Patriotism is expressed in so many different ways — with parades, rallies, and songs — but patriotic poems for the Fourth of July are a timeless way of showing love for your country. Rhyming or prose, long or short, poems are capable of capturing that feeling of love and loyalty that many Americans feel around July 4th.
While plenty of poets and writers have a complicated relationship with America (many of them use their art to express the frustrations they have with the country), there are many who use their craft to celebrate their appreciation for it, too. Whether they're describing the blue mountains, golden coasts, and the wide open skies of America's diverse and beloved landscape, paying tribute to those who made the sacrifices necessary to make America what it is today, or simply reminiscing on a warm evening in July spent watching fireworks erupt over the water, authors of patriotic poems each have a unique reason for loving their country. What better way of celebrating your own patriotism than by reading, reciting, and sharing the poetic perspective of some of the country's best poets?
Celebrating everything from the Statue of Liberty to the Golden Gate Bridge, from sea to shining sea, here are five patriotic poems to help you celebrate your own patriotism this Fourth of July:
1. "The New Colossus" — Emma Lazarus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
2. "I Hear America Singing" — 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 work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands,
The wood-cutter's song, the ploughboy's on his way in the morning, 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.
3. "Concord Hymn" — Ralph Waldo Emerson
By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood
And fired the shot heard round the world.
The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.
On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set today a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.
Spirit, that made those heroes dare
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.
4. "The Gift Outright" — Robert Frost
The land was ours before we were the land’s.She was our land more than a hundred yearsBefore we were her people. She was oursIn Massachusetts, in Virginia,But we were England’s, still colonials,Possessing what we still were unpossessed by,Possessed by what we now no more possessed.Something we were withholding made us weakUntil we found out that it was ourselvesWe were withholding from our land of living,And forthwith found salvation in surrender.Such as we were we gave ourselves outright(The deed of gift was many deeds of war)To the land vaguely realizing westward,But still unstoried, artless, unenhanced,Such as she was, such as she would become.
5. "Fourth of July Night" — Carl Sandburg
The little boat at anchor in black water sat murmuring to the tall black skyA white sky bomb fizzed on a black line.A rocket hissed its red signature into the west.Now a shower of Chinese fire alphabets,A cry of flower pots broken in flames,A long curve to a purple spray, three violet balloons—Drips of seaweed tangled in gold, shimmering symbols of mixed numbers,Tremulous arrangements of cream gold folds of a bride's wedding gown—A few sky bombs spoke their pieces, then velvet dark.The little boat at anchor in black water sat murmuring to the tall black sky.