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Poems that make you glad to be alive

more joy please & thank you

Hi, Friend.

Several years ago, aided and abetted by Literary Twitter, I started gathering poems with joy in mind. It was 2017, and I needed more joy, and so did you. We all still need it. So here is a slightly updated and revised compilation of those poems shared by readers and writers in a very long thread. I’ve linked to some; others you’ll have to hunt down yourself online and in print. Feel free to share your own suggestions in the comments, and we’ll keep this work-in-progress going.

Because Mary Oliver was right: “Joy is not made to be a crumb.”

Wishing you more of it—


The Orange,” Wendy Cope

Thanks,” W. S. Merwin

“From Blossoms,” Li-Young Lee

Song,” Brigit Pegeen Kelly

“Allegro,” Tomas Tranströmer

“Brief Pause in the Organ Recital,” Tomas Tranströmer

Cento Between the Ending and the End,” Cameron Awkward Rich

“Late Fragment,” Raymond Carver

“The Old Astronomer to His Pupil Tyco Brahe,” Sarah Williams

Small Kindnesses,” Danusha Laméris

“Village,” Alice Oswald

“love is a place,” E. E. Cummings

“When I Have Fears,” John Keats

“Ozymandias,” Percy Shelley

“Fulbright Scholars,” Ted Hughes

Having a Coke with You,” Frank O'Hara

“Ode to Walt Whitman,” Garcia Lorca

“Otherwise,” Jane Kenyon

“After the Party Pantoum,” Rachel Kessler

“A Ritual to Read Each Other,” William Stafford

“Celestial Music,” Louise Gluck

Because These Failures Are My Job,” Alison Luterman

How To Triumph Like a Girl,” Ada Limón

“What the Living Do,” Marie Howe

“Most Days I Want to Live,” Gabrielle Calvoccoressi

“i am running into a new year,” Lucille Clifton

“Wild Geese,” Mary Oliver

“Microchimerism,” Heid Erdrich

Advice to Myself,” Louise Erdrich

“As kingfishers catch fire,” G. M. Hopkins

“Bottom of the Ocean,” Bob Hicok

“who are you, little i,” E. E. Cummings

“Man Eating,” Jane Kenyon

“Islands,” Muriel Rukeyser 

“The Conjugation of the Paramecium,” Muriel Rukeyser

“The Fish,” Elizabeth Bishop

“An Introduction to Some Poems,” William Stafford

won’t you celebrate with me,” Lucille Clifton

“I carry your heart,” E. E. Cummings

“Those Graves in Rome,” Larry Levis

“On Wanting to Tell [] about a Girl Eating Fish Eyes,” Mary Syzbist

“Why I Wake Early,” Mary Oliver

Let Evening Come,” Jane Kenyon

“Te Deum,” Charles Reznikoff

“You Can’t Have it All,” Barbara Ras

“i thank you god for most this amazing day,” E. E. Cummings

The New Colossus,” Emma Lazarus

“Today,” Frank O’Hara

“The Cats of Firaz are Starving,” Von Thompson

“For All,” Gary Snyder

To the Woman Crying Uncontrollably in the Next Stall,” Kim Addonizio

“Filling Station,” Elizabeth Bishop

“Eating Fried Chicken,” Linh Dinh

“Praise Song For the Day,” Elizabeth Alexander

“Ithaca,” C. P. Cavafy

Love Calls Us to the Things of This World,” Richard Wilbur

“Happiness was hiding in the last tear,” Gallway Kinnell

A Blessing,” James Wright

“Meanwhile,” Richard Siken

“Little Sleep’s-Head Sprouting Hair in the Moonlight,” Galway Kinnell

“Swimming in the Rain,” Chana Bloch

Good Bones,” Maggie Smith

“Crusoe in England,” Elizabeth Bishop

“Desire,” Stephen Dunn

“An Indian To His Love,” W. B. Yeats

“Advice to my Son,” Peter Meinke

Basket of Figs,” Ellen Bass

“Different Ways to Pray,” Naomi Shihab Nye

“Torn,” C. D. Young

“The Windhover,” G. M. Hopkins

“In The Waiting Room,” Elizabeth Bishop

“Gift (Dar),” Czeslaw Milosz

“Questions for Miriam,” Warsan Shire

“I Was Minor,” Olena Kalytiak Davis

“In a Light of Other Lives,” Denis Johnson

“Steps,” Frank O’Hara

“The Kingfisher,” Mary Oliver

“Album (excerpt),” Greg Pape

“The Stags,” Kathleen Jamie

“Bees of Eleusis,” Franz Wright

So Much Happiness,” Naomi Shihab Nye

“Danse Russe,” William Carlos Williams

Faint Music,” Robert Hass

Small Comfort,” Katha Politt

“Meditations in an Emergency,” Frank O’Hara

“Ode to the Perineum,” Steve Scafidi

“In Service of Staying Alive,” Lynne Procope

Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude,” Ross Gay

“Kingdom Animalia,” Aracelis Girmay

“An Atlas of the Difficult World, XIII (Dedications),” Adrienne Rich

For Dear Life with Maggie Smith
For Dear Life with Maggie Smith
Maggie Smith