27 Bewildering Poems About Illusion

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Here are my favorite poems about illusion categorized:

  • Short poems about illusion
  • Poems about illusion and love
  • Poems about illusion vs. reality

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

Keep reading and enjoy!

27 Best Poems About Illusion (Handpicked)

Bewildering Poems About Illusion

Prepare to be spellbound as you embark on an extraordinary journey through a curated collection of poems that unravel the captivating realm of illusion.

Immerse yourself in the captivating artistry of concise and whimsical short poems, where illusions play hide-and-seek with reality, leaving you in delightful bewilderment.

Discover the mind-bending verses that challenge the very fabric of perception, inviting you to question what is real and what is mere trickery, all while igniting your imagination with a dash of enchantment.

Get ready to have your mind dazzled and your senses delighted in this exhilarating anthology that showcases the magical dance between illusion and reality.

Let’s get started!

My #1 Favorite Poem About Illusion

portrait of pretty female model with red hair wearing glamorous renaissance red ballgown. Posing in a fairytale castle location with staircases

“Disillusionment” by Elsa Gidlow

Now I am done with ineffectual dreams,
Kindly play-toys of the unsure years,
And unencumbered, proud and free and light,
With even pulses and a lifting heart,
I mount the future’s twisting stairs.

A week ago I thought that I must die,
Or hang forever, bitter as frost-killed fruit,
Scarred and broken from the Tree of Life —
Because I suddenly came into my sight
And men walked as trees; and dreams went mute.

’T is no small thing, to lose a dear, sure world,
To stumble, desolate, through hideous space,
Down unfamiliar and unfriendly roads
That bruise your feet. And then to suddenly feel
A great light newly shining in your face.

Short Poems About Illusion

Young woman in long dress standing on a rock and looking to a sea

“Mirage” by Paul Cameron Brown

The intense focus of light
but pointillism,
into this juncture bits of light
surround rough, inverted sky –
dawn is their message
unfurled about
the alumni apparatus
of incensed eyes
and whispered sun

The heavy mirage of dots,
landscape locked
Seurat, a frieze of summer heat
choking water lilies –
the sun as a crystal ship
 adrift across
random dots.

“Illusions” by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Flow, flow the waves hated,
Accursed, adored,
The waves of mutation;
No anchorage is.
Sleep is not, death is not;
Who seem to die live.
House you were born in,
Friends of your spring-time,
Old man and young maid,
Day’s toil and its guerdon,
They are all vanishing,
Fleeing to fables,
Cannot be moored.
See the stars through them,
Through treacherous marbles.
Know the stars yonder,
The stars everlasting,
 Are fugitive also,
And emulate, vaulted,
The lambent heat lightning
And fire-fly’s flight.

When thou dost return
On the wave’s circulation,
Behold the shimmer,
The wild dissipation,
And, out of endeavor
To change and to flow,
The gas become solid,
And phantoms and nothings
Return to be things,
And endless imbroglio
Is law and the world,–
Then first shalt thou know,
That in the wild turmoil,
Horsed on the Proteus,
Thou ridest to power,
And to endurance.

“Deluded Swain, the Pleasure.” by Robert Burns

Deluded swain, the pleasure
The fickle fair can give thee,
Is but a fairy treasure –
Thy hopes will soon deceive thee.

The billows on the ocean,
The breezes idly roaming,
The clouds uncertain motion –
They are but types of woman.

O! art thou not ashamed
To doat upon a feature?
If man thou wouldst be named,
Despise the silly creature.

Go find an honest fellow;
Good claret set before thee:
Hold on till thou art mellow,
And then to bed in glory.

charming fairy woke up in forest, sweetly smacks after sleeping, cue girl with blond hair, eyes closed in long green dress with cut train, baby spirits with transparent butterfly wings

“Behind the Veil” by Julia Ward Howe

The secret of man’s life disclosed
Would cause him strange confusion
Should God the cloud of fear remove,
Or veil of sweet illusion.

No maiden sees aright the faults
Or merits of her lover;
No sick man guesses if ‘twere best
To die, or to recover.

The miser dreams not that his wealth
Is dead, as soon as buried;
Nor knows the bard who sings away
Life’s treasures, real and varied.

The tree-root lies too deep for sight,
The well-source for our plummet,
And heavenward fount and palm defy
Our scanning of their summit.

Whether a present grief ye weep,
Or yet untasted blisses,
Look for the balm that comes with tears
The bane that lurks in kisses.

We may reap dear suffering which we dread
A higher joy discloses;
Men saw the thorns on Jesu’s brow,
But angels saw the roses.

“Lost Illusions” by Georgia Douglas Johnson

Oh, for the veils of my far away youth,
Shielding my heart from the blaze of the truth,
Why did I stray from their shelter and grow
Into the sadness that follows—to know!

Impotent atom with desolate gaze
Threading the tumult of hazardous ways—
Oh, for the veils, for the veils of my youth
Veils that hung low o’er the blaze of the truth!

“Illusion” by Amy Lowell

Walking beside the tree-peonies,
I saw a beetle
Whose wings were of black lacquer spotted with milk.
I would have caught it,
But it ran from me swiftly
And hid under the stone lotus
Which supports the Statue of Buddha.

Portrait of an elegant, blond angel

“This World is All a Fleeting Show” by Sir Thomas Moore

This world is all a fleeting show,
For man’s illusion given;
The smiles of Joy, the tears of Woe,
Deceitful shine, deceitful flow—
There ’s nothing true, but Heaven!
And false the light on Glory’s plume,
As fading hues of Even;
And Love and Hope, and Beauty’s bloom,
Are blossoms gather’d for the tomb—
There ’s nothing bright, but Heaven!
Poor wand’rers of a stormy day!
From wave to wave we’re driven,
And Fancy’s flash, and Reason’s ray,
Serve but to light the troubled way—
There ’s nothing calm, but Heaven!

“The Vision.” by Robert Herrick

Methought I saw, as I did dream in bed,
A crawling vine about Anacreon’s head.
Flushed was his face; his hairs with oil did shine;
And, as he spake, his mouth ran o’er with wine.
Tippled he was, and tippling lisped withal;
And lisping reeled, and reeling like to fall.
A young enchantress close by him did stand,
Tapping his plump thighs with a myrtle wand:
She smil’d; he kiss’d; and kissing, cull’d her too,
And being cup-shot, more he could not do.
For which, methought, in pretty anger she
Snatched off his crown, and gave the wreath to me;
Since when, methinks, my brains about do swim,
And I am wild and wanton like to him.
Snatched off his crown, and gave the wreath to me;
Since when, methinks, my brains about do swim,
And I am wild and wanton like to him.

“Illusions” by Robert Underwood Johnson

Go stand at night upon an ocean craft,
And watch the folds of its imperial train
Catching in fleecy foam a thousand glows—
A miracle of fire unquenched by sea.
There in bewildering turbulence of change
Whirls the whole firmament, till as you gaze,
All else unseen, it is as heaven itself
Had lost its poise, and each unanchored star
In phantom haste flees to the horizon line.
What dupes we are of the deceiving eye!
How many a light men wonderingly acclaim
Is but the phosphor of the path Life makes
With its own motion, while above, forgot,
Sweep on serene the old unenvious stars!

Fashion Autumn model, Fall Leaves Dress, Beauty Girl in kokoshniks

“The Vision.” by Robert Herrick

Sitting alone, as one forsook,
Close by a silver-shedding brook,
With hands held up to love, I wept;
And after sorrows spent I slept:
Then in a vision I did see
A glorious form appear to me:
A virgin’s face she had; her dress
Was like a sprightly Spartaness.
A silver bow, with green silk strung,
Down from her comely shoulders hung:
And as she stood, the wanton air
Dangled the ringlets of her hair.
Her legs were such Diana shows
When, tucked up, she a-hunting goes;
With buskins shortened to descry
The happy dawning of her thigh:
Which when I saw, I made access
To kiss that tempting nakedness:
But she forbade me with a wand
Of myrtle she had in her hand:
And, chiding me, said: Hence, remove,
Herrick, thou art too coarse to love.

“Parfum Des Fleurs” by Sadakichi Hartmann

Oh, frail and fragrant visions,
Sweet nomads of the air,
That rise like the mist on the meadows
And cling to my darksome hair.

Are ye the souls of roses,
Of memory’s vagrom lays,
Sent to caress my senses—
Faint murmurs of bygone days?

“Illusion” by Nicholas Flood Davin

Illusion makes the better part of life.
Happy self-conjurers, deceived, we win
Delight, and, ruled by fancy, live in dreams;—
The mood, the hour, the standpoint, rules the scene;
The past, the present, the to-be, weave charms;
White-flashing memory’s fleet footsteps fly,
And all the borders of her way are pied
With flowers full glad e’en when their roots touch quick
With pain. With tears upon his dimpled cheek
Forth steps the infant Joy and, laughing, mocks
At care. In time smiles play upon the cheek
Of pale Regret, who grows transformed, and stands
A pensive queen, more fair than boisterous Mirth.
The present ’s odorous with leaves of trees
Long dead, and dead defacing woods and thorns,
And past the cloud that glowered, the blast that smote,
And out from never-to-be-trodden days
Hope smiles, and airs from dawns we’re never doomed
To see, come rich with fragrance, fresh with power,
Profuse of promises of golden days,
And join the necromancy of the past,
Mingling the magic which makes up our lives.

Poems About Illusion and Love

Casket Padora. Sad girl holds the evil gift of the gods - a box that is filled with evil. A woman cries that she could not contain her curiosity and released trouble. Background blue smoke.

“Illusion” by George William Russell

What is the love of shadowy lips
That know not what they seek or press,
From whom the lure for ever slips
And fails their phantom tenderness?

The mystery and light of eyes
That near to mine grow dim and cold;
They move afar in ancient skies
Mid flame and mystic darkness rolled.

“A Mirage.” by William Schwenck Gilbert

Were I thy bride,
Then the whole world beside
Were not too wide
To hold my wealth of love
Were I thy bride!
Upon thy breast
My loving head would rest,
As on her nest
The tender turtle dove
Were I thy bride!

This heart of mine
Would be one heart with thine,
And in that shrine
Our happiness would dwell
Were I thy bride!
And all day long
Our lives should be a song:
No grief, no wrong
Should make my heart rebel
Were I thy bride!

The silvery flute,
The melancholy lute,
Were night owl’s hoot
To my low-whispered coo
Were I thy bride!
The skylark’s trill
Were but discordance shrill
To the soft thrill
Of wooing as I’d woo
Were I thy bride!

The rose’s sigh
Were as a carrion’s cry
To lullaby
Such as I’d sing to thee,
Were I thy bride!
A feather’s press
Were leaden heaviness
To my caress.
But then, unhappily,
I’m not thy bride!

“The Road of Make-Believe” by Ameen Rihani

She sits upon a rock along the stream
That heard the whisper of her first Desire,
Washing the faded garment of her Dream,
Which she had often carried to the Dyer—
The Dream of her self-centred lyric fire.
And in the flowing, scarlet wounds of Twilight,
Expiring on Aurora’s drooping wings
Beneath the secret scimitar of Night,
She dyes again her garment, while she sings
Of new-born love, though to self-love she clings.

He seeks the path of glory in the noon
Of self-intoxication, dreaming still
Of power,—wondering why the sun and moon
Are not yoked to the chariot of his will.
His soul, a clinging vine, his mind, an ill,
He beats against the peaks of earth-bound dreams,
Subsisting on the thistles of his heart,
But ever seeking, in the fitful gleams
Of his own fire, self-admiration’s mart
To mend his horn or whet his venomed dart.

They walk together in the golden vast
Of vision-haunted, soul-alluring sands,
Beholding the illusions of the past
Among the ruins of deserted lands:—
Together, although neither understands
The groping purpose of the other; and yet,
While in their hearts the gods of conflict nod,
They gloze and smile, dissembling their regret:
Love, on the Road of Make-Believe, they prod, 
He going to the dogs and she, to God.

colorful woman fashion summer flower in hoop

“Love’s Mirage” by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Midway upon the route, he paused athirst
And suddenly across the wastes of heat,
He saw cool waters gleaming, and a sweet
Green oasis upon his vision burst.
A tender dream, long in his bosom nursed,
Spread love’s illusive verdure for his feet;
The barren sands changed into golden wheat;
The way grew glad that late had seemed accursed.

She shone, the woman wonder, on his soul;
The garden spot, for which men toil and wait;
The house of rest, that is each heart’s demand;
But when, at last, he reached the gleaming goal,
He found, oh, cruel irony of fate,
But desert sun upon the desert sand.

“Illusion” by Andrew Macphail

Beloved, Spring is come! Do you not hear
The strong South wind’s deep breathing in the trees?
—With all the lusty joy of youth he frees
Their limbs from bondage of the winter drear,—
Nor yet the bird notes rising high and clear
Above the merry whistling of the breeze?
Will you not answer, if I join with these
My cry of longing and of love most dear?
Should I but nestle close beside the mound
This night, with ear alert, the grave might yield
Unto the Spring and Love some whispered sound,
That all this weary time you only dreamed.
When snows of winter levelled all the field,
O God, how very far away you seemed.

“Mirage” by Amy Lowell

How is it that, being gone, you fill my days,
And all the long nights are made glad by thee?
No loneliness is this, nor misery,
But great content that these should be the ways
Whereby the Fancy, dreaming as she strays,
Makes bright and present what she would would be.
And who shall say if the reality
Is not with dreams so pregnant. For delays
And hindrances may bar the wished-for end;
A thousand misconceptions may prevent
Our souls from coming near enough to blend;
Let me but think we have the same intent,
That each one needs to call the other, “friend!”
It may be vain illusion. I’m content.

Elf girl in night forest

“The Shadow on the Stone” by Thomas Hardy

I went by the Druid stone 
That stands in the garden white and lone,   
And I stopped and looked at the shifting shadows   
That at some moments there are thrown
From the tree hard by with a rhythmic swing,   
And they shaped in my imagining
To the shade that a well-known head and shoulders   
Threw there when she was gardening.

I thought her behind my back,
Yea, her I long had learned to lack,
And I said: “I am sure you are standing behind me,   
Though how do you get into this old track?”
And there was no sound but the fall of a leaf   
As a sad response; and to keep down grief
I would not turn my head to discover
That there was nothing in my belief.

Yet I wanted to look and see
That nobody stood at the back of me;
But I thought once more: “Nay, I’ll not unvision   
A shape which, somehow, there may be.”
So I went on softly from the glade,
And left her behind me throwing her shade,   
As she were indeed an apparition—
My head unturned lest my dream should fade.

Poems About Illusion VS. Reality

Fantasy girl princess walks in blooming spring garden flowers tulips sakura tree green grass old alley. Woman queen in long luxurious royal pink dress with train puffed sleeves vintage style art photo

“Dreaming for Ever” by Sir Thomas Moore

Dreaming for ever, vainly dreaming,
Life to the last, pursues its flight;
Day hath its visions fairly beaming,
But false as those of night.
The one illusion, the other real,
But both the same brief dreams at last;
And when we grasp the bliss ideal,
Soon as it shines, ’tis past.

Here, then, by this dim lake reposing,
Calmly I’ll watch, while light and gloom
Flit o’er its face till night is closing–
Emblem of life’s short doom!
But tho’, by turns, thus dark and shining,
‘Tis still unlike man’s changeful day,
Whose light returns not, once declining,
Whose cloud, once come, will stay.

“Illusion” by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

God and I in space alone
And nobody else in view.
“And where are the people, O Lord,” I said,
“The earth below, and the sky o’er head,
And the dead whom once I knew?”

“That was a dream,” God smiled and said –
“A dream that seemed to be true.
There were no people, living or dead,
There was no earth, and no sky o’erhead;
There was only Myself – in you.”

“Why do I feel no fear,” I asked,
“Meeting You here this way?
For I have sinned I know full well?
And is there heaven, and is there hell,
And is this the judgment day?”

“Say, those were but dreams,” the Great God said,
“Dreams, that have ceased to be.
There are no such things as fear or sin,
There is no you – you never have been –
There is nothing at all but ME.”

“The Illusion of War” by Richard Le Gallienne

I abhor,
And yet how sweet
The sound along the marching street
Of drum and fife, and I forget
Wet eyes of widows, and forget
Broken old mothers, and the whole
Dark butchery without a soul.

Without a soul – save this bright drink
Of heady music, sweet as hell;
And even my peace-abiding feet
Go marching with the marching street,
For yonder, yonder goes the fife,
And what care I for human life!
The tears fill my astonished eyes
And my full heart is like to break,
And yet ’tis all embannered lies,
A dream those little drummers make.

O it is wickedness to clothe
Yon hideous grinning thing that stalks
Hidden in music, like a queen
That in a garden of glory walks,
Till good men love the thing they loathe.
Art, thou hast many infamies,
But not an infamy like this;
O snap the fife and still the drum,
And show the monster as she is.

art photo sleeping beauty. blond woman lying in vintage white bed. girl sleep eyes closed sweet dream lullaby music. Shiny stars in dark retro room. princess in nightgown. Mystical miracle Night magic

“Hallucination” by F. S. Flint

I know this room,
and there are corridors:
the pictures, I have seen before;
the statues and those gems in cases
I have wandered by before,—
stood there silent and lonely
in a dream of years ago.

I know the dark of night is all around me;
my eyes are closed, and I am half asleep.
My wife breathes gently at my side.

But once again this old dream is within me,
and I am on the threshold waiting,
wondering, pleased, and fearful.
Where do those doors lead,
what rooms lie beyond them?
I venture…

But my baby moves and tosses
from side to side,
and her need calls me to her.

Now I stand awake, unseeing,
in the dark,
and I move towards her cot…
I shall not reach her… There is no direction…
I shall walk on…

“Illusions.” by Samuel Griswold Goodrich

As down life’s morning stream we glide,
Full oft some Flower stoops o’er its side,
And beckons to the smiling shore,
Where roses strew the landscape o’er:
Yet as we reach that Flower to clasp,
It seems to mock the cheated grasp,
And whisper soft, with siren glee,
“My bloom is not oh not for thee!”

Within Youth’s flowery vale I tread,
By some entrancing shadow led
And Echo to my call replies
Yet, as she answers, lo, she flies!
And, as I seem to reach her cell
The grotto, where she weaves her spell
The Nymph’s sweet voice afar I hear
So Love departs, as we draw near!

Upon a mountain’s dizzy height,
Ambition’s temple gleams with light:
Proud forms are moving fair within,
And bid us strive that light to win.
O’er giddy cliff and crag we strain,
And reach the mountain top in vain!
For lo! the temple, still afar,
Shines cold and distant as a star.

I hear a voice, whose accents dear
Melt, like soft music, in mine ear.
A gentle hand, that seems divine,
Is warmly, fondly clasped in mine;
And lips upon my cheeks are pressed,
That whisper tones from regions blest:
But soon I start for friendship’s kiss
Is gone, and lo! a serpent’s hiss.

The sun goes down, and shadows rest
On the gay scenes by morning blest;
The gathering clouds invest the air
Yet one bright constant Star is there.
Onward we press, with heavy load,
O’er tangled path and rough’ning road,
For still that Star shines bright before;
But now it sinks, and all is o’er!

“The Mirage” by Nathan Haskell Dole

Across the Bay are low-lying cliffs,
Where stand fishermen’s cottages:
I can barely distinguish them with the naked eye.
But to-day the cliffs are lifted, escarpt,
Perpendicular, mysterious, inaccessible,
And those sordid dwellings have become
The magnificent fortified castles of Sea-kings.

Fantasy Woman witch holds magic book in hands reads spell. Blue vintage clothes silk cape dress flies in wind. Mystery girl elf in hood. Nature autumn forest trees orange leaves. Holiday halloween art

“Disillusion” by Victor James Daley

For some forty years, and over,
Poets had with me their way;
And they made me think that Sorrow
Owned the Night and owned the Day;
And the corpse beneath the clover
Had a hopeful word to say.

And they made me think that Sorrow
Was the Shadow in the Sun;
And they made me think To-morrow
Was a gift to everyone:
And the days I used to borrow,
Till my credit now is done.

And they told me softly, sweetly,
That, when Life had lost its glee,
I could be consoled completely

By the Forest or the Sea;
And they wrote their rhymes so neatly
That they quite deluded me.

But when Sorrow is at sorest,
And the heart weeps silently,
Is there healing in the Forest?
Is there solace in the Sea?
And the God whom thou adorest
Has He any help for thee?

Does it soothe the spent man dying
That the stars are shining bright
O’er the field where he is lying?
And the moon, with all her light,
Does she help his bare soul flying
Through the vast and lonely Night?

Give to me the grasp of true man,
Though his state be high or low,
Give to me the kiss of woman,
Let your Seas and Forests go:
There is nothing but the human
Touch can heal the human woe.