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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 George (Lord) Byron | Create an image from this poem

The Dream

 I

Our life is twofold; Sleep hath its own world,
A boundary between the things misnamed
Death and existence: Sleep hath its own world,
And a wide realm of wild reality,
And dreams in their development have breath,
And tears, and tortures, and the touch of joy;
They leave a weight upon our waking thoughts,
They take a weight from off waking toils,
They do divide our being; they become
A portion of ourselves as of our time,
And look like heralds of eternity;
They pass like spirits of the past—they speak
Like sibyls of the future; they have power— 
The tyranny of pleasure and of pain;
They make us what we were not—what they will,
And shake us with the vision that's gone by,
The dread of vanished shadows—Are they so?
Is not the past all shadow?—What are they?
Creations of the mind?—The mind can make
Substances, and people planets of its own
With beings brighter than have been, and give
A breath to forms which can outlive all flesh.
I would recall a vision which I dreamed Perchance in sleep—for in itself a thought, A slumbering thought, is capable of years, And curdles a long life into one hour.
II I saw two beings in the hues of youth Standing upon a hill, a gentle hill, Green and of mild declivity, the last As 'twere the cape of a long ridge of such, Save that there was no sea to lave its base, But a most living landscape, and the wave Of woods and corn-fields, and the abodes of men Scattered at intervals, and wreathing smoke Arising from such rustic roofs: the hill Was crowned with a peculiar diadem Of trees, in circular array, so fixed, Not by the sport of nature, but of man: These two, a maiden and a youth, were there Gazing—the one on all that was beneath Fair as herself—but the boy gazed on her; And both were young, and one was beautiful: And both were young—yet not alike in youth.
As the sweet moon on the horizon's verge, The maid was on the eve of womanhood; The boy had fewer summers, but his heart Had far outgrown his years, and to his eye There was but one beloved face on earth, And that was shining on him; he had looked Upon it till it could not pass away; He had no breath, no being, but in hers: She was his voice; he did not speak to her, But trembled on her words; she was his sight, For his eye followed hers, and saw with hers, Which coloured all his objects;—he had ceased To live within himself: she was his life, The ocean to the river of his thoughts, Which terminated all; upon a tone, A touch of hers, his blood would ebb and flow, And his cheek change tempestuously—his heart Unknowing of its cause of agony.
But she in these fond feelings had no share: Her sighs were not for him; to her he was Even as a brother—but no more; 'twas much, For brotherless she was, save in the name Her infant friendship had bestowed on him; Herself the solitary scion left Of a time-honoured race.
—It was a name Which pleased him, and yet pleased him not—and why? Time taught him a deep answer—when she loved Another; even now she loved another, And on the summit of that hill she stood Looking afar if yet her lover's steed Kept pace with her expectancy, and flew.
III A change came o'er the spirit of my dream.
There was an ancient mansion, and before Its walls there was a steed caparisoned: Within an antique Oratory stood The Boy of whom I spake;—he was alone, And pale, and pacing to and fro: anon He sate him down, and seized a pen, and traced Words which I could not guess of; then he leaned His bowed head on his hands and shook, as 'twere With a convulsion—then rose again, And with his teeth and quivering hands did tear What he had written, but he shed no tears.
And he did calm himself, and fix his brow Into a kind of quiet: as he paused, The Lady of his love re-entered there; She was serene and smiling then, and yet She knew she was by him beloved; she knew— For quickly comes such knowledge—that his heart Was darkened with her shadow, and she saw That he was wretched, but she saw not all.
He rose, and with a cold and gentle grasp He took her hand; a moment o'er his face A tablet of unutterable thoughts Was traced, and then it faded, as it came; He dropped the hand he held, and with slow steps Retired, but not as bidding her adieu, For they did part with mutual smiles; he passed From out the massy gate of that old Hall, And mounting on his steed he went his way; And ne'er repassed that hoary threshold more.
IV A change came o'er the spirit of my dream.
The Boy was sprung to manhood: in the wilds Of fiery climes he made himself a home, And his Soul drank their sunbeams; he was girt With strange and dusky aspects; he was not Himself like what he had been; on the sea And on the shore he was a wanderer; There was a mass of many images Crowded like waves upon me, but he was A part of all; and in the last he lay Reposing from the noontide sultriness, Couched among fallen columns, in the shade Of ruined walls that had survived the names Of those who reared them; by his sleeping side Stood camels grazing, and some goodly steeds Were fastened near a fountain; and a man, Glad in a flowing garb, did watch the while, While many of his tribe slumbered around: And they were canopied by the blue sky, So cloudless, clear, and purely beautiful, That God alone was to be seen in heaven.
V A change came o'er the spirit of my dream.
The Lady of his love was wed with One Who did not love her better: in her home, A thousand leagues from his,—her native home, She dwelt, begirt with growing Infancy, Daughters and sons of Beauty,—but behold! Upon her face there was a tint of grief, The settled shadow of an inward strife, And an unquiet drooping of the eye, As if its lid were charged with unshed tears.
What could her grief be?—she had all she loved, And he who had so loved her was not there To trouble with bad hopes, or evil wish, Or ill-repressed affliction, her pure thoughts.
What could her grief be?—she had loved him not, Nor given him cause to deem himself beloved, Nor could he be a part of that which preyed Upon her mind—a spectre of the past.
VI A change came o'er the spirit of my dream.
The Wanderer was returned.
—I saw him stand Before an altar—with a gentle bride; Her face was fair, but was not that which made The Starlight of his Boyhood;—as he stood Even at the altar, o'er his brow there came The selfsame aspect and the quivering shock That in the antique Oratory shook His bosom in its solitude; and then— As in that hour—a moment o'er his face The tablet of unutterable thoughts Was traced—and then it faded as it came, And he stood calm and quiet, and he spoke The fitting vows, but heard not his own words, And all things reeled around him; he could see Not that which was, nor that which should have been— But the old mansion, and the accustomed hall, And the remembered chambers, and the place, The day, the hour, the sunshine, and the shade, All things pertaining to that place and hour, And her who was his destiny, came back And thrust themselves between him and the light; What business had they there at such a time? VII A change came o'er the spirit of my dream.
The Lady of his love;—Oh! she was changed, As by the sickness of the soul; her mind Had wandered from its dwelling, and her eyes, They had not their own lustre, but the look Which is not of the earth; she was become The queen of a fantastic realm; her thoughts Were combinations of disjointed things; And forms impalpable and unperceived Of others' sight familiar were to hers.
And this the world calls frenzy; but the wise Have a far deeper madness, and the glance Of melancholy is a fearful gift; What is it but the telescope of truth? Which strips the distance of its fantasies, And brings life near in utter nakedness, Making the cold reality too real! VIII A change came o'er the spirit of my dream.
The Wanderer was alone as heretofore, The beings which surrounded him were gone, Or were at war with him; he was a mark For blight and desolation, compassed round With Hatred and Contention; Pain was mixed In all which was served up to him, until, Like to the Pontic monarch of old days, He fed on poisons, and they had no power, But were a kind of nutriment; he lived Through that which had been death to many men, And made him friends of mountains; with the stars And the quick Spirit of the Universe He held his dialogues: and they did teach To him the magic of their mysteries; To him the book of Night was opened wide, And voices from the deep abyss revealed A marvel and a secret.
—Be it so.
IX My dream is past; it had no further change.
It was of a strange order, that the doom Of these two creatures should be thus traced out Almost like a reality—the one To end in madness—both in misery.
Written by Allen Ginsberg | Create an image from this poem

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.
Y.
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.
N.
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 Elizabeth Barrett Browning | Create an image from this poem

The Deserted Garden

I MIND me in the days departed, 
How often underneath the sun 
With childish bounds I used to run 
To a garden long deserted.
The beds and walks were vanish'd quite; 5 And wheresoe'er had struck the spade, The greenest grasses Nature laid, To sanctify her right.
I call'd the place my wilderness, For no one enter'd there but I.
10 The sheep look'd in, the grass to espy, And pass'd it ne'ertheless.
The trees were interwoven wild, And spread their boughs enough about To keep both sheep and shepherd out, 15 But not a happy child.
Adventurous joy it was for me! I crept beneath the boughs, and found A circle smooth of mossy ground Beneath a poplar-tree.
20 Old garden rose-trees hedged it in, Bedropt with roses waxen-white, Well satisfied with dew and light, And careless to be seen.
Long years ago, it might befall, 25 When all the garden flowers were trim, The grave old gardener prided him On these the most of all.
Some Lady, stately overmuch, Here moving with a silken noise, 30 Has blush'd beside them at the voice That liken'd her to such.
Or these, to make a diadem, She often may have pluck'd and twined; Half-smiling as it came to mind, 35 That few would look at them.
O, little thought that Lady proud, A child would watch her fair white rose, When buried lay her whiter brows, And silk was changed for shroud!¡ª 40 Nor thought that gardener (full of scorns For men unlearn'd and simple phrase) A child would bring it all its praise, By creeping through the thorns! To me upon my low moss seat, 45 Though never a dream the roses sent Of science or love's compliment, I ween they smelt as sweet.
It did not move my grief to see The trace of human step departed: 50 Because the garden was deserted, The blither place for me! Friends, blame me not! a narrow ken Hath childhood 'twixt the sun and sward: We draw the moral afterward¡ª 55 We feel the gladness then.
And gladdest hours for me did glide In silence at the rose-tree wall: A thrush made gladness musical Upon the other side.
60 Nor he nor I did e'er incline To peck or pluck the blossoms white:¡ª How should I know but that they might Lead lives as glad as mine? To make my hermit-home complete, 65 I brought clear water from the spring Praised in its own low murmuring, And cresses glossy wet.
And so, I thought, my likeness grew (Without the melancholy tale) 70 To 'gentle hermit of the dale,' And Angelina too.
For oft I read within my nook Such minstrel stories; till the breeze Made sounds poetic in the trees, 75 And then I shut the book.
If I shut this wherein I write, I hear no more the wind athwart Those trees, nor feel that childish heart Delighting in delight.
80 My childhood from my life is parted, My footstep from the moss which drew Its fairy circle round: anew The garden is deserted.
Another thrush may there rehearse 85 The madrigals which sweetest are; No more for me!¡ªmyself afar Do sing a sadder verse.
Ah me! ah me! when erst I lay In that child's-nest so greenly wrought, 90 I laugh'd unto myself and thought, 'The time will pass away.
' And still I laugh'd, and did not fear But that, whene'er was pass'd away The childish time, some happier play 95 My womanhood would cheer.
I knew the time would pass away; And yet, beside the rose-tree wall, Dear God, how seldom, if at all, Did I look up to pray! 100 The time is past: and now that grows The cypress high among the trees, And I behold white sepulchres As well as the white rose,¡ª When wiser, meeker thoughts are given, 105 And I have learnt to lift my face, Reminded how earth's greenest place The colour draws from heaven,¡ª It something saith for earthly pain, But more for heavenly promise free, 110 That I who was, would shrink to be That happy child again.
Written by Robert Burns | Create an image from this poem

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 Pablo Neruda | Create an image from this poem

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 William Wordsworth | Create an image from this poem

Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey

Five years have passed; five summers, with the length 
Of five long winters! and again I hear
These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs
With a soft inland murmur.
Once again Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs, That on a wild secluded scene impress Thoughts of more deep seclusion; and connect The landscape with the quiet of the sky.
The day is come when I again repose Here, under this dark sycamore, and view These plots of cottage-ground, these orchard-tufts, Which at this season, with their unripe fruits, Are clad in one green hue, and lose themselves 'Mid groves and copses.
Once again I see These hedgerows, hardly hedgerows, little lines Of sportive wood run wild; these pastoral farms, Green to the very door; and wreaths of smoke Sent up, in silence, from among the trees! With some uncertain notice, as might seem Of vagrant dwellers in the houseless woods, Or of some Hermit's cave, where by his fire The Hermit sits alone.
These beauteous forms, Through a long absence, have not been to me As is a landscape to a blind man's eye; But oft, in lonely rooms, and 'mid the din Of towns and cities, I have owed to them, In hours of weariness, sensations sweet, Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart; And passing even into my purer mind With tranquil restoration—feelings too Of unremembered pleasure; such, perhaps, As have no slight or trivial influence On that best portion of a good man's life, His little, nameless, unremembered, acts Of kindness and of love.
Nor less, I trust, To them I may have owed another gift, Of aspect more sublime; that blessed mood, In which the burthen of the mystery, In which the heavy and the weary weight Of all this unintelligible world, Is lightened—that serene and blessed mood, In which the affections gently lead us on— Until, the breath of this corporeal frame And even the motion of our human blood Almost suspended, we are laid asleep In body, and become a living soul; While with an eye made quiet by the power Of harmony, and the deep power of joy, We see into the life of things.
If this Be but a vain belief, yet, oh! how oft— In darkness and amid the many shapes Of joyless daylight; when the fretful stir Unprofitable, and the fever of the world, Have hung upon the beatings of my heart— How oft, in spirit, have I turned to thee, O sylvan Wye! thou wanderer through the woods, How often has my spirit turned to thee! And now, with gleams of half-extinguished thought, With many recognitions dim and faint, And somewhat of a sad perplexity, The picture of the mind revives again; While here I stand, not only with the sense Of present pleasure, but with pleasing thoughts That in this moment there is life and food For future years.
And so I dare to hope, Though changed, no doubt, from what I was when first I came among these hills; when like a roe I bounded o'er the mountains, by the sides Of the deep rivers, and the lonely streams, Wherever nature led—more like a man Flying from something that he dreads than one Who sought the thing he loved.
For nature then (The coarser pleasures of my boyish days And their glad animal movements all gone by) To me was all in all.
—I cannot paint What then I was.
The sounding cataract Haunted me like a passion; the tall rock, The mountain, and the deep and gloomy wood, Their colors and their forms, were then to me An appetite; a feeling and a love, That had no need of a remoter charm, By thought supplied, not any interest Unborrowed from the eye.
—That time is past, And all its aching joys are now no more, And all its dizzy raptures.
Not for this Faint I, nor mourn nor murmur; other gifts Have followed; for such loss, I would believe, Abundant recompense.
For I have learned To look on nature, not as in the hour Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes The still sad music of humanity, Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power To chasten and subdue.
And I have felt A presence that disturbs me with the joy Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime Of something far more deeply interfused, Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns, And the round ocean and the living air, And the blue sky, and in the mind of man: A motion and a spirit, that impels All thinking things, all objects of all thought, And rolls through all things.
Therefore am I still A lover of the meadows and the woods, And mountains; and of all that we behold From this green earth; of all the mighty world Of eye, and ear—both what they half create, And what perceive; well pleased to recognize In nature and the language of the sense The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse, The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul Of all my moral being.
Nor perchance, If I were not thus taught, should I the more Suffer my genial spirits to decay: For thou art with me here upon the banks Of this fair river; thou my dearest Friend, My dear, dear Friend; and in thy voice I catch The language of my former heart, and read My former pleasures in the shooting lights Of thy wild eyes.
Oh! yet a little while May I behold in thee what I was once, My dear, dear Sister! and this prayer I make, Knowing that Nature never did betray The heart that loved her; 'tis her privilege, Through all the years of this our life, to lead From joy to joy: for she can so inform The mind that is within us, so impress With quietness and beauty, and so feed With lofty thoughts, that neither evil tongues, Rash judgments, nor the sneers of selfish men, Nor greetings where no kindness is, nor all The dreary intercourse of daily life, Shall e'er prevail against us, or disturb Our cheerful faith, that all which we behold Is full of blessings.
Therefore let the moon Shine on thee in thy solitary walk; And let the misty mountain winds be free To blow against thee: and, in after years, When these wild ecstasies shall be matured Into a sober pleasure; when thy mind Shall be a mansion for all lovely forms, Thy memory be as a dwelling place For all sweet sounds and harmonies; oh! then, If solitude, or fear, or pain, or grief, Should be thy portion, with what healing thoughts Of tender joy wilt thou remember me, And these my exhortations! Nor, perchance— If I should be where I no more can hear Thy voice, nor catch from thy wild eyes these gleams Of past existence—wilt thou then forget That on the banks of this delightful stream We stood together; and that I, so long A worshipper of Nature, hither came Unwearied in that service; rather say With warmer love—oh! with far deeper zeal Of holier love.
Nor wilt thou then forget, That after many wanderings, many years Of absence, these steep woods and lofty cliffs, And this green pastoral landscape, were to me More dear, both for themselves and for thy sake!
Written by Sir Walter Raleigh | Create an image from this poem

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 | Create an image from this poem

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 Carol Ann Duffy | Create an image from this poem

Valentine

 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.
Here.
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.
Lethal.
Its scent will cling to your fingers, cling to your knife.
Written by Anna Akhmatova | Create an image from this poem

Requiem

 Not under foreign skies
 Nor under foreign wings protected -
 I shared all this with my own people
 There, where misfortune had abandoned us.
[1961] INSTEAD OF A PREFACE During the frightening years of the Yezhov terror, I spent seventeen months waiting in prison queues in Leningrad.
One day, somehow, someone 'picked me out'.
On that occasion there was a woman standing behind me, her lips blue with cold, who, of course, had never in her life heard my name.
Jolted out of the torpor characteristic of all of us, she said into my ear (everyone whispered there) - 'Could one ever describe this?' And I answered - 'I can.
' It was then that something like a smile slid across what had previously been just a face.
[The 1st of April in the year 1957.
Leningrad] DEDICATION Mountains fall before this grief, A mighty river stops its flow, But prison doors stay firmly bolted Shutting off the convict burrows And an anguish close to death.
Fresh winds softly blow for someone, Gentle sunsets warm them through; we don't know this, We are everywhere the same, listening To the scrape and turn of hateful keys And the heavy tread of marching soldiers.
Waking early, as if for early mass, Walking through the capital run wild, gone to seed, We'd meet - the dead, lifeless; the sun, Lower every day; the Neva, mistier: But hope still sings forever in the distance.
The verdict.
Immediately a flood of tears, Followed by a total isolation, As if a beating heart is painfully ripped out, or, Thumped, she lies there brutally laid out, But she still manages to walk, hesitantly, alone.
Where are you, my unwilling friends, Captives of my two satanic years? What miracle do you see in a Siberian blizzard? What shimmering mirage around the circle of the moon? I send each one of you my salutation, and farewell.
[March 1940] INTRODUCTION [PRELUDE] It happened like this when only the dead Were smiling, glad of their release, That Leningrad hung around its prisons Like a worthless emblem, flapping its piece.
Shrill and sharp, the steam-whistles sang Short songs of farewell To the ranks of convicted, demented by suffering, As they, in regiments, walked along - Stars of death stood over us As innocent Russia squirmed Under the blood-spattered boots and tyres Of the black marias.
I You were taken away at dawn.
I followed you As one does when a corpse is being removed.
Children were crying in the darkened house.
A candle flared, illuminating the Mother of God.
.
.
The cold of an icon was on your lips, a death-cold sweat On your brow - I will never forget this; I will gather To wail with the wives of the murdered streltsy (1) Inconsolably, beneath the Kremlin towers.
[1935.
Autumn.
Moscow] II Silent flows the river Don A yellow moon looks quietly on Swanking about, with cap askew It sees through the window a shadow of you Gravely ill, all alone The moon sees a woman lying at home Her son is in jail, her husband is dead Say a prayer for her instead.
III It isn't me, someone else is suffering.
I couldn't.
Not like this.
Everything that has happened, Cover it with a black cloth, Then let the torches be removed.
.
.
Night.
IV Giggling, poking fun, everyone's darling, The carefree sinner of Tsarskoye Selo (2) If only you could have foreseen What life would do with you - That you would stand, parcel in hand, Beneath the Crosses (3), three hundredth in line, Burning the new year's ice With your hot tears.
Back and forth the prison poplar sways With not a sound - how many innocent Blameless lives are being taken away.
.
.
[1938] V For seventeen months I have been screaming, Calling you home.
I've thrown myself at the feet of butchers For you, my son and my horror.
Everything has become muddled forever - I can no longer distinguish Who is an animal, who a person, and how long The wait can be for an execution.
There are now only dusty flowers, The chinking of the thurible, Tracks from somewhere into nowhere And, staring me in the face And threatening me with swift annihilation, An enormous star.
[1939] VI Weeks fly lightly by.
Even so, I cannot understand what has arisen, How, my son, into your prison White nights stare so brilliantly.
Now once more they burn, Eyes that focus like a hawk, And, upon your cross, the talk Is again of death.
[1939.
Spring] VII THE VERDICT The word landed with a stony thud Onto my still-beating breast.
Nevermind, I was prepared, I will manage with the rest.
I have a lot of work to do today; I need to slaughter memory, Turn my living soul to stone Then teach myself to live again.
.
.
But how.
The hot summer rustles Like a carnival outside my window; I have long had this premonition Of a bright day and a deserted house.
[22 June 1939.
Summer.
Fontannyi Dom (4)] VIII TO DEATH You will come anyway - so why not now? I wait for you; things have become too hard.
I have turned out the lights and opened the door For you, so simple and so wonderful.
Assume whatever shape you wish.
Burst in Like a shell of noxious gas.
Creep up on me Like a practised bandit with a heavy weapon.
Poison me, if you want, with a typhoid exhalation, Or, with a simple tale prepared by you (And known by all to the point of nausea), take me Before the commander of the blue caps and let me glimpse The house administrator's terrified white face.
I don't care anymore.
The river Yenisey Swirls on.
The Pole star blazes.
The blue sparks of those much-loved eyes Close over and cover the final horror.
[19 August 1939.
Fontannyi Dom] IX Madness with its wings Has covered half my soul It feeds me fiery wine And lures me into the abyss.
That's when I understood While listening to my alien delirium That I must hand the victory To it.
However much I nag However much I beg It will not let me take One single thing away: Not my son's frightening eyes - A suffering set in stone, Or prison visiting hours Or days that end in storms Nor the sweet coolness of a hand The anxious shade of lime trees Nor the light distant sound Of final comforting words.
[14 May 1940.
Fontannyi Dom] X CRUCIFIXION Weep not for me, mother.
I am alive in my grave.
1.
A choir of angels glorified the greatest hour, The heavens melted into flames.
To his father he said, 'Why hast thou forsaken me!' But to his mother, 'Weep not for me.
.
.
' [1940.
Fontannyi Dom] 2.
Magdalena smote herself and wept, The favourite disciple turned to stone, But there, where the mother stood silent, Not one person dared to look.
[1943.
Tashkent] EPILOGUE 1.
I have learned how faces fall, How terror can escape from lowered eyes, How suffering can etch cruel pages Of cuneiform-like marks upon the cheeks.
I know how dark or ash-blond strands of hair Can suddenly turn white.
I've learned to recognise The fading smiles upon submissive lips, The trembling fear inside a hollow laugh.
That's why I pray not for myself But all of you who stood there with me Through fiercest cold and scorching July heat Under a towering, completely blind red wall.
2.
The hour has come to remember the dead.
I see you, I hear you, I feel you: The one who resisted the long drag to the open window; The one who could no longer feel the kick of familiar soil beneath her feet; The one who, with a sudden flick of her head, replied, 'I arrive here as if I've come home!' I'd like to name you all by name, but the list Has been removed and there is nowhere else to look.
So, I have woven you this wide shroud out of the humble words I overheard you use.
Everywhere, forever and always, I will never forget one single thing.
Even in new grief.
Even if they clamp shut my tormented mouth Through which one hundred million people scream; That's how I wish them to remember me when I am dead On the eve of my remembrance day.
If someone someday in this country Decides to raise a memorial to me, I give my consent to this festivity But only on this condition - do not build it By the sea where I was born, I have severed my last ties with the sea; Nor in the Tsar's Park by the hallowed stump Where an inconsolable shadow looks for me; Build it here where I stood for three hundred hours And no-one slid open the bolt.
Listen, even in blissful death I fear That I will forget the Black Marias, Forget how hatefully the door slammed and an old woman Howled like a wounded beast.
Let the thawing ice flow like tears From my immovable bronze eyelids And let the prison dove coo in the distance While ships sail quietly along the river.
[March 1940.
Fontannyi Dom] FOOTNOTES 1 An elite guard which rose up in rebellion against Peter the Great in 1698.
Most were either executed or exiled.
2 The imperial summer residence outside St Petersburg where Ahmatova spent her early years.
3 A prison complex in central Leningrad near the Finland Station, called The Crosses because of the shape of two of the buildings.
4 The Leningrad house in which Ahmatova lived.
Written by Henry David Thoreau | Create an image from this poem

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
immortality.
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 Mark Doty | Create an image from this poem

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 Anne Bronte | Create an image from this poem

Power of Love

 Love, indeed thy strength is mighty
Thus, alone, such strife to bear --
Three 'gainst one, and never ceasing --
Death, and Madness, and Despair! 
'Tis not my own strength has saved me;
Health, and hope, and fortitude,
But for love, had long since failed me;
Heart and soul had sunk subdued.
Often, in my wild impatience, I have lost my trust in Heaven, And my soul has tossed and struggled, Like a vessel tempest-driven; But the voice of my beloved In my ear has seemed to say -- 'O, be patient if thou lov'st me!' And the storm has passed away.
When outworn with weary thinking, Sight and thought were waxing dim, And my mind began to wander, And my brain began to swim, Then those hands outstretched to save me Seemed to call me back again -- Those dark eyes did so implore me To resume my reason's reign, That I could not but remember How her hopes were fixed on me, And, with one determined effort, Rose, and shook my spirit free.
When hope leaves my weary spirit -- All the power to hold it gone -- That loved voice so loudly prays me, 'For my sake, keep hoping on,' That, at once my strength renewing, Though Despair had crushed me down, I can burst his bonds asunder, And defy his deadliest frown.
When, from nights of restless tossing, Days of gloom and pining care, Pain and weakness, still increasing, Seem to whisper 'Death is near,' And I almost bid him welcome, Knowing he would bring release, Weary of this restless struggle -- Longing to repose in peace, Then a glance of fond reproval Bids such selfish longings flee And a voice of matchless music Murmurs 'Cherish life for me!' Roused to newborn strength and courage, Pain and grief, I cast away, Health and life, I keenly follow, Mighty Death is held at bay.
Yes, my love, I will be patient! Firm and bold my heart shall be: Fear not -- though this life is dreary, I can bear it well for thee.
Let our foes still rain upon me Cruel wrongs and taunting scorn; 'Tis for thee their hate pursues me, And for thee, it shall be borne!
Written by Sarojini Naidu | Create an image from this poem

Life

 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 Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi | Create an image from this poem

If A Tree Could Wander

Oh, if a tree could wander

     and move with foot and wings!

It would not suffer the axe blows

     and not the pain of saws!

For would the sun not wander

     away in every night ?

How could at ev’ry morning

     the world be lighted up?

And if the ocean’s water

     would not rise to the sky,

How would the plants be quickened

     by streams and gentle rain?

The drop that left its homeland,

     the sea, and then returned ?

It found an oyster waiting

     and grew into a pearl.

Did Yusaf not leave his father,

     in grief and tears and despair?

Did he not, by such a journey,

     gain kingdom and fortune wide?

Did not the Prophet travel

     to far Medina, friend?

And there he found a new kingdom

     and ruled a hundred lands.

You lack a foot to travel?

     Then journey into yourself!

And like a mine of rubies

     receive the sunbeams? print!

Out of yourself ? such a journey

     will lead you to your self,

It leads to transformation

     of dust into pure gold!

 

Look! This is Love – Poems of Rumi,

Annemarie Schimmel