11 Stunning Poetry Books For When You Need To Learn To Love Yourself

So often when we cannot accept ourselves; we are struggling with our feelings, our bodies, our past and our experiences. The books below all contain poems that help me to let go — at least a little — of needing to be right, perfect and in control and to treat myself and my path with more tenderness and open-mindedness. I have included one poem excerpt from each to give you a feel for the book.

Paolo Raeli
Paolo Raeli

1. The Essential Rumi

By: Jalal al-Din

This being human is a guest house
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!…
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

— “The Guest House”

2. Letters To A Young Poet

By: Rainer Maria Rilke

So you must not be frightened, Dear Mr. Kappus, if a sadness rises up before you larger than any you have ever seen; if a restiveness, like light and cloud-shadows, passes over your hands and over all you do. You must think that something is happening with you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in its hand; it will not let you fall.

— “letters (insert your name for Mr. Kappus)”

3. Dream Work

By: Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves…

— “Wild Geese”

4. 73 Poems

By: E E Cummings

so damn sweet when Anybody—…
—does doesn’t unsays says looks smiles
or simply Is
what makes
you feel you
6 or 6
teen or sixty
but for once

— “since feeling is first”

5. Zen Poetry: Let the Spring Breeze Enter

Translated and Edited By: Lucien Stryk and Takashi Ikemoto

Barn’s burnt down —
I can see the moon.

— “Barn’s burnt down,” by Masahide

6. Her Blue Body Everything We Know: Earthling Poems 1965–1990 Complete

By: Alice Walker

…No. I am finished with living
for what my mother believes
for what my brother and father defend
for what my lover elevates
for what my sister, blushing, denies or rushes
to embrace

— “On Stripping Bark from Myself”

7. Extravagaria

By: Pablo Neruda

…If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive…

— “Keeping Quiet”

8. For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf

By: Ntozake Shange

…Somebody almost walked off wid alla my stuff. Not my poems or dance I gave up in the street, but somebody almost walked off wid alla my stuff. Like a kleptomaniac working hard & forgetting while stealing. This is mine! This ain’t your stuff. Now why don’t you put me back & let me hang out in my own self…

— “Somebody almost walked off with all of my stuff”

9. Leaves of Grass

By: Walt Whitman

…Do I contradict myself?
Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes…

10. The Subject Tonight Is Love

By: Hafiz

This place where you are right now
God circled on a map for you.
Wherever your eyes and arms and heart can move
Against the earth and the sky,
The Beloved has bowed there –
Our Beloved has bowed there knowing
You were coming…

— “This Place Where You Are Right Now”

11. And Still I Rise

By: Maya Angelou

…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…

— “Still I Rise” Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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