Universal Mentors Association

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


If you’re looking for a way to celebrate National Poetry Month in the classroom, free verse poems are a great place to start. Unlike standard poetry, free verse poems 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 51 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 to ensure they align with your learning environment.)

Free Verse Poems for Middle School and High School

“Or did it follow me?”

“You can make mountains …”

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 …”

“beside the white chickens …”

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

“That perches in the soul …”

“It was taken some time ago.”

9. The Layers by Stanley Kunitz

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

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

“Each day we go about our business …”

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

After the Sea-Ship by Walt Whitman.

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

“My rhymes no longer shall stand arrayed …”

15. Harlem by Langston Hughes

“What happens to a dream deferred?”

“here is the deepest secret nobody knows …”

“Winter kept us warm, covering …”

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 …”

“I cover you with my net.”

“The apparition of these faces …”

“Of the pine trees crusted with snow …”

“But still, like dust, I’ll rise.”

24. Risk by Anais Nin

Risk by Anais Nin.

“And then the day came …”

“The stand of trees, the dignity …”

“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 …”

“Everywhere you will go somewhere …”

30. Coal by Audre Lorde

“Some words are open …”

Cousin Nancy by T.S. Eliot.

“Upon the glazen shelves kept watch …”

32. I, Too by Langston Hughes

“I, too, sing America.”

“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 …”

Sometimes Mysteriously by Luis Omar Salinas.

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

“Sing! Can we not sing …”

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

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

“luscious the little / lame balloonman …”

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals …”

40. Atlas by Terisa Siagatonu

“If you open up any atlas …”

“For he is the tribe of Tiger.”

“A father being not just a father …”

43. Who Am I? by Natasha L. Bishop

“I am a roller coaster of emotions.”

“My stomach does somersaults …”

“It’s had tacks in it …”

Theme in Yellow by Carl Sandburg.

“Singing ghost songs …”

“all the singing is in the tops of the trees …”

48. Shoulders by Naomi Shihab Nye

“A man crosses the street in rain …”

“Honey is scarce these days …”

50. Delight by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

Delight by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater.

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

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

What are your favorite free verse poems for students? Share in the comments below.

If you enjoyed these poems for middle school and high school, be sure to also check out this post about 70 must-share poems for your elementary classroom. 


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