Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces are all categorized as water signs, meaning they share the element’s intensity and emotiveness. If you’re a water sign or have one in your life, you’ve probably noticed these signs’ sensitivity and empathy. Simply put, water signs are all about the feels—often intuitively picking up on emotional realities and dynamics others might not even recognize—but they’re also all about friendship and thoughtfulness. Water signs cultivate cozy, restorative vibes in their relationships, always providing a soft place to land and to share your deepest, most internalized thoughts and secrets.
In addition to their nurturing side, water signs may possess a high level of creativity, enhancing their connection to poetry and literary arts. Get carried away by the tide of these five poems, all of which represent water sign spirit and sentimentality.
1. “Water” by Ralph Waldo Emerson
“The water understands
It wets my foot, but prettily,
It chills my life, but wittily,
It is not disconcerted,
It is not broken-hearted:
Well used, it decketh joy,
Adorneth, doubleth joy:
Ill used, it will destroy,
In perfect time and measure
With a face of golden pleasure
While Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Water” might be an obvious choice, the aptly titled poem reveals the often misunderstood nuances of water signs. While people might overlook water signs as simply moody, their underlying emotional reality is complex and powerful. Water signs can access not only heartbreak and sadness at a higher level than others in the zodiac, but also “joy . . . doubleth joy,” as Emerson’s poem suggests. And people shouldn’t underestimate the power water signs have to stand up for both themselves and for others—underneath their brooding exterior, water signs have the capacity to “elegantly destroy” in the face of injustice.
2. “Summer Shower” by Emily Dickinson
“A drop fell on the apple tree,
Another on the roof;
A half a dozen kissed the eaves,
And made the gables laugh.
A few went out to help the brook,
That went to help the sea.
Myself conjectured, Were they pearls,
What necklaces could be!”
Like Emerson’s poem, “Summer Shower,” by another classic and revered writer, showcases the often overshadowed joy of the water element. Emily Dickinson sets a comforting, pastoral scene, as rain “[kisses] the eaves” and “[makes] the gables laugh.” This fits the dynamic of water signs, who often feel most in tune with themselves and those around them on rainy days or when close to a body of water. The playful language in the poem, which personifies the rain and envisions its many different uses, also reflects water signs’ vivid imaginations.
3. “Salt” by Melissa Broder
“I am swimming for you now and I don’t care.
When you leave the forest you do not become the ocean
and I have become the desert trying to swim in the ocean
and knowing this, carrying the forest floor in a sweet wood coffin
and the blackbrush and rocks, the yucca and cacti of receded oceans,
which were never oceans at all or there would have been shells on the sand,
they only looked like oceans in my thirst, I cut the old horizon
with a sword you have given and I gut the heavens
and bleed their light and swim in that.”
Water signs fall in love hard, an emotional state exemplified by Melissa Broder’s poem “Salt.” Broder, who is also known for writing an award-winning novel titled The Pisces, showcases this trait by declaring, “I am swimming for you now and I don’t care,” a line that hints at water signs’ sincere, sometimes all-consuming devotion to relationships. As the poem continues, Broder draws a compelling parallel between the speaker’s emotional state and water—“I have become the desert trying to swim in the ocean”—echoing water signs’ connection with nature and their almost unquenchable thirst for love.
4. “Worst to Better” by Alicia Cook
“I’ve kept the orchid alive for four months now / I’ve been going to bed before 11 / I’ve been falling asleep before midnight / I caught the typo before it was too late / I forgave myself for who I was in 2013 / I kept my mouth shut when my voice wasn’t needed / I screamed at the top of my lungs when it was warranted / I didn’t text the narcissist back / I called my friends on their birthdays.”
Alicia Cook’s “Worst to Better,” which she published on Instagram for National Poetry Month, illustrates the homebody nature of water signs. Pisces, Scorpio, and especially Cancer are known for nesting, with the way they care for their space resembling the way they care for themselves and others. With its allusions to watering plants and keeping a bedtime, “Worst to Better” demonstrates water signs’ devotion to habits and routine.
5. “How to Stop Crying” by Heather Christle
“A kitchen is the best—I mean the saddest—room for tears. A bedroom is too easy, a bathroom too private, a living room too formal. If someone falls to pieces in the kitchen, in the space of work and nourishment, they must be truly coming undone. The bright lights offer no comfort, only illuminate. The floor should be vinyl and cold.”
Heather Christle has published a lyric essay collection called The Crying Book, which is perhaps the most water sign book of all time. Her essay “How to Stop Crying,” excerpted from the larger work and published in The Paris Review, starts in the home, reflecting water signs’ private and domestic nature. Like Christle’s other writing about crying, the essay explores the history of tears and the many different emotions they can move us through, including devastation, hopelessness, anger, and even joy. By remarking on the cathartic power of crying, Christle argues that it’s far from pointless or weak—an assertion with which every water sign will agree.
Wanting to dive into your sign, more specifically? We’re always writing about astrology here at Read Poetry—so check out our roundup of poems for Pisces season, poems for Cancer season, and poems for Scorpio season.
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