Retirement Poems

The following retirement poems were conceived by this site's poet in residence Vikram K. Sundaram.

Enjoy his thoughts!


Life after retiring
is the first sip of an aged wine
that slept in a barrel but never complained,
that never forgot the knowledge it gained
to become an elixir that tastes so divine,
a drink you can keep on admiring.

Time after retiring
is the sharp and the dull photos of the past,
a wordless tome that tells the story
of a heart that burned in whitening glory,
and though you knew it couldn’t last
the sparks have kept on firing.

Days after retiring
are Suns that reveal the stars, the moon,
the lanterns, the fireflies, all of the lights
that always stay on in the darkening nights.
And with the evening's slow lulling tune,
Is a wisdom that's ever inspiring.

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Or read other farewell poetry.

Retirement Haiku

I. Pastime

A leaf falls---the branch
broke when grandpa went to bat
and hit a home run!

II. Trout

Old man hunched over,
waiting for just one more fish---
the sun is rising.

III. Chess Master

She plays out her life---
a queen, carved of red chestnut,
placed on the back row.

Famous Poems resonant with retirement

Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening by Robert Frost (1922)

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though; 
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

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. 

Nothing Gold Can Stay by Robert Frost (1923)

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower; 
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf,
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day
Nothing gold can stay. 

My Triumph (abridged) by John Greenleaf Whittier          (1807-1892)

The autumn-time has come; 
On woods that dream of bloom, 
And over purpling vines, 
The low sun fainter shines. 

The aster-flower is failing, 
The hazel’s gold is paling; 
Yet overhead more near 
The eternal stars appear! 

And present gratitude 
Insures the future’s good, 
And for the things I see 
I trust the things to be; 

That in the paths untrod, 
And the long days of God, 
My feet shall still be led, 
My heart be comforted. 
Others shall sing the song, 
Others shall right the wrong,— 
Finish what I begin, 
And all I fail of win. 

What matter, I or they? 
Mine or another’s day, 
So the right word be said 
And life the sweeter made? 

Hail to the coming singers! 
Hail to the brave light-bringers! 
Forward I reach and share 
All that they sing and dare. 
Parcel and part of all, 
I keep the festival, 
Fore-reach the good to be, 
And share the victory. 

I feel the earth move sunward, 
I join the great march onward, 
And take, by faith, while living, 
My freehold of thanksgiving.

On Quitting by Edgar Albert Guest (1881-1959)

How much grit do you think you’ve got?
Can you quit a thing that you like a lot?
You may talk of pluck; it’s an easy word,
And where’er you go it is often heard;
But can you tell to a jot or guess
Just how much courage you now possess?

You may stand to trouble and keep your grin,
But have you tackled self-discipline?
Have you ever issued commands to you
To quit the things that you like to do,
And then, when tempted and sorely swayed,
Those rigid orders have you obeyed?

Don’t boast of your grit till you’ve tried it out,
Nor prate to men of your courage stout,
For it’s easy enough to retain a grin
In the face of a fight there’s a chance to win,
But the sort of grit that is good to own
Is the stuff you need when you’re all alone.

How much grit do you think you’ve got?
Can you turn from joys that you like a lot?
Have you ever tested yourself to know
How far with yourself your will can go?
If you want to know if you have grit,
Just pick out a joy that you like, and quit.

It’s bully sport and it’s open fight;
It will keep you busy both day and night;
For the toughest kind of a game you’ll find
Is to make your body obey your mind.
And you never will know what is meant by grit
Unless there’s something you’ve tried to quit.

Check out some retirement quotes!

Song of Myself (excerpt) by Walt Whitman (1892)


The past and present wilt—I have fill’d them, emptied them,             And proceed to fill my next fold of the future.

Listener up there! what have you to confide to me?                          Look in my face while I snuff the sidle of evening,                          (Talk honestly, no one else hears you, and I stay only a minute longer.)

Do I contradict myself?                                                              Very well then I contradict myself,                                                  (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

I concentrate toward them that are nigh, I wait on the door-slab.

Who has done his day’s work? who will soonest be through with his supper?                                                                                        Who wishes to walk with me?

Will you speak before I am gone? will you prove already too late?

Renascence (excerpt) by Edna St. Vincent Millay  (1917)

All I could see from where I stood
Was three long mountains and a wood;
I turned and looked another way,
And saw three islands in a bay.
So with my eyes I traced the line 
Of the horizon, thin and fine,
Straight around till I was come
Back to where I'd started from; 
And all I saw from where I stood
Was three long mountains and a wood.
Over these things I could not see;
These were the things that bounded me;
And I could touch them with my hand,
Almost, I thought, from where I stand.
And all at once things seemed so small
My breath came short, and scarce at all.
But, sure, the sky is big, I said;
Miles and miles above my head;
So here upon my back I'll lie
And look my fill into the sky.
And so I looked, and, after all,
The sky was not so very tall.
The sky, I said, must somewhere stop,
And—sure enough!—I see the top! 
The sky, I thought, is not so grand;
I 'most could touch it with my hand!
And reaching up my hand to try,
I screamed to feel it touch the sky.
I screamed, and—lo!—Infinity
Came down and settled over me;
Forced back my scream into my chest,
Bent back my arm upon my breast,
And, pressing of the Undefined
The definition on my mind,
Held up before my eyes a glass
Through which my shrinking sight did pass
Until it seemed I must behold
Immensity made manifold;
Whispered to me a word whose sound
Deafened the air for worlds around,
And brought unmuffled to my ears
The gossiping of friendly spheres,
The creaking of the tented sky,                                                     The ticking of Eternity.

An Awakening (excerpt) by Wilton Agnew Barret (1919)

It is begun.                                                                                    In the dark, in the dark.  

There is light lit on the desert.                                                          There is a stir in the tent.                                                              Goods are packed for the journey.           

In the dark, the dark,                                                                           A caravan is moving.                                                                                   The sand is broken -                                                                                     A man is starting for birth.

Entertain yourself with these funny retirement poems!