Words are powerful. U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo once said, “Without poetry, we lose our way.” That is so true. Poetry touches people in a way that other writing cannot. Sometimes you read something and the lines say everything you are feeling. Other times they are just the thing you needed to hear to help motivate you through a tough time or to reach a goal. If you are looking for a new mantra or just something to brighten your day, check out these 10 quotes of inspirational poetry that are sure to inspire you.
10 Inspirational Poetry Quotes
1Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Maya Angelou’s writing celebrates black beauty, the strength of women, and the human spirit. Her poem “Still I Rise” is about rising above other people’s hatefulness. At one point she asks, “Did you want to see me broken?” and “Does it come as a surprise / That I dance like I’ve got diamonds / At the meeting of my thighs?” Each time she responds that she will rise. It is the perfect poem for days when you need to feel confident about your own sexiness and sassiness.
Read the full poem on Poets.org.
2you cannot make it stay, Rupi Kaur
do not bother holding on to
that thing that does not want you
A modern writer with a strong presence on social media, Rupi Kaur began publishing her poetry and illustrations on Instagram in her early twenties. Her inspirational poetry, which is often short (the entire poem is presented above) and untitled, addresses love, feminism, body image, and being a first-generation immigrant. Her poems often empower women to feel the strength they possess deep down inside. “You cannot make it stay” is the perfect mantra to repeat to yourself on days where you need to remember to let things (and people!) go that are not good for you.
3If I can stop one heart from breaking, Emily Dickinson
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.
Emily Dickinson is certainly one of the most well-known female poets, and probably also one of the most well-known American poets. She wrote nearly 1,800 poems in her lifetime, most of which were not published until after her death. In her signature style full of dashes and unconventional capitalization, she wrote about nature, love, friendship, and death. “If I can stop one heart from breaking” says I will have lived a meaningful life if I can have helped or touched one person. It is the perfect reminder that we do not have to be everything for everyone. At the end of the day, if you just do one thing, even a small thing, you matter.
4Invictus, William Ernest Henley
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.
William Ernest Henley wrote “Invictus” in 1873 while recovering from surgery. He had to have one of his legs amputated after complications from tuberculosis. His doctors told him his remaining leg would need to be amputated, but another surgeon was able to save his leg after multiple surgeries. “It was after these surgeries that he was moved to write this poem. This piece of inspirational poetry has become the touchstone of fortitude in the face of adversity. “Invictus” begins by thanking “whatever gods may be / For my unconquerable soul” and the last two lines of the poem make the perfect mantra to remind you that you are in charge of your life.
Read the entire poem at Poetry Foundation.
5Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelou
I’m a woman
Another of Maya Angelou’s poems that celebrates women is “Phenomenal Woman.” Throughout this piece of inspirational poetry, she says that people wonder how she’s so amazing or why men are drawn to her when she’s not “cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size.” She responds that it is not about the way she looks, but about the way she carries herself because she is a phenomenal woman. This poem should inspire you to feel empowered because you are phenomenal.
Read the entire poem at Poetry Foundation.
6Our Deepest Fear, Marianne Williamson
We ask ourselves
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small
Does not serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking
So that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
“Our Deepest Fear” is an excerpt from Marianne Willamson’s book A Return to Love. She makes the point that it is not the fact that we are not good enough that scares us, it is actually that we are worthy of everything we receive. She says that we spend so much time being scared of our own greatness that we dim our light to make other people more comfortable. Let this piece of inspirational poetry inspire you not to feel unworthy of your brilliance and fabulousness because when you shine, the other people around you shine too.
Read the entire poem on Habits for Wellbeing.
7Ego Tripping (there may be a reason why), Nikki Giovanni
I am so perfect so divine so ethereal so surreal
I cannot be comprehended
except by my permission
I mean . . . I . . . can fly
like a bird in the sky . . .
Nikki Giovanni’s “Ego Tripping” was written after her first trip to Africa. In the poem, she celebrates being a strong Black woman. It is meant to inspire Black women to be proud of where they come from. The attitude laid out in the final lines of the poem that you are perfect and can only be comprehended with your permission is an anthem that any woman can adopt.
Read the entire poem on Poets.org or hear Giovanni herself read the poem (it seems to be one of her favorites) on YouTube.
8Untitled, Rupi Kaur
if you were born with
the weakness to fall
you were born with
the strength to rise
This untitled Rupi Kaur poem is reminiscent of Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise.” These four lines are the perfect lines of inspirational poetry to write on a sticky note and post on the wall or bulletin board above your desk because they say it all – if you can fail, you can rise. It is a reminder not to fear failure because can always overcome failure.
9The Voice, Shel Silverstein
There is a voice inside of you
That whispers all day long,
‘I feel that this is right for me,
I know that this is wrong.’
No teacher, preacher, parent, friend
Or wise man can decide
What’s right for you – just listen to
The voice that speaks inside.
You may not have read Where the Sidewalk Ends since childhood, but Shel Silverstein is not just for children. “The Voice” is a good reminder to listen to your intuition. So often we ignore what our gut is telling us and do things when we do not want to or back out of something because we are scared. That little voice inside you is right. Listen to it. Plus, who doesn’t like a little Shel Silverstein nostalgia?
10Untitled, Rupi Kaur
i know it’s hard
i know it feels like
tomorrow will never come
and today will be the most
difficult day to get through
but i swear you will get through
the hurt will pass
as it always does
if you give it time and
let it so let it
like a broken promise
let it go
Since her poetry is so powerful and accessible, here is one more piece of inspirational poetry from Rupi Kaur. On the hard days when it just feels like your drowning from sadness – because we all have them – this is the poem you need. It does not just need to be on days when you are sad either. Whether you feel like you’re drowning from work, or your responsibilities, or chasing after your children, or just life in general, sometimes you need something to remind you that you will get through the hard stuff.
Hopefully, one (or more!) of these quotes will speak to you and inspire you. Whether they become your new daily affirmation, the words you write down and post in a spot you will see every day or just something you look to on the day you need a little extra positivity, poetry can always lift you up when you need it. Let it help remind you that you are strong. You are beautiful. You’ve got this!
WANT TO READ MORE?
Check out these 50 Positive Quotes to Live By.
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