Top 10 Poems to Read to Beat the Blues

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“Dil naumeed to nahin, nakaam hi toh hai,
Lambi hai gham ki sham, par sham hi toh hai!”
(The heart is just defeated but not without hope, the evening is full of sorrow but it will soon end!)

Blues and poetry? It is impossible not to mention these magical words by Faiz Ahmed Faiz, the great Urdu poet. Words have the magical ability to spin your mood around. When woven into poetry, they become a magic wand meant to make you see life through a different perspective. But every poem has a mood, a rhythm, a time. There are times when poems really make a difference. So we bring you a selection of ten poems that will brighten you up and inspire you when you’re feeling the blues. Just put on some music, dim the lights and begin your romance with beautiful poetry! Who knows what it might inspire you to do.

10. King Canute by William Makepeace Thackerey

What Really Happened? Did Canute Get His Feet Wet?

“…he sternly bade them never more to kneel to human clay,
But alone to praise and worship That which earth and seas obey:
And his golden crown of empire never wore he from that day.
King Canute is dead and gone: Parasites exist away.”

Everyone dreams of having authority. Ultimate power is an aspiration of most. You always want the top job, top position, head authority etc. Often, when you don’t get that, you sulk. And you don’t just sulk for a few hours. When that top position was something you’d wanted for a really long time, you keep aside everything you have and decide that this is the end of life. This is the time when you should pick up King Canute. A beautifully written poem on the mortality of authority, this poem teaches you what is important and what is not by setting the mighty King Canute’s example. So when you’re upset about the MD position that your peer took away, read this and for some time, the world will be okay.

9. Highway Stripper by A.K. Ramanujan


“a straw
a white shoe fit
to be a fetish,
then another,
a heavy pleated skirt
and a fluttery
slip, faded pink,
frayed lace- edge
and all
(I even heard it swish),
a leg-of-mutton blouse
Just as fluttery.”

If you talk about innocent fun, Highway Stripper has to be at the top of your list. This poem is simply designed to lighten you up by escalating your mood slowly and then dropping the bomb in the end. You won’t know what to expect and what you expect will never happen. So when you’re a little annoyed or feeling the blues, you just need to go through this. The poem will leave you with a light smile on your lips and little happiness in your heart.

8. Fire and Ice by Robert Frost


“Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice. “

In those moments when you’re tired by the world’s tirades and have had enough, Robert Frost comes to your rescue. In Fire and Ice, while he talks about world destruction in such simple yet fancy terms, you realize that the world will soon end its tirade; it’s only a matter of time. Frost’s words have an eerie way of calming your soul as you marvel at the ways of world destruction.

7. The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost


“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

Choices weigh you down immensely. A wrong choice or a forced choice can lead you on the wrong place often. Sometimes the choice is not yours. But ultimately, that choice lands you somewhere. So if your choices are giving you the blues, Frost is here to help you yet again. One of his most famous poems The Road Not Taken helps you deal with your choices. In this, Frost explains how the road not taken can sometimes be of great value implying that sometimes, a rare or a difficult choice can prove beneficial in the long run.

6. Tithonus by Lord Alfred Tennyson


“A soft air fans the cloud apart; there comes
A glimpse of that dark world where I was born.
Once more the old mysterious glimmer steals
From any pure brows, and from thy shoulders pure,
And bosom beating with a heart renew’d.”

If you’re lovelorn or very much in love and either of the two are making you sad, Tennyson’s beautiful poem Tithonus will make your heart swell with tears of love. The joyous and heartfelt interactions of Tithonus and his lady love, Eos the Goddess of Dawn make the air around you so full of intense passion that you can’t help but immerse yourself in the beauty of it all. So even if for a few minutes, your world turns around, you forget your blues and you’re transported in a blissful and loving place.

5. Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

and still i rise

“You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.”

A very aptly titled poem, Still I Rise is a progressive poem in many ways – for women, for blacks, for the poor; for the downtrodden. Inspirational, strong and focused are the words that truly describe this wonder by Angelou. This poem gives you the confidence to go on in life and teaches you how important it is to stand up for yourself. It’s not just inspirational; it is also strength that this poem gives to you. The realization that your life is privileged gives you much room to breathe and understand your blues clearly. Once you delve more deeply in the text of the poem, you realize it’s a breath of fresh air as it talks about a rising woman in very explicit words; that explicitness being the gist of the poem and making you feel conscious of your rights.

4. Madhushala by Harivansh Rai Bachchan


“Madiralaya jaane ko ghar se, chalta hai peene waala.
Kis path se jaun asmanjas men hai woh bhola bhala.
Alag alag path batlaate sab, par main yeh batlaata hun,
Raah pakad tu ek chala chal, paa jaiyega Madhushala..”

Sweet tastes of drinks and shots seem the most inviting when you’re feeling low. You seem to be naturally inclined towards that one last shot of vodka or that last pint of beer in the hope of eradicating all your blues and you only end up with a pathetic hangover. Madhushala works the same way without having the disastrous consequences. Madhushala, meaning a drinking tavern, literally intoxicates you as beautiful lines dissolve your worries into nothing. By the mere use of words that touch your heart deep, Madhushala is the cleanest way to be intoxicated and yet save a hangover and eventually overcome the blues! The book and its audio book can be found in any book shop near you.

3. The Diverting History of John Gilpin by William Cowper


“John Gilpin at his horse’s side
Seized fast the flowing mane,
And up he got, in haste to ride.

But soon came down again;”

A lot of times, the cure to long lasting blues is a good laugh. And it is definitely not easy giving someone that good laugh! But Cowper does it brilliantly in his long, hilarious poem The Diverting History of John Gilpin. The plot is senseless and the characters are crazy, providing the perfect ingredients for a sidesplitting, maniacal poem. By the end of  it, you’re sure to have forgotten all you had been worrying about and be marveling at the fact that at least you’re not as stupid and crazy as John Gilpin!

2. A Psalm of Life by H.W. Longfellow


“Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.”

Many philosophers attempt to persuade you into believing that ‘life is but an empty dream’ and that it will end soon so you shouldn’t worry about it very much. Longfellow takes a different route in his poem A Psalm of Life and asks his readers to invigorate their lives and take it head on. He emphasizes on the one life that you get, in new terms – Y.O.L.O. The idea is to lead courageous and memorable lives, lives that would be remembered even after you are dead. His beautiful lines inspire a sorrowful heart to move on because sorrow is only temporary. Live fully!

1. Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost


“The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”

A favorite of many and an immensely famous poem, Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening is one of the most soothing poems ever. Often quoted in tattoos and photo captions, ‘miles to go before I sleep’ is really one thing that drives you towards fulfillment. When you’re really feeling the blues, you know that one quick read of this wonderful poem will grant you solace and give space for your mind to think. With his magical words, Frost inspires you and gives you the strength to fight the blues and come out stronger!


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