Howard is an avid reader who likes helping others find interesting things to read.
Here are some very short poems for your reading enjoyment. They're excellent whether you're trying to ease your way into poetry, or are an experienced reader with a minute to fill.
The poems are divided into the following categories:
Of course, many of the poems could be put in several categories. There's lots of overlap. The literal meaning of the poem could be quite different from its interpretation. I suggest scanning all the sections.
They're all around 100 words or less; I've included an approximate word count for each selection.
Short Poems About Animals
An animal will feature prominently in the following selections. See also Nature, below.
"The Eagle" by Lord Tennyson (39 words)
An eagle hangs on to the side of a mountain high above the sea.
Read "The Eagle"
"Poem" by William Carlos Williams (27 words)
A cat climbs over a jamcloset and makes its way down.
"How Doth the Little Crocodile" by Lewis Carroll (37 words)
Alice recites a poem about how the crocodile uses its charms to its advantage.
"The Silver Swan" by Anonymous (51 words)
A swan that had lived silently makes an utterance as its death nears.
Read "The Silver Swan"
"Complete Destruction" by William Carlos Williams (33 words)
A family buries their cat on a cold day.
Short Poems About Books, Reading or Writing
If you like to read, it doesn't get much better than reading about books, writing or reading.
"There is No Frigate Like a Book" by Emily Dickinson (41 words)
The narrator describes the power books have to take us to other places.
"A Goat on a Stroll" by Martin Bristow Smith (33 words)
A goat finds a movie near a stream and decides to try it.
Read "A Goat on a Stroll" (third limerick)
"To the Stone-cutters" by Robinson Jeffers (75 words)
The speaker compares the work of stone-cutters and poets.
Short Poems About Death
Some of these selections have someone who is dying or has already died. Others might simply make a comment on death.
"In the Museum" by Isabella Gardner (70 words)
The narrator observes a mummified woman lying in a museum. She speculates about her.
Read "In the Museum"
"Our Journey Had Advanced" by Emily Dickinson (56 words)
Someone's journey has progressed almost to "Eternity". There's no going back.
"For a Lamb" by Richard Eberhart (57 words)
The narrator describes a lamb on a hill that looks to be sleeping deeply.
Read "For a Lamb" (PDF Pg 64)
"On My First Son" by Ben Jonson (106 words)
A man says goodbye to his seven-year-old son.
Read "On My First Son"
"A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal" by William Wordsworth (52 words)
A man remembers his love, a woman who seemed impervious to the passage of time.
Read "A Slumber . . ."
"Slim Cunning Hands" by Walter de la Mare (30 words)
A beautiful, deceitful woman was wildly loved during her life.
Read "Slim Cunning Hands"
"I Like a Look of Agony" by Emily Dickinson (40 words)
The narrator likes genuine facial expressions that can't be faked.
Read "I Like a Look of Agony" (first poem)
"All in Due Time" by J. V. Cunningham (37 words)
Time either makes things right or brings them to a conclusion.
There are several short poems in this link under a variety of headings.
Read "All in Due Time" (PDF pg 4, second poem under "Death")
Short Poems About Family
These selections deal with the good and the bad of family.
"Those Winter Sundays" by Robert Hayden (97 words)
A man remembers Sundays as a boy. His father had a regular routine for the morning.
"Metaphors" by Sylvia Plath (59 words)
The speaker is a riddle. She compares herself to an elephant, a house and a melon, among other things.
If you want to solve the riddle on your own, avoid the spoilers following the poem in the link.
"Marks" by Linda Pastan (57 words)
A wife and mother explains how her family judges her performance. Each family member has a different grading system.
"The Adversary" by Phyllis McGinley (26 words)
The narrator ironically describes the relationship between mothers and children throughout their lives.
Read "The Adversary"
"Good Times" by Lucille Clifton (76 words)
The narrator recounts some good times from her childhood with her family.
Read "Good Times"
Short Poems About Friendship
"Alter! When the Hills Do" by Emily Dickinson (34 words)
The speaker tells us when she will alter, when she will falter, and when she will have had enough of someone.
"Of Money" by Barnabe Googe (76 words)
The narrator gives his opinion on whether he would choose money or friends.
Read "Of Money"
"Various the Roads of Life" by Walter Savage Landor
Various the roads of life; in one
All terminate, one lonely way.
We go; and "Is he gone?"
Is all our best friends say.
Short, Funny Poems
"Engraved On the Collar of a Dog Which I Gave to His Royal Highness" by Alexander Pope
I am his Highness' dog at Kew;
Pray tell me, sir, whose dog are you?
"The Turtle" by Ogden Nash (26 words)
The speaker is impressed with one of the turtle's abilities, which is surprising due to its makeup.
Read "The Turtle"
"Hiding Place" by Richard Armour (29 words)
The speaker responds to a news item that encouraged people to seek shelter in a food locker in the event of an atomic attack.
Read "Hiding Place"
"Why I Drink" by Jean Sirmond (34 words)
The narrator has figured out the five reasons that move him to drink.
Read "Why I Drink"
"Epitaph on a Waiter" by David McCord
By and by
God caught his eye.
"Love" by Anonymous (59 words)
The speaker identifies the most wonderful, greatest love possible.
"Epigram: The Mistake" by Theodore Roethke (27 words)
A man who acts on false information has to pay for it.
Read "The Mistake"
"Epitaph for a Postal Clerk" by X. J. Kennedy (21 words)
This is an appropriate inscription for a postal worker. If you like it, there are two more to read in the link—for a train traveler, and a dish washer.
Read "Epitaph . . ."
"You've Told Me, Maro" by Martial
You've told me, Maro, whilst you live
You'd not a single penny give,
But that whene'er you chanced to die,
You'd leave a handsome legacy;
You must be mad beyond redress,
If my next wish you cannot guess.
"A True Maid" by Matthew Prior" (25 words)
Rose implores a man to understand how important her purity is to her.
Read "A True Maid" (first poem)
Poems About Life
This is a very broad category. I tried to include pieces that make some kind of comment on living.
"The Hound" by Robert Francis (41 words)
The speaker compares the vicissitudes of life to an approaching dog.
Read "The Hound"
"Loveliest of Trees" by A. E. Housman (74 words)
The speaker enjoys looking at cherry trees. He thinks about how many more opportunities he will have.
Read "Loveliest of Trees"
"Dream Deferred" by Langston Hughes (51 words)
The narrator wonders what happens to a dream deferred. He raises some possibilities.
Read "Dream Deferred"
"Much Madness is Divinest Sense" by Emily Dickinson (40 words)
The speakers asserts the paradox that madness is actually sense, and points out the problem this presents.
Read "Much Madness . . ." (second poem)
"The Coming of Wisdom With Time" by William Butler Yeats (32 words)
A man compares himself to a tree with many leaves but, of course, only one root.
"Eternity" by William Blake (24 words)
The speaker contrasts two ways of reacting to joy.
"My Own Epitaph" by John Gay
Life is a jest; and all things show it.
I thought so once; but now I know it.
"What Is Our Life?" by Sir Walter Raleigh (77 words)
The speaker expounds on the significance of life and death.
Read "What Is Our Life?"
"Disillusionment of Ten O'Clock" by Wallace Stevens (65 words)
People are preparing to go to bed. There are many white night-gowns and a notable lack of any interesting colors.
"Aubade" by Louis MacNeice (53 words)
The speaker contrasts some of the beautiful things in life with some of its duller, disheartening ones.
"The Lady Fortune" by Anonymous (40 words)
Fortune can be a friend or foe. There's no knowing what it will bring.
Read "The Lady Fortune"
Short Poems About Loss
These selections deal with the loss of love, a person or opportunity.
"The Computation" by John Donne (85 words)
The narrator counts the years someone has been gone and what he has been doing with the time.
Read "The Computation"
"Ending" by Gavin Ewart (91 words)
The speaker describes how the love of he and his partner has cooled.
"She Dwelt Among the Untrodden Ways" by William Wordsworth (72 words)
A maid lives her life in an out-of-the-way area, unknown to most people.
Read "She Dwelt . . ."
"My Life Closed Twice" by Emily Dickinson (44 words)
The speaker's life closed twice before its final closing.
Short Poems About Love
"We Outgrow Love" by Emily Dickinson (22 words)
Love is compared to a garment that has been put away.
Read "We Outgrow Love"
"My Love in Her Attire" by Anonymous (51 words)
The speaker praises his love's clothing, which is suitable for every season and accentuates her beauty.
"Upon Julia's Clothes" by Robert Herrick (38 words)
The narrator admires how sweetly Julia's silks flow when she moves.
"Recreation" by Audre Lorde (91 words)
The speaker says it's easier to work on her writing after she's had time with her love.
"Song" (Pious Celinda) by William Congreve (52 words)
A man and his love, Celinda, have different attitudes toward their relationship. One of them has to change to really make it work.
Read "Pious Celinda" (bottom of page 10)
"The Look" by Sara Teasdale (42 words)
The speaker reminisces about two times she was kissed and one time she wasn't.
Read "The Look"
Short Poems About Nature
These poems talk about the outdoors or natural forces. See also Animals, above.
"The Sick Rose" by William Blake (34 words)
A rose is stricken by a worm in the night.
Read "The Sick Rose"
"Fire and Ice" by Robert Frost (51 words)
Will the world end by fire or by ice? The narrator gives his opinion.
Read "Fire and Ice"
"Apparently With No Surprise" by Emily Dickinson (36 words)
The speaker describes the fate of flowers.
"The Falling Flower" by Moritake
The falling flower
I saw drift back to the branch
Was a butterfly.
Fallen flowers rise
back to the branch—I watch:
oh . . . butterflies!
"Dust of Snow" by Robert Frost (34 words)
A crow in a hemlock tree shakes some snow onto a man standing below.
Read "Dust of Snow"
"Soft Snow" by William Blake (33 words)
A man enjoys his time walking on a snowy day.
Read "Soft Snow"
"An Altered Look About the Hills" by Emily Dickinson (90 words)
The speaker details many natural changes that occur, and says they are a response to a question.
"Speaking" by Simon J. Ortiz (82 words)
A parent takes their child outside. They stand under trees and listen to the crickets. The parent and child communicate with nature.
"Ah! Sun-Flower" by William Blake (50 words)
A weary sunflower seeks a golden climate where a journey ends.
Read "Ah! Sun-Flower"
Short Poems About Race
"Cross" by Langston Hughes (77 words)
The narrator talks about his white father and black mother. He wonders how he will end up.
"The Warden Said To Me" by Etheridge Knight (58 words)
The warden has noticed a contrast between some of his prisoners. He asks one of them to explain the difference.
"For a Lady I Know" by Countee Cullen (24 words)
Someone makes an observation on a woman's views about her position in this life and the next.
Read "For a Lady I Know"
"Emmett Till" by James A. Emanuel (45 words)
The speaker reacts to the murder of Emmett Till, a fourteen-year-old killed for whistling at a white woman.
Read "Emmett Till"
Short Poems About War
"Base Details" by Siegfried Sassoon (87 words)
The narrator muses about what he would do as an older officer staying at the base. The Majors would send the young men into battle and react to the death reports.
Read "Base Details"
"The Death of a Ball Turret Gunner" by Randall Jarrell (52 words)
The speaker describes his experience as a WW II gunner and his resulting death.
Poems That Are Witty, Pithy or Epigrammatic
"On Treason" by Sir John Harrington
Treason doth never prosper: what's the reason?
For if it prosper, none dare call it treason.
"Joy and Temperance" by Anonymous
Joy and Temperance
Joy and Temperance and Repose
Slam the door on the doctor's nose.
"What Is an Epigram?" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
What is an epigram? a dwarfish whole,
Its body brevity, and wit its soul.
"Here Lies My Wife" by J. V. Cunningham
Here lies my wife. Eternal peace
Be to us both with her decease.
Various Short Poems
These selections didn't fit well enough into any of the above categories. I wanted to include them anyway, so please enjoy.
"The Red Wheelbarrow" (XXII) by William Carlos Williams (16 words)
This is a simple statement about the importance of a wheelbarrow in a farm yard.
"Reapers" by Jean Toomer (65 words)
Two fields are reaped—the first by human workers, and the second by a horse-pulled mower.
"To Waken an Old Lady" by William Carlos Williams (54 words)
Old age is compared to a flight of birds flying over bare trees in winter.
"Aunt Jennifer's Tigers" by Adrienne Rich (90 words)
Aunt Jennifer knitted a screen of tigers for her home. They don't fear the men in the scene.
"The Guitarist Tunes Up" by Frances Cornford (49 words)
A man prepares to play the guitar.
"The Brain is Wider Than the Sky" by Emily Dickinson (72 words)
The speaker explains why the brain is wider than the sky, deeper than the sea, and the weight of God.
BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on March 11, 2020:
Wow! This is quite a featured selection of poetry.
This had to take alot of time and diligence to put together.
Thanks for sharing.
The only thing better would be referencing the works of your fellow Hubpages writers.