January 13 – Poetry at Work Day

Posted on January 13, 2015

The people at Tweetspeak Poetry and Every Day Poems want people to be able to enjoy poetry every day, everywhere.

Poetry can refresh our minds as we go about our routine days, just as a drink of water or a short walk can refresh our bodies. Reading or writing short poems during work breaks can make us smile or think or feel. Reading poems about work can inspire us. Including a bit of poetry in our work can inspire others!

Maya Angelou
Here are some day jobs some poets have had:

  • T. S. Eliot – banker
  • Maya Angelou – singer
  • Pablo Neruda – diplomat
  • Robert Burns – farmer
  • Lin Huiyin – architect
  • W. B. Yeats – magician
  • Robert Frost – chicken farmer
  • A. E. Houseman – Patent Office clerk
  • Robin Morgan – child actor and journalist
  • Mina Loy – actor and designer of lamps
  • Jack Kerouac – railroad worker
  • William Carlos Williams – pediatrician

Here are some poems about work and workers:

I Hear America Singing,
by Walt Whitman
    I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
    Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe
              and strong,
    The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
    The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off
    The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deck-
              hand singing on the steamboat deck,
    The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing
              as he stands,
    The woodcutter's song, the ploughboy's on his way in the morn-
              ing, or at noon intermission or at sundown,
    The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work,
              or of the girl sewing or washing,
    Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
    The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young
              fellows, robust, friendly,
    Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.


By Henry Van Dyke
Let me but do my work from day to day,
In field or forest, at the desk or loom,
In roaring market-place or tranquil room;
Let me but find it in my heart to say,
When vagrant wishes beckon me astray,
"This is my work; my blessing, not my doom;
"Of all who live, I am the one by whom
"This work can best be done in the right way."

Then shall I see it not too great, nor small,
To suit my spirit and to prove my powers;
Then shall I cheerful greet the labouring hours,
And cheerful turn, when the long shadows fall
At eventide, to play and love and rest,
Because I know for me my work is best.

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