The first one is written by Emily Dickinson; and was one that I read to Sophia and Olivia during the past year when we studied Ms. Dickinson and her poetry. It's a simple poem, yet reveals a lot about what she valued: service to others as central to her purpose in life.
If I can stop one heart from breaking
I shall not live in vain
If I can ease one life the aching
Or cool one pain
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again
I shall not live in vain.
The next poem is one that I have heard several times. It is by Edwin Markham and is called "Outwitted." There's a stanza in it that focuses on inclusiveness that I think is important to aim for as one goes through life:
He drew a circle that shut me out,
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win,
We drew a circle that took him in!
A third poem is one that I heard quoted by a woman who was trying to improve her life, and she referred to it as an analogy to taking a positive - yet unknown - risk in moving forward with her life.
The poem is written by Christopher Logue. However, sometimes it is misattributed to Guillaume Apollinaire because the quote was on a poster advertising an Apollinaire exhibition at the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Arts) in the early 1960s.
Come to the edge.
We might fall.
Come to the edge.
It's too high!
COME TO THE EDGE!
So they came
and he pushed
and they flew.
Another poem I like is by Rabindranath Tagore who lived in Calcutta, India, wrote a poem that ties responsibility and action to happiness in life.
I slept and dreamt
That life was joy -
I awoke and found
That life was duty -
I acted and behold
Duty was joy.
These four poems sum up how I see my life and how I ideally want to live it: by helping and serving others (people, animals, or the environment); accepting and including others; taking positive risks to move forward in life; and taking responsibility for my own happiness in life.