Uplifting poems to brighten your mood

Poets from Nikita Gill to Steven Camden share a selection of uplifting poems to lift the spirits in these difficult times.

06/05/2020
13 minutes to read

In these strange, uncertain and often lonely times it can be easy to forget how much hope and beauty there still is in the world. Over the last few months, Ana Sampson has been finding solace in poetry. Here she explains how poetry has come to her rescue, and we share a selection of uplifting poems from poets including Nikita GillPaul Cookson and Steven Camden

Ana Sampson is the compiler of She is Fierce: Brave, Bold and Beautiful Poems by Women and her next poetry anthology, She Will Soar: Poems of Freedom and Wanderlust by Women is published on 03 September 2020. You can find all of Ana’s books on her website here.

As the pandemic began to unfurl around us, I stopped reading. I found myself frozen, except for my scrolling thumb. I know I wasn’t the only one. The children were home, charging around stickily with a maelstrom of toys strewn in their wake, always hungry. There was still work to do – my own from the boisterous house and my husband’s, troublingly, still onsite in London. It wasn’t only lack of time that was preventing me escaping into a novel, though. For all the people declaring that Lockdown was the perfect time to finally tackle War and Peace, there were several who, like me, couldn’t focus their skittering attention enough to make it to the end of a paragraph.

Poetry came to my rescue because it was nourishment that could be quickly snapped up while stirring a soon-to-be forcefully rejected lunch or running a bath. It was a swift ejector seat from the panic of the present to somewhere – at this point, anywhere – else. 

Everything is uncertain and unsettling. The least terrifying track I’ve found through the weeks of Lockdown is to focus, myopically, on today. Count the wins, savour the coffees, forgive yourself the frayed tempers, stop counting the crisps, and don’t raise your eyes to cast a speculative glance into next week. Here, some of our poets share uplifting poems for this uncertain time.

 

Love in the Time of Coronavirus by Nikita Gill

Today, we stockpile empathy.

We supply love and good energy.

We sing to each other across buildings.

We say ‘I love you’ through social distancing.

 

Do you know that writing letters

to our friends is back in fashion?

And that we finally have time to read more books,

whether historical or fiction?

 

My cousin told me she hadn’t seen

such a blue sky in her city before.

My uncle went on his first walk in the woods.

He heard a bird sing since the first time he went to war.

 

Even in sickness, this world

is allowed to be beautiful.

And we are still allowed to love it,

for there is always room for hope.

 

This is just me checking in

sending you the moon as a poem,

praying and wishing for us all

a speedy recovery.

 

And if nothing else,

There will always be poetry.

We will always have poetry.



This Is An Incitement by Chris Riddell, illustrated by Chris Riddell

Don’t settle into inertia

As the ash falls on your head and shoulders

Soft and ankle deep at your feet

 

Take up your pens and brushes

And make Art.

 

The ancient dragon of greed

Coiled tight around their hoards

Don’t understand Art.

But the snake oil minions

Who whisper in their ears as they sleep,

They fear it.

 

Art can capture the souls

They bought and paid for.

If you want to slay dragons,

Make Art.



Clap the Carers by Jackie Kay

I want to say thank you to Janet

for keeping up my mum’s spirit

 

And thank you to Margaret Anne

Who always does the best she can

 

Who sorts out the medicine 

Trolley meticulously and

 

Thank you, Marie,

Who last Sunday on Mother’s Day

 

Had a lone piper into play

And all the women and the men

 

Were wheeled out or walked into the garden

For ten minutes of fresh air while the Piper played

 

And When this Battle is Over

And thank you to Cherry for

 

Making my mum part of her family

And looking after her like she would her own mother

 

And thank you to Richard, who back that day, aeons away,

On March the 10th put the Home into lockdown

 

The first in the country –

Which at the time was outrageous to me

 

And thank you to Clare, team manager of all

For her kind and calm demeanour

 

And to Monique with her shock of blonde hair

Who always makes my mum laugh

 

With a merry quip or a teasing joke

And thank you to kind-faced Reuben

 

Who cleans my mum’s room and puts a wee nip in her coffee

And to good-natured big John who checks regularly to see she’s OK,

 

And to everybody

Every single Carer in a Nursing Home, Care Home, or in someone’s home

 

Up and down the breadth of the country

Across the land and out to sea

 

To France and Spain and Italy

For treating all our mums and dads

 

Our daughters and sons, our brothers and sisters,

So kindly; for knocking your pan in

 

Gieing it laldy, going above and beyond.

I want to say merci beaucoup, gracias, grazie

 

You’re one in a million. 

On the Sunday after Mother’s Day, I want to say


Tapadh leibh, thank ye, thank ye,

And in Sign, I do believe, it is like blowing a kiss, like this, like this. 



New Every Morning by Susan Coolidge

Every day is a fresh beginning,

Listen my soul to the glad refrain.

And, spite of old sorrows

And older sinning,

Troubles forecasted

And possible pain,

Take heart with the day and begin again.



Let No One Steal Your Dreams by Paul Cookson

Let no-one steal your dreams

Let no-one tear apart

The burning of ambition

That fires the drive inside your heart

 

Let no-one steal your dreams

Let no-one tell you that you can’t

Let no-one hold you back

Let no-one tell you that you won’t

 

Set your sights and keep them fixed

Set your sights on high

Let no-one steal your dreams

Your only limit is the sky

 

Let no-one steal your dreams

Follow your heart

Follow your soul

For only when you follow them

Will you feel truly whole

 

Set your sights and keep them fixed

Set your sights on high

Let no-one steal your dreams

Your only limit is the sky



No Man is an Island by John Donne, read and illustrated by Chris Riddell

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man

 is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.

If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe

is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as

well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine

own were: any man's death diminishes me,

because I am involved in mankind,

and therefore never send to know for whom

the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”



Kindness by Nikita Gill

And maybe it is easier to learn kindness in these times.

When the whole world is like a small child with a fever,

trying her very best to make herself feel better.

 

Maybe we find our unity in the near-losing of everything.

Where we have no choice but to depend upon each other.

This is what it takes to realise we are in this together.

 

A man helps someone he dislikes because they are in danger.

A neighbour delivers groceries to everyone ill on her street.

Old friends forgive each other and stop acting like they are strangers.

 

Maybe this time, this is what the revolution looks like.

People helping each other despite their differences.

Understanding truly, that without the aid of others,

 

we would be all alone in this.



There Will Come Soft Rains by Sara Teasdale

 

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,

And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

 

And frogs in the pools, singing at night,

And wild plum trees in tremulous white,

 

Robins will wear their feathery fire,

Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

 

And not one will know of the war, not one

Will care at last when it is done.

 

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,

If mankind perished utterly;

 

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,

Would scarcely know that we were gone.



Across a Room by Steven Camden

I know he hasn’t noticed me

watching as he stares out

Sitting in his bubble

he rarely speaks in class

I wonder what he hopes to be

watching as he stares out

it’s like something is calling him from

outside through the glass

There’s something washes over me

watching as he stares out

A feeling that we could be close

That never seems to pass

He’s hypnotised me totally

watching as he stares out

 

I’d love to ask him what he sees

I’m just too scared to ask.



Everything Is Going to Be All Right by Derek Mahon

How should I not be glad to contemplate

the clouds clearing beyond the dormer window

and a high tide reflected on the ceiling?

There will be dying, there will be dying,

but there is no need to go into that.

The poems flow from the hand unbidden

and the hidden source is the watchful heart.

The sun rises in spite of everything

and the far cities are beautiful and bright.

I lie here in a riot of sunlight

watching the day break and the clouds flying.

Everything is going to be all right.

 

Walking with my Iguana by Brian Moses

 

I’m walking (I’m walking)

with my iguana (with my iguana)

 

 I’m walking (I’m walking)

with my iguana (with my iguana)

 

When the temperature rises

 to above eighty-five,

my iguana is looking

like he’s coming alive.

 

So we make it to the beach,

my iguana and me,

then he sits on my shoulder

as we stroll by the sea . . .

 

and I’m walking (I’m walking)

with my iguana (with my iguana)

 I’m walking (I’m walking)

with my iguana (with my iguana)

 

Well if anyone sees us

we’re a big surprise,

my iguana and me

on our daily exercise,

 

 till somebody phones

the local police and says

 I have an alligator

tied to a leash

 

when I’m walking (I’m walking)

with my iguana (with my iguana)

 

I’m walking (I’m walking)

with my iguana (with my iguana)

 

It’s the spines on his back

that make him look grim,

but he just loves to be tickled

under his chin.

 

And my iguana will tell me

that he’s ready for bed

when he puts on his pyjamas

and lays down his sleepy (Yawn) head.

 

And I’m walking (I’m walking)

with my iguana (with my iguana)

 

 still walking (still walking)

With my iguana (with my iguana)

 with my iguana . . .

with my iguana . . .

and my piranha

and my chihuahua

and my chinchilla,

with my groovy gorilla my caterpillar . . .

and I’m walking . . .

with my iguana . . . . . .