Poem Sampler

Graduation Poems

Poems to celebrate and share with your high school or college graduate.

Graduation Poems

Poetry is a natural fit for these occasions when we celebrate accomplishments and also share wisdom regarding what lies ahead. These poems provide a variety of responses to endings and new beginnings: ones that express love and pride, give hope and strength, and wish the best for our graduates.


If—
by Rudyard Kipling: This classic poem—which acts as more of a pep-talk for times of hardship than for a congratulatory note for times of achievement—still issues forth advice for those off to tackle new challenges in new places.

It Couldn’t Be Done by Edgar Guest: In hard times when we are unsure about what is possible, we can share this inspirational poem that advises readers to disregard the nay-sayers and instead “tackle the thing / That ‘cannot be done,’ and you’ll do it.”

The School Where I Studied  by Yehuda Amichai: This Israeli poet is known for his powers to recall and to lend new meanings to memories. In this translation, the poet revisits his old school and reflects on his time and old loves there, realizing now that “the windows of a classroom always open / to the future.”

Up-Hill by Christina Rossetti: A poem about what lies ahead on a graduate’s figurative road ahead: how it’s natural to be fearful and uncertain, and yet how there will be help and support every leg of the journey.

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost: This well-known poem can be a perfect guide when we are uncertain as to which path to take next in life. While it may be difficult to choose a path at the outset, be confident that the one you choose will be the better one, because of the person who is travelling it.

For a Girl I Know about to Be a Woman by Miller Williams: A humorous and healthy dose of dating advice, from that most conflicted of positions: the father’s.

The Writer by Richard Wilbur: This father recalls those moments in his daughter’s life and writes, ”Young as she is, the stuff / Of her life is a great cargo, and some of it heavy: / I wish her a lucky passage.”

Originally Published: January 1, 2006

COMMENTS (7)

On March 25, 2007 at 9:38am amanda heard wrote:
I am looking for a poem that would make a beautiful graduation invitation for someone who is 28 and recently achieved a GED and is a wife and a mother after many ppl told her she would never make it.If anyone comes across a beautiful poem sutible for this occasion please let me know
thank you,
noccalulatreasure

On September 27, 2007 at 1:46am Toni wrote:
I am looking for a poem that i only glimpsed and cannot remember completely. Here is what I know of it:

Dance...
Love as though...
Sing as though no one can hear you
Live as though heaven is on earth

I would love to hear it all. Does anyone know of it? Thanks for your help.
Toni

On April 1, 2008 at 6:37pm maggy ridge wrote:
When I was at school in about 1959/

1960 we learned a poem which

contained the lines

"He loved to run on the crisp white

floor

Where black hill tunnels chiselled

grooves,

and he loved to print his clean cut

hooves

Where none had trod before"

and

"Something snapped in the breast of

Pan

His heart, his throat, his eyes were

sore

And he wished he could weep as never

before

Since the world begam"

It's about the Nativity and it would be

really nice if I could find it again.

Thank you

On July 24, 2008 at 12:38pm Carroll Bennett wrote:
I studies a poem in high school but do remember the author or name of the poem. I do remember part of one line "So live that when thy summons comes to join.... thy go not like a quary slave at night... Can you help me with the author and the name of the poem. Thank you very much for your help. Carroll Bennett ,Gainesville, FL

On July 28, 2008 at 12:23am Esther Yu wrote:
Hey Carroll, the poem you're thinking of is called "Thanatopsis" by William Cullen Bryant. We just got done studying that poem in high school, and it was one of the most beautiful and moving poems I've ever read...though perhaps not appropriate for a graduation. Hope that helps.

On March 26, 2009 at 3:34pm pearl wrote:
I AM LOOKING FOR A BEAUTIFUL POEM TO READ TO A VERY WONDERFUL RESPONSIBLE HUSBAND AND A FATHER OF THREE WHO DESPITE ALL ODDS IS GRADUATING WITH A "PHD" IN NURSING. THIS POEM WILL BE READ TO HIM IN FRONT OF OUR GUESTS AT HIS SURPRISE PARTY.

PLEASE WRITE ME WITH AN APPROPRIATE POEM FOR THIS BEAUTIFUL OCCASSION.

On May 22, 2013 at 10:39am Deb Dempsey wrote:
Do you really see C. Rossetti's "Up Hill" as a graduation? Well, get
someone else to decide if the "inn" with room for all is death/the
grave/the end or something like 'a great job' or 'entrance to the upper
class' (room for all? really?)

Sorry to be snarky, but I was astounded.

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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