25+ Retirement Poems to Reflect on Your Life


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You've been living an extraordinary life, and you're eager to continue—but with a little more time for the things you’ve always wanted to do. Now, you get to start checking things off your list like travel, decluttering, or reading the newspaper front to back.

Jump ahead to these sections:

Maybe you know someone who could use a little humor or even a good pat on the back for a job well done. Perhaps you are looking for something to make you laugh or give you a pause for self-reflection. 

Maybe you know someone who is about to retire and you’re seeking a little poem to add to a retirement card or gift. Whatever the occasion, the words you add will lend meaning and support for your loved one or coworker as they embark on the next chapter of life.

Tip: As we grow older and eventually retire, we also watch as our friends and family members grow older, too. And unfortunately, that often means coping with more loss and grief than we're used to. If you know a retiree who's facing a loss, our post-loss checklist may be able to help.

Funny Retirement Poems

The poems below are both fitting and funny. On the one hand, you'll recognize the job that makes you feel like you are losing your mind. On the other, there's a lot to say about having lived without keeping receipts or tally.

1. "Retirement Plans" by Ted Sheridan

This poem works for those who plan on maintaining a bit of mystery or naughty behavior in their retirement. The idea rests on a longstanding devotion to God covering any missteps.

2. "Spoils of Retirement" by David Kush

After a long life of collecting and admiring, this poem remarks on how retirement is the time to toss it all away or box it for another day. What once was necessary no longer needs to consume your time.

3. "Retirement?" by Kate Beamish

Kate Beamish so eloquently puts what every retiree finds out. Rest and relaxation, or that thing called retirement, is not what happens. Instead, and more often than not, retirees find themselves busier than ever.

4. "Untitled" by Robert Frost

Frost's poem reads, "Never ask of money spent / Where the spender thinks it went. / Nobody was ever meant / To remember or invent / What he did with every cent." In other words, enjoy your life, no matter the cost.

5. "I Love My Job" by Dr. Seuss

Did you have to give yourself a pep talk before opening the door to your work in your final year? If so, then "I Love My Job" will make you laugh and cry for joy because Dr. Seuss hit the nail on the head.

» MORE: Grief can be lonely. Create space for your community to share memories and tributes with a free online memorial from Cake.

Beautiful Retirement Poems

Each poet examines the fundamental opposites of bliss and poison. For some, the work itself was the bliss, while for others, the work was the poison they couldn't wait to escape.

6. "Won’t You Celebrate with Me" by Lucille Clifton

It's time to celebrate with loved ones. Especially if both life and work felt like a game of survival. In Lucille Clifton's poem, you'll experience imagery of a robust and indefatigable spirit.

7. "Testimonial" by Rita Dove

"Testimonial" is a poem about aging wherein the poet describes a kind of youthful exuberance. The type that involves a plump, rosy outlook—and a tireless spirit.

8. "The Blessing of the Old Woman, the Tulip, and the Dog" by Alicia Ostriker

Alicia Ostriker’s poem works as a retirement poem because it references all the necessities of life: Hard work, love and beauty, and being so filled with love that everyone knows it.

9. "The Farm" by David Lee

David Lee’s poem is about leaving a life few understand. It describes a man who sells his farm to a patriarch, not a farmer. The man lets the farm go to ruins, lets it be turned into subdivisions and sells the livestock.

10. "Retirement" by Henry Timrod

The poet is over it. He’s over the agonies and stresses, and ready to melt into the exaltations of life. Of everything beautiful in his little world. There, he’ll find books and sweet days, rendering him blissful and calm.

Retirement Poems for Mom or Dad

In the poems below, you’ll recognize labor and toil. However, there’s a marked resonance for the mind as a place of repose. Somehow, retirement requires a switch to be turned off so that life journey can still be enjoyed. 

11. "My Triumph" by John Greenleaf Whittier

John Greenleaf Whittier’s poem speaks of the wisdom that comes with a certain age wherein you realize that in one life, you won’t accomplish everything—but neither will those that follow. Instead, enjoy what you have, enjoy all you did, and look forward to the journey to see what lies ahead. 

12. "Live Blindly and Upon the Hour" by Trumbull Stickney

In the poem, "Live Blindly and Upon the Hour," you’ll discover lovely little metaphors made for lengthened pondering.

So, if your mom or dad loved to pluck apart a story, then this poem’s rainbow chords will surely delight. 

13. "The Woman’s Labor. An Epistle to Mr. Stephen Duck" by Mary Collier 

Mary Collier’s poem is a reflection on the work of a maid from long ago. They work before dawn, work all day, and then work even more past dusk. This poem works for those hardworking parents with ceaseless determination.

14. "The Halls" by Mark Halliday

"The Halls" is a description of working life as brick and mortar, filled with people, but no real life or living. Upon boxing your things and letting the door close behind you, the poet describes a better place for you to find yourself. 

15. "Retirement" by Henry Vaugh

The poet finds freedom and luxury in the openness of the countryside. In the city, he only discovered cages where emotions are reactive. The country, however, is reflective and calm.

» MORE: An online memorial is a perfect ending to honor and celebrate someone's life. Create one for free.

Retirement Poems for a Brother or Sister

The poets in the selection below are keen to observe what once was and what can be. Packed inside these five short poems are reminders about what is most important and reflections about what once was considered so.

16. " The Uniform" by Marvin Bell

Marvin Bell's poem about a soldier's uniform is shockingly real. How the poet recalls even the smallest details forces the reader to understand the uniform's necessary use, rather than it's visual appeal.

17. "Ninety-Fifth Street" by John Koethe

John Koethe’s poem is abundant with reflection and insight. When looking back on one’s life, the only thing of great importance is time. 

18. "My Good Sister” by Marvin Brato Sr.

If your sibling relationship is strong enough to handle some gentle criticism, this poem enables a little chiding. It's for the sister who has been more inclined to work their bones rather than live their life.

19. "Little Dog’s Rhapsody in the Night" by Mary Oliver

While not a typical retirement poem, Mary Oliver's observations about her dog, Percy, can be relatable to the sibling who has been longing for extra time to love their pup.

In the poem, a dog's sweet belly exposed with a trusting pose is the most delightful silent conversation.

20. "The Gardener" by Mary Oliver

In retirement, there's a lot less worry. Mary Oliver's protagonist is scuttled from her incessant internal chatter as soon as she sees that life can just be tending to one's roses.

Retirement Poems that Say ‘Goodbye’ to Coworkers

Sometimes your longest single relationship with someone is at your job. While times have changed with how mobile people are these days, in certain places and some towns, your coworker may also be the friend you've had for 40 years or more.

21. "Poet’s Work" by Lorine Niedecker

A grandfather gave the poet sage advice, but what she did with it is something of another matter. This poem will work for those who like to buck advice and work until their dying day.

22. "Chord" by Martin Dejnicki

Although more sweet than funny, the poem is from the point of view of the coworker. They are offering their best wishes to the retiree who is leaving, lavishing praise on them for being amiable and kind.

23. "Joy" by Martin Dejnicki

This poem works as an affectionate farewell. From wishing for cheer, new views, and joy—the coworkers are happy (but sad) to see their friend enjoy a new journey.

24. "Retirement Eulogy" by Charles Wu

In contrast to the above poems, this one is written from the perspective of the retiree to his coworkers. Perhaps this would work if you're required to make a speech.

It's happy, not too reflective, but mentions all the little enjoyable moments while checking off cruise locations from your retirement bucket list.

25. "Discounts" by Angela Rose

Indeed, everyone loves a bargain. And now that your coworker is retired, this poem offers some useful money-saving tips and frugal advice.

» MORE: Online obituary that is 100% free. Honor a loved one beyond a newspaper.


Every inch and mile in life is a journey. Even now, maybe more so, retirement is the most exquisite journey of them all.

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