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Philosophical sculpture

21 Philosophical Poems For The Thinker

Inside: 21 philosophical poems for the thinker.

Those of us that are into philosophy and deep discussions may have a harder time finding poems, books, and general works of literature and art that keep us entertained. I generally put myself into this category, but I am definitely on the bottom tier of those that are super into the depth and deep thinking behind it all!

My grandfather is one of the most philosophical people I know, and I always have aspired to be more like him. I want to think the way he does and read the way he does, and understand life the way that he does. When I go to visit, I soak up every moment with him and try to gather understanding and knowledge like his.

Thinking deeply though is sparked by taking in deeper and more thoughtful content.

If you’re on the same path to wanting something more thoughtful, keep reading for these 21 philosophical poems.

Philosophical poems found in a Stack of books

I have so many poetry books that are cute and invoke the feelings that they’re meant to, but some of these deeper poems need to be introduced to my life, personally. If you’re looking for the same path as me, check these out, I really think you’ll like them.

There’s a lot of content out there, and some of it uses a lot of buzz words to sound more intriguing and interesting than it is. But in reality, only a few works like this are really saying something worth your consideration.

Take renowned authors and poets into account as you start to dive in. If you start thinking deeply on shallow concepts, who knows where it will take your brain. Deciphering buzz words from actual poetry can be a tough act, but once you start to get more familiar with the vibes, you’ll know what you’re looking for in quality works of poetry.

Philosophical Poetry Vs. Books

I wish I could lend more of my time to diving into books and novels of any kind.

Working, working out, staying social, keeping house… there are so many different parts of life that keep us busy. Every once in a while I find myself longing for the deeper stimulation and thinking habits to upkeep a healthy mind too.

When I don’t have time for picking up a philosophically driven novel, I switch to finding some poetry online instead. It beats the incessant scrolling through social media and feels much better for my mind to be thinking deeper on life concepts and how I feel about the world around me.

Again, I will always wish that I had more time for reading books and enjoying them, but ultimately, I just want to absorb the content. So, if I can opt out of the time commitment of a book and focus my time on just reading shorter versions that will communicate the same passion and philosophy, I’ll take what I can get.

Read these philosophical poems if you’re like me and don’t have time to pick up a book!

Philosophical Poems

Poetry as a general concept is pretty deep and philosophical on its own. It has to be! As a channel of emotions into an art form, there has to be a level of deeper thinking about them to place new verbiage, words, and imagery to them.

1. Sword Without A Dancer

Never give a sword
to a man who cannot dance,
nor let a speaker speak
who cannot first entrance

Never let a doctor cut
if they have never bled,
shouldn’t seek to have a child
unless your plants stay fed

Shouldn’t loan to others
unless you’ve shouldered debt,
or set the odds of winning
if you’ve not placed a bet

Can’t judge those in need
if you’ve not been on your knees
or learn to sail a boat
if you cannot swim the seas

No one should hold power
‘cept those content with none
and wars should only start
by those who’ve never won

A button of destruction
should not fall to boredom’s hands,
for that sword without a dancer
could sweep across the lands

By ARMundell

2. Time Of The Month

I’m always a chronic mess
when the monthly hormonal stress
catches up with me
and I sit there
feeling dizzy and fragile.

I pull myself together
and call my neighbour, Cat.
She lets me use her pool,
and, after a length or two,
I relax and glide effortlessly
to the bottom
and lie there,
free from emotion,
looking up
at the red,
evening, shimmering sun.

Rising from
my temporary,
watery grave,
hands on hips,
elbows akimbo,
I stand shivering lightly
and yell at the heavens,
until my passion ebbs
and normal
feelings return.

By An Innocent By Stander

3. The Stoic

I am a stoic
But that does not mean
That I deny life’s pleasures
Rather, I embrace the fullness of life
Always delighted by its highs
And ever expecting its lows
Knowing that the path to equanimity
Lies somewhere in between

I am a stoic
But that does not mean
That I dull down life’s colours
Rather, I accept the vagaries of life
Always influencing what I can
And letting go of the rest
Knowing that the secret to happiness
Is telling the difference

I am a stoic
But that does not mean
That I spurn life’s potential
Rather, I study the patterns of life
Always finding beauty everywhere
And befriending the chaos
Knowing that the purpose of existence
Is to have existed at all

By Wayne Visser

photo of the sky

4. Auguries Of Innocence

To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour.

A robin redbreast in a cage
Puts all heaven in a rage.

A dove-house filled with doves and pigeons
Shudders hell through all its regions.

A dog starved at his master’s gate
Predicts the ruin of the state.

A horse misused upon the road
Calls to heaven for human blood.

Each outcry of the hunted hare
A fibre from the brain does tear.

A skylark wounded in the wing,
A cherubim does cease to sing.

The game-cock clipped and armed for fight
Does the rising sun affright.

Every wolf’s and lion’s howl
Raises from hell a human soul.

The wild deer wandering here and there
Keeps the human soul from care.

The lamb misused breeds public strife,
And yet forgives the butcher’s knife.

The bat that flits at close of eve
Has left the brain that won’t believe.

The owl that calls upon the night
Speaks the unbeliever’s fright.

He who shall hurt the little wren
Shall never be beloved by men.

He who the ox to wrath has moved
Shall never be by woman loved.

The wanton boy that kills the fly
Shall feel the spider’s enmity.

He who torments the chafer’s sprite
Weaves a bower in endless night.

The caterpillar on the leaf
Repeats to thee thy mother’s grief.

Kill not the moth nor butterfly,
For the Last Judgment draweth nigh.

He who shall train the horse to war
Shall never pass the polar bar.

The beggar’s dog and widow’s cat,
Feed them, and thou wilt grow fat.

The gnat that sings his summer’s song
Poison gets from Slander’s tongue.

The poison of the snake and newt
Is the sweat of Envy’s foot.

The poison of the honey-bee
Is the artist’s jealousy.

The prince’s robes and beggar’s rags
Are toadstools on the miser’s bags.

A truth that’s told with bad intent
Beats all the lies you can invent.

It is right it should be so:
Man was made for joy and woe;
And when this we rightly know
Through the world we safely go.

Joy and woe are woven fine,
A clothing for the soul divine.

Under every grief and pine
Runs a joy with silken twine.

The babe is more than swaddling bands,
Throughout all these human lands;
Tools were made and born were hands,
Every farmer understands.

Every tear from every eye
Becomes a babe in eternity;
This is caught by females bright
And returned to its own delight.

The bleat, the bark, bellow, and roar
Are waves that beat on heaven’s shore.

The babe that weeps the rod beneath
Writes Revenge! in realms of death.

The beggar’s rags fluttering in air
Does to rags the heavens tear.

The soldier armed with sword and gun
Palsied strikes the summer’s sun.

The poor man’s farthing is worth more
Than all the gold on Afric’s shore.

One mite wrung from the labourer’s hands
Shall buy and sell the miser’s lands,
Or if protected from on high
Does that whole nation sell and buy.

He who mocks the infant’s faith
Shall be mocked in age and death.

He who shall teach the child to doubt
The rotting grave shall ne’er get out.

He who respects the infant’s faith
Triumphs over hell and death.

The child’s toys and the old man’s reasons
Are the fruits of the two seasons.

The questioner who sits so sly
Shall never know how to reply.

He who replies to words of doubt
Doth put the light of knowledge out.

The strongest poison ever known
Came from Caesar’s laurel crown.

Nought can deform the human race
Like to the armour’s iron brace.

When gold and gems adorn the plough
To peaceful arts shall Envy bow.

A riddle or the cricket’s cry
Is to doubt a fit reply.

The emmet’s inch and eagle’s mile
Make lame philosophy to smile.

He who doubts from what he sees
Will ne’er believe, do what you please.

If the sun and moon should doubt,
They’d immediately go out.

To be in a passion you good may do,
But no good if a passion is in you.

The whore and gambler, by the state
Licensed, build that nation’s fate.

The harlot’s cry from street to street
Shall weave old England’s winding sheet.

The winner’s shout, the loser’s curse,
Dance before dead England’s hearse.

Every night and every morn
Some to misery are born.

Every morn and every night
Some are born to sweet delight.

Some are born to sweet delight,
Some are born to endless night.

We are led to believe a lie
When we see not through the eye
Which was born in a night to perish in a night,
When the soul slept in beams of light.

God appears, and God is light
To those poor souls who dwell in night,
But does a human form display
To those who dwell in realms of day.

By William Blake

5. A Psalm Of Life

What The Heart Of The Young Man Said To The Psalmist.
Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

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.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,— act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

6. The Grand Scheme Of Things

I cross mountains.

There is hope in the tangerine
I bring with me.

The scent of oak trees
is in the air.

The thoughts of you are left
at the waterhole
twelve miles back.

I greet sunset at the valley
on the opposite side

and I laugh

like a hopeless romantic.

By Chromatic Prayer

7. A Swirling Story

Don’t ever underestimate
The power of stories small and great
For tales of fairies, kings and queens
Are echoes of our human dreams

We’d sooner dance than tick and tock
We’d rather sing than punch a clock
For we’re not made of cog and wheel
But minds that flash and hearts that feel

We’d sooner hear a myth or rhyme
We’d rather watch a film sublime
For we’re not digits writ in code
But lilting lines within an ode

The way we live, the brands we choose
Are mirrors of our inner muse
They tell us who we’d like to be
Behind our masked identity

The way we work, the things we buy
Are answers to the question why
They draw a map to hidden gold
To buried fears and wishes bold

Each battling hero on a quest
Beseeches us to do our best
Each star-crossed lover’s tender kiss
Evokes the call to find our bliss

Your life’s a yarn that you must spin
With woven plots, you lose and win
Each tale’s a spark that fuels the fire
A swirling story to inspire.

By Wayne Visser

8. All That Is Gold Does Not Glitter

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.

By J.R.R. Tolkien

9. Even This Shall Pass Away

Once in Persia reigned a king,
Who upon his signet ring
Graved a maxim true and wise,
Which, if held before his eyes,
Gave him counsel at a glance
Fit for every change and chance.
Solemn words, and these are they;
“Even this shall pass away.”

Trains of camels through the sand
Brought him gems from Samarcand;
Fleets of galleys through the seas
Brought him pearls to match with these;
But he counted not his gain
Treasures of the mine or main;
“What is wealth?” the king would say;
“Even this shall pass away.”

‘Mid the revels of his court,
At the zenith of his sport,
When the palms of all his guests
Burned with clapping at his jests,
He, amid his figs and wine,
Cried, “O loving friends of mine;
Pleasures come, but do not stay;
‘Even this shall pass away.’”

Lady, fairest ever seen,
Was the bride he crowned the queen.
Pillowed on his marriage bed,
Softly to his soul he said:
“Though no bridegroom ever pressed
Fairer bossom to his breast,
Mortal flesh must come to clay –
Even this shall pass away.”

Fighting on a furious field,
Once a javelin pierced his shield;
Soldiers, with a loud lament,
Bore him bleeding to his tent.
Groaning from his tortured side,
“Pain is hard to bear,” he cried;
“But with patience, day by day,
Even this shall pass away.”

Towering in the public square,
Twenty cubits in the air,
Rose his statue, carved in stone.
Then the king, disguised, unknown,
Stood before his sculptured name,
Musing meekly: “What is fame?
Fame is but a slow decay;
Even this shall pass away.”

Struck with palsy, sore and old,
Waiting at the Gates of Gold,
Said he with his dying breath,
“Life is done, but what is Death?”
Then, in answer to the king,
Fell a sunbeam on his ring,
Showing by a heavenly ray,
“Even this shall pass away.”

By Theodore Tilton

Poems About Life

Life is a pretty hefty concept and there is a lot of poetry and other works of writing where people try to understand how life goes the way that it goes. If you’re in the wormhole of thinking about life, here are some poems for you.

10. Truth

“Truth does not fulfill its destiny until it is known.
Light does not fulfill its destiny until it is seen.
Wisdom does not fulfill its destiny until it is practiced.
Love does not fulfill its destiny until it is felt.”

By Matshona Dhliwayo

11. When I Consider How My Light Is Spent

When I consider how my light is spent,
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest He returning chide;
“Doth God exact day-labor, light denied?”
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need
Either man’s work or His own gifts. Who best
Bear His mild yoke, they serve Him best. His state
Is kingly: thousands at His bidding speed,
And post o’er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait.”

By John Milton


Today universals are par for the course,
As when horseness is said of a horse.

And dogness is solemnly logged for a dog,
And logness is doggedly barked of a log.

And now the whole lot of us
Are expected to talk as though hippopotamateity inhered in a hippopotamus.

But all of these quiddity-quoddity hacks
Could not tell a duck from the fact that it quacks.

By William Of Ockham

13. Metaphysical

.. the great charm of poetry consists in lively pictures of the sublime passions, magnanimity, courage, disdain of fortune; or those of the tender affections, love and friendship; which warm the heart, and diffuse over it similar sentiments and emotions.

By David Hume

14. A Nice Motivational Poem on Time

Take time to work,
it is the price of success.

Take time to think,
it is the source of power.

Take time to play,
it is the secret of perpetual youth.

Take time to read,
it is the foundation of wisdom.

Take time to be friendly,
it is the road to happiness.

Take time to dream,
it is hitching your wagon to a star.

Take time to love and be loved,
it is the privilege of the gods.

Take time to look around,
it is too short a day to be selfish.

Take time to laugh,
it is the music of the soul.

By Unknown

15. Love’s Philosophy

The fountains mingle with the river
And the rivers with the ocean,
The winds of heaven mix for ever
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single;
All things by a law divine
In one spirit meet and mingle.
Why not I with thine?—

See the mountains kiss high heaven
And the waves clasp one another;
No sister-flower would be forgiven
If it disdained its brother;
And the sunlight clasps the earth
And the moonbeams kiss the sea:
What is all this sweet work worth
If thou kiss not me?

By Percy Bysshe Shelley

16. I Have Never Needed God

I have never needed God
as a personal savior
in my practical life
syllogisms about His existence
were never music to my ears
but always seemed vague
missing a dimension although I didn’t know how to say this.
Neither a philosophical God nor a biblical God
suddenly appears among His creations
amid revelations of wisdom in Jerusalem, His city.
And certainly not in disclosures of pious inner principles
and also not among poets, unfortunately.
Astronomical bodies at night and mystical landscapes in Sharafat for example
and Beit Jala
bear His between-the-lines existence,
His inklings.
The expression of an ultra-Orthodox man’s eyes in Mea She’arim —
this too —
and even the purifying surrender of a sly and seasoned merchant, irreligious now in Geula,
when you reproach him.
Something like “Reprove a wise man and he will love you.”
And you, when you cleanse yourself of anxious constraints about your environment
after taking hash or grass.
Springs of purity whose origins you’re unaware of
bubble in coursing blood, in glands, in milk
and some paradisiacal primeval revelation,
and your almost subconscious innerness
your being suddenly revealed —

By Miri-Ben Simhon

17. Letter to Antoine Arnauld

You say the best possible state of affairs
Is the one where God let me keep all of my hairs.
But me with one single hair less or hair more
Is no more still me than an ichthyosaur.

By G. W. Leibniz

girl in a shadow

18. Within The Darkness

Here I am still in the process of what night feels like,
standing in the very abyss a room with only one way in and one way out.
But yet still I remain in a trance staring,
into the pits of the illusions that now has invaded my mind,
seeking to get into my thoughts and emotions and feelings.
Yet I am unafraid to face my fears of the unknown,
that hides in the shadows of the illusions of night for I am not alone,
in this world of the darkness as there is a light…
a Halo over me shinning it’s light down on my journey and travel and walk through the DARKNESS.

By Stoney223

Short Philosophical Poems

They don’t have to be long to be thought provoking!
Here are some of the best short philosophical poems.

19. Existence And Time

We find ourselves,
so far away from,
the universe in which we mirroring us
the Love or Hate,
that we choose,
most often,
to feed us with the shards of the Hourglass,
which cuts us at the Moments,
after the measure,
where we broke us,
the Parallel Mirror of the Illusions of Life,
wanting to we get rid of the Original Sings,
without we to understand that precisely they,
were the Meaning of the Existences,
on which we were crossing them,
full of cuts and bloody by,
the Sunsets, or Sunrises of the Glances,
in which we were losing us,
even the Labyrinths,
through which is hiding for us,
the Stranger of the Absolute Truth

By Sorin Cerin

20. Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

By Robert Frost

21. Passing Time

Your skin like dawn
Mine like musk

One paints the beginning
of a certain end.

The other, the end of a
sure beginning.

By Maya Angelou

22. A Conceit

Give me your hand

Make room for me
to lead and follow
beyond this rage of poetry.

Let others have
the privacy of
touching words
and love of loss
of love.

For me
Give me your hand.

By Maya Angelou

23. We Real Cool

The Pool Players.
Seven at the Golden Shovel.

We real cool. We
Left school. We

Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We

Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We

Jazz June. We
Die soon.
By Gwendolyn Brooks

white pillows and bed sheets

24. All You Who Sleep Tonight

All you who sleep tonight
Far from the ones you love,
No hands to left or right,
And emptiness above –
Know that you aren’t alone.
The whole world shares your tears,
Some for two nights or one,
And some for all their years.

By Vikram Seth

25. A Question

A voice said, Look me in the stars
And tell me truly, men of earth,
If all the soul-and-body scars
Were not too much to pay for birth.

By Robert Frost

26. A Book

There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any coursers like a page
Of prancing poetry.
This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll;
How frugal is the chariot
That bears a human soul!

By Emily Dickinson

Starry night sky

27. Justice

That Justice is a blind goddess
Is a thing to which we black are wise:
Her bandage hides two festering sores
That once perhaps were eyes.

By Langston Hughes

Philosophy is one of the most common sources of writing and creative storytelling from all of history. It’s easy in the age of young adult novels rising to fame to forget that there have been so many quality stories told and poems written regarding philosophy and how these philosophers viewed life. A lot of stories that we consider classic works like The Iliad and Dante’s Inferno weren’t just brilliant stories written by imagination, but inspired by years of deep thinking and pondering life. This created these stories and tales that we know so well and turned them into something we know and love. They wanted to give us a clear vision of what they believed the meaning of life and heaven and hell to be like, so they gave us poetry and books.

If you want to stay on the deeper path of poems to read, check out these mystery poems that are sure to spark intrigue.

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