88 Famous Poems Everyone Should Know

Do you remember eagerly turning over the pages of a new Shel Silverstein book as a child? It’s important to begin encouraging a love of poetry as early as preschool or elementary school. However, it’s also important to remember that poetry can be an intimidating subject to learn (or teach!). How can we make it easier? By sharing some of the best and most inspiring famous poems with students.

Roald Dahl and even Maya Angelou have some great famous poems to introduce poetry concepts to the youngest readers. As students move on to middle school, inspire them with Robert Frost and contemporary famous poems by poets like Amanda Gorman. By high school, it’s time to delve into famous poems from Shakespeare, as well as unconventional works from poets like Sylvia Plath. Even Tupac gets a mention on our list! Check out our favorite famous poems for students of all ages.

Famous Poems for Elementary School

1. Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll

“’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves …”

2. The Homework Machine by Shel Silverstein

Homework Machine by Shel Silverstein in this example of famous poems

“Just put in your homework, then drop in a dime …”

3. Life Doesn’t Frighten Me by Maya Angelou

“Shadows on the wall …”

4. The Red Wheelbarrow by William Carlos Williams

The Red Wheelbarrow by William Carlos Williams

“so much depends

a red wheel
barrow …”

5. Now We Are Six by A.A. Milne

“So I think I’ll be six now …”

6. Firefly by Elizabeth Madox Roberts

“A little light is going by …”

7. Happy Thought by Robert Louis Stevenson

“The world is so full of a number of things …”

8. All My Great Excuses by Kenn Nesbitt

“Tornadoes blew my notes away …”

9. maggie and milly and molly and may by e.e. cummings

“and maggie discovered a shell that sang …”

10. Then Laugh by Bertha Adams Backus

Then Laugh by Bertha Adams Backus in this example of famous poems.

“Build for yourself a strong box …”

11. One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss

“Black fish, Blue fish, Old fish, New fish.”

12. Wee Willie Winkie by William Miller

“Wee Willie Winkie runs through the town …”

13. The Purple Cow by Gelett Burgess

The Purple Cow by Gelett Burgess in this example of famous poems.

“I’d rather see than be one!”

14. Please Mrs. Butler by Allan Ahlberg

“Take your books on the roof, my lamb.”

15. The Owl and the Pussy-Cat by Edward Lear

“The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea …”

16. Matilda by Hilaire Belloc

“Matilda told such dreadful lies …”

17. Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf by Roald Dahl

“He went and knocked on Grandma’s door.”

18. On Turning Ten by Billy Collins

“You tell me it is too early to be looking back …”

19. Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost

“Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though …”

Famous Poems for Middle School

20. Paul Revere’s Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“Listen, my children, and you shall hear …”

21. Sonnet 43 by William Shakespeare

“When most I wink, then do mine eyes best see …”

22. A Red, Red Rose by Robert Burns

“O my Luve is like a red, red rose …”

23. I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud by William Wordsworth

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud by William Wordsworth

“I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats o high o’er vales and hills …”

24. The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood …”

25. Fifth Grade Autobiography by Rita Dove

“I was four in this photograph fishing …”

26. The Facebook Sonnet by Sherman Alexie

The Facebook Sonnet by Sherman Alexie.

“Welcome to the endless high-school …”

27. Casey at the Bat by Ernest Lawrence Thayer

“The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Mudville nine that day …”

28. Fire and Ice by Robert Frost

“Some say the world will end in fire …”

29. Text by Carol Ann Duffy

“I tend the mobile now …”

30. Invictus by William Ernest Henley

Invictus by William Ernest Henley- famous poems

“Beyond this place of wrath and tears
      Looms but the Horror of the shade …”

31. Snow by David Berman

“Walking through a field with my little brother Seth …”

32. The Tyger by William Blake

“Tyger Tyger, burning bright, 
In the forests of the night …”

33. The Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman

“We, the successors of a country and a time where a skinny black girl …”

34. I, Too by Langston Hughes

I, Too by Langston Hughes.

“I, too, sing America …”

35. Did I Miss Anything? by Tom Wayman

“Nothing. When we realized you weren’t here …”

36. Sonnet 18: Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day? by William Shakespeare

“Thou art more lovely and more temperate …”

37. One Art by Elizabeth Bishop

“The art of losing isn’t hard to master …”

38. Sonnet 116: Let Me Not to the Marriage of True Minds … by William Shakespeare

“Admit impediments; love is not love …”

39. For the Fallen by Laurence Binyon

“With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.”

40. My Heart Leaps Up by William Wordsworth

“My heart leaps up when I behold 
   A rainbow in the sky …”

41. I’m Nobody! Who Are You? by Emily Dickinson

“Are you – Nobody – too? …”

42. The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes

“The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees.”

43. Success Is Counted Sweetest by Emily Dickinson

“By those who ne’er succeed.”

44. Mother to Son by Langston Hughes

Mother to Son by Langston Hughes.

“Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.”

45. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

“The Bridegroom’s doors are opened wide …”

46. Song of Myself by Walt Whitman

“I celebrate myself, and sing myself …”

47. She Walks in Beauty by Lord Byron

She Walks in Beauty by Lord Byron

“She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright …”

48. Oh Captain! My Captain! by Walt Whitman

“O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done …”

49. We Wear the Mask by Paul Laurence Dunbar

We Wear the Mask by Paul Laurence Dunbar- famous poems

“We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes …”

Famous Poems for High School

50. In Flanders Fields by John McCrae

In Flanders Fields by John McCrae

“We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow …”

51. Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley

“I met a traveller from an antique land …”

52. Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas

“Rage, rage against the dying of the light …”

53. Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

“You may write me down in history …”

54. Nothing Gold Can Stay by Robert Frost

Nothing Gold Can Stay by Robert Frost.

“Nature’s first green is gold …”

55. We Real Cool by Gwendolyn Brooks

“We real cool. We
Left school …”

56. The Laughing Heart by Charles Bukowski

“your life is your life …”

57. Harlem by Langston Hughes

Harlem by Langston Hughes- famous poems

“What happens to a dream deferred?

      Does it dry up
      like a raisin in the sun?
      Or fester like a sore—”

58. The Rose That Grew From Concrete by Tupac Shakur

“Long live the rose that grew from concrete …”

59. If by Rudyard Kipling

“If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you …”

60. Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird by Wallace Stevens

“Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing …”

61. Loud Music by Stephen Dobyns

“My stepdaughter and I circle round and round …”

62. Tattoo by Ted Kooser

Tattoo by Ted Kooser.

“What once was meant to be a statement …”

63. Wheels by Jim Daniels

“My brother kept / in a frame on the wall …”

64. Happiness by Jane Kenyon

“There’s just no accounting for happiness …”

65. Miracles by Walt Whitman

“Why, who makes much of a miracle?
As to me I know of nothing else but miracles …”

66. In a Station of the Metro by Ezra Pound

“The apparition of these faces in the crowd …”

67. Hope Is the Thing With Feathers by Emily Dickinson

“And sings the tune without the words …”

68. A Dream Within a Dream by Edgar Allan Poe

A Dream Within a Dream by Edgar Allan Poe- famous poems

“All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.”

69. Falling in Love Is Like Owning a Dog by Taylor Mali

“Sometimes love just wants to go for a nice long walk.”

70. Lies I Tell by Sara Borjas

“A woman has a window in her face: that is the truth.”

71. O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo? (speech) by William Shakespeare

O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo? (speech) by William Shakespeare.

“Deny thy father and refuse thy name.”

72. Lady Lazarus by Sylvia Plath

“A sort of walking miracle, my skin …”

73. Don Juan: Canto 11 by Lord Byron

“When Bishop Berkeley said ‘there was no matter,’
       And proved it—’twas no matter what he said …”

74. Daddy by Sylvia Plath

“You do not do, you do not do
Any more, black shoe …”

75. I Sing the Body Electric by Walt Whitman

“The armies of those I love engirth me and I engirth them …”

76. A Dog Has Died by Pablo Neruda

“but now he’s gone with his shaggy coat …”

77. Because I Could Not Stop for Death by Emily Dickinson

Because I Could Not Stop for Death by Emily Dickinson- famous poems

“Because I could not stop for Death –
He kindly stopped for me –
The Carriage held but just Ourselves –
And Immortality.”

78. The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe

“Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary …”

79. The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot

“April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing …”

80. Kubla Khan Or, a Vision in a Dream. A Fragment. by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

“In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree …”

81. The Second Coming by William Butler Yeats

“Turning and turning in the widening gyre …”

82. To a Mouse by Robert Burns

On Turning her up in her Nest, with the Plough, November 1785.

“Wee, sleeket, cowran, tim’rous beastie …”

83. Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802 by William Wordsworth 

“Earth has not any thing to show more fair …”

84. Ode to a Nightingale by John Keats

“My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains …”

85. The Lady of Shalott by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

“On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye …”

86. The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus

“Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame …”

87. Howl by Allen Ginsberg

“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked …”

88. Diving Into the Wreck by Adrienne Rich

“First having read the book of myths,
and loaded the camera,
and checked the edge of the knife-blade …”

What are your favorite famous poems for the classroom? Come share in our We Are Teachers HELPLINE group  on Facebook.

Plus, if you liked these famous poems for elementary through high school, check out our Slam Poetry Examples To Inspire Students of All Ages.

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