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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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See also: Best Member Poems

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!


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!


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!


More great poems below...

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.


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.


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 Edgar Allan Poe | |

Israfel

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.


by Phillis Wheatley | |

To the Honourable T. H. Esq; on the Death of his Daughter

While deep you mourn beneath the cypress-shade
The hand of Death, and your dear daughter laid
In dust, whose absence gives your tears to flow,
And racks your bosom with incessant woe,
Let Recollection take a tender part,
Assuage the raging tortures of your heart,
Still the wild tempest of tumultuous grief,
And pour the heav'nly nectar of relief:
Suspend the sigh, dear Sir, and check the groan,
Divinely bright your daughter's Virtues shone:
How free from scornful pride her gentle mind,
Which ne'er its aid to indigence declin'd!
Expanding free, it sought the means to prove
Unfailing charity, unbounded love!

She unreluctant flies to see no more
Her dear-lov'd parents on earth's dusky shore:
Impatient heav'n's resplendent goal to gain,
She with swift progress cuts the azure plain,
Where grief subsides, where changes are no more,
And life's tumultuous billows cease to roar;
She leaves her earthly mansion for the skies,
Where new creations feast her wond'ring eyes.
To heav'n's high mandate cheerfully resign'd She mounts, and leaves the rolling globe behind; She, who late wish'd that Leonard might return, Has ceas'd to languish, and forgot to mourn; To the same high empyreal mansions come, She joins her spouse, and smiles upon the tomb: And thus I hear her from the realms above: "Lo! this the kingdom of celestial love! "Could ye, fond parents, see our present bliss, "How soon would you each sigh, each fear dismiss? "Amidst unutter'd pleasures whilst I play "In the fair sunshine of celestial day, "As far as grief affects an happy soul "So far doth grief my better mind controul, "To see on earth my aged parents mourn, "And secret wish for T-----! to return: "Let brighter scenes your ev'ning-hours employ: "Converse with heav'n, and taste the promis'd joy"


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
same
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


by Phillis Wheatley | |

On the Death of a young Lady of Five Years of Age

From dark abodes to fair etherial light
Th' enraptur'd innocent has wing'd her flight;
On the kind bosom of eternal love
She finds unknown beatitude above.
This known, ye parents, nor her loss deplore, She feels the iron hand of pain no more; The dispensations of unerring grace, Should turn your sorrows into grateful praise; Let then no tears for her henceforward flow, No more distress'd in our dark vale below, Her morning sun, which rose divinely bright, Was quickly mantled with the gloom of night; But hear in heav'n's blest bow'rs your Nancy fair, And learn to imitate her language there.
"Thou, Lord, whom I behold with glory crown'd, "By what sweet name, and in what tuneful sound "Wilt thou be prais'd? Seraphic pow'rs are faint "Infinite love and majesty to paint.
"To thee let all their graceful voices raise, "And saints and angels join their songs of praise.
" Perfect in bliss she from her heav'nly home Looks down, and smiling beckons you to come; Why then, fond parents, why these fruitless groans? Restrain your tears, and cease your plaintive moans.
Freed from a world of sin, and snares, and pain, Why would you wish your daughter back again? No--bow resign'd.
Let hope your grief control, And check the rising tumult of the soul.
Calm in the prosperous, and adverse day, Adore the God who gives and takes away; Eye him in all, his holy name revere, Upright your actions, and your hearts sincere, Till having sail'd through life's tempestuous sea, And from its rocks, and boist'rous billows free, Yourselves, safe landed on the blissful shore, Shall join your happy babe to part no more.


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 


by Ralph Waldo Emerson | |

Borrowing

From the French


SOME of the hurts you have cured  
And the sharpest you still have survived  
But what torments of grief you endured 
From evils which never arrived! 


by Percy Bysshe Shelley | |

Invocation

RARELY rarely comest thou  
Spirit of Delight! 
Wherefore hast thou left me now 
Many a day and night? 
Many a weary night and day 5 
'Tis since thou art fled away.
How shall ever one like me Win thee back again? With the joyous and the free Thou wilt scoff at pain.
10 Spirit false! thou hast forgot All but those who need thee not.
As a lizard with the shade Of a trembling leaf Thou with sorrow art dismay'd; 15 Even the sighs of grief Reproach thee that thou art not near And reproach thou wilt not hear.
Let me set my mournful ditty To a merry measure; 20 Thou wilt never come for pity Thou wilt come for pleasure: Pity then will cut away Those cruel wings and thou wilt stay.
I love all that thou lovest 25 Spirit of Delight! The fresh earth in new leaves drest And the starry night; Autumn evening and the morn When the golden mists are born.
30 I love snow and all the forms Of the radiant frost; I love waves and winds and storms Everything almost Which is Nature's and may be 35 Untainted by man's misery.
I love tranquil solitude And such society As is quiet wise and good; Between thee and me 40 What diff'rence? but thou dost possess The things I seek not love them less.
I love Love¡ªthough he has wings And like light can flee But above all other things 45 Spirit I love thee¡ª Thou art love and life! O come! Make once more my heart thy home!


by | |

A Farewell to the World

FALSE world good night! since thou hast brought 
That hour upon my morn of age; 
Henceforth I quit thee from my thought  
My part is ended on thy stage.
Yes threaten do.
Alas! I fear 5 As little as I hope from thee: I know thou canst not show nor bear More hatred than thou hast to me.
My tender first and simple years Thou didst abuse and then betray; 10 Since stir'd'st up jealousies and fears When all the causes were away.
Then in a soil hast planted me Where breathe the basest of thy fools; Where envious arts profess¨¨d be 15 And pride and ignorance the schools; Where nothing is examined weigh'd But as 'tis rumour'd so believed; Where every freedom is betray'd And every goodness tax'd or grieved.
20 But what we're born for we must bear: Our frail condition it is such That what to all may happen here If 't chance to me I must not grutch.
Else I my state should much mistake 25 To harbour a divided thought From all my kind¡ªthat for my sake There should a miracle be wrought.
No I do know that I was born To age misfortune sickness grief: 30 But I will bear these with that scorn As shall not need thy false relief.
Nor for my peace will I go far As wanderers do that still do roam; But make my strengths such as they are 35 Here in my bosom and at home.


by Alfred Lord Tennyson | |

O that twere possible

O THAT 'twere possible 
After long grief and pain 
To find the arms of my true love 
Round me once again!.
.
.
A shadow flits before me 5 Not thou but like to thee: Ah Christ! that it were possible For one short hour to see The souls we loved that they might tell us What and where they be! 10


by Ehsan Sehgal | by Ehsan Sehgal. You can read it on PoetrySoup.com' st_url='http://www.poetrysoup.com/famous/poem/23335/O_My_Beloved' st_title='O' My Beloved'>|

O' My Beloved

Let me say
In this way
Your grief, pain 
That you bear
I want to share
O' my beloved
Forever, forever
it's my reflection
My love, my affection
O' my dear
It will change never
O' my beloved
Forever forever
----
Ehsan Sehgal


by Anonymous | |

THE ORPHAN’S HYMN.

Father,—an orphan’s prayer receive,
And listen to my plaintive cry:
Thou only canst my wants relieve,
Who art my Father in the sky.
I have no father here below,
No mother kind to wipe my tears,—
These tender names I never know,
To soothe my grief and quell my fears.
But Thou wilt be my parent,—nigh
In every hour of deep distress,
And listen to an orphan’s sigh,
And soothe the anguish of my breast.
For Thou hast promised all I need,
More than a father’s, mother’s care:
Thou wilt the hungry orphan feed,
And always listen to my prayer.


by Margaret Atwood | |

Variation On The Word Sleep

 I would like to watch you sleeping,
which may not happen.
I would like to watch you, sleeping.
I would like to sleep with you, to enter your sleep as its smooth dark wave slides over my head and walk with you through that lucent wavering forest of bluegreen leaves with its watery sun & three moons towards the cave where you must descend, towards your worst fear I would like to give you the silver branch, the small white flower, the one word that will protect you from the grief at the center of your dream, from the grief at the center I would like to follow you up the long stairway again & become the boat that would row you back carefully, a flame in two cupped hands to where your body lies beside me, and as you enter it as easily as breathing in I would like to be the air that inhabits you for a moment only.
I would like to be that unnoticed & that necessary.


by Edmund Blunden | by Edmund Blunden. You can read it on PoetrySoup.com' st_url='http://www.poetrysoup.com/famous/poem/23156/The_Childs_Grave' st_title='The Child's Grave'>|

The Child's Grave

I came to the churchyard where pretty Joy lies
On a morning in April, a rare sunny day;
Such bloom rose around, and so many birds' cries
That I sang for delight as I followed the way.
I sang for delight in the ripening of spring, For dandelions even were suns come to earth; Not a moment went by but a new lark took wing To wait on the season with melody's mirth.
Love-making birds were my mates all the road, And who would wish surer delight for the eye Than to see pairing goldfinches gleaming abroad Or yellowhammers sunning on paling and sty? And stocks in the almswomen's garden were blown, With rich Easter roses each side of the door; The lazy white owls in the glade cool and lone Paid calls on their cousins in the elm's chambered core.
This peace, then, and happiness thronged me around.
Nor could I go burdened with grief, but made merry Till I came to the gate of that overgrown ground Where scarce once a year sees the priest come to bury.
Over the mounds stood the nettles in pride, And, where no fine flowers, there kind weeds dared to wave; It seemed but as yesterday she lay by my side, And now my dog ate of the grass on her grave.
He licked my hand wondering to see me muse so, And wished I would lead on the journey or home, As though not a moment of spring were to go In brooding; but I stood, if her spirit might come And tell me her life, since we left her that day In the white lilied coffin, and rained down our tears; But the grave held no answer, though long I should stay; How strange that this clay should mingle with hers! So I called my good dog, and went on my way; Joy's spirit shone then in each flower I went by, And clear as the noon, in coppice and ley, Her sweet dawning smile and her violet eye!


by Ben Jonson | |

On Margaret Ratcliffe


XL.
 ? ON MARGARET RATCLIFFE.
  
M arble, weep, for thou dost cover
A dead beauty underneath thee,
R ich as nature could bequeath thee :
G rant then, no rude hand remove her.

A ll the gazers on the skies
R ead not in fair heaven's story,
E xpresser truth, or truer glory,
T han they might in her bright eyes.

R are as wonder was her wit ;
A nd, like nectar, ever flowing :
T ill time, strong by her bestowing,
C onquer'd hath both life and it ;
L ife, whose grief was out of fashion
I n these times.
  Few so have rued
F ate in a brother.
  To conclude,
F or wit, feature, and true passion,
E arth, thou hast not such another.

[ AJ Note:
   Margaret Ratcliffe was one of Queen Elizabeth's
   ladies-in-waiting.
 She wasted away from grief in
   November 1599, after long mourning the deaths
   of four of her brothers.
]


by William Cullen Bryant | |

Consumption

 Ay, thou art for the grave; thy glances shine 
Too brightly to shine long; another Spring 
Shall deck her for men's eyes---but not for thine--- 
Sealed in a sleep which knows no wakening.
The fields for thee have no medicinal leaf, And the vexed ore no mineral of power; And they who love thee wait in anxious grief Till the slow plague shall bring the final hour.
Glide softly to thy rest then; Death should come Gently, to one of gentle mould like thee, As light winds wandering through groves of bloom Detach the delicate blossom from the tree.
Close thy sweet eyes, calmly, and without pain; And we will trust in God to see thee yet again.


by William Cullen Bryant | |

The Living Lost

 Matron! the children of whose love,
Each to his grave, in youth have passed,
And now the mould is heaped above
The dearest and the last!
Bride! who dost wear the widow's veil
Before the wedding flowers are pale!
Ye deem the human heart endures
No deeper, bitterer grief than yours.
Yet there are pangs of keener wo, Of which the sufferers never speak, Nor to the world's cold pity show The tears that scald the cheek, Wrung from their eyelids by the shame And guilt of those they shrink to name, Whom once they loved, with cheerful will, And love, though fallen and branded, still.
Weep, ye who sorrow for the dead, Thus breaking hearts their pain relieve; And graceful are the tears ye shed, And honoured ye who grieve.
The praise of those who sleep in earth, The pleasant memory of their worth, The hope to meet when life is past, Shall heal the tortured mind at last.
But ye, who for the living lost That agony in secret bear, Who shall with soothing words accost The strength of your despair? Grief for your sake is scorn for them Whom ye lament and all condemn; And o'er the world of spirits lies A gloom from which ye turn your eyes.


by William Cullen Bryant | |

Love and Folly

 Love's worshippers alone can know
The thousand mysteries that are his;
His blazing torch, his twanging bow,
His blooming age are mysteries.
A charming science--but the day Were all too short to con it o'er; So take of me this little lay, A sample of its boundless lore.
As once, beneath the fragrant shade Of myrtles breathing heaven's own air, The children, Love and Folly, played-- A quarrel rose betwixt the pair.
Love said the gods should do him right-- But Folly vowed to do it then, And struck him, o'er the orbs of sight, So hard, he never saw again.
His lovely mother's grief was deep, She called for vengeance on the deed; A beauty does not vainly weep, Nor coldly does a mother plead.
A shade came o'er the eternal bliss That fills the dwellers of the skies; Even stony-hearted Nemesis, And Rhadamanthus, wiped their eyes.
"Behold," she said, "this lovely boy," While streamed afresh her graceful tears, "Immortal, yet shut out from joy And sunshine, all his future years.
The child can never take, you see, A single step without a staff-- The harshest punishment would be Too lenient for the crime by half.
" All said that Love had suffered wrong, And well that wrong should be repaid; Then weighed the public interest long, And long the party's interest weighed.
And thus decreed the court above-- "Since Love is blind from Folly's blow, Let Folly be the guide of Love, Where'er the boy may choose to go.
"


by A R Ammons | |

In Memoriam Mae Noblitt

 This is just a place:
we go around, distanced, 
yearly in a star's

atmosphere, turning 
daily into and out of 
direct light and

slanting through the 
quadrant seasons: deep 
space begins at our

heels, nearly rousing 
us loose: we look up 
or out so high, sight's

silk almost draws us away:
this is just a place:
currents worry themselves

coiled and free in airs 
and oceans: water picks 
up mineral shadow and

plasm into billions of 
designs, frames: trees, 
grains, bacteria: but

is love a reality we 
made here ourselves--
and grief--did we design

that--or do these, 
like currents, whine 
in and out among us merely

as we arrive and go:
this is just a place:
the reality we agree with,

that agrees with us, 
outbounding this, arrives 
to touch, joining with

us from far away:
our home which defines 
us is elsewhere but not

so far away we have 
forgotten it:
this is just a place.


by W S Merwin | |

My Friends

 My friends without shields walk on the target

It is late the windows are breaking

My friends without shoes leave
What they love
Grief moves among them as a fire among
Its bells
My friends without clocks turn
On the dial they turn
They part

My friends with names like gloves set out
Bare handed as they have lived
And nobody knows them
It is they that lay the wreaths at the milestones it is their
Cups that are found at the wells
And are then chained up

My friends without feet sit by the wall
Nodding to the lame orchestra
Brotherhood it says on the decorations
My friend without eyes sits in the rain smiling
With a nest of salt in his hand

My friends without fathers or houses hear
Doors opening in the darkness
Whose halls announce

Behold the smoke has come home

My friends and I have in common
The present a wax bell in a wax belfry
This message telling of
Metals this
Hunger for the sake of hunger this owl in the heart
And these hands one
For asking one for applause

My friends with nothing leave it behind
In a box
My friends without keys go out from the jails it is night
They take the same road they miss
Each other they invent the same banner in the dark
They ask their way only of sentries too proud to breathe

At dawn the stars on their flag will vanish

The water will turn up their footprints and the day will rise
Like a monument to my
Friends the forgotten