We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Are the Different Types of Animal Poetry?

By Cynde Gregory
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
Language & Humanities is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Language & Humanities, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

People share the world with animals, and many poets find their inspiration by visiting creatures in their lairs, both literally and figuratively. While it’s a safe bet that more poetry is written about the kinds of animals that touch the human heart such as pets, beautiful song birds, or animals that people see as cute, like squirrels, there are plenty of poems that celebrate everything from bats to fish. Examples of animal poetry can be found in all cultures in poems as tiny as a haiku, as complex as a sonnet, or as joyful and just plain ridiculous as those written for children.

Poetry is not only frequently peopled by animals, but it uses some of their attributes metaphorically. Animal poetry that features a giraffe’s eternal silence, a gazelle’s leaping grace, or a lion’s fierceness might be used to represent human emotion. Species habits can be another source of metaphor; for example, Mary Oliver uses the flight of wild geese as a symbol of belonging.

Poets like Elizabeth Bishop even forge connections between the watery underworld and the human dimension. In her poem "The Fish," the narrator catches a huge, vividly described, and very ugly fish. Over the course of the poem, however, the fisher realizes a deeper beauty in the life and struggle of the fish; scarred as it is, it has clearly lived.

Narrative interaction between the poet and a particular beast can also become the subject of animal poetry. William Stafford’s "Traveling Through the Dark" poignantly explores the boundary between life and death through the image of a pregnant deer killed by a car, whose fawn is momentarily still alive. Although the poem focuses on the deer, it is ultimately about the kinds of choices humans are forced to make.

Shy Emily Dickenson studies a snake, “a narrow Fellow in the Grass” with the eye of a childlike scientist. She sees the snake with a kind of purity, as “The Grass divides as with a Comb.” While the unexpected appearance of the snake leaves her breathless, she also finds the snake, as with other creatures, to be welcoming and filled with “Cordiality.”

Children love, and identify with, animals even more than do adults. Animal poetry for young readers often offers a sweet silliness, as found in Edward Lear’s "The Owl and the Pussy-Cat." As every youngster knows, cats stalk birds in hopes of killing and eating them. Some kids might recognize there are exceptions; larger birds, such as owls, might be hunters instead. In this poem, however, these two mismatched creatures fall in love, take a boat onto the sea, and are wed.

Language & Humanities is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Link to Sources
Discussion Comments
By umbra21 — On Apr 02, 2014

@irontoenail - The best poems can be read at different levels though. Lewis Carroll wrote quite a few poems that include animals, like The Walrus and the Carpenter. The walrus basically lures a whole bunch of baby clams out of their home and eats them, but kids rarely understand that as a tragedy the way that their parents might. They just see a funny poem.

By irontoenail — On Apr 01, 2014

@Ana1234 - As long as parents and teachers remain aware that children might be emotionally affected by poems. The one by Stafford that is mentioned in the article, for example, would have crushed me as a child and it made me very sad even when I read it as a teenager.

There are some things that adults write about that children might simply not be able to relate to, not because they are unable to grasp advanced concepts, but because they simply don't have the same context and experience. Death in particular is one of those topics and it tends to be explored fairly often in animal poems.

By Ana1234 — On Apr 01, 2014

Animal poems are a really good way to introduce children to more advanced poetry, as they are often layered in a way that kids can understand. They will have a vivid description of the animal as well as a deeper meaning. Even if the child doesn't understand the deeper meaning, they will usually be able to relate to the vivid description.

Since animals are something that they can easily understand and know about, this means they can enjoy the success of understanding the poem by themselves.

Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.