50 of the Best Free Verse Poems from Contemporary Poets

Check out these 50 exceptional free verse poetry, from famous contemporary poets to the up-and-coming and everything in between.

Free verse, according to Robert Frost, is “playing with the net down.” “No verse is free for the man who wants to do a good job,” wrote T.S. Eliot. Nonetheless, Walt Whitman, Langston Hughes, and a plethora of contemporary poets have created beautiful works in free verse. But what exactly are free verse poems, and why are they so controversial?

What are Free Verse Poems?

A poem with no set meter or verse that mimics natural speech patterns is defined as free verse. Free verse poems can be short or long, contain sporadic rhymes or none at all, and be delivered orally or in writing.

Because a famous free verse poem isn’t bound by any particular form, poets have more freedom to experiment with structure than they would in other styles.

Some critics argue that free verse poems are simply glorified prose because they lack regular rhyme and meter.

Those who write or appreciate free verse, on the other hand, believe that it has its own tools beyond meter or rhyme, such as punctuation, line breaks, and vocabulary, which make it just as legitimate a poetic form as other styles.

The Best Free Verse Poems

Still unsure about what free verse poetry entails and in need of some examples? Check out these 50 outstanding free verse poems, ranging from the famous to the unknown and everything in between.

1. “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer” by Walt Whitman

2. “Mother to Son” by Langston Hughes

3. “From Blossoms” by Li-Young Lee

4. “The Poo” by H.D.

5. “I Carry Your Heart with Me (I Carry it in My Heart)” by E.E. Cummings

6. “Risk” by Anais Nin

7. “Sloe Gin” by Seamus Heaney

8. “Accent” by Rupi Kaur

9. “Anne Hathway” by Carol Ann Duffy

10. “The Crickets Have Arthritis” by Shane Koyczan

11. “The Good Life” by Tracy K. Smith

12. “Praise the Rain” by Joy Harjo

13. “Typewriter Series #1950” by Tyler Knott Gregson

14. “In the Metro Station” by Ezra Pound

15. “Siren Song” by Margaret Atwood

16. “Real Silence” by Atticus

17. “You Took the Last Bus Home” by Brian Bilston

18. “Vacation” by Rita Dove

19. “Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden

20. “Fog” by Carl Sandburg

21. “Persephone to Hades” by Nikita Gill

22. “Tulips” by Sylvia Plath

23. “In the Hospital” by Chen Chen

24. “The Snow Man” by Wallace Stevens

25. “Diving  into the Wreck” by Adrienne Rich

26. “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou

27. “Autumn” by T.E. Hulme

28. “Theory of Motion (6), Nocturne” by Cam Awkward-Rich

29. “The Peace of Wild Things” by Wendell Berry

30. “To the Desert” by Benjamin Alire Saenz

31. “Overhead on the Titanic” by Austin Kleon

32. “Hurry” by Marie Howe

33. “How to Triumph Like a Girl” by Ada Limon

34. “OCD” by Neil Hilborn

35. “Kissing in Vietnamese” by Ocean Vuong

36. “Quilts” by Nikki Giovanni

37. “Untitled” by Pavana38

38. “The First Person Who Will Live to be One Hundred and Fifty Years Old Has Already Been Born” by Nicole Sealey

39. “Hudson’s Geese” by Leslie Norris

40. “A Supermarket in California” by Allen Ginsberg

41. “The Promise” by Jane Hirschfield

42. “Church” by Jacqueline Woodson

43. “Shake the Dust” by Anis Mojgani

44. ”Angels” by Mary Oliver

45. ”Sad and Alone” by Maurice Manning

46. “Among the Stars” by Lang Leav

48. “Thank You” by Ross Gay

49. “Theories of Time and Space” by Natasha Trethewey

50. “When Love Arrives” by Sarah Kay & Phil Kaye

We’ve just finished discussing 50 of the best classic and contemporary free verse poems. Do you still require more poetry to quench your thirst? Look for more of our content.

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