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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 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 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.

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!

More great poems below...

Written by Lucy Maud Montgomery |

November Evening

 Come, for the dusk is our own; let us fare forth together,
With a quiet delight in our hearts for the ripe, still, autumn weather,
Through the rustling valley and wood and over the crisping meadow,
Under a high-sprung sky, winnowed of mist and shadow.
Sharp is the frosty air, and through the far hill-gaps showing Lucent sunset lakes of crocus and green are glowing; 'Tis the hour to walk at will in a wayward, unfettered roaming, Caring for naught save the charm, elusive and swift, of the gloaming.
Watchful and stirless the fields as if not unkindly holding Harvested joys in their clasp, and to their broad bosoms folding Baby hopes of a Spring, trusted to motherly keeping, Thus to be cherished and happed through the long months of their sleeping.
Silent the woods are and gray; but the firs than ever are greener, Nipped by the frost till the tang of their loosened balsam is keener; And one little wind in their boughs, eerily swaying and swinging, Very soft and low, like a wandering minstrel is singing.
Beautiful is the year, but not as the springlike maiden Garlanded with her hopes­rather the woman laden With wealth of joy and grief, worthily won through living, Wearing her sorrow now like a garment of praise and thanksgiving.
Gently the dark comes down over the wild, fair places, The whispering glens in the hills, the open, starry spaces; Rich with the gifts of the night, sated with questing and dreaming, We turn to the dearest of paths where the star of the homelight is gleaming.

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 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 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 Pablo Neruda |

A Song Of Despair

 The memory of you emerges from the night around me.
The river mingles its stubborn lament with the sea.
Deserted like the dwarves at dawn.
It is the hour of departure, oh deserted one! Cold flower heads are raining over my heart.
Oh pit of debris, fierce cave of the shipwrecked.
In you the wars and the flights accumulated.
From you the wings of the song birds rose.
You swallowed everything, like distance.
Like the sea, like time.
In you everything sank! It was the happy hour of assault and the kiss.
The hour of the spell that blazed like a lighthouse.
Pilot's dread, fury of blind driver, turbulent drunkenness of love, in you everything sank! In the childhood of mist my soul, winged and wounded.
Lost discoverer, in you everything sank! You girdled sorrow, you clung to desire, sadness stunned you, in you everything sank! I made the wall of shadow draw back, beyond desire and act, I walked on.
Oh flesh, my own flesh, woman whom I loved and lost, I summon you in the moist hour, I raise my song to you.
Like a jar you housed infinite tenderness.
and the infinite oblivion shattered you like a jar.
There was the black solitude of the islands, and there, woman of love, your arms took me in.
There was thirst and hunger, and you were the fruit.
There were grief and ruins, and you were the miracle.
Ah woman, I do not know how you could contain me in the earth of your soul, in the cross of your arms! How terrible and brief my desire was to you! How difficult and drunken, how tensed and avid.
Cemetery of kisses, there is still fire in your tombs, still the fruited boughs burn, pecked at by birds.
Oh the bitten mouth, oh the kissed limbs, oh the hungering teeth, oh the entwined bodies.
Oh the mad coupling of hope and force in which we merged and despaired.
And the tenderness, light as water and as flour.
And the word scarcely begun on the lips.
This was my destiny and in it was my voyage of my longing, and in it my longing fell, in you everything sank! Oh pit of debris, everything fell into you, what sorrow did you not express, in what sorrow are you not drowned! From billow to billow you still called and sang.
Standing like a sailor in the prow of a vessel.
You still flowered in songs, you still brike the currents.
Oh pit of debris, open and bitter well.
Pale blind diver, luckless slinger, lost discoverer, in you everything sank! It is the hour of departure, the hard cold hour which the night fastens to all the timetables.
The rustling belt of the sea girdles the shore.
Cold stars heave up, black birds migrate.
Deserted like the wharves at dawn.
Only tremulous shadow twists in my hands.
Oh farther than everything.
Oh farther than everything.
It is the hour of departure.
Oh abandoned one!

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 Mark Doty |

The Embrace

 You weren't well or really ill yet either;
just a little tired, your handsomeness
tinged by grief or anticipation, which brought
to your face a thoughtful, deepening grace.
I didn't for a moment doubt you were dead.
I knew that to be true still, even in the dream.
You'd been out—at work maybe?— having a good day, almost energetic.
We seemed to be moving from some old house where we'd lived, boxes everywhere, things in disarray: that was the story of my dream, but even asleep I was shocked out of narrative by your face, the physical fact of your face: inches from mine, smooth-shaven, loving, alert.
Why so difficult, remembering the actual look of you? Without a photograph, without strain? So when I saw your unguarded, reliable face, your unmistakable gaze opening all the warmth and clarity of you—warm brown tea—we held each other for the time the dream allowed.
Bless you.
You came back so I could see you once more, plainly, so I could rest against you without thinking this happiness lessened anything, without thinking you were alive again.

Written by Sarojini Naidu |


 CHILDREN, ye have not lived, to you it seems 
Life is a lovely stalactite of dreams, 
Or carnival of careless joys that leap 
About your hearts like billows on the deep 
In flames of amber and of amethyst.
Children, ye have not lived, ye but exist Till some resistless hour shall rise and move Your hearts to wake and hunger after love, And thirst with passionate longing for the things That burn your brows with blood-red sufferings.
Till ye have battled with great grief and fears, And borne the conflict of dream-shattering years, Wounded with fierce desire and worn with strife, Children, ye have not lived: for this is life.

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 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 Delmira Agustini |

I Live I Die I Burn I Drown

 I live, I die, I burn, I drown
I endure at once chill and cold
Life is at once too soft and too hard
I have sore troubles mingled with joys

Suddenly I laugh and at the same time cry
And in pleasure many a grief endure
My happiness wanes and yet it lasts unchanged
All at once I dry up and grow green

Thus I suffer love's inconstancies
And when I think the pain is most intense
Without thinking, it is gone again.
Then when I feel my joys certain And my hour of greatest delight arrived I find my pain beginning all over once again.

Written by Sylvia Plath |

A Life

 Touch it: it won't shrink like an eyeball,
This egg-shaped bailiwick, clear as a tear.
Here's yesterday, last year --- Palm-spear and lily distinct as flora in the vast Windless threadwork of a tapestry.
Flick the glass with your fingernail: It will ping like a Chinese chime in the slightest air stir Though nobody in there looks up or bothers to answer.
The inhabitants are light as cork, Every one of them permanently busy.
At their feet, the sea waves bow in single file.
Never trespassing in bad temper: Stalling in midair, Short-reined, pawing like paradeground horses.
Overhead, the clouds sit tasseled and fancy As Victorian cushions.
This family Of valentine faces might please a collector: They ring true, like good china.
Elsewhere the landscape is more frank.
The light falls without letup, blindingly.
A woman is dragging her shadow in a circle About a bald hospital saucer.
It resembles the moon, or a sheet of blank paper And appears to have suffered a sort of private blitzkrieg.
She lives quietly With no attachments, like a foetus in a bottle, The obsolete house, the sea, flattened to a picture She has one too many dimensions to enter.
Grief and anger, exorcised, Leave her alone now.
The future is a grey seagull Tattling in its cat-voice of departure.
Age and terror, like nurses, attend her, And a drowned man, complaining of the great cold, Crawls up out of the sea.