15 Examples of Mood in Poetry for Fans of Verse

Poems are a great type of literature to explore emotion. Check out these examples of mood in poetry to see how famous poets create mood.

Famous poetry is a highly emotional form of literature. Readers often feel what the author feels when reading poetry, and using mood is one-way poets and authors can weave their feelings into a piece of writing. In literary terms, “mood” refers to the undertones of emotion that are put into a work, often indirectly, to create a feeling or emotional response in the reader.

What Creates Mood In Poetry?

What creates mood in poetry?
A story set in a flowering garden will likely elicit feelings of happiness and peace

Poets have three main ways they can create mood in a poem. The first is setting, which is the location where the piece occurs. Setting can directly affect the mood of a story or poem. A story set in a flowering garden will likely elicit feelings of happiness and peace. If it’s set in a dark, scary forest, it might bring feelings of sadness or fear.

Writers can also use imagery to create a mood. In poetry, sensory words are often used to convey meaning, directly impacting the piece’s mood. Words that convey feelings of color bring to mind familiar smells or mirror the sounds of the item, all impact the poem’s mood.

Finally, diction can create the mood of a poem. Diction refers to the word choices used in the piece, and words have strong emotional weight, so this is a common choice for poets. When words convey strong emotions, they effectively create a mood in the poem. To better understand how this literary device can change poetry, check out these examples of mood in poetry to see how poets use these tools. You might also be interested in these alliteration examples.

1. “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe

In his famous poem “The Raven,” Edgar Allen Poe uses diction and imagery to create an ominous mood with a slightly paranoid edge. Through his word choice using dark words like “terrors” and “dreary,” the poet creates a sense of foreboding that elicits an emotional response in the reader.

The addition of omens throughout the book adds to this dark tone, and the poem’s mood makes this a well-known literary work. Using onomatopoeia, he drives the poem forward and adds to the sense that something sinister is happening. When you read “The Raven,” you feel an overwhelming sense of foreboding. You might find these writing tips for poetry helpful.

“Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door. “
“‘Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
Only this, and nothing more.”
Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore—
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Nameless here for evermore.”

Edgar Allen Poe, “The Raven”

2. “Praise House: The New Economy” by Gabrielle Calvocoressi

Gabrielle Calvocoressi creates a happy, ecstatic mood in “Praise House: The New Economy,” her 2017 poem. The author uses poetic devices like repetition and anaphora to create lists of things she is grateful for. Because the poem’s theme is gratitude and love, the author’s tone is positive throughout. Images of blooming flowers and hot dumpling soup combined with words like “bubble” and “laughter” add to the lighthearted tone of this poem. Thus, she uses both imagery and diction to convey a positive mood.

“The rosemary bush blooming
its unabashed blue. Also dumplings
filled with steam and soup 
so my mouth fills and I bubble
over with laughter. Little things.
People kissing on bicycles.
Being able to walk up the stairs
and run back down.
Joanna’s garden after the long flight
to Tel Aviv. Not being detained
like everyone thought I would.
The man with dreadlocks
and a perfect green shirt walking home
from work. One cold beer 
before I drink it and get sick.”

Gabrielle Calvorcoressi, “Praise House: The New Economy”

3. “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” by William Wordsworth

The word choice in “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” establishes a particular mood. The words “vacant” and “pensive” bring a solemn feel to the piece, evoking emotions of being alone. Yet as the poem progresses, the poet finds his heart filled with pleasure as it frolics with daffodils. The mood lightens as Wordsworth paints pictures of dancing in a field of flowers along the sea. Though this poem is often used to showcase the literary device of personification, it also is an excellent example of mood in poetry.

“For oft, when my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.”

William Wordsworth, “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”

4. “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou published “Still I Rise,” arguably one of her most famous works

In 1978, Maya Angelou published “Still I Rise,” arguably one of her most famous works. The uplifting mood of this poem comes largely from its subject matter. Angelou discusses being beaten down by the society around her yet promises that she will still rise. The author’s attitude weaves through the poem to create a spirited, undefeatable mood that lifts the reader and gives them hope for the future. The poem reads like an anthem heralding the future of the poet.

“You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still, I’ll rise.”

Maya Angelou, “Still I Rise”

5. “We Real Cool” by Gwendolyn Brooks

We Real Cool” is a poem by Gwendolyn Brooks, published in 1959. The literary work’s distinctive rhythm helps generate a distinct mood. In the poem, Brooks creates a picture of some boys hanging out at the pool hall during the school day, showing a window into their feelings about themselves. Through her choice of words and figurative language, both examples of diction, she creates a playful mood that captures the bravado of youth. Though her subjects have serious concerns, they use slang and colloquialisms to keep the mood light and youthful.

We real cool. We
Left school. We
Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We
Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We
Jazz June. We
Die soon.”

Gwendolyn Brooks, “We Real Cool”

6. “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost

In 1923, Robert Frost penned what might be his most famous poem, “Stopping by Woods in a Snowy Evening.” In this famous literary work, the reader feels the author’s emotions of longing as they read about his desire to go into the lovely, dark, and deep woods. Frost uses alliteration to draw attention to the words and their appeal to the narrator, even though the narrator sticks to his resolve and continues on his way because he has “miles to go” before he sleeps. All three tools of setting, diction, and imagery show up in this famous poem.

“He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.   
The only other sound’s the sweep   
Of easy wind and downy flake.   
The woods are lovely, dark and deep, 
But I have promises to keep,   
And miles to go before I sleep,   
And miles to go before I sleep.”

Robert Frost, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”

7. “In the Cemetery” by Thomas Hardy

In the Cemetery” by Thomas Hardy uses the poem’s setting to convey mood. Because the poem takes place in a graveyard, it brings thoughts of death and sadness. The poem itself complements the setting with its subject matter, but the setting sets the mood, and readers automatically take on a feeling of sadness and despair when they read it. The addition of the squabbling mothers and the somber thought of bodies buried on top of bodies adds to the sad feeling of the poem.

“You see those mothers squabbling there?”
Remarks the man of the cemetery.
“One says in tears, “Tis mine lies here!’
Another, ‘Nay, mine, you Pharisee!’
Another, ‘How dare you move my flowers
And put your own on this grave of ours!’
But all their children were laid therein
At different times, like sprats in a tin.
“And then the main drain had to cross,
And we moved the lot some nights ago,
And packed them away in the general foss
With hundreds more. But their folks don’t know,
And as well cry over a new-laid drain
As anything else, to ease your pain!”

Thomas Hardy, “In the Cemetery”

8. “If” by Rudyard Kipling

In his poem “If,” published in 1910, Rudyard Kipling creates a positive mood. He creates an inspirational, hopeful mood by telling the reader what they can do “if” they do certain actions. The poem is written as a father giving life advice to his son. It is serious while also motivating the reader. Because of this mood, the poem does not feel too dry, even though it is designed to teach the reader something.

“If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:”

Rudyard Kipling, “If”

9. “A Birthday” by Christina Rossetti

The poem “A Birthday” captures the joy of a birthday and the state of being in love. In the poem, Christina Rossetti uses simile liberally, comparing the speaker’s heart to a singing bird and a rainbow shell. It is not the birthday that makes the speaker’s heart so glad, but rather the fact that her love has come to her on the day of her birth. This poem was published in 1862, and though it is simple, it is also powerful. Both diction and imagery are used to establish mood in this piece.

“My heart is like a singing bird
                 Whose nest is in a water’d shoot;
My heart is like an apple-tree
                  Whose boughs are bent with thickset fruit;
My heart is like a rainbow shell
                  That paddles in a halcyon sea;
My heart is gladder than all these
                  Because my love is come to me.”

Christina Rossetti, “A Birthday”

10. “Annabel Lee” by Edgar Allan Poe

Another mood poem by Edgar Allan Poe, “Annabell Lee” captures the essence of grief as the narrator mourns his lost love by her tomb next to the sea. Poe uses positive words like “bright eyes” and “beautiful,” yet the overall mood is sad and somber. Words like “never,” “sepulcher,” and “tomb” all bring a negative mood to this poem. The reader is left with sadness as they look at the world from the point of view of a mourning groom. Setting and diction both play a role in this piece.

“For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling, my darling, my life and my bride,
In the sepulcher there by the sea,
In her tomb by the sounding sea.”

Edgar Allan Poe, “Annabel Lee”

11. “Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll

In “Jabberwocky,” Lewis Carrol uses acoustics or the sound of the poem to create a whimsical feel. With the combination of ending rhymes, onomatopoeia, and internal rhyming words, the poem sounds like a nursery rhyme, which gives it an innocent, playful mood. Though the poem’s words are largely nonsensical, the mood comes through with the author’s use of diction, making it a fascinating example to study.

“Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wab:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the more raths outgrabe.
Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frimious Bandersnatch!”

Lewis Carroll, “Jabberwocky”

12. “Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

In “Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie,” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow creates an epic poem that captures two distinct moods. Not only does the mood of the work have a feeling of heartbreak, but it also has an undertone of hope, and these two moods weave throughout the piece to create a complex story. He starts the poem with feelings of hope, even saying one of the characters is “ever in cheerfullest mood” even when others are “filled with gloomy forebodings of ill.” Though the poem ends with tragedy, it also leaves the reader hopeful as the exiled people’s remnant remembers Evangeline’s life.

“This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,
Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic,
Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.
Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neighboring ocean
Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie”

13. “The Lofty Sky” by Edward Thomas

The Lofty Sky” was one of the earlier works by Edward Thomas, published in 1915. In the lines of this poem, Thomas expresses a melancholy mood, indicating he feels trapped, longing for the sky but stuck in the woods or under the water where he cannot breathe. Thomas compares himself to a fish stuck in the mud and weeds, not knowing about the world above him, that is, the lofty sky.

This feeling of helplessness captures a negative mood, but it is one that many readers can relate to. Thomas talks about fish stuck in the mud and weeds, not knowing about the world above him, which is the lofty sky. The poem is an excellent example of using imagery to showcase mood. You may also be interested in learning about Rumi poetry.

“I sicken of the woods
And all the multitudes
Of hedge-trees. They are no more
Than weeds upon this floor
Of the river of air
Leagues deep, leagues wide, where
I am like a fish that lives
In weeds and mud and gives
What’s above him no thought.”

Edward Thomas, “The Lofty Sky”

14. “My Mind to Me a Kingdom Is” by Sir Edward Dyer

While some poems have different moods woven throughout, “My Mind to Me a Kingdom Is” by Edward Dyer is a decidedly happy poem. The author uses words like “joy,” “content,” “please,” “bliss, “and “grow” to paint a happy picture. Dyer explores the joy that comes from having a clean conscience when someone chooses to resist the temptation to take joy in the plight of others. While it creates a moral lesson, it also is an excellent example of how word choice can create mood in poetry. The poet also implies that one’s mind is one of the greatest sources of happiness a person can have. You might also be interested in these paradox examples.

“My mind to me a kingdom is;
Such perfect joy therein I find
That it excels all other bliss
Which God or nature hath assign’d.
Though much I want that most would have,
Yet still my mind forbids to crave.”

Sir Edward Dyer, “My Mind to Me a Kingdom Is”

15. “i thank You God for most this amazing” by e. e. cummings

Author e. e. cummings is known for misusing punctuation and capitalization rules, but in “i thank You God for most this amazing,” he gives us an excellent example of a poem with a mood. In this work, he takes on the form of the Shakespearean sonnet, adding his signature style to the classic poetry form. The work expresses gratitude for nature and perfectly follows the sonnet pattern. However, its topic is less about love and more about being thankful. Thus, the mood of the poem is one of happiness and thankfulness. In its lines, cummings expresses thankfulness for all the beauty he sees around him, which points him back toward praise to God.

“i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes.”

e. e. cummings, “i thank You God for most this amazing”

Loved this? Check out our guide on poetry terms!