63 Must-Read Free-Verse Poems for Middle School and High School

A great way to introduce poetry in class.

Delight by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater.

If you’re looking for a way to present poetry in the classroom, free-verse poems are a great place to start. Unlike standard poetry, you’ll find that free-verse poem examples break rules and don’t have to rhyme or follow any specific meter. Since themes of nature, love, and life are often represented, free-verse poems provide plenty of opportunities to teach students how to analyze poetry. Check out our list of the best free-verse poems for the classroom below!

(Note: Every classroom is different, so please be sure to review these poems before sharing them with students to ensure they align with your learning environment.)

Free-Verse Poems for Middle School and High School

1. Follow the Moon by Marie Tully

“I followed the moon,
Or did it follow me?”

2. Splishy, Sploshy Mud by Ava F. Kent

“Splishy, sploshy mud
is the best type of crud!”

3. Fog by Carl Sandburg

Fog by Carl Sandburg.

“It sits looking …”

4. Autumn by T.E. Hulme


“A touch of cold in the Autumn night …”

5. The Red Wheelbarrow by William Carlos Williams

“beside the white chickens …”

6. This Is Just To Say by William Carlos Williams

“I have eaten the plums that were in the icebox …”

7. “Hope” is the thing with feathers by Emily Dickinson

“That perches in the soul …”

8. This Is a Photograph of Me by Margaret Atwood

“It was taken some time ago.
At first it seems to be a smeared print …”

9. The Layers by Stanley Kunitz

“I have walked through many lives, some of them my own …”

10. Beginning My Studies by Walt Whitman

“The first step, I say, aw’d me and pleas’d me so much …”

11. Praise Song for the Day by Elizabeth Alexander

“Each day we go about our business,
walking past each other, catching each other’s eyes or not …”

12. Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark by D.A. Powell

“I play the egg
and I play the triangle …”

13. After the Sea-Ship by Walt Whitman

After the Sea-Ship by Walt Whitman.

“Waves, undulating waves, liquid, uneven, emulous waves …”

14. Free Verse Poem by Robert Graves

“My rhymes no longer shall stand arrayed
Like Prussian soldiers on parade …”

15. Harlem by Langston Hughes

“What happens to a dream deferred?”

16. i carry your heart with me by e.e. cummings

“here is the deepest secret nobody knows …”

17. The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot

“Winter kept us warm, covering,
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.”

18. You Took the Last Bus Home by Brian Bilston

You Took the Last Bus Home by Brian Bilston.

“i still don’t know how you got it through the door …”

19. Silence by Thomas Hood

“There is a silence where no sound may be …”

20. The Pool by H.D.

“Are you alive?
I touch you.”

21. In a Station of the Metro by Ezra Pound

“The apparition of these faces in the crowd:
Petals on a wet, black bough.”

22. The Snow Man by Wallace Stevens

“Of the pine trees crusted with snow …”

23. Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

“You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies …”

24. Risk by Anais Nin

Risk by Anais Nin.

“And then the day came …”

25. Praise the Rain by Joy Harjo

“The stand of trees, the dignity …”

26. Those Winter Sundays by Robert Hayden

“Sundays too my father got up early …”

27. Hurry by Marie Howe

“We stop at the dry cleaners and the grocery store …”

28. The Promise by Jane Hirshfield

“Stay, I said to the spider …”

29. Theories of Time and Space by Natasha Trethewey

“Everywhere you will be somewhere …”

30. Coal by Audre Lorde

“Some words are open
Like a diamond on glass windows …”

31. Cousin Nancy by T.S. Eliot

Cousin Nancy by T.S. Eliot as an example of free verse poems.

“Upon the glazen shelves kept watch …”

32. I, Too by Langston Hughes

“I, too, sing America.”

33. Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

“Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.”

34. Piano by D.H. Lawrence

“Softly, in the dusk, a woman is singing to me …”

35. Sometimes Mysteriously by Luis Omar Salinas

Sometimes Mysteriously by Luis Omar Salinas as an example of free verse poems.

“Sometimes in the evening when love
tunes its harp and the crickets …”

36. Distant Light by Walid Khazindar

“Sing! Can we not sing
as if we were warm, hand-in-hand …”

37. Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold

“The tide is full, the moon lies fair …”

38. [in Just-] by e.e. cummings

“luscious the little
lame balloonman …”

39. somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond by e.e. cummings

“in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me …”

40. Atlas by Terisa Siagatonu

“If you open up any atlas
and take a look at a map of the world …”

41. My Cat Jeoffry by Christopher Smart

“For in his morning orisons he loves the sun and the sun loves him.
For he is the tribe of Tiger.”

42. A Different Kind of Hero by Heather Griffith

“A father being not just a father …”

43. Who Am I? by Natasha L. Bishop

“I am a roller coaster of emotions.
I am a hater of ignorant people, liars …”

44. Whenever You Say I Love You by Kate B.

“My stomach does somersaults …”

45. Mother to Son by Langston Hughes

“Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.”

46. Theme in Yellow by Carl Sandburg

Theme in Yellow by Carl Sandburg.

“Singing ghost songs …”

47. White-Eyes by Mary Oliver

“In winter
    all the singing is in
         the tops of the trees
             where the wind-bird …”

48. Shoulders by Naomi Shihab Nye

“A man crosses the street in rain,
stepping gently, looking two times north and south …”

49. Saccharine Words by Danna Smith

“Honey is scarce these days,
the bees are feeling the sting …”

50. Delight by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

Delight by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater. as an example of free verse poems.

“Nature does not have
a lost and found table
for summer feathers …”

51. My Mistake by Bob Welbaum

“I never make mistakes,
I’m quite meticulous.”

52. The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot

“Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky …”

53. Song of Myself by Walt Whitman

“I celebrate myself, and sing myself.”

54. Howl by Allen Ginsberg

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

55. A Noiseless Patient Spider by Walt Whitman

A Noiseless Patient Spider by Walt Whitman

“A noiseless patient spider,
I mark’d where on a little promontory it stood isolated …”

56. The Dying Lover by Gustave Kahn

The Dying Lover by Gustave Kahn

“So long as the child preferred to me such and such a
player of the flute or singer to the zither …”

57. The Garden by Andrew Marvell

“How vainly men themselves amaze
To win the palm, the oak, or bays …”

58. Accent by Rupi Kaur

Accent by Rupi Kaur

“my voice
is the offspring
of two countries colliding …”

59. Vacation by Rita Dove

“I love the hour before takeoff,
that stretch of no time, no home …”

60. Tulips by Sylvia Plath

“The tulips are too excitable, it is winter here.”

61. In the Desert by Stephen Crane

In the Desert by Stephen Crane

“In the desert …”

62. Mirror by Sylvia Plath

Mirror by Sylvia Plath

“I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.
Whatever I see I swallow immediately
Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.”

63. Ode to Coffee by Urayoán Noel

Ode to Coffee by Urayoán Noel

“from Africa to a Caribbean hill
            de África a las lomas del Caribe …”

What are your favorite free-verse poems for students? Come share in the We Are Teachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.

Also check out 75 Must-Share Poems for Your Elementary Classroom. 

These free-verse poems are perfect for National Poetry Month or any time. What they lack in meter and rhyme they make up for in creativity!