Do you ever read a poem and realize that you didn’t know how you were feeling until someone else put it in words for you? Us, too. It’s especially comforting to hear from someone who understands exactly what you’re thinking, even if you’re connecting through pages or across time. Below you’ll find ten poems you didn’t know you needed—all about getting older, and all from writers who get it. 

Writers like J.R.R. Tolkien and Joy Harjo help us connect with the world around us, while Rupi Kaur and Mary Oliver describe the excitement of growing older. Poets like Shel Silverstein and Jenny Joseph will even make you laugh. You’ll also find a piece by Carl Phillips, who recently won the Pulitzer Prize in poetry for his latest collection, Then the War. Read on for ten of the best soothing poems on getting older.

1. Aubade: Some Peaches, After Storm by Carl Phillips

So that each
is its own, now—each a fallen, blond stillness.
Closer, above them,
the damselflies pass as they would over water,
if the fruit were water,
or as bees would, if they weren’t
somewhere else, had the fruit found
already a point more steep
in rot, as soon it must, if
none shall lift it from the grass whose damp only
softens further those parts where flesh
goes soft.

There are those
whom no amount of patience looks likely
to improve ever, I always said, meaning
gift is random,
assigned here,
here withheld—almost always
as it’s turned out: how your hands clear
easily the wreckage;
how you stand—like a building for a time condemned,
then deemed historic. Yes. You
will be saved.

More by Carl Phillips

2. Halleluiah by Mary Oliver

Everyone should be born into this world happy
and loving everything.
But in truth it rarely works that way.
For myself, I have spent my life clamoring toward it.
Halleluiah, anyway I’m not where I started!

And have you too been trudging like that, sometimes
almost forgetting how wondrous the world is
and how miraculously kind some people can be?
And have you too decided that probably nothing important
is ever easy?

Not, say, for the first sixty years.

Halleluiah, I’m sixty now, and even a little more,
and some days I feel I have wings.

More by Mary Oliver

3. Timeless by Rupi Kaur

they convinced me

i only had a few good years left

before i was replaced by a girl younger than me

as though men yield power with age

but women grow into irrelevance

they can keep their lies

for i have just gotten started

i feel as though i just left the womb

my twenties are the warm-up

for what i’m really about to do

wait till you see me in my thirties

now that will be a proper introduction

to the nasty. wild. woman in me.

how can i leave before the party’s started

rehearsals begin at forty

i ripen with age

i do not come with an expiration date

and now

for the main event

curtains up at fifty

let’s begin the show

More by Rupi Kaur

4. On Aging by Maya Angelou

When you see me sitting quietly,

Like a sack left on the shelf,

Don’t think I need your chattering.

I’m listening to myself.

Hold! Stop! Don’t pity me!

Hold! Stop your sympathy!

Understanding if you got it,

Otherwise I’ll do without it!

When my bones are stiff and aching,

And my feet won’t climb the stair,

I will only ask one favor:

Don’t bring me no rocking chair.

When you see me walking, stumbling,

Don’t study and get it wrong.

‘Cause tired don’t mean lazy

And every goodbye ain’t gone.

I’m the same person I was back then,

A little less hair, a little less chin,

A lot less lungs and much less wind.

But ain’t I lucky I can still breathe in.

More by Maya Angelou

5. The Folks Inside by Shel Silverstein

Inside you, boy,

There’s an old man sleepin’,

Dreamin’ waitin’ for his chance.

Inside you, girl,

There’s an old lady dozin’,

Wantin’ to show you a slower dance.

So keep on playin’,

Keep on runnin’,

Keep on jumpin’, til the day

That those old folks

Down inside you

Wake up … and come out and play.

More by Shel Silverstein

6. 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.

Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the

strongest point of time. Remember sundown

and the giving away to night.

Remember your birth, how your mother struggled

to give you form and breath. You are evidence of

her life, and her mother’s, and hers.

Remember your father. He is your life, also.

Remember the earth whose skin you are:

red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth

brown earth, we are earth.

Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their

tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,

listen to them. They are alive poems.

Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the

origin of this universe.

Remember you are all people and all people

are you.

Remember you are this universe and this

universe is you.

Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you.

Remember language comes from this.

Remember the dance language is, that life is.


More by Joy Harjo

7. I Sit Beside the Fire and Think by J.R.R. Tolkien

I sit beside the fire and think

of all that I have seen

of meadow-flowers and butterflies

in summers that have been;

Of yellow leaves and gossamer

in autumns that there were,

with morning mist and silver sun

and wind upon my hair.

I sit beside the fire and think

of how the world will be

when winter comes without a spring

that I shall ever see.

For still there are so many things

that I have never seen:

in every wood in every spring

there is a different green.

I sit beside the fire and think

of people long ago

and people who will see a world

that I shall never know.

But all the while I sit and think

of times there were before,

I listen for returning feet

and voices at the door.

More by J.R.R. Tolkien

8. An Old Story by Tracy K. Smith

We were made to understand it would be
Terrible. Every small want, every niggling urge,
Every hate swollen to a kind of epic wind.

Livid, the land, and ravaged, like a rageful
Dream. The worst in us having taken over
And broken the rest utterly down.

                                                               A long age
Passed. When at last we knew how little
Would survive us—how little we had mended

Or built that was not now lost—something
Large and old awoke. And then our singing
Brought on a different manner of weather.

Then animals long believed gone crept down
From trees. We took new stock of one another.
We wept to be reminded of such color.

More by Tracy K. Smith

9. A Lady Who Thinks She Is Thirty by Ogden Nash

Unwillingly Miranda wakes,

Feels the sun with terror,

One unwilling step she takes,

Shuddering to the mirror.

Miranda in Miranda’s sight

Is old and gray and dirty;

Twenty-nine she was last night;

This morning she is thirty.

Shining like the morning star,

Like the twilight shining,

Haunted by a calendar,

Miranda is a-pining.

Silly girl, silver girl,

Draw the mirror toward you;

Time who makes the years to whirl

Adorned as he adored you.

Time is timelessness for you;

Calendars for the human;

What’s a year, or thirty, to

Loveliness made woman?

Oh, Night will not see thirty again,

Yet soft her wing, Miranda;

Pick up your glass and tell me, then—

How old is Spring, Miranda?

More by Ogden Nash

10. Warning by Jenny Joseph

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practise a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

More by Jenny Joseph

Natalie Gale is a Boston-based freelance journalist. When she’s not writing about art, food, or sustainability, you can find her biking to the farmers’ market, baking, sewing, or planning her next Halloween costume. Say hi on Instagram!