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Best Famous Grief Poems

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

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Written by Robert Burns |

To a Mouse

Wee, sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous beastie,
O, what a panic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
          Wi' bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee,
          Wi' murd'ring pattle!

I'm truly sorry man's dominion
Has broken Nature's social union,
An' justifies that ill opinion
          Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
          An' fellow mortal!

I doubt na, whiles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen icker in a thrave
          'S a sma' request;
I'll get a blessin wi' the lave,
          An' never miss't!

Thy wee bit housie, too, in ruin!
Its silly wa's the win's are strewin!
An' naething, now, to big a new ane,
          O' foggage green!
An' bleak December's win's ensuin,
          Baith snell an' keen!

Thou saw the fields laid bare an waste,
An' weary winter comin fast,
An' cozie here, beneath the blast,
          Thou thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
          Out thro' thy cell.
That wee bit heap o' leaves an' stibble Has cost thee mony a weary nibble! Now thou's turned out, for a' thy trouble, But house or hald, To thole the winter's sleety dribble, An' cranreuch cauld! But Mousie, thou art no thy lane, In proving foresight may be vain: The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men Gang aft a-gley, An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain For promised joy! Still thou art blest, compared wi' me! The present only toucheth thee: But och! I backward cast my e'e On prospects drear! An' forward, tho I canna see, I guess an' fear!

Written by Sir Walter Raleigh |

A Vision upon the Fairy Queen

Methought I saw the grave where Laura lay,
   Within that temple where the vestal flame
   Was wont to burn; and, passing by that way,
   To see that buried dust of living fame,
Whose tomb fair Love, and fairer Virtue kept:
   All suddenly I saw the Fairy Queen;
   At whose approach the soul of Petrarch wept,
   And, from thenceforth, those Graces were not seen:
For they this queen attended; in whose stead
   Oblivion laid him down on Laura's hearse:
   Hereat the hardest stones were seen to bleed,
And groans of buried ghosts the heavens did pierce:
   Where Homer's spright did tremble all for grief,
   And cursed the access of that celestial thief!

Written by Henry David Thoreau |

I am the autumnal sun

 Sometimes a mortal feels in himself Nature 
-- not his Father but his Mother stirs 
within him, and he becomes immortal with her
From time to time she claims kindredship with us, and some globule from her veins steals up into our own.
I am the autumnal sun, With autumn gales my race is run; When will the hazel put forth its flowers, Or the grape ripen under my bowers? When will the harvest or the hunter's moon Turn my midnight into mid-noon? I am all sere and yellow, And to my core mellow.
The mast is dropping within my woods, The winter is lurking within my moods, And the rustling of the withered leaf Is the constant music of my grief.

More great poems below...

Written by Edgar Lee Masters |

Doc Hill

I went up and down the streets
Here and there by day and night,
Through all hours of the night caring for the poor who were sick.
Do you know why? My wife hated me, my son went to the dogs.
And I turned to the people and poured out my love to them.
Sweet it was to see the crowds about the lawns on the day of my funeral, And hear them murmur their love and sorrow.
But oh, dear God, my soul trembled, scarcely able To hold to the railing of the new life When I saw Em Stanton behind the oak tree At the grave, Hiding herself, and her grief!

Written by Allen Ginsberg |

Hospital Window

At gauzy dusk, thin haze like cigarette smoke 
ribbons past Chrysler Building's silver fins 
tapering delicately needletopped, Empire State's 
taller antenna filmed milky lit amid blocks 
black and white apartmenting veil'd sky over Manhattan, 
offices new built dark glassed in blueish heaven--The East 
50's & 60's covered with castles & watertowers, seven storied 
tar-topped house-banks over York Avenue, late may-green trees 
surrounding Rockefellers' blue domed medical arbor-- 
Geodesic science at the waters edge--Cars running up 
East River Drive, & parked at N.
Hospital's oval door where perfect tulips flower the health of a thousand sick souls trembling inside hospital rooms.
Triboro bridge steel-spiked penthouse orange roofs, sunset tinges the river and in a few Bronx windows, some magnesium vapor brilliances're spotted five floors above E 59th St under grey painted bridge trestles.
Way downstream along the river, as Monet saw Thames 100 years ago, Con Edison smokestacks 14th street, & Brooklyn Bridge's skeined dim in modern mists-- Pipes sticking up to sky nine smokestacks huge visible-- U.
Building hangs under an orange crane, & red lights on vertical avenues below the trees turn green at the nod of a skull with a mild nerve ache.
Dim dharma, I return to this spectacle after weeks of poisoned lassitude, my thighs belly chest & arms covered with poxied welts, head pains fading back of the neck, right eyebrow cheek mouth paralyzed--from taking the wrong medicine, sweated too much in the forehead helpless, covered my rage from gorge to prostate with grinding jaw and tightening anus not released the weeping scream of horror at robot Mayaguez World self ton billions metal grief unloaded Pnom Penh to Nakon Thanom, Santiago & Tehran.
Fresh warm breeze in the window, day's release >from pain, cars float downside the bridge trestle and uncounted building-wall windows multiplied a mile deep into ash-delicate sky beguile my empty mind.
A seagull passes alone wings spread silent over roofs.
- May 20, 1975 Mayaguez Crisis

Written by Sir Walter Raleigh |

A Farewell to False Love

Farewell false love, the oracle of lies, 
A mortal foe and enemy to rest, 
An envious boy, from whom all cares arise, 
A bastard vile, a beast with rage possessed, 
A way of error, a temple full of treason, 
In all effects contrary unto reason.
A poisoned serpent covered all with flowers, Mother of sighs, and murderer of repose, A sea of sorrows whence are drawn such showers As moisture lend to every grief that grows; A school of guile, a net of deep deceit, A gilded hook that holds a poisoned bait.
A fortress foiled, which reason did defend, A siren song, a fever of the mind, A maze wherein affection finds no end, A raging cloud that runs before the wind, A substance like the shadow of the sun, A goal of grief for which the wisest run.
A quenchless fire, a nurse of trembling fear, A path that leads to peril and mishap, A true retreat of sorrow and despair, An idle boy that sleeps in pleasure's lap, A deep mistrust of that which certain seems, A hope of that which reason doubtful deems.
Sith* then thy trains my younger years betrayed, [since] And for my faith ingratitude I find; And sith repentance hath my wrongs bewrayed*, [revealed] Whose course was ever contrary to kind*: [nature] False love, desire, and beauty frail, adieu.
Dead is the root whence all these fancies grew.

Written by Elizabeth Barrett Browning |


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.

Written by Pablo Neruda |

Walking Around

 It so happens I am sick of being a man.
And it happens that I walk into tailorshops and movie houses dried up, waterproof, like a swan made of felt steering my way in a water of wombs and ashes.
The smell of barbershops makes me break into hoarse sobs.
The only thing I want is to lie still like stones or wool.
The only thing I want is to see no more stores, no gardens, no more goods, no spectacles, no elevators.
It so happens that I am sick of my feet and my nails and my hair and my shadow.
It so happens I am sick of being a man.
Still it would be marvelous to terrify a law clerk with a cut lily, or kill a nun with a blow on the ear.
It would be great to go through the streets with a green knife letting out yells until I died of the cold.
I don't want to go on being a root in the dark, insecure, stretched out, shivering with sleep, going on down, into the moist guts of the earth, taking in and thinking, eating every day.
I don't want so much misery.
I don't want to go on as a root and a tomb, alone under the ground, a warehouse with corpses, half frozen, dying of grief.
That's why Monday, when it sees me coming with my convict face, blazes up like gasoline, and it howls on its way like a wounded wheel, and leaves tracks full of warm blood leading toward the night.
And it pushes me into certain corners, into some moist houses, into hospitals where the bones fly out the window, into shoeshops that smell like vinegar, and certain streets hideous as cracks in the skin.
There are sulphur-colored birds, and hideous intestines hanging over the doors of houses that I hate, and there are false teeth forgotten in a coffeepot, there are mirrors that ought to have wept from shame and terror, there are umbrellas everywhere, and venoms, and umbilical cords.
I stroll along serenely, with my eyes, my shoes, my rage, forgetting everything, I walk by, going through office buildings and orthopedic shops, and courtyards with washing hanging from the line: underwear, towels and shirts from which slow dirty tears are falling.

Written by Emily Dickinson |

I measure every grief I meet

I measure every grief I meet
   With analytic eyes;
I wonder if it weighs like mine,
   Or has an easier size.
I wonder if they bore it long, Or did it just begin? I could not tell the date of mine, It feels so old a pain.
I wonder if it hurts to live, And if they have to try, And whether, could they choose between, They would not rather die.
I wonder if when years have piled-- Some thousands--on the cause Of early hurt, if such a lapse Could give them any pause; Or would they go on aching still Through centuries above, Enlightened to a larger pain By contrast with the love.
The grieved are many, I am told; The reason deeper lies,-- Death is but one and comes but once And only nails the eyes.
There's grief of want, and grief of cold,-- A sort they call 'despair,' There's banishment from native eyes, In sight of native air.
And though I may not guess the kind Correctly yet to me A piercing comfort it affords In passing Calvary, To note the fashions of the cross Of those that stand alone Still fascinated to presume That some are like my own.

Written by Edward Estlin (E E) Cummings |

Anyone Lived In A Pretty How Town

anyone lived in a pretty how town
(with up so floating many bells down)
spring summer autumn winter
he sang his didn't he danced his did

Women and men(both little and samll)
cared for anyone not at all
they sowed their isn't they reaped their
sun moon stars rain

children guessed(but only a few
and down they forgot as up they grew
autumn winter spring summer)
that noone loved him more by more

when by now and tree by leaf
she laughed his joy she cried his grief
bird by snow and stir by still
anyone's any was all to her

someones married their everyones
laughed their cryings and did their dance
(sleep wake hope and then)they
said their nevers they slept their dream

stars rain sun moon
(and only the snow can begin to explain
how children are apt to forget to remember
with up so floating many bells down)

one day anyone died i guess
(and noone stooped to kiss his face)
busy folk buried them side by side
little by little and was by was

all by all and deep by deep
and more by moe they dream their sleep
noone and anyone earth by april

wish by spirit and if by yes

Women and men(both dong and ding)
summer sutumn winter spring
reaped their sowing and went their came
sun moon stars rain

Written by Carol Ann Duffy |


 Not a red rose or a satin heart.
I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
It promises light like the careful undressing of love.
It will blind you with tears like a lover.
It will make your reflection a wobbling photo of grief.
I am trying to be truthful.
Not a cute card or a kissogram.
I give you an onion.
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips, possessive and faithful as we are, for as long as we are.
Take it.
Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring, if you like.
Its scent will cling to your fingers, cling to your knife.

Written by William Cullen Bryant |

The Past

THOU unrelenting Past! 
Strong are the barriers round thy dark domain  
And fetters sure and fast  
Hold all that enter thy unbreathing reign.
Far in thy realm withdrawn 5 Old empires sit in sullenness and gloom And glorious ages gone Lie deep within the shadow of thy womb.
Childhood with all its mirth Youth Manhood Age that draws us to the ground 10 And last Man's Life on earth Glide to thy dim dominions and are bound.
Thou hast my better years; Thou hast my earlier friends the good the kind Yielded to thee with tears¡ª 15 The venerable form the exalted mind.
My spirit yearns to bring The lost ones back¡ªyearns with desire intense And struggles hard to wring Thy bolts apart and pluck thy captives thence.
20 In vain; thy gates deny All passage save to those who hence depart; Nor to the streaming eye Thou giv'st them back¡ªnor to the broken heart.
In thy abysses hide 25 Beauty and excellence unknown; to thee Earth's wonder and her pride Are gathered as the waters to the sea; Labors of good to man Unpublished charity unbroken faith 30 Love that midst grief began And grew with years and faltered not in death.
Full many a mighty name Lurks in thy depths unuttered unrevered; With thee are silent fame 35 Forgotten arts and wisdom disappeared.
Thine for a space are they¡ª Yet shalt thou yield thy treasures up at last: Thy gates shall yet give way Thy bolts shall fall inexorable Past! 40 All that of good and fair Has gone into thy womb from earliest time Shall then come forth to wear The glory and the beauty of its prime.
They have not perished¡ªno! 45 Kind words remembered voices once so sweet Smiles radiant long ago And features the great soul's apparent seat.
All shall come back; each tie Of pure affection shall be knit again; 50 Alone shall Evil die And Sorrow dwell a prisoner in thy reign.
And then shall I behold Him by whose kind paternal side I sprung And her who still and cold 55 Fills the next grave¡ªthe beautiful and young.

Written by Edgar Allan Poe |


In Heaven a spirit doth dwell
"Whose heart-strings are a lute";
None sing so wildly well
As the angel Israfel 
And the giddy stars (so legends tell) 
Ceasing their hymns attend the spell
Of his voice all mute.
Tottering above In her highest noon The enamored moon Blushes with love While to listen the red levin (With the rapid Pleiads even Which were seven ) Pauses in Heaven.
And they say (the starry choir And the other listening things) That Israfeli's fire Is owing to that lyre By which he sits and sings- The trembling living wire Of those unusual strings.
But the skies that angel trod Where deep thoughts are a duty- Where Love's a grown-up God- Where the Houri glances are Imbued with all the beauty Which we worship in a star.
Therefore thou art not wrong Israfeli who despisest An unimpassioned song; To thee the laurels belong Best bard because the wisest! Merrily live and long! The ecstasies above With thy burning measures suit- Thy grief thy joy thy hate thy love With the fervor of thy lute- Well may the stars be mute! Yes Heaven is thine; but this Is a world of sweets and sours; Our flowers are merely- flowers And the shadow of thy perfect bliss Is the sunshine of ours.
If I could dwell Where Israfel Hath dwelt and he where I He might not sing so wildly well A mortal melody While a bolder note than this might swell From my lyre within the sky.

Written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow |


THERE is no flock however watched and tended  
But one dead lamb is there! 
There is no fireside howsoe'er defended  
But has one vacant chair! 

The air is full of farewells to the dying 5 
And mournings for the dead; 
The heart of Rachel for her children crying  
Will not be comforted! 

Let us be patient! These severe afflictions 
Not from the ground arise 10 
But oftentimes celestial benedictions 
Assume this dark disguise.
We see but dimly through the mists and vapors; Amid these earthly damps What seem to us but sad funereal tapers 15 May be heaven's distant lamps.
There is no Death! What seems so is transition; This life of mortal breath Is but a suburb of the life elysian Whose portal we call Death.
20 She is not dead ¡ªthe child of our affection ¡ª But gone unto that school Where she no longer needs our poor protection And Christ himself doth rule.
In that great cloister's stillness and seclusion 25 By guardian angels led Safe from temptation safe from sin's pollution She lives whom we call dead Day after day we think what she is doing In those bright realms of air; 30 Year after year her tender steps pursuing Behold her grown more fair.
Thus do we walk with her and keep unbroken The bond which nature gives Thinking that our remembrance though unspoken 35 May reach her where she lives.
Not as a child shall we again behold her; For when with raptures wild In our embraces we again enfold her She will not be a child; 40 But a fair maiden in her Father's mansion Clothed with celestial grace; And beautiful with all the soul's expansion Shall we behold her face.
And though at times impetuous with emotion 45 And anguish long suppressed The swelling heart heaves moaning like the ocean That cannot be at rest ¡ª We will be patient and assuage the feeling We may not wholly stay; 50 By silence sanctifying not concealing The grief that must have way.

Written by Percy Bysshe Shelley |

A Lament

O WORLD! O Life! O Time! 
On whose last steps I climb  
Trembling at that where I had stood before; 
When will return the glory of your prime? 
No more¡ªoh never more! 5 

Out of the day and night 
A joy has taken flight: 
Fresh spring and summer and winter hoar 
Move my faint heart with grief but with delight 
No more¡ªoh never more! 10