10 of the Best Poems about Resilience

By Interesting Literature

‘Resilience’ means a certain toughness in one’s psychological and emotional outlook: an ability to pick oneself up when life throws us difficulties and carry on regardless. This can be easier said than done, but resilience can be regarded as the cousin, if not quite the sibling, of hope and determination.

The following poems are, for our money, some of the best poems about being resilient and trying to overcome whatever challenges life throws our way.

1. John Keats, ‘To Hope’.

When by my solitary hearth I sit,
When no fair dreams before my ‘mind’s eye’ flit,
And the bare heath of life presents no bloom;
Sweet Hope, ethereal balm upon me shed,
And wave thy silver pinions o’er my head …

Written in February 1815 when he was just nineteen years old, ‘To Hope’ is one of John Keats’s early poems. Although it is not as celebrated or as polished as his more mature work, the poem is worth sharing for its positive message about being resilient and optimistic in the face of dark times.

When Despondency, Despair, and Disappointment assail the poet, he asks for Hope – which, like these other moods, is personified here with a capital letter – to come and brighten his outlook.

2. Emily Dickinson, ‘I took my Power in my Hand’.

I took my Power in my Hand —
And went against the World —
’Twas not so much as David — had —
But I — was twice as bold —

I aimed my Pebble — but Myself
Was all the one that fell —
Was it Goliath — was too large —
Or was myself — too small?

his poem from Emily Dickinson (1830-86) is short enough to be quoted in full here. Taking the story of David and Goliath, Dickinson likens herself to the young Biblical hero, with her Goliath that she goes up against being the whole world. Although the poem ends by acknowledging the speaker’s failure, the boldness and courage required to face the world make this poem worthy of inclusion in this list.

3. William Ernest Henley, ‘Invictus’.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

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