25 Intriguing Poems About Hands

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Here are my favorite poems about hands categorized:

  • Short poems about hands
  • Famous poems about hands
  • Poems about a man’s hands
  • Poems about a woman’s hands

So if you want the best poems about hands, then you’re in the right place.

Keep reading!

25 Best Poems About Hands (Handpicked)

Intriguing Poems About Hands

Delve into a world of imagery and symbolism with this collection of the best poems about hands.

From the tender touch of a loved one to the calloused hands of a hard-working laborer, these poems offer a glimpse into the power, beauty, and complexity of our hands.

Featuring works by some of the most celebrated poets of all time, as well as hidden gems waiting to be discovered, this collection showcases the many ways in which hands can convey meaning and emotion.

Whether you’re looking to explore the tactile sensations of the world around you or simply seeking to appreciate the intricacy of the human form, these poems are sure to captivate and inspire.

Let’s jump right into it!

My #1 Favorite Poem About Hands

“A Woman’s Hand” by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

All day long there has haunted me
A spectre out of my lost youth-land.
Because I happened last night to see
A woman’s beautiful snow-white hand.

Like part of a statue broken away,
And carefully kept in a velvet case,
On the crimson rim of her box it lay;
The folds of the curtain hid her face.

Years had drifted between us two,
In another clime, in another land,
We had lived and parted, and yet I knew
That cruelly beautiful perfect hand.

The ringless beauty of fingers fine,
The sea-shell tint of their taper tips,
The sight of them stirred my blood like wine,
Oh, to hold them again to my lips!

To feel their tender touch on my hair,
Their mute caress, and their clinging hold;
Oh for the past that was green and fair,
With a cloudless sky, and a sun of gold!

But the sun has set, and a dead delight
Shadows my life with a dull despair,
Oh why did I see that hand of white,
Like a marble ornament lying there?

Short Poems About Hands

Beautiful nymph in forest pond

“The Duel” by Emily Dickinson

I took my power in my hand.
And went against the world;
‘T was not so much as David had,
But I was twice as bold.

I aimed my pebble, but myself
Was all the one that fell.
Was it Goliath was too large,
Or only I too small?

“This Living Hand” by John Keats

This living hand, now warm and capable
Of earnest grasping, would, if it were cold
And in the icy silence of the tomb,
So haunt thy days and chill thy dreaming nights
That thou wouldst wish thine own heart dry of blood
So in my veins red life might stream again,
And thou be conscience-calmed–see here it is–
I hold it towards you.

“Those That Do” by Ellen Palmer Allerton

Beautiful hands are those that do
Work that is earnest, brave, and true,
Moment by moment the long day through.

“Clean Hands” by Florence A. Jones

He that has kept clean hands and stainless heart.
He that, in climbing, bore no brother down;
Whose vision sees not God and man apart –
He has not failed! To him the victor’s crown.

“Unbare That Ivory Hand! Hide It No More!” by Robert Tofte

Unbare that ivory Hand! Hide it no more!
For though it death brings to my tender heart
To see it naked, where is Beauty’s store;
And where moist pearl with azure doth impart:
Yet fear I not to die, in this sweet wise!
My fancy, so to see ’t, is set on fire.
Then leave that glove! (most hateful to mine eyes!)
And let me surfeit with this kind desire!
So that my looks may have of them their fill;
Though heart decay, I’ll take it for none ill.

“God’s Hands” by Robert Herrick

God’s hands are round and smooth, that gifts may fall
Freely from them and hold none back at all.

a person's hand reaching out towards a plant with the sunshine

“Helping Hand” by Unknown

There’s never a trouble that comes to stay;
There’s never a grievance but fades away;
Forget the heart-ache and bravely lend
A helping hand to some sadder friend.

“Another To The Maids” by Robert Herrick

Wash your hands, or else the fire
Will not tend to your desire;
Unwashed hands, ye maidens, know,
Dead the fire, though ye blow.

Famous Poems About Hands

“Beautiful Hands” by James Whitcomb Riley

O your hands – they are strangely fair!
Fair – for the jewels that sparkle there, –
Fair – for the witchery of the spell
That ivory keys alone can tell;
But when their delicate touches rest
Here in my own do I love them best,
As I clasp with eager acquisitive spans
My glorious treasure of beautiful hands!

Marvelous – wonderful – beautiful hands!
They can coax roses to bloom in the strands
Of your brown tresses; and ribbons will twine,
Under mysterious touches of thine,
Into such knots as entangle the soul,
And fetter the heart under such a control
As only the strength of my love understands –
My passionate love for your beautiful hands.

As I remember the first fair touch
Of those beautiful hands that I love so much,
I seem to thrill as I then was thrilled,
Kissing the glove that I found unfilled –
When I met your gaze, and the queenly bow,
As you said to me, laughingly, “Keep it now!”
And dazed and alone in a dream I stand
Kissing this ghost of your beautiful hand.

When first I loved, in the long ago,
And held your hand as I told you so –
Pressed and caressed it and gave it a kiss,
And said “I could die fora hand like this!”
Little I dreamed love’s fulness yet
Had to ripen when eyes were wet,
And prayers were vain in their wild demands
For one warm touch of your beautiful hands.

Beautiful Hands! O Beautiful Hands!
Could you reach out of the alien lands
Where you are lingering, and give me, to-night,
Only a touch – were it ever so light –
My heart were soothed, and my weary brain
Would lull itself into rest again;
For there is no solace the world commands
Like the caress of your beautiful hands.

“Dear Hands” by Susan Marr Spaulding

Roughened and worn with ceaseless toil and care,
No perfumed grace, no dainty skill, had these;
They earned for whiter hands a jeweled ease,
And kept the scars unlovely for their share.
Patient and slow, they had the will to bear

The whole world’s burdens, but no power to seize
The flying joys of life, the gifts that please,
The gold and gems that others find so fair.
Dear hands, where bridal jewel never shone,
Whereon no lover’s kiss was ever pressed,

Crossed in unwonted quiet on the breast,
I see, through tears, your glory newly won,
The golden circlet of life’s work well done,
Set with the shining pearl of perfect rest.

“Hands” by John Frederick Freeman

Your hands, your hands,
Fall upon mine as waves upon the sands.
O, soft as moonlight on the evening rose,
That but to moonlight will its sweet unclose,
Your hands, your hands,
Fall upon mine, and my hands open as
That evening primrose opens when the hot hours pass.

Your hands, your hands,
They are like towers that in far southern lands
Look at pale dawn over gloom-valley’d miles,
White temple towers that gleam through mist at whiles.
Your hands, your hands,
With the south wind fall kissing on my brow,
And all past joy and future is summed in this great “Now!”

“A Clasp Of Hands” by Algernon Charles Swinburne

Soft, small, and sweet as sunniest flowers
That bask in heavenly heat
When bud by bud breaks, breathes, and cowers,
Soft, small, and sweet.

A babe’s hands open as to greet
The tender touch of ours
And mock with motion faint and fleet

The minutes of the new strange hours
That earth, not heaven, must mete;
Buds fragrant still from heaven’s own bowers,
Soft, small, and sweet.

A velvet vice with springs of steel
That fasten in a trice
And clench the fingers fast that feel
A velvet vice

What man would risk the danger twice,
Nor quake from head to heel?
Whom would not one such test suffice?

Well may we tremble as we kneel
In sight of Paradise,
If both a babe’s closed fists conceal
A velvet vice.

Two flower-soft fists of conquering clutch,
Two creased and dimpled wrists,
That match, if mottled overmuch,
Two flower-soft fists –

What heart of man dare hold the lists
Against such odds and such
Sweet vantage as no strength resists?

Our strength is all a broken crutch,
Our eyes are dim with mists,
Our hearts are prisoners as we touch
Two flower-soft fists.

“The Hand of Lincoln” by Edmund Clarence Stedman

Look on this cast, and know the hand
That bore a nation in its hold:
From this mute witness understand
What Lincoln was,—how large of mould

The man who sped the woodman’s team,
And deepest sunk the ploughman’s share,
And pushed the laden raft astream,
Of fate before him unaware.

This was the hand that knew to swing
The axe—since thus would Freedom train
Her son—and made the forest ring,
And drove the wedge, and toiled amain.

Firm hand, that loftier office took,
A conscious leader’s will obeyed,
And, when men sought his word and look,
With steadfast might the gathering swayed.

No courtier’s toying with a sword,
Nor minstrel’s, laid across a lute;
A chief’s, uplifted to the Lord
When all the kings of earth were mute!

The hand of Anak, sinewed strong,
The fingers that on greatness clutch;
Yet, lo! the marks their lines along
Of one who strove and suffered much.

For here in knotted cord and vein
I trace the varying chart of years;
I know the troubled heart, the strain,
The weight of Atlas—and the tears.

Again I see the patient brow
That palm erewhile was wont to press;
And now ’t is furrowed deep, and now
Made smooth with hope and tenderness.

For something of a formless grace
This moulded outline plays about;
A pitying flame, beyond our trace,
Breathes like a spirit, in and out,—

The love that cast an aureole
Round one who, longer to endure,
Called mirth to ease his ceaseless dole,
Yet kept his nobler purpose sure.

Lo, as I gaze, the statured man,
Built up from yon large hand, appears:
A type that Nature wills to plan
But once in all a people’s years.

What better than this voiceless cast
To tell of such a one as he,
Since through its living semblance passed
The thought that bade a race be free!

“Those Willing Hands” by Kate Slaughter McKinney

Those willing hands—they’re still to-night—
The life has from them fled;
They’re folded from the longing sight,
So cold and pale and dead.
The busy veins have idle grown,
Like a long famished rill,
That once in such an eager tone
Called soft from hill to hill.

Dear hands, I’ve felt their pressure oft,
In a sad time gone by;
They moved about the years as soft
As clouds move through the sky.
They screened the rainstorm from my heart,
And let the moonlight in,
And showed, while shadows fell athwart,
Tracks where the sun had been.

They were such willing, willing hands,
They stilled the mournful tear,
Unwound the pattern of God’s plans,
And made his problems clear.
They did not reach to high-grown bowers,
Where rarest blossoms bloom;
But culled the blessed, purer flowers,
And bore them to the tomb.

Poor hands—they are so still and white,
The rose that shared their rest
Is shrinking from the long, dark night,
And falling on her breast.
The wreath is wilted on the mound
Where long the sunshine stands,
But angels have the sleeper found,
And clasped those willing hands.

child gives a flower to woman hand

“Reach Your Hand To Me” by James Whitcomb Riley

Reach your hand to me, my friend,
With its heartiest caress –
Sometime there will come an end
To its present faithfulness –
Sometime I may ask in vain
For the touch of it again,
When between us land or sea
Holds it ever back from me.

Sometime I may need it so,
Groping somewhere in the night,
It will seem to me as though
Just a touch, however light,
Would make all the darkness day,
And along some sunny way
Lead me through an April-shower
Of my tears to this fair hour.

O the present is too sweet
To go on forever thus!
Round the corner of the street
Who can say what waits for us? –
Meeting – greeting, night and day,
Faring each the self-same way –
Still somewhere the path must end. –
Reach your hand to me, my friend!

Poems About a Man’s Hands

happy woman holds on to the man's hand by the sea

“Upon Paul” by Robert Herrick

Paul’s hands do give; what give they, bread or meat,
Or money? no, but only dew and sweat.
As stones and salt gloves use to give, even so
Paul’s hands do give, nought else for ought we know.

“The Passing of a Heart” by James Whitcomb Riley

O touch me with your hands –
For pity’s sake!
My brow throbs ever on with such an ache
As only your cool touch may take away;
And so, I pray
You, touch me with your hands!

Touch – touch me with your hands. –
Smooth back the hair
You once caressed, and kissed, and called so fair
That I did dream its gold would wear alway,
And lo, to-day –
O touch me with your hands!

Just touch me with your hands,
And let them press
My weary eyelids with the old caress,
And lull me till I sleep.
Then go your way,
That Death may say:
He touched her with his hands.

“Opening Doors” by Ben Jonson

He smashed his hand
in opening a door for her,
and less pain than
embarrassment shrieked through him.
Concealing both,
grimacing as if theatrically,
he asked himself
who he thought he was to go
around opening
doors for anyone, much less for her.

man touching the grass in the field at sunrise

“Lieder” by George MacDonald

Thy little hand lay on my bosom, dear:
What a knocking in that little chamber!–dost hear?
There dwelleth a carpenter evil, and he
Is hard at work on a coffin for me.

He hammers and knocks by night and by day;
‘Tis long since he drove all my sleep away:
Ah, haste thee, carpenter, busy keep,
That I the sooner may go to sleep!

Poems About a Woman’s Hands

“A Woman’s Hand” by Amos Russel Wells

Soft and tender, smooth and white,
Formed for winning and delight,
Nature has no lovelier sight,—
A woman’s hand.

Wrinkled, worn with much to do,
Many a task for me and you,
In all trials good and true,—
A woman’s hand.

Clasping ours through life and death,
Lovingly to latest breath,
Sweetest thing that comforteth,—
A woman’s hand.

“My Lady’s Hand” by Sir Thomas Wyatt

O goodly hand!
Wherein doth stand
My heart distraught in pain;
Dear hand, alas!
In little space
My life thou dost restrain.

O fingers slight!
Departed right,
So long, so small, so round;
Goodly begone,
And yet a bone,
Most cruel in my wound.

With lilies white
And roses bright
Doth strain thy colour fair;
Nature did lend
Each finger’s end
A pearl for to repair.

Consent at last,
Since that thou hast
My heart in thy demesne
For service true
On me to rue,
And reach me love again.

And if not so,
There with more woe
Enforce thyself to strain
This simple heart,
That suffer’d smart,
And rid it out of pain.

“Songs for My Mother: Her Hand” by Anna Hempstead Branch

My mother’s hands are cool and fair,
They can do anything.
Delicate mercies hide them there
Like flowers in the spring.

When I was small and could not sleep,
She used to come to me,
And with my cheek upon her hand
How sure my rest would be.

For everything she ever touched
Of beautiful or fine,
Their memories living in her hands
Would warm that sleep of mine.

Her hands remember how they played
One time in meadow streams,—
And all the flickering song and shade
Of water took my dreams.

Swift through her haunted fingers pass
Memories of garden things;—
I dipped my face in flowers and grass
And sounds of hidden wings.

One time she touched the cloud that kissed
Brown pastures bleak and far;—
I leaned my cheek into a mist
And thought I was a star.

All this was very long ago
And I am grown; but yet
The hand that lured my slumber so
I never can forget.

For still when drowsiness comes on
It seems so soft and cool,
Shaped happily beneath my cheek,
Hollow and beautiful.

“The Hands Of The Betrothed” by D. H. Lawrence

Her tawny eyes are onyx of thoughtlessness,
Hardened they are like gems in ancient modesty;
Yea, and her mouth’s prudent and crude caress
Means even less than her many words to me.

Though her kiss betrays me also this, this only
Consolation, that in her lips her blood at climax clips
Two wild, dumb paws in anguish on the lonely
Fruit of my heart, ere down, rebuked, it slips.

I know from her hardened lips that still her heart is
Hungry for me, yet if I put my hand in her breast
She puts me away, like a saleswoman whose mart is
Endangered by the pilferer on his quest.

But her hands are still the woman, the large, strong hands
Heavier than mine, yet like leverets caught in steel
When I hold them; my still soul understands
Their dumb confession of what her sort must feel.

For never her hands come nigh me but they lift
Like heavy birds from the morning stubble, to settle
Upon me like sleeping birds, like birds that shift
Uneasily in their sleep, disturbing my mettle.

How caressingly she lays her hand on my knee,
How strangely she tries to disown it, as it sinks
In my flesh and bone and forages into me,
How it stirs like a subtle stoat, whatever she thinks!

And often I see her clench her fingers tight
And thrust her fists suppressed in the folds of her skirt;
And sometimes, how she grasps her arms with her bright
Big hands, as if surely her arms did hurt.

And I have seen her stand all unaware
Pressing her spread hands over her breasts, as she
Would crush their mounds on her heart, to kill in there
The pain that is her simple ache for me.

Her strong hands take my part, the part of a man
To her; she crushes them into her bosom deep
Where I should lie, and with her own strong span
Closes her arms, that should fold me in sleep.

Ah, and she puts her hands upon the wall,
Presses them there, and kisses her bright hands,
Then lets her black hair loose, the darkness fall
About her from her maiden-folded bands.

And sits in her own dark night of her bitter hair
Dreaming – God knows of what, for to me she’s the same
Betrothed young lady who loves me, and takes care
Of her womanly virtue and of my good name.

“Dear Hands” by James Whitcomb Riley

The touches of her hands are like the fall
Of velvet snowflakes; like the touch of down
The peach just brushes ‘gainst the garden wall;
The flossy fondlings of the thistle-wisp
Caught in the crinkle of a leaf of brown
The blighting frost hath turned from green to crisp.

Soft as the falling of the dusk at night,
The touches of her hands, and the delight –
The touches of her hands!
The touches of her hands are like the dew
That falls so softly down no one e’er knew
The touch thereof save lovers like to one
Astray in lights where ranged Endymion.

O rarely soft, the touches of her hands,
As drowsy zephyrs in enchanted lands;
Or pulse of dying fay; or fairy sighs,
Or – in between the midnight and the dawn,
When long unrest and tears and fears are gone –
Sleep, smoothing down the lids of weary eyes.