Memorial Day, which was founded as Decoration Day in 1868, is an occasion to remember those who lost their lives while serving the United States of America. One powerful way to honor the fallen is by reading and sharing poems of war, remembrance, sacrifice, and valor. Browse the following classic and contemporary poems, including several written by poets who died in service to their countries.

read more poems for memorial day
 

Classic Poems for Memorial Day

For the Fallen” by Laurence Binyon
With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children…

To My Brother” by Vera Brittain
Your battle-wounds are scars upon my heart…

Before Marching, and After” by Thomas Hardy
Orion swung southward aslant…

Not to Keep” by Robert Frost
They sent him back to her. The letter came …

Rouge Bouquet” by Joyce Kilmer
In a wood they call the Rouge Bouquet…

The Spires of Oxford” by Winifred M. Letts
I saw the spires of Oxford …

In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae
In Flanders fields the poppies blow…

Shiloh: A Requiem” by Herman Melville
Skimming lightly, wheeling still…

Anthem for Doomed Youth” by Wilfred Owen
What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?

Dulce et Decorum Est” by Wilfred Owen
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks...

Break of Day” by Siegfried Sassoon
There seemed a smell of autumn in the air...

Ode in Memory of the American Volunteers Fallen for France” by Alan Seeger
Ay, it is fitting on this holiday…

The Charge of the Light Brigade” by Alfred Lord Tennyson
Half a league, half a league...

Vigil Strange I Kept on the Field One Night” by Walt Whitman
Vigil strange I kept on the field one night…

The Watchers” by John Greenleaf Whittier
Beside a stricken field I stood…

Final Portrait of Wilfred Owen

Contemporary Poems for Memorial Day

Memorial Day for the War Dead” by Yehuda Amichai
Memorial day for the war dead. Add now…

the sonnet-ballad” by Gwendolyn Brooks
Oh mother, mother, where is happiness?...

La Chapelle. 92nd Division. Ted” by Rita Dove
This lonely beautiful word…

"The Body Remembers" by Yusef Komunyakaa 
I stood on one foot for three minutes & didn’t tilt

Alfonzo Prepares to Go Over the Top” by Rita Dove
“A soldier waits until he’s called—then…

The Long Deployment” by Jehanne Dubrow
For weeks, I breathe his body in the sheet...

Spoken From the Hedgerows” by Jorie Graham
To bring back a time and place …

In the Absence of Sparrows” by Daniel Johnson
Rockets concuss. Guns rattle off…

Such Is the Story Made of Stubbornness and a Little Air” by Ilya Kaminsky
Such is the story made of stubbornness and a little air...

For the Union Dead” by Robert Lowell
The old South Boston Aquarium stands...

Soldiers Washing (1927)” by Ricardo Pau-Llosa
Even washing is a task, in war and daily …

At Bay” by Carl Phillips
Coral-bells purpled the fallen sycamore leaves, dead, the dead...

My Father on His Shield” by Walt McDonald
Shiny as wax, the cracked veneer Scotch-taped …

Blueprint” by Tom Sleigh
I had a blueprint …

For the Confederate Dead” by Kevin Young
These are the last days...