15 Summery Poems To Read On Vacation

Aleksandra Jankovic/Stocksy

If you want to squeeze some time for contemplation into your R&R, I've got 15 poems you should read on your summer vacation to appreciate travel and the exquisite joy of coming home again. So be sure to pack a few poetry chapbooks in your carry-on, will you?

Poems are the perfect thing to read during your summer vacation. They're so compact and portable that you can read them whenever you have even a few minutes of downtime. There's a poem to fit every moment when you aren't actively vacationing — the drive between the hotel and the restaurant, for example, or minutes you spend waiting in line for ice cream. These little passages of time are too brief for a chapter in your beach novel, but they're absolutely perfect for a little slice of poetry.

The poems on the list below cover relaxation, summer, travel, and memory — A.K.A. everything your summer vacation is supposed to be about. No matter what kind of vacation you're enjoying this year, there's a poem or two on the list below that you can savor once you arrive. Check out my recommendations for poems you should read while enjoying your next summer vacation:

"Vacation" by Rita Dove

I love the hour before takeoff,
that stretch of no time, no home
but the gray vinyl seats linked like
unfolding paper dolls. Soon we shall
be summoned to the gate, soon enough

Read the poem in full here.

"Rootless" by Jenny Xie

Between Hanoi and Sapa there are clean slabs of rice fields
and no two brick houses in a row.

Read the poem in full here.

"Leave No Trace" by Maggie Dietz

No gate, no main entrance, no ticket, no ranger. Not far
From where Frost once raised chickens and ill-fated children, near
Where the Old Man’s glacier-hewn face though bolstered to
Its godlike roost by rods and turnbuckles slid
From our fledgling millennium into oblivion,

Read the poem in full here.

"Travel" by Edna St. Vincent Millay

The railroad track is miles away,
And the day is loud with voices speaking,
Yet there isn’t a train goes by all day
But I hear its whistle shrieking.

Read the poem in full here.

"Ducks Sat" by Michelle Glazer

Where ducks sat we sat next
And wanted to be Dutch.
If we would walk upright and not
Glance right or left the intersections
Would not come at us

Read the poem in full here.

"Peach Woman" by Emily Hunerwadel

She’s saying
I wish there could be a metaphorical
investigative committee
and I’m saying
therapy or a priest?

Read the poem in full here.

"Let Birds" by Lynda Gregg

Eight deer on the slope
in the summer morning mist.
The night sky blue.
Me like a mare let out to pasture.
The Tao does not console me.

Read the poem in full here.

"Long Island Sound" by Emma Lazarus

I see it as it looked one afternoon
In August,—by a fresh soft breeze o’erblown.
The swiftness of the tide, the light thereon,
A far-off sail, white as a crescent moon.

Read the poem in full here.

"The Jungle" by Megan Fernandes

the waitress, Dottie, is whipping
shells, mac and cheese,
waffles and chickens,
all oracles in the oil.

Read the poem in full here.

"Rain" by Claribel Alegría

As the falling rain
trickles among the stones
memories come bubbling out.

Read the poem in full here.

"Heavy" by Hieu Minh Nguyen

The narrow clearing down to the river
I walk alone, out of breath
my body catching on each branch.
Small children maneuver around me.

Read the poem in full here.

"Summer Night, Riverside" by Sara Teasdale

In the wild soft summer darkness
How many and many a night we two together
Sat in the park and watched the Hudson
Wearing her lights like golden spangles
Glinting on black satin.

Read the poem in full here.

"Ballad of Forgotten Places" by Olga Orozco

My most beautiful hiding places,
places that best fit my soul’s deepest colors,
are made of all that others forgot.

Read the poem in full here.

"Remember" by Joy Harjo

Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star’s stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is.

Read the poem in full here.

"The Persistence of Scent" by Cindy Williams Gutiérrez

Mother, you will persist in fragrances—
the nectar-scent of carrots, pineapple, pecans
baking in a two-layer cake. I will shorten
my mornings into hours of praise.

Read the poem in full here.