close close2 chevron-circle-left chevron-circle-right twitter bookmark4 facebook3 twitter3 pinterest3 feed4 envelope star quill

Poems About Waiting

Table of Contents

  1. Impatience by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
  2. Hunger by Emily Dickinson
  3. The Tryst by Mary E. Tucker
  4. I many times thought peace had come by Emily Dickinson
  5. Waiting by Emily Dickinson
  6. If you were coming in the fall by Emily Dickinson
  7. Undue significance a starving man attaches by Emily Dickinson
  8. The Inevitable by Emily Dickinson
  9. Desire by Emily Dickinson
  10. "The Starry Midnight Whispers" by Bliss Carman
  11. Open Windows by Sara Teasdale
  12. Eight O'Clock by Sara Teasdale
  13. Waiting by John Burroughs
  14. Waiting by C. S. Calverley
  15. Why Don't He Come by Hannah Flagg Gould
  16. At the Railway Station by Sir Charles George Douglas Roberts
  17. When My Ship Comes In by Robert Jones Burdette
  18. Excerpt from "An Old Man's Dreams" by Eliza M. Sherman
  19. Excerpt from "Your Mission" by Ellen H. Gates
  20. After a Day of Waiting by Margaret E. Sangster
  21. Song by Walter De la Mare
  22. The Little Front Gate by Kate Slaughter McKinney
  23. When You Go by Jessie Belle Rittenhouse


All things come to those who wait.

– Lady Mary Montgomerie
From Dawn to Noon
  1. Impatience

    by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

    How can I wait until you come to me?
    The once fleet mornings linger by the way;
    Their sunny smiles touched with malicious glee
    At my unrest, they seem to pause, and play
    Like truant children, while I sigh and say,
    How can I wait?

    How can I wait? Of old, the rapid hours
    Refused to pause or loiter with me long;
    But now they idly fill their hands with flowers,
    And make no haste, but slowly stroll among
    The summer blooms, not heeding my one song,
    How can I wait?

    How can I wait? The nights alone are kind;
    They reach forth to a future day, and bring
    Sweet dreams of you to people all my mind;
    And time speeds by on light and airy wing.
    I feast upon your face, I no more sing,
    How can I wait?

    How can I wait? The morning breaks the spell
    A pitying night has flung upon my soul.
    You are not near me, and I know full well
    My heart has need of patience and control;
    Before we meet, hours, days, and weeks must roll.
    How can I wait?

    How can I wait? Oh, love, how can I wait
    Until the sunlight of your eyes shall shine
    Upon my world that seems so desolate?
    Until your hand-clasp warms my blood like wine;
    Until you come again, oh, love of mine,
    How can I wait?

  2. Hunger

    by Emily Dickinson

    I had been hungry all the years;
    My noon had come, to dine;
    I, trembling, drew the table near,
    And touched the curious wine.

    'T was this on tables I had seen,
    When turning, hungry, lone,
    I looked in windows, for the wealth
    I could not hope to own.

    I did not know the ample bread,
    'T was so unlike the crumb
    The birds and I had often shared
    In Nature's dining-room.

    The plenty hurt me, 't was so new, —
    Myself felt ill and odd,
    As berry of a mountain bush
    Transplanted to the road.

    Nor was I hungry; so I found
    That hunger was a way
    Of persons outside windows,
    The entering takes away.

  3. The Tryst

    by Mary E. Tucker

    I waited full two hours, or more,
    Beneath the old pine tree,
    Where oft I've lingered twilight hours,
    Watching, my Love, for thee.

    I waited till the shadows grew
    Like giants, grim and grey;
    I waited till night's coming chased
    The shadows far away.

    I waited for, I knew not what;
    But, oh, I waited there,
    Hoping, perchance, some ray to find,
    To lighten my despair.

    A year ago last May, I sat
    Beneath the old pine-tree;
    My tryst was not a broken one,
    For, Love, you came to me.

    I waited, and my spirit called
    Thy spirit, Love, to me;
    No tryst was ever broken there
    Beneath the old pine-tree.

  4. I many times thought peace had come

    by Emily Dickinson

    I many times thought peace had come,
    When peace was far away;
    As wrecked men deem they sight the land
    At centre of the sea,

    And struggle slacker, but to prove,
    As hopelessly as I,
    How many the fictitious shores
    Before the harbor lie.

  5. Waiting

    by Emily Dickinson

    I sing to use the waiting,
    My bonnet but to tie,
    And shut the door unto my house;
    No more to do have I,

    Till, his best step approaching,
    We journey to the day,
    And tell each other how we sang
    To keep the dark away.

  6. If you were coming in the fall

    by Emily Dickinson

    If you were coming in the fall,
    I'd brush the summer by
    With half a smile and half a spurn,
    As housewives do a fly.

    If I could see you in a year,
    I'd wind the months in balls,
    And put them each in separate drawers,
    Until their time befalls.

    If only centuries delayed,
    I'd count them on my hand,
    Subtracting till my fingers dropped
    Into Van Diemen's land.

    If certain, when this life was out,
    That yours and mine should be,
    I'd toss it yonder like a rind,
    And taste eternity.

    But now, all ignorant of the length
    Of time's uncertain wing,
    It goads me, like the goblin bee,
    That will not state its sting.

  7. Undue significance a starving man attaches

    by Emily Dickinson

    Undue significance a starving man attaches
    To food
    Far off; he sighs, and therefore hopeless,
    And therefore good.

    Partaken, it relieves indeed, but proves us
    That spices fly
    In the receipt. It was the distance
    Was savory.

  8. The Inevitable

    by Emily Dickinson

    While I was fearing it, it came,
    But came with less of fear,
    Because that fearing it so long
    Had almost made it dear.
    There is a fitting a dismay,
    A fitting a despair.
    'Tis harder knowing it is due,
    Than knowing it is here.
    The trying on the utmost,
    The morning it is new,
    Is terribler than wearing it
    A whole existence through.

  9. Desire

    by Emily Dickinson

    Who never wanted, — maddest joy
    Remains to him unknown:
    The banquet of abstemiousness
    Surpasses that of wine.

    Within its hope, though yet ungrasped
    Desire's perfect goal,
    No nearer, lest reality
    Should disenthrall thy soul.

  10. "The Starry Midnight Whispers"

    by Bliss Carman

    The starry midnight whispers,
    As I muse before the fire
    On the ashes of ambition
    And the embers of desire,

    "Life has no other logic,
    And time no other creed,
    Than:'I for joy will follow.
    Where thou for love dost lead!"

  11. Open Windows

    by Sara Teasdale

    Out of the window a sea of green trees
    Lift their soft boughs like the arms of a dancer,
    They beckon and call me, "Come out in the sun!"
    But I cannot answer.

    I am alone with Weakness and Pain,
    Sick abed and June is going,
    I cannot keep her, she hurries by
    With the silver-green of her garments blowing.

    Men and women pass in the street
    Glad of the shining sapphire weather,
    But we know more of it than they,
    Pain and I together.

    They are the runners in the sun,
    Breathless and blinded by the race,
    But we are watchers in the shade
    Who speak with Wonder face to face.

  12. Eight O'Clock

    by Sara Teasdale

    Supper comes at five o'clock,
    At six, the evening star,
    My lover comes at eight o'clock—
    But eight o'clock is far.

    How could I bear my pain all day
    Unless I watched to see
    The clock-hands laboring to bring
    Eight o'clock to me.

  13. Waiting

    I stand amid the eternal ways.

    – John Burroughs
    Waiting
    by John Burroughs

    Serene, I fold my hands and wait,
    Nor care for wind, nor tide, nor sea;
    I rave no more 'gainst time or fate,
    For lo! my own shall come to me.

    I stay my haste, I make delays,
    For what avails this eager pace?
    I stand amid the eternal ways,
    And what is mine shall know my face.

    Asleep, awake, by night or day,
    The friends I seek are seeking me;
    No wind can drive my bark astray,
    Nor change the tide of destiny.

    What matter if I stand alone?
    I wait with joy the coming years;
    My heart shall reap where it hath sown,
    And garner up its fruit of tears.

    The waters know their own and draw
    The brook that springs in yonder height;
    So flows the good with equal law
    Unto the soul of pure delight.

    The stars come nightly to the sky;
    The tidal wave unto the sea;
    Nor time, nor space, nor deep, nor high,
    Can keep my own away from me.

  14. Waiting

    by C. S. Calverley

    “O come, O come,” the mother pray’d
    And hush’d her babe: “let me behold
    Once more thy stately form array’d
    Like autumn woods in green and gold!

    “I see thy brethren come and go;
    Thy peers in stature, and in hue
    Thy rivals. Same like monarchs glow
    With richest purple: some are blue

    “As skies that tempt the swallow back;
    Or red as, seen o’er wintry seas,
    The star of storm; or barr’d with black
    And yellow, like the April bees.

    “Come they and go! I heed not, I.
    Yet others hail their advent, cling
    All trustful to their side, and fly
    Safe in their gentle piloting

    “To happy homes on heath or hill,
    By park or river. Still I wait
    And peer into the darkness: still
    Thou com’st not—I am desolate.

    “Hush! hark! I see a towering form!
    From the dim distance slowly roll’d
    It rocks like lilies in a storm,
    And O, its hues are green and gold:

    “It comes, it comes! Ah rest is sweet,
    And there is rest, my babe, for us!”
    She ceased, as at her very feet
    Stopp’d the St. John’s Wood omnibus.

  15. Why Don't He Come

    Death finds no tie too strong to break.

    Why Don't He Come
    Hannah Flagg Gould
    by Hannah Flagg Gould

    The ship has anchored in the bay;
    They've dropped her weary wings; and some
    Have manned the boat and come away;
    But where is he? Why don't he come?

    Among the crowd with busy feet,
    My eye seeks one it cannot find.
    While others haste their friends to greet,
    Why, why is he so long behind?

    Because he bade me dry my cheek,
    I dried it, when he went from us;
    I smiled with lips that could not speak;
    And now, how can he linger thus?

    I've felt a brother's parting kiss
    Each moment since he turned from me,
    To lose it only in the bliss
    Of meeting him—Where can he be?

    I've reared the rose, he bade me rear;
    I've learnt the song, he bade me learn;
    And nursed the bird, that he might hear
    Us sing to him, at his return.

    I've braided many a lovely flower
    His dear, dear picture to inwreathe;
    While doating fancy, hour by hour,
    Has made it smile and seen it breathe.

    I wonder if the flight of time
    Has made the likeness now untrue;
    And if the sea and foreign clime
    Have touched him with a darker hue.

    For I have watched, until the sun
    Has made my longing vision dim;
    But cannot catch a glimpse of one
    Among the crowd, that looks like him.

    How slow the heavy moments waste,
    While thus he stays! Where can he be?
    My heart leaps forth; haste, brother, haste!
    It leaps to meet and welcome thee.

    'Thou lovely one! the mournful tale
    That tells why he comes not, will make
    Thy heart to bleed; thy cheek turn pale!
    Death finds no tie too strong to break!

    'The bird will wait its master long,
    And ask his morning gift in vain.
    Ye both must now forget the song
    Of joy, for sorrow's plaintive strain.

    'The face, whose shade thy tender hand
    Has wreathed with flowers, is changed! But sea,
    Nor sun, nor air of foreign land
    Has wrought the change; for where is he?

    'Where! ah! the solemn deep that took
    His form, as with their sad farewell,
    His brethren gave the last, last look,
    And lowered him down, that deep must tell!

    'But ocean cannot tell the whole—
    The part that death can never chill,
    Nor floods dissolve; the living soul
    Is happy, bright and blooming still.

    'And nobler songs than ever sound
    From mortal voices greet his ear,
    Where sweeter, fairer flowers are found
    Than all he left to wither here.

    'This, this is why he does not come,
    Whom thy fond eye has sought so long!
    Wait till thy days have filled their sum;
    Then find him in an angel throng!'

  16. At the Railway Station

    by Sir Charles George Douglas Roberts

    Here the night is fierce with light,
    Here the great wheels come and go,
    Here are partings, waitings, meetings,
    Mysteries of joy and woe.

    Here is endless haste and change,
    Here the ache of streaming eyes,
    Radiance of expectant faces,
    Breathless askings, brief replies.

    Here the jarred, tumultuous air
    Throbs and pauses like a bell.
    Gladdens with delight of greeting.
    Sighs and sorrows with farewell.

    Here, ah, here with hungry eyes
    I explore the passing throng.
    Restless I await your coming
    Whose least absence is so long.

    Faces, faces pass me by,
    Meaningless, and blank, and dumb,
    Till my heart grows faint and sickens
    Lest at last you should not come.

    Then—I see you. And the blood
    Surges back to heart and brain.
    Eyes meet mine,—and Heaven opens.
    You are at my side again.

  17. Hope

    by Charles Swain

    I know he will return!
    There's something in my heart—
    A light, as of a star,
    That dwells, like truth, apart!
    A feeling to confide—
    On what I scarce discern;
    But oh! a voice within
    Still says, "He will return!"

    I dreamt an angel came,
    With soft and starry wing,
    That scattered bloom and joy
    O'er every living thing.
    Her breath was on my cheek—
    Her whisper in mine ear;
    Oh! angel words are sweet,
    But none like Hope's to cheer!

    She showed me where his ship—
    The ocean's glory—sailed;
    Where neither mist nor storm
    Nor wintry wrath prevailed:
    So beauteous o'er the deep,
    From gallant stem to stern,
    I blessed it in my sleep;—
    Yes, Hope! he will return!

  18. When My Ship Comes In

    by Robert Jones Burdette

    Somewhere, out on the blue sea sailing,
    Where the winds dance and spin;
    Beyond the reach of my eager hailing,
    Over the breakers' din;
    Out where the dark storm-clouds are lifting,
    Out where the blinding fog is drifting,
    Out where the treacherous sand is shifting,
    My ship is coming in.

    O, I have watched till my eyes were aching,
    Day after weary day;
    O, I have hoped till my heart was breaking
    While the long nights ebbed away;
    Could I but know where the waves had tossed her,
    Could I but know what storms had crossed her,
    Could I but know where the winds had lost her,
    Out in the twilight gray!

    But though the storms her course have altered,
    Surely the port she'll win,
    Never my faith in my ship has faltered,
    I know she is coming in.
    For through the restless ways of her roaming,
    Through the mad rush of the wild waves foaming,
    Through the white crest of the billows combing,
    My ship is coming in.

    Beating the tides where the gulls are flying,
    Swiftly she's coming in:
    Shallows and deeps and rocks defying,
    Bravely she's coming in.
    Precious the love she will bring to bless me,
    Snowy the arms she will bring to caress me,
    In the proud purple of kings she will dress me—
    My ship that is coming in.

    White in the sunshine her sails will be gleaming,
    See, where my ship comes in;
    At masthead and peak her colors streaming,
    Proudly she's sailing in;
    Love, hope and joy on her decks are cheering,
    Music will welcome her glad appearing,
    And my heart will sing at her stately nearing,
    When my ship comes in.

  19. Excerpt from "An Old Man's Dreams"

    by Eliza M. Sherman

    And then the old man thinks
    How on a night like this, when faint
    And sweet as half-remembered dreams
    Old Whippoorwill Falls did murmur soft
    Its evening psalms, when fragrant lilies
    Pointed up the way her Christ had gone,
    God called the wife and mother home,
    And bade him wait.
    Oh! why is it so hard for
    Man to wait? to sit with folded hands,
    Apart, amid the busy throng,
    And hear the buzz and hum of toil around;
    To see men reap and bind the golden sheaves
    Of earthly fruits, while he looks idly on,
    And knows he may not join,
    But only wait till God has said, "Enough!"
    And calls him home!

    And thus the old man dreams,
    And then awakes; awakes to hear
    The sweet old song just dying
    On the pulsing evening air:

    "When other helpers fail,
    And comforts flee,
    Lord of the helpless,
    Oh, abide with me!"

  20. Excerpt from "Your Mission"

    by Ellen H. Gates

    Do not then stand idly waiting
    For some greater work to do;
    Fortune is a lazy goddess,
    She will never come to you.
    Go and toil in any vineyard,
    Do not fear to do or dare,
    If you want a field of labor,
    You can find it anywhere.

  21. After a Day of Waiting

    by Margaret E. Sangster

    All day long I waited—waited with soul aflame—
    And then through the still of evening, humming a tune, you came;
    Came with a jest on your smiling lips, and eyes that were all too gay;
    And the light died out of my waiting heart with the words that I could not say.

    We laughed through the star-flecked twilight—what though my laugh was strained?
    You, who were there beside me, laughed with a mirth unfeigned!
    And at last when I bade you leave me you went, and you never knew
    That with soul aflame I had waited, all through the day, for you.

  22. Song

    by Walter De la Mare

    O for a moon to light me home!
    O for a lanthorn green!
    For those sweet stars the Pleiades,
    That glitter in the darkling trees;
    O for a lovelorn taper! O
    For a lanthorn green!

    O for a frock of tartan!
    O for clear, wild grey eyes!
    For fingers light as violets,
    'Neath branches that the blackbird frets;
    O for a thistly meadow! O
    For clear, wild grey eyes!

    O for a heart like almond boughs!
    O for sweet thoughts like rain!
    O for first-love like fields of grey
    Shut April-buds at break of day!
    O for a sleep like music!
    Dreams still as rain!

  23. The Little Front Gate

    by Kate Slaughter McKinney

    A way from the world and its bustle,
    When the daylight grows pleasant and late;
    In our own cosy cot, I am waiting
    For the slam of the little front gate.

    The birds at the doorway are singing,
    The roses their beauty debate;
    But I sit here alone, and I listen
    For the slam of the little front gate.

    Sometimes, ere the shadows of twilight
    Send the roving bird home to its mate,
    I list for a hurrying footstep,
    And the slam of the little front gate.

    O! you who are burdened with sorrow,
    And believe that life is but fate,
    Learn from me there is joy in waiting
    For the slam of the little front gate.

  24. When You Go

    by Jessie Belle Rittenhouse

    When you go, a hush falls
    Over all my heart,
    And in a trance of my own dreams
    I move apart.

    When you go, the street grows
    Like a vacant place—
    What if a million faces pass
    If not your face?

    When you go, my life stops
    Like ships becalmed at sea,
    And waits the breath from heaven that blows
    You back to me.