5 Life Changing Poems You Must Read

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Poetry has been a key form of communication for hundreds of years. Not only this, poetry can carry vital inspirational messages that help maintain motivation and desire to achieve one’s goals.

In particular, here is a collated list of 5 life-changing poems that inspire motivation both personally and professionally to help growth and success flourish. 

1. William Wordsworth – Ode to Duty (1807)


“I call thee: I myself commend

Unto thy guidance from this hour;

Oh, let my weakness have an end!

Give unto me, made lowly wise,

The spirit of self-sacrifice;

The confidence of reason give;

And in the light of truth thy Bondman let me live!” 

Read the full length “Ode to Duty” poem. 

Wordsworth’s poem, ‘Ode to Duty’ challenges and effectively captures the struggle of duty.

He speaks of how easy it is to become consumed by the external, such as things that provide sensory joy, and whilst these of course have their place, Wordsworth comments on the benefit of ‘duty’ or ‘purpose’ in regard to being able to become one’s truest self.

This poem is particularly motivating on days when it is difficult to remember your purpose or if it is a challenging day at work – that the duty to both fully commit to your role and to commit to your goals, is the true source of motivation and inspiration.

Thus, this poem is inspirational due to its undertones of responsibility towards achieving goals. 

Buy the Wordsworth major works here

2. Howard Moss – Notes from the Castle (1990)


“We knew we were going to be stuck with ourselves

The rest of the day, the vicissitudes

Marching in rows from the forest, the balms

Not arriving till nightfall. On the prowl

Since morning, the wind had a touch too much

Of motivation,”

Read the full “Notes from the Castle” poem. 

Moss’ poem, ‘Notes from the Castle’ considers themes of the passage of life and the precision of following one’s journey.

Moss, somewhat shockingly, recognises life for what it is, a passage of time in which we must be ‘with’ ourselves regardless of anything else. He likens life to many different things, but notably he suggests that life is “another temporary battlefield”.

This from the offset seems quite pessimistic, but rather if you look at it from the idea that life, and especially the goals you have set out, is worth fighting for, then this poem takes on a whole new light. Moss throughout the poem indulges in the idea that life is full of ‘ups’ and ‘downs’ but that throughout it, key motivators such as ‘ambition’ and ‘time’ make it worthwhile.

This poem is especially inspiring for those who have a desire to nurture their ambition, whilst acknowledging that ‘you are going to be stuck with yourself’ insofar that you have a responsibility to become the best possible version of yourself. 

Buy the Howard Moss selected poems to add to your bookshelf here

3. Walter D. Wintle – Thinking (1905) 


“If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost

For out of the world we find,

Success begins with a fellow’s will

It’s all in the state of mind.” 

Read the full poem “Thinking“.

Whilst not much is known of Wintle himself, there is a lot to be taken from this very inspirational poem, ‘Thinking’.

For such a short poem (only 4 stanzas long), the message behind it is both deep and profound. Wintle’s poem takes an almost assertive commanding tone, presenting to the reader exactly what occurs when negative thinking happens; “if you think you are beaten, you are”.

By acknowledging that negative thinking can only have negative repercussions, he challenges toxic mindsets by suggesting ‘you are who you think you are’.

The message of this poem rings clear, the power of thinking wills things into existence. Simply, the advice and inspiration to be taken from this poem is that to succeed in all aspects of life, one’s attitude, thoughts, and behaviour must mirror it to manifest success. 

Get a framed Walter D. Wintle ‘Thinking’ poem for permanent motivation here

4. Morgan Harper Nichols – For the Heart, What You Feel (2020) 


“You may have ideas about how others

see you, 

but you are not defined

by their perceptions. 

You are not an object

under someone else’s magnifying glass, 

whose only purpose 

is to be observed.” 

Read the full length poem “For the heart, what you feel“. 

Nichols’ poetry embodies a message of self-empowerment and self-motivation which can only be seen as an inspiration for all.

She is able to allude in a very careful nuanced fashion to the idea of feeling like an imposter in the life you’re living. But what lies at the very foundation of her poetry is that regardless of what others think, and what you may think others think, a vital aspect of a successful and well-rounded life is self recognition and focus.

She effectively captures that your ‘purpose’ is self-defined, both personally and professionally, so that you manage the narrative of your own life. 

Get Morgan Harper Nichols’ musings on beauty and courage, ‘How Far You Have Come’ here 

5. Dorothy Schultz – First Fires (2009)  


“I don’t want to get to the end of anything anymore.

I only want beginnings:

First sentences striking like matches on the roof of my mouth.

Igniting like the first fires on earth.”

Read the full length poem “First Fires“.

Schultz, like many of the other poets addressed in this piece, embodies motivation through her use of imagery. In particular the image of the ‘first fires on earth’ leads the reader to recognise the importance of ‘igniting’ their goals into reality.

By not wanting ‘to get to the end of anything anymore’, Schultz is considering that with each end comes a beginning. In a professional setting, an ending always creates a new opportunity that with the passage of time may morph into a vital and positive change.

Thus, on the Renaissaint journey to becoming one’s best self, by recognising that every ‘end’ creates a ‘first fire’ highlights an essential lesson and mantra to carry with oneself in all aspects of life. 

We hope that this curated list of poems has inspired you and motivated you to achieve your goals on a daily basis, if you have other pieces of poetry that you consider motivating and engaging please let us know in the comments. We are always happy to broaden our horizons. 

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