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5 Poems on Change for Graduation Season

Graduation season is a time of transformation, excitement, and new beginnings. It’s a moment to reflect on the past, embrace the present, and look forward to the future. To celebrate this pivotal milestone, we’ve curated a collection of six contemporary poems that beautifully capture the essence of change. These five poems will inspire graduates as they step into the next chapter of their lives with hope and confidence.


“On Turning Ten” by Billy Collins

Billy Collins, former U.S. Poet Laureate, perfectly encapsulates the bittersweet nature of growing up in “On Turning Ten.” Though written from the perspective of a child facing the double-digit milestone, its themes resonate deeply with graduates transitioning into adulthood. The poem’s nostalgic tone mixed with a touch of melancholy highlights the inevitable changes and the beauty of moving forward. Collins’ accessible language and vivid imagery make this a delightful read for anyone reflecting on their own journey of growth.


“Good Bones” by Maggie Smith

Maggie Smith’s “Good Bones” gained widespread acclaim for its candid and hopeful outlook on life’s complexities. In this poem, Smith speaks to the potential for beauty and goodness in a world that often seems fraught with challenges. Its honest and optimistic tone is particularly uplifting for graduates feeling apprehensive about the future. Smith’s poignant words offer comfort and encouragement, highlighting the promise that lies in new beginnings.


“The Orange” by Wendy Cope

Wendy Cope’s “The Orange” celebrates the simple joys of everyday life and the subtle yet significant changes they bring. The poem’s cheerful tone and vivid descriptions of an ordinary day transformed by happiness make it a wonderful read for those embarking on new adventures. Cope’s ability to find beauty in the mundane is a gentle reminder that change often comes in small, delightful moments. Graduates will find joy and reassurance in Cope’s uplifting verses.


“A Brave and Startling Truth” by Maya Angelou

While Maya Angelou is largely renowned for her more classic works, “A Brave and Startling Truth” stands out as a contemporary anthem of hope and resilience. Written for the 50th anniversary of the United Nations, this poem speaks to the potential for greatness and the transformative power of love and unity. Angelou’s powerful and inspiring words are perfect for graduates stepping into a world that needs their courage and vision. The poem’s grand, hopeful message is a call to action and a celebration of what is possible.


“Wild Geese” by Mary Oliver

A masterpiece by Mary Oliver, “Wild Geese” is a comforting and liberating poem that encourages readers to be true to themselves. With its opening lines, “You do not have to be good. / You do not have to walk on your knees / for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting,” Oliver’s words resonate with those facing the pressure of expectations and change. This poem reassures graduates that they are enough just as they are and invites them to find their own path in the world.


These six contemporary poems offer a blend of introspection, joy, and inspiration, making them the perfect companions for graduates this season celebrating their achievements and looking forward to the future. With the wisdom and beauty encapsulated in these verses, the journey ahead is bound to be filled with promise and wonder.