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Nature Poetry by Well Known Poets

Short Stories

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Poems About Life


by Ken Sanes

Jump down to Poems About Life: A Selection
Or jump down to poems with little or no rhyme

The poems that are linked to on this page (with the exception of some poems at the bottom) are by me. Their subject is the essentials of life and the human condition, which is to say, they are about love and compassion, and joy in nature, as well as about the more disturbing aspects of life, including suffering, war and death. Some are about the passage of time, the meaning of art and about our sense of fascination and bewilderment at the mystery of the world. 

The purpose of these "poems about life" is to use the power of words to evoke an experience in you that can deepen and enrich your perceptions. And to evoke experiences in you that are deep and rich in themselves. 

The poems take a number of forms. Some rhyme, and play with words and ideas in a way that I think many readers will enjoy. Some are filled with poetic elements even though they don't include rhyme. And some have a more prose-like quality in which most of the lines are still coherent units of meaning that unfold on the page.

A fair number tell stories. Some -- especially some of the better poems that use little or no rhyme -- try to evoke a sense of empathy with the speakers.

But whatever form they take, most of these poems depict humanity trying to find what is good and true -- but also driven by fear and destructiveness -- as it struggles with a difficult world and with motivations that are hard to understand. Some depict humanity's struggle with the ultimate limitation -- mortality -- which makes them poems about life as well as death.

Most are relatively easy to follow, so people who have come to think of reading a poem as a chore (or a test!) may still find a lot to like here. A few of the poems are more enigmatic and complex because they need to be that way to have their effect.

In their essence, all are performances. Or at least they are more like performances than they are like essays (which is true of poetry in general). They are patterns of words that use meanings, stories, sounds, imagery and ideas to offer unique aesthetic experiences, which can deepen the reader's perceptions of life.

On another page, there are also a handful of short stories, some of which have themes and perspectives similar to what is found in the poems. And there is a page of commentaries on one category of poems about life -- nature poems by well-known poets. These expand on the themes of the website by revealing how nature poetry is an expression of the human condition. Finally, there is a page of exceptional short poems by famous poets, many of which are also about the essentials of life.

On this page, below, I recommend starting with the rhymed and unrhymed poetry in the first section, titled: "Poems About Life: A Selection", which contains some of the best work. The second section is "Poems About Life: Unrhymed Poems." The third and fourth sections are additional rhymed and unrhymed poems. Finally, the last section, as stated below, are the poet's dreaded long poems. There are also a handful of links to poems about life by other writers at the bottom of the page.

Of course, it can be said that all poetry is about life or, at least, about life and death. But many of these poems explore this theme in a self-conscious way and try to get at the essence of things in a way that I think many readers will appreciate. 

I hope you like what I have to offer. If these poems about life and death work for you, they will put you more in touch with your own humanity, and deepen your experience of yourself and the world around you.

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I'm interested in your opinion: letters@kensanes.com

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Poems About Life: A Selection

Some of my best rhymed and unrhymed poems about life.

Passages
One of a number of story poems about life,
the passage of generations and selfless love.

A New Day
One of a number of poems about life and light,
and the motivation for writing poetry.

Things To Do While Waiting
One of a number of rhymed poems about life and
death, written in a popular style that many readers
will find ironic, fun and a little bit haunting.

A Meditation on Life and Death
Another of my poems about life and death
that looks at how our lives unfold. This poem
tells the truth about mortality in a direct way.

There is only one story
A description in poetic form of why we tell
stories.      

Ontologic
One of a number of poems about life in a
postmodern age, that asks how can we reconcile
ourselves to the world revealed by modern
science.

Not by Design
A brief poem about life and death.

Representations 
An ironic poem about life as an illusion. The
poem asks if we can know the world, or even
ourselves, or if everything we think we know
is just a representation in the brain.

The weight of the world
One of a number of poems that asks how we should
respond when the universe revealed by physics
doesn't make any sense.

The Curatorís Love Poem
A poem about life and love in a museum.

We Seek Him
A spiritually and mystically-oriented poem
based on monotheism.

Notes for an Unwritten Poem
Two romantic poems about life, lost love and
death.

Recipe for a Good Life
A short poem about life's meaning and fulfillment.

The Marchers
Fascism goes Gothic, as marchers become the
living dead. The poem uses an unusual technique
to create its effect.

..\
;

/
,
Gothic horror through punctuation, in a poetry
form I call a punctuation pictogram. And, yes,
that's the title.

When the sun sets in the evening
The Gift of Light
Two of a number of poems about life
and light.

Day Dreams
Another of the poems about life and light --
and the motivation for writing poetry.

How can we live in a universe like this?
How should we respond when the universe
revealed by physics doesn't make any sense.

The Lookout
One of a number of poems about life and nature,
as seen through the lens of an extraordinary
experience.

Time Scheme
One of my briefer poems about life that is also
about time, poetry and death.
    

An Idea From Mystical Philosophy
This poem conveys an idea from mysticism
in which the world is described as something
that is being thought by a cosmic mind.

They fly in eight hours
A modernist poem about geese that fly over
the Himalayas.

Telepocalypse
A gothic horror story in poetic form about one
of the most disturbing aspects of contemporary
life: automated customer service voicemail.

A Day, Just Now
Joy in nature, briefly put.

The Bard's Last Tale
A poem about life and love.

Lookout at the Lake
One of a number of poems about life and nature,
seen through the lens of an extraordinary experience.

Call and Response
This poem about summer camp offers a deep
perspective on why we tell stories and write
poems about life.

Danse Macabre
Poem about a living thing studied by science
that invades the bodies of ants and turns them
into zombies. With links.  

This Is the Kind of Day
An expression of joy at the arrival of new life
in spring. This poem appeared in Decanto
Magazine in April, 2012.


Poems About Life: Unrhymed Poems

Poems with little or no rhyme that will hopefully evoke awe,
amusement, compassion and other responses in readers.

The Dance
A poem about life as a dance.

Pie Talk
An apple pie a la mode with a convincing sales
pitch tries to talk someone out of listening to a
very frustrated broccoli.

The End of History
An expression of horror at the history of violence
and the way it could culminate in a nuclear war.
Please be aware that some people may find the
content and treatment of this poem disturbing.

Library Book Sale
An unexplained occurrence in a library basement.

Looking at a Poet on a Bridge, Looking
If this poem works for you, it will be a roller
coaster ride through a vision of history.

Family
A poem about life in the ultimate dysfunctional
family.

Apostrophe To Winter
The speaker in this poem talks to winter about the
snow, the darkness and the cold -- and about spring --
until finally it becomes clear the speaker is also
talking about something else.
           

The Stuff of Life
One of my quirkier poems about life that asks
if the world is a jigsaw puzzle with pieces that
don't fit together.

The Self
Human narcissism and self-involvement. New

The Leader
A story about fascism that has similarities to
"The Marchers" but with a very different form.

It is an important truth
A philosophical statement in poetic form about
why we tell stories.   

Parents' Lament
A collective lament by parents.

Another Way
A poem about two ways of experiencing life.

Awe of Nature
A poem that asks: how can we be in awe of
nature's beauty when we are appalled by all the
death and suffering?
   

 

 

More Rhymed Poems About Life

Petition
Away from Our Door
Grocery Wish List
Three poems about some of the things many of us
would like to be protected from.

To His Reluctant Sweetheart
In this mind-boggler, based on ideas from physics
and brain science, a suitor, of sorts, offers another
take on how we should live in an impossible universe.

Clues To a Crime
Another of various poems about life and the
meaning of things.

Ars Poetica

Nuclear Voice Mail
A poem about the twin horrors of modern life:
nuclear holocaust and customer service voice mail.

Ars Footsie
Poetry as footsie.

Gnosis Darkness and light.

 

More Unrhymed Poems About Life

The World After
A gothic story about the long sweep of history.

We Remember Maria
One of a number of poems about life, death,
memory, and love.

I Am the Venus of Laussel
An ancient work of art speaks about the past
and present.   

The Ruin and Ice Dragon

 

Long Poems

These are the poet's obligatory, dreaded long poems.

Seeing With a Cosmic Eye
This is a hybrid of a story, essay and poem about life
in a vast universe. Two notes: it is for the patient and
motivated reader, and your perception of the world
may change after delving into it.

Let Me Tell You a Story
This is a long poem about life and storytelling, seen
against the panorama of history.  The poem is in nine
sections. Among other things, it portrays humanity
caught in the snare of time -- and its own foibles.

 


Bonus page: Short Poems

A few other poetry websites and off-site poems about life:

PoetryCircle Forum

Life Poems
Poems about Life
Life Poems and Poetry
Poems on Life

Stream Of Life by Rabindranath Tagore
Life by Charlotte Bronte

A Psalm of Life by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Poems About Life by Maya Angelou: Alone
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

Poems About Life by William Shakespeare:
Sonnet 73 and Sonnet 55
All the world's a stage from As You Like It

Poems About life by Samuel Taylor Coleridge:
What Is Life?
Human Life

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Note: A literary device that is used (or used in a modified form) in a small number of these poems can variously be described as fragmentation, juxtaposition, the creation of collage-like forms or spatial form. This is where parts of the poem don't follow the conventional progression of narrative flow, description or the unfolding of an argument. Instead, there is a break between parts of the poem, so the poem seems to jump from one thing to another in a way that, hopefully, intensifies the reader's experience.

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A note from the author

I have another website of prose essays at transparencynow.com, and here is information about what people have said about that website and how it has been used in classrooms.

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Poems About Life: Copyright © 2010-2014 Ken Sanes. All work is on file with the U.S. Copyright Office. 

You can send your thoughts to letters@kensanes.com
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