poverty, hunger, and dirt, 
And still with a voice of dolorous pitch 
She sang the "Song of the Shirt.
" "Work! work! work! While the cock is crowing aloof! And work — work — work, Till the stars shine through the roof! It's Oh! to be a slave Along with the barbarous Turk, Where woman has never a soul to save, If this is Christian work! "Work — work — work Till the brain begins to swim; Work — work — work Till the eyes are heavy and dim! Seam, and gusset, and band, Band, and gusset, and seam, Till over the buttons I fall asleep, And sew them on in a dream! "Oh, Men, with Sisters dear! Oh, Men, with Mothers and Wives! It is not linen you're wearing out, But human creatures' lives! Stitch — stitch — stitch, In poverty, hunger, and dirt, Sewing at once with a double thread, A Shroud as well as a Shirt.
But why do I talk of Death? That Phantom of grisly bone, I hardly fear its terrible shape, It seems so like my own — It seems so like my own, Because of the fasts I keep; Oh, God! that bread should be so dear, And flesh and blood so cheap! "Work — work — work! My Labour never flags; And what are its wages? A bed of straw, A crust of bread — and rags.
That shatter'd roof — and this naked floor — A table — a broken chair — And a wall so blank, my shadow I thank For sometimes falling there! "Work — work — work! From weary chime to chime, Work — work — work! As prisoners work for crime! Band, and gusset, and seam, Seam, and gusset, and band, Till the heart is sick, and the brain benumb'd, As well as the weary hand.
"Work — work — work, In the dull December light, And work — work — work, When the weather is warm and bright — While underneath the eaves The brooding swallows cling As if to show me their sunny backs And twit me with the spring.
Oh! but to breathe the breath Of the cowslip and primrose sweet — With the sky above my head, And the grass beneath my feet For only one short hour To feel as I used to feel, Before I knew the woes of want And the walk that costs a meal! Oh! but for one short hour! A respite however brief! No blessed leisure for Love or Hope, But only time for Grief! A little weeping would ease my heart, But in their briny bed My tears must stop, for every drop Hinders needle and thread!" With fingers weary and worn, With eyelids heavy and red, A woman sat in unwomanly rags, Plying her needle and thread — Stitch! stitch! stitch! In poverty, hunger, and dirt, And still with a voice of dolorous pitch, — Would that its tone could reach the Rich! — She sang this "Song of the Shirt!"

Written by Walt Whitman |

Me Imperturbe.

 ME imperturbe, standing at ease in Nature, 
Master of all, or mistress of all—aplomb in the midst of irrational things, 
Imbued as they—passive, receptive, silent as they, 
Finding my occupation, poverty, notoriety, foibles, crimes, less important than I thought;

Me private, or public, or menial, or solitary—all these subordinate, (I am eternally
 the best—I am not subordinate;)
Me toward the Mexican Sea, or in the Mannahatta, or the Tennessee, or far north, or
A river man, or a man of the woods, or of any farm-life in These States, or of the coast,
 lakes, or Kanada, 
Me, wherever my life is lived, O to be self-balanced for contingencies! 
O to confront night, storms, hunger, ridicule, accidents, rebuffs, as the trees and
 animals do.