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Best Famous Death Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Death poems. This is a select list of the best famous Death poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Death poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of death poems.

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by Emily Dickinson | |

Because I could not stop for Death

Because I could not stop for Death-- 
He kindly stopped for me-- 
The Carriage held but just Ourselves-- 
And Immortality.
We slowly drove--He knew no haste And I had put away My labor and my leisure too, For His Civility-- We passed the School, where Children strove At Recess--in the Ring-- We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain-- We passed the Setting Sun-- Or rather--He passed us-- The Dews drew quivering and chill-- For only Gossamer, my Gown-- My Tippet--only Tulle-- We paused before a House that seemed A Swelling of the Ground-- The Roof was scarcely visible-- The Cornice--in the Ground-- Since then--'tis Centuries--and yet Feels shorter than the Day I first surmised the Horses' Heads Were toward Eternity--


by John Donne | |

Death Be Not Proud

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee 
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so; 
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow, 
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be, Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow, And soonest our best men with thee do go, Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men, And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell; And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then? One short sleep past, we wake eternally, And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.


by Elizabeth Barrett Browning | |

How Do I Love Thee?

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of every day's Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right; I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love with a passion put to use In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose With my lost saints, I love thee with the breath, Smiles, tears, of all my life! and, if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death.


by Ben Jonson | |

The Hourglass

Consider this small dust here running in the glass,
By atoms moved;
Could you believe that this the body was 
Of one that loved?
And in his mistress' flame, playing like a fly,
Turned to cinders by her eye:
Yes; and in death, as life, unblessed,
To have it expressed,
Even ashes of lovers find no rest.


by Alfred Lord Tennyson | |

Tears Idle Tears

  Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean,
Tears from the depth of some divine despair
Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes,
In looking on the happy Autumn-fields,
And thinking of the days that are no more.
Fresh as the first beam glittering on a sail, That brings our friends up from the underworld, Sad as the last which reddens over one That sinks with all we love below the verge; So sad, so fresh, the days that are no more.
Ah, sad and strange as in dark summer dawns The earliest pipe of half-awakened birds To dying ears, when unto dying eyes The casement slowly grows a glimmering square; So sad, so strange, the days that are no more.
Dear as remembered kisses after death, And sweet as those by hopeless fancy feigned On lips that are for others; deep as love, Deep as first love, and wild with all regret; O Death in Life, the days that are no more!


by William Shakespeare | |

Sonnet 55

Not marble, nor the gilded monuments
Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme;
But you shall shine more bright in these contènts
Than unswept stone, besmeared with sluttish time.
When wasteful war shall statues overturn, And broils root out the work of masonry, Nor Mars his sword nor war's quick fire shall burn The living record of your memory.
'Gainst death and all-oblivious enmity Shall you pace forth; your praise shall still find room Even in the eyes of all posterity That wear this world out to the ending doom.
So, till the judgment that yourself arise, You live in this, and dwell in lovers' eyes.


by Edward Estlin (E E) Cummings | |

Humanity i love you

Humanity i love you
because you would rather black the boots of
success than enquire whose soul dangles from his
watch-chain which would be embarrassing for both

parties and because you 
unflinchingly applaud all
songs containing the words country home and
mother when sung at the old howard

Humanity i love you because
when you're hard up you pawn your
intelligence to buy a drink and when
you're flush pride keeps 

you from the pawn shops and
because you are continually committing
nuisances but more
especially in your own house

Humanity i love you because you 
are perpetually putting the secret of
life in your pants and forgetting
it's there and sitting down

on it
and because you are 
forever making poems in the lap
of death Humanity

i hate you


by Elizabeth Barrett Browning | |

Grief

I TELL you hopeless grief is passionless; 
That only men incredulous of despair  
Half-taught in anguish through the midnight air 
Beat upward to God's throne in loud access 
Of shrieking and reproach.
Full desertness 5 In souls as countries lieth silent-bare Under the blanching vertical eye-glare Of the absolute Heavens.
Deep-hearted man express Grief for thy Dead in silence like to death¡ª Most like a monumental statue set 10 In everlasting watch and moveless woe Till itself crumble to the dust beneath.
Touch it; the marble eyelids are not wet: If it could weep it could arise and go.


by Emily Dickinson | |

It was not death for I stood up

It was not death, for I stood up,
And all the dead lie down;
It was not night, for all the bells
Put out their tongues, for noon.
It was not frost, for on my flesh I felt siroccos crawl,-- Nor fire, for just my marble feet Could keep a chancel cool.
And yet it tasted like them all; The figures I have seen Set orderly, for burial, Reminded me of mine, As if my life were shaven And fitted to a frame, And could not breathe without a key; And 't was like midnight, some, When everything that ticked has stopped, And space stares, all around, Or grisly frosts, first autumn morns, Repeal the beating ground.
But most like chaos,--stopless, cool,-- Without a chance or spar,-- Or even a report of land To justify despair.


by Sarah Fuller Flower Adams | |

He Sendeth Sun He Sendeth Shower

He sendeth sun, he sendeth shower, 
Alike they're needful for the flower: 
And joys and tears alike are sent 
To give the soul fit nourishment.
As comes to me or cloud or sun, Father! thy will, not mine, be done! Can loving children e'er reprove With murmurs whom they trust and love? Creator! I would ever be A trusting, loving child to thee: As comes to me or cloud or sun, Father! thy will, not mine, be done! Oh, ne'er will I at life repine: Enough that thou hast made it mine.
When falls the shadow cold of death I yet will sing, with parting breath, As comes to me or shade or sun, Father! thy will, not mine, be done!


by John Keats | |

Last Sonnet

BRIGHT Star! would I were steadfast as thou art¡ª 
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night  
And watching with eternal lids apart  
Like Nature's patient sleepless Eremite  
The moving waters at their priest-like task 5 
Of pure ablution round earth's human shores  
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask 
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors¡ª 
No¡ªyet still steadfast still unchangeable  
Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast 10 
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell  
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest  
Still still to hear her tender-taken breath  
And so live ever¡ªor else swoon to death.


by Edward Estlin (E E) Cummings | |

O sweet spontaneous

O sweet spontaneous
earth how often have
the
doting

fingers of
prurient philosophers pinched
and
poked

thee
has the naughty thumb
of science prodded
thy

beauty .
how often have religions taken thee upon their scraggy knees squeezing and buffeting thee that thou mightest conceive gods (but true to the incomparable couch of death thy rhythmic lover thou answerest them only with spring)


by Emily Dickinson | |

Her final summer was it

Her final summer was it,
And yet we guessed it not;
If tenderer industriousness
Pervaded her, we thought

A further force of life
Developed from within,--
When Death lit all the shortness up,
And made the hurry plain.
We wondered at our blindness,-- When nothing was to see But her Carrara guide-post,-- At our stupidity When, duller than our dulness, The busy darling lay, So busy was she, finishing, So leisurely were we!


by John Donne | |

Death

DEATH be not proud though some have call¨¨d thee 
Mighty and dreadful for thou art not so: 
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow 
Die not poor Death; nor yet canst thou kill me.
From Rest and Sleep which but thy picture be 5 Much pleasure then from thee much more must flow; And soonest our best men with thee do go¡ª Rest of their bones and souls' delivery! Thou'rt slave to fate chance kings and desperate men And dost with poison war and sickness dwell; 10 And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well And better than thy stroke.
Why swell'st thou then? One short sleep past we wake eternally And Death shall be no more: Death thou shalt die!


by Edward Estlin (E E) Cummings | |

Since Feeling is First

since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you
wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world
my blood approves 
and kisses are a better fate
than wisdom
lady i swear by all flowers.
Don't cry the best gesture of my brain is less than your eyelids' flutter which says we are for each other: then laugh leaning back in my arms for life's not a paragraph and death i think is no parenthesis


by Edward Estlin (E E) Cummings | |

this is the garden: colours come and go

this is the garden: colours come and go 
frail azures fluttering from night's outer wing
strong silent greens serenely lingering 
absolute lights like baths of golden snow.
This is the garden: pursed lips do blow upon cool flutes within wide glooms and sing (of harps celestial to the quivering string) invisible faces hauntingly and slow.
This is the garden.
Time shall surely reap and on Death's blade lie many a flower curled in other lands where other songs be sung; yet stand They here enraptured as among The slow deep trees perpetual of sleep some silver-fingered fountain steals the world.


by John Donne | |

A Hymn to God the Father

WILT Thou forgive that sin where I begun  
Which was my sin though it were done before? 
Wilt Thou forgive that sin through which I run  
And do run still though still I do deplore? 
When Thou hast done Thou hast not done; 5 
For I have more.
Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I have won Others to sin and made my sins their door? Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I did shun A year or two but wallow'd in a score? 10 When Thou hast done Thou hast not done; For I have more.
I have a sin of fear that when I've spun My last thread I shall perish on the shore; But swear by Thyself that at my death Thy Son 15 Shall shine as He shines now and heretofore: And having done that Thou hast done; I fear no more.


by Elizabeth Barrett Browning | |

Sonnets from the Portuguese v

WHEN our two souls stand up erect and strong  
Face to face silent drawing nigh and nigher  
Until the lengthening wings break into fire 
At either curving point ¡ªwhat bitter wrong 
Can the earth do us that we should not long 5 
Be here contented? Think! In mounting higher  
The angels would press on us and aspire 
To drop some golden orb of perfect song 
Into our deep dear silence.
Let us stay Rather on earth Belov¨¨d¡ªwhere the unfit 10 Contrarious moods of men recoil away And isolate pure spirits and permit A place to stand and love in for a day With darkness and the death-hour rounding it.


by George (Lord) Byron | |

Elegy

OH snatch'd away in beauty's bloom! 
On thee shall press no ponderous tomb; 
But on thy turf shall roses rear 
Their leaves the earliest of the year  
And the wild cypress wave in tender gloom: 5 

And oft by yon blue gushing stream 
Shall Sorrow lean her drooping head  
And feed deep thought with many a dream  
And lingering pause and lightly tread; 
Fond wretch! as if her step disturb'd the dead! 10 

Away! we know that tears are vain  
That Death nor heeds nor hears distress: 
Will this unteach us to complain? 
Or make one mourner weep the less? 
And thou who tell'st me to forget 15 
Thy looks are wan thine eyes are wet.


by Elizabeth Barrett Browning | |

Sonnets from the Portuguese i

I THOUGHT once how Theocritus had sung 
Of the sweet years the dear and wish'd-for years  
Who each one in a gracious hand appears 
To bear a gift for mortals old or young: 
And as I mused it in his antique tongue 5 
I saw in gradual vision through my tears 
The sweet sad years the melancholy years¡ª 
Those of my own life who by turns had flung 
A shadow across me.
Straightway I was 'ware So weeping how a mystic Shape did move 10 Behind me and drew me backward by the hair; And a voice said in mastery while I strove 'Guess now who holds thee?'¡ª'Death ' I said.
But there The silver answer rang¡ª'Not Death but Love.
'