Short Inspirational Poems To Brighten Your Day

Everybody needs a little pick me up from time to time.

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  • Photo Credit: Brian Garcia / Unsplash

Whether you are feeling a little down, or just looking for some bright words, we've put together a list of inspirational poems to boost your spirits. Sharing messages of empowerment and strength, hope and perseverance, and purpose and meaning, these poems offer the support and encouragement we all need every once in a while. And because positivity is always better when shared, feel free to pass along the poems below.

Related: 20 Best Love Poems of All Time 

rupi kaur poem

"i am water

soft enough

to offer life

tough enough

to drown it away"

—pg. 137, milk and honey, by Rupi Kaur 

Rupi Kaur's poetry has become a worldwide sensation, translated into 30 languages. Both of her collections, milk and honey and the sun and her flowers, became New York Times bestsellers, and her third collection home body is set to come out November 17. 

Read more of Rupi Kaur's poetry, alongside her sketched illustrations in her New York Times bestselling milk and honey.

langston hughes poem

“Sometimes when I’m lonely,

Don’t know why,

Keep thinkin’ I won’t be lonely

By and by.”

—"Hope," by Langston Hughes

Writing for the people, Langston Hughes' poems spoke of the familiar. Because he was skilled at touching on common experiences, Hughes' poems continue to resonate widely. 

Read "Hope" and more from Langston Hughes in Selected Poems of Langston Hughes.

emily dickinson poem

“If I can stop one heart from breaking,

I shall not live in vain;

If I can ease one life the aching,

Or cool one pain,

Or help one fainting robin

Unto his nest again,

I shall not live in vain.”

—"If I Can Stop One Heart From Breaking," by Emily Dickinson

Though Emily Dickinson's fame grew only after her death, she became one of the most well known American poets, leaving behind many empowering poems.

Find "If I Can Stop One Heart From Breaking," and more poetry from Emily Dickinson in Hope Is the Thing with Feathers: Poems of Emily Dickinson.

Related: Your Favorite Poems of All Time

william ernest henley poem

“Out of the night that covers me,

  Black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

   For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance

   I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

   My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears

   Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

   Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,

  How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate,

  I am the captain of my soul.”

—"Invictus," by William Ernest Henley

Henley shares a message of self-empowerment, having written "Invictus" from his hospital bed following an amputation after years of struggling with tuberculosis. Read "Invictus" and more than 100 other inspirational poems in the book Invictus.

ha jin poem

“You must hold your quiet center,

where you do what only you can do.

If others call you a maniac or a fool,

just let them wag their tongues. 

If some praise your perseverance, 

don't feel too happy about it—

only solitude is a lasting friend.

You must hold your distant center.

Don't move even if earth and heaven quake. 

If others think you are insignificant,

that's because you haven't held on long enough.

As long as you stay put year after year,

eventually you will find a world

beginning to revolve around you.”

—"A Center," by Ha Jin 

Ha Jin speaks to the power within each individual. Read more of his poems that convey messages of hope and strength in A Distant Center.

alice walker poem

“Before I leave the stage

I will sing the only song

I was meant truly to sing.

It is the song

of I AM.

Yes: I am Me




I love Us with every drop

of our blood

every atom of our cells

our waving particles

-undaunted flags of our Being-

neither here nor there.”

—"Before I Leave The Stage," by Alice Walker

Although she is best known for her National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Color Purple, Alice Walker has long been a renowned poet. An expert in the craft, Alice Walker delivers fresh, compassionate, and wise poems centered around activism in her collection The World Will Follow Joy: Turning Madness into Flowers, which includes the above poem, "Before I Leave The Stage."

Related: Alice Walker Poems That Everyone Needs to Read

mong-lan poem

“& what if hope crashes through the door what if

that lasts a somersault?

hope for serendipity

even if a series of meals were all between us

even if the aeons lined up out

of order

what are years if not measured by trees”

—"Elegy," by Mong-Lan

Mong-Lan's poems are often both forceful and beautiful. In her own unique style, Mong-Lan writes poems that cut across cultures and history. Find "Elegy" and more poems from Mong-Lan in Why Is the Edge Always Windy? 

Related: Our Favorite Short Nature Quotes from Books 

gabrielle calvocoressi poem

“Like the horn you played in Catholic school

the city will open its mouth and cry

out. Don't worry 'bout nothing. Don't mean

no thing. It will leave you stunned

as a fighter with his eyes swelled shut

who's told he won the whole damn purse.

It will feel better than any floor

that's risen up to meet you. It will rise

like Easter bread, golden and familiar

in your grandmother's hands. She'll come back,

heaven having been too far from home

to hold her. O it will be beautiful.

Every girl will ask you to dance and the boys

won't kill you for it. Shake your head.

Dance until your bones clatter. What a prize

you are. What a lucky sack of stars.”

—"At Last the New Arriving," by Gabrielle Calvocoressi

Calvocoressi's poem, filled with familiar images of joyous occasions, shares a feeling of optimism and triumph. Read more of her work in Apocalyptic Swing: Poems, which includes the poem above, "At Last the New Arriving."

anne sexton poem

“My faith

is a great weight

hung on a small wire,

as doth the spider

hang her baby on a thin web,

as doth the vine,

twiggy and wooden,

hold up grapes

like eyeballs,

as many angels

dance on the head of a pin.

God does not need

too much wire to keep Him there,

just a thin vein,

with blood pushing back and forth in it,

and some love.

As it has been said:

Love and a cough

cannot be concealed.

Even a small cough.

Even a small love.

So if you have only a thin wire,

God does not mind.

He will enter your hands

as easily as ten cents used to

bring forth a Coke.”

—"Small Wire," by Anne Sexton

Anne Sexton was known for writing darker poems and sharing her raw experiences with mental illness, much like her friend Sylvia Plath. But Sexton also wrote poems focused on hope and healing that serve as a source of inspiration. Her poem "Small Wire," along with the eight collections she published while alive, two posthumously published collections, and additional poems drawn together following her death, can be found in The Complete Poems.

Related: The Best Sad Poetry Books for People Who Feel Too Much 

shara mccallum poem

“Because we did not have threads

of turquoise, silver, and gold,

we could not sew a sun nor sky.

And our hands became balls of fire.

And our arms spread open like wings.

Because we had no chalk or pastels,

no toad, forest, or morning-grass slats

of paper, we had no colour

for creatures. So we squatted

and sprang, squatted and sprang.

Four young girls, plaits heavy

on our backs, our feet were beating

drums, drawing rhythms from the floor;

our mouths became woodwinds;

our tongues touched teeth and were reeds.”

—"The Art Room," by Shara McCallum

McCallum's words are full of movement and energy. Her poem "The Art Room" appears in Song of Thieves, her second collection of poems, following her collection The Water Between Us. 

Featured photo: Brian Garcia / Unsplash 

Keep Reading: The 36 Most Famous Poems Ever Written in the English Language  

Featured photo via Brian Garcia / Unsplash