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Best Famous Loss Poems

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

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See also: Best Member Poems

by Rudyard Kipling | |

If

If you can keep your head when all about you 
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you; 
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, 
But make allowance for their doubting too: 
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, 
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies, 
Or being hated don't give way to hating, 
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise; 

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master; 
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim, 
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster 
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools, Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken, And stoop and build'em up with worn-out tools; If you can make one heap of all your winnings And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss, And lose, and start again at your beginnings, And never breathe a word about your loss: If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew To serve your turn long after they are gone, And so hold on when there is nothing in you Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!" If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch, If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you, If all men count with you, but none too much: If you can fill the unforgiving minute With sixty seconds' worth of distance run, Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it, And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!


by John Donne | |

The Flea

Mark but this flea, and mark in this,
How little that which thou deniest me is;
Me it sucked first, and now sucks thee,
And in this flea our two bloods mingled be;
Thou know'st that this cannot be said
A sin, nor shame nor loss of maidenhead,
  Yet this enjoys before it woo,
  And pampered swells with one blood made of two,
  And this, alas, is more than we would do.
Oh stay, three lives in one flea spare, Where we almost, yea more than married are.
This flea is you and I, and this Our marriage bed and marriage temple is; Though parents grudge, and you, we are met, And cloistered in these living walls of jet.
Though use make you apt to kill me, Let not to that, self-murder added be, And sacrilege, three sins in killing three.
Curel and sudden, hast thou since Purpled thy nail, in blood of innocence? Wherein could this flea guilty be, Except in that drop which it sucked from thee? Yet thou triumph'st, and say'st that thou Find'st not thy self nor me the weaker now; 'Tis true; then learn how false, fears be; Just so much honor, when thou yield'st to me, Will waste, as this flea's death took life from thee.


by Thomas Hardy | |

Hap

If but some vengeful god would call to me
From up the sky, and laugh:  "Thou suffering thing,
Know that thy sorrow is my ecstasy,
That thy love's loss is my hate's profiting!"

Then would I bear it, clench myself, and die,
Steeled by the sense of ire unmerited;
Half-eased in that a Powerfuller than I
Had willed and meted me the tears I shed.
But not so.
How arrives it joy lies slain, And why unblooms the best hope ever sown? —Crass Casualty obstructs the sun and rain, And dicing Time for gladness casts a moan.
.
.
.
These purblind Doomsters had as readily strown Blisses about my pilgrimage as pain.


More great poems below...

by Maya Angelou | |

A Conceit

Give me your hand

Make room for me
to lead and follow
you
beyond this rage of poetry.
Let others have the privacy of touching words and love of loss of love.
For me Give me your hand.


by Emily Dickinson | |

A light exists in spring

A light exists in spring
   Not present on the year
At any other period.
When March is scarcely here A color stands abroad On solitary hills That science cannot overtake, But human nature feels.
It waits upon the lawn; It shows the furthest tree Upon the furthest slope we know; It almost speaks to me.
Then, as horizons step, Or noons report away, Without the formula of sound, It passes, and we stay: A quality of loss Affecting our content, As trade had suddenly encroached Upon a sacrament.


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 Elizabeth Bishop | |

One Art

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.
Lose something every day.
Accept the fluster of lost door keys the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.
Then practice losing farther losing faster: places and names and where it was your meant to travel.
None of these will bring disaster.
I lost my mother's watch.
And look! my last or next-to-last of three loved housed went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.
I lose two cities lovely ones.
And vaster some realms I owned two rivers a continent.
I miss them but it wasn't a disaster.
--Even losing you (the joking voice a gesture I love) I shan't have lied.
It's evident the art of losing's not too hard to master though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.


by Elizabeth Bishop | |

North Haven

(In Memoriam: Robert Lowell)


I can make out the rigging of a schooner
a mile off; I can count
the new cones on the spruce.
It is so still the pale bay wears a milky skin; the sky no clouds except for one long, carded horse1s tail.
The islands haven't shifted since last summer, even if I like to pretend they have --drifting, in a dreamy sort of way, a little north, a little south, or sidewise, and that they're free within the blue frontiers of bay.
This month, our favorite one is full of flowers: Buttercups, Red Clover, Purple Vetch, Hackweed still burning, Daisies pied, Eyebright, the Fragrant Bedstraw's incandescent stars, and more, returned, to paint the meadows with delight.
The Goldfinches are back, or others like them, and the White-throated Sparrow's five-note song, pleading and pleading, brings tears to the eyes.
Nature repeats herself, or almost does: repeat, repeat, repeat; revise, revise, revise.
Years ago, you told me it was here (in 1932?) you first "discovered girls" and learned to sail, and learned to kiss.
You had "such fun," you said, that classic summer.
("Fun"--it always seemed to leave you at a loss.
.
.
) You left North Haven, anchored in its rock, afloat in mystic blue.
.
.
And now--you've left for good.
You can't derange, or re-arrange, your poems again.
(But the Sparrows can their song.
) The words won't change again.
Sad friend, you cannot change.


by Philip Larkin | |

Ambulances

Closed like confessionals, they thread
Loud noons of cities, giving back
None of the glances they absorb.
Light glossy grey, arms on a plaque, They come to rest at any kerb: All streets in time are visited.
Then children strewn on steps or road, Or women coming from the shops Past smells of different dinners, see A wild white face that overtops Red stretcher-blankets momently As it is carried in and stowed, And sense the solving emptiness That lies just under all we do, And for a second get it whole, So permanent and blank and true.
The fastened doors recede.
Poor soul, They whisper at their own distress; For borne away in deadened air May go the sudden shut of loss Round something nearly at an end, And what cohered in it across The years, the unique random blend Of families and fashions, there At last begin to loosen.
Far From the exchange of love to lie Unreachable insided a room The trafic parts to let go by Brings closer what is left to come, And dulls to distance all we are.
1964


by Emanuel Xavier | |

WALKING WITH ANGELS

 for Lindsay

AIDS
knows the condom wrapped penetration 
of strangers and lovers, deep inside
only a tear away from risk

knows bare minimum t-cell level counts, 
replacing intoxicating cocktails
with jagged little pills

knows how to avoid a cure thanks to war
how to keep pharmaceutical corporations
and doctors in business

AIDS
knows the weight loss desired 
by supermodels,
knows the fearless meaning of a friends genuine kiss or hug
converts non-believers to religion 
and spirituality

comprehends loneliness
values the support of luminaries
smiles at the solidarity 
of single red ribbons

knows to dim the lights 
to elude detection
how to shame someone into hiding
from the rest of the world
to be grateful for the gift of clothing 
and shelter,
to remain silent, holding back the anger and frustration

AIDS
knows that time on earth 
is limited for all of us
that using lemons to make lemonade is better than drinking the Kool-Aid
but no matter how much you drink
you are always left dehydrated

knows working extensive hours
to pay hospital bills, 
the choice of survival
or taking pleasure in what is left of life

knows the solid white walls
you want to crash through 
and tear down
the thoughts of suicide 
in the back of your head

AIDS
knows the prosperous could be doing more with their wealth
and that everyone still thinks it is a deserving fate- for gays,
drug addicts, prostitutes, 
and the unfortunate children of such
born into a merciless world of posh handbags and designer jewelry

knows how to be used as another percentage to profit politicians
knows it doesn’t only affect humans 
but animals too, without bias
-providing fodder for art and something to be left behind

if there is a God
he has disregarded our prayers
left his angels behind to journey along with us
-none of us knowing exactly 
where we are headed


by Calvin Ziegler | |

Am Grischtdaag / At Christmas

AM GRISCHTDAAG

Sis Grischtdaag.
Die ganz Welt iwwer Frei die Leit sich sehr, Un alles is harrlich, as wann der Daag Vom Himmel gelosse waer.
Ich hock allee in mei Zimmer Un denk so iwwer die Zeit - Wie der Geischt vun Grischt sich immer Weider un weider ausbreid: Un wie heit in yeder Famillye Frehlich un gutes Mut In die liewi aldi Heemet Sich widder versammle dutt.
Ach widder deheem! Ach, Yammer! - Net all! Deel sin yo heit Zu weit vun uns ab zu kumme - Fatt in de Ewichkeit.
Net all deheem! Verleicht awwer - Unich behaap's kann sei - Im Geischt sin mir all beisamme Un griesse enanner uff's nei! So sin mir vereenicht widder - Loss die Zeit vergeb wiesie will; Ich drink eich ein Gruss, ihr Brieder! Verwas sitzt dir all so schtill? Weit ab - iwwer Barig un Valley, Un iwwer die Ewichkeit's Brick - Vun eich Brieder all, wie Geischdeschall Kummt mir Eier Gruss zerick.
AT CHRISTMAS It's Christmas.
The whole world over Everyone's filled with love, And everything's joyful, as if the day Was given from above.
I sit alone in my room Thinking about the times - How the spirit of Christ always Wider and wider shines.
And how today all families With much happiness embrace As they gather once again In the dear old home place.
All home again! Oh, not so! - Not all! Some today in reality Are far from us below - Away in eternity! Not all at home! Perhaps though - And I insist I knew - In the spirit we're all together And greet each other anew.
So we are together again - May the time go as it will, I drink to you a toast, brothers! Why do you all sit so still? Far away - over valley and ridge, And over the eternal bridge - From you brothers, like a spiritual echo Your greeting returns below.


by Marcin Malek | |

For life and death of a Poet

Poets
In literal meaning
Are not responsive
To normative rules of dying

Moreover 
Just like the Saints
They do not fit into a
Written conventions

Of the existence
Of the survival
At all costs
At the cost of their own greatness

They rather resemble
Orphaned fortresses
Which has to be taken
Meter by meter - as in the past

With the severe blood loss

Or permanently straining
Among the yellow fields
Mossy towers with no vaults
But with the ever-vigilant gaze

Poet as gaper
- Windblown
- Caressed by storms 
Until he not falls


Never measures 
Himself as the one
- And then all fading behind
For life and death of a Poet
There is no proper time

He lives in himself
Stirring up higher and higher
By the abandoned fortification
Of horror of consequences

To the moment in which
He is taken - far far away 


by Thomas Stearns Eliot (T S) Eliot | |

DEATH BY WATER

  Phlebas the Phoenician, a fortnight dead,
  Forgot the cry of gulls, and the deep sea swell
  And the profit and loss.
A current under sea Picked his bones in whispers.
As he rose and fell He passed the stages of his age and youth Entering the whirlpool.
Gentile or Jew O you who turn the wheel and look to windward, 320 Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you.


by Ben Jonson | |

To Fine Lady Would-Be


LXII.
 ? TO FINE LADY WOULD-BE.
  
Fine madam WOULD-BE, wherefore should you fear,
That love to make so well, a child to bear ?
The world reputes you barren :  but I know
Your pothecary, and his drug, says no.

Is it the pain affrights ?  that's soon forgot.

Or your complexion's loss ?  you have a pot,
That can restore that.
  Will it hurt your feature ?
To make amends, you are thought a wholesome creature.

What should the cause be ?  oh, you live at court ;
And there's both loss of time, and loss of sport,
In a great belly :  Write then on thy womb,
? Of the not born, yet buried, here's the tomb.
?


by Ben Jonson | |

To Sir Henry Cary


LXVI.
 — TO SIR HENRY CARY.

That neither fame, nor love might wanting be
To greatness, CARY, I sing that and thee ;
Whose house, if it no other honor had,
In only thee, might be both great and glad :
Who, to upbraid the sloth of this our time,
Durst valor make, almost, but not a crime.
Which deed I know not, whether were more high,
Or, thou more happy, it to justify
Against thy fortune ; when no foe, that day,
Could conquer thee, but chance, who did betray.
Love thy great loss, which a renown hath won,
To live when Broeck not stands, nor Roor doth run :
Love honors, which of best example be,
When they cost dearest, and are done most free.
Though every fortitude deserves applause,
It may be much, or little, in the cause.
He'st  valiant'st, that dares fight, and not for pay ;
That virtuous is, when the reward's away.
 


by A R Ammons | |

Rogue Elephant

 The reason to be autonomous is to stand there,
a cleared instrument, ready to act, to search

the moral realm and actual conditions for what
needs to be done and to do it: fine, the

best, if it works out, but if, like a gun, it
comes in handy to the wrong choice, why then

you see the danger in the effective: better
then an autonomy that stands and looks about,

negotiating nothing, the supreme indifferences:
is anything to be gained where as much is lost:

and if for every action there is an equal and
opposite reaction has the loss been researched

equally with the gain: you can see how the
milling actions of millions could come to a

buzzard-like glide as from a coincidental,
warm bottom of water stuck between chilled

peaks: it is not so easy to say, OK, go on
out and act: who, doing what, to what or

whom: just a minute: should the bunker be
bombed (if it stores gas): should all the

rattlers die just because they rattle: if I
hear the young gentleman vomiter roaring down

the hall in the men's room, should I go and
inquire of him, reducing him to my care: no

wonder the great sayers (who say nothing) sit
about in inaccessible states of mind: no

wonder still wisdom and catatonia appear to
exchange places occasionally: but if anything

were easy, our easy choices soon would carry
away our ignorance with the world-better

let the mixed-up mix and let the surface shine
with all the possibilities, each in itself.


by Robert Seymour Bridges | |

Melancholia

 the history of melancholia
includes all of us.
me, I writhe in dirty sheets while staring at blue walls and nothing.
I have gotten so used to melancholia that I greet it like an old friend.
I will now do 15 minutes of grieving for the lost redhead, I tell the gods.
I do it and feel quite bad quite sad, then I rise CLEANSED even though nothing is solved.
that's what I get for kicking religion in the ass.
I should have kicked the redhead in the ass where her brains and her bread and butter are at .
.
.
but, no, I've felt sad about everything: the lost redhead was just another smash in a lifelong loss .
.
.
I listen to drums on the radio now and grin.
there is something wrong with me besides melancholia.


by W S Merwin | |

The Ships Are Made Ready In Silence

 Moored to the same ring:
The hour, the darkness and I,
Our compasses hooded like falcons.
Now the memory of you comes aching in With a wash of broken bits which never left port In which once we planned voyages, They come knocking like hearts asking: What departures on this tide? Breath of land, warm breath, You tighten the cold around the navel, Though all shores but the first have been foreign, And the first was not home until left behind.
Our choice is ours but we have not made it, Containing as it does, our destination Circled with loss as with coral, and A destination only until attained.
I have left you my hope to remember me by, Though now there is little resemblance.
At this moment I could believe in no change, The mast perpetually Vacillating between the same constellations, The night never withdrawing its dark virtue >From the harbor shaped as a heart, The sea pulsing as a heart, The sky vaulted as a heart, Where I know the light will shatter like a cry Above a discovery: "Emptiness.
Emptiness! Look!" Look.
This is the morning.


by Sir Thomas Wyatt | |

Unstable Dream

 Unstable dream, according to the place,
Be steadfast once, or else at least be true.
By tasted sweetness make me not to rue The sudden loss of thy false feignèd grace.
By good respect in such a dangerous case Thou broughtest not her into this tossing mew But madest my sprite live, my care to renew, My body in tempest her succour to embrace.
The body dead, the sprite had his desire, Painless was th'one, th'other in delight.
Why then, alas, did it not keep it right, Returning, to leap into the fire? And where it was at wish, it could not remain, Such mocks of dreams they turn to deadly pain.


by Edna St Vincent Millay | |

Departure

 It was not like your great and gracious ways! 
Do you, that have naught other to lament, 
Never, my Love, repent 
Of how, that July afternoon, 
You went,
With sudden, unintelligible phrase, 
And frighten'd eye, 
Upon your journey of so many days 
Without a single kiss, or a good-bye? 
I knew, indeed, that you were parting soon; 
And so we sate, within the low sun's rays, 
You whispering to me, for your voice was weak, 
Your harrowing praise.
Well, it was well To hear you such things speak, And I could tell What made your eyes a growing gloom of love, As a warm South-wind sombres a March grove.
And it was like your great and gracious ways To turn your talk on daily things, my Dear, Lifting the luminous, pathetic lash To let the laughter flash, Whilst I drew near, Because you spoke so low that I could scarcely hear.
But all at once to leave me at the last, More at the wonder than the loss aghast, With huddled, unintelligible phrase, And frighten'd eye, And go your journey of all days With not one kiss, or a good-bye, And the only loveless look the look with which you pass'd: 'Twas all unlike your great and gracious ways.


by Lam Quang My | |

ON ROUT

We swear – take not forbidden fruit
But still want paradise!
We pass our wondering years on earth
But knowing naught of life!

We miss the clod beneath our feet
While thought is flying high.
We thought – the heart turned into stone But still will cry through nights! Our gain is but a gift to all But still we count our loss.
We know - life is the branched tree Yet walk the traveled paths…


by Petrarch | |

SONNET CCVIII.

SONNET CCVIII.

L' aura che 'l verde Lauro e l' aureo crine.

HE PRAYS THAT HE MAY DIE BEFORE LAURA.

The balmy gale, that, with its tender sigh,
Moves the green laurel and the golden hair,
[Pg 216]Makes with its graceful visitings and rare
The gazer's spirit from his body fly.
A sweet and snow-white rose in hard thorns set!
Where in the world her fellow shall we find?
The glory of our age! Creator kind!
Grant that ere hers my death shall first be met.
So the great public loss I may not see,
The world without its sun, in darkness left,
And from my desolate eyes their sole light reft,
My mind with which no other thoughts agree,
Mine ears which by no other sound are stirr'd
Except her ever pure and gentle word.
Macgregor.


by Petrarch | |

SONNET CLXVII.

SONNET CLXVII.

Non pur quell' una bella ignuda mano.

HE RETURNS THE GLOVE, BEWAILING THE EFFECT OF HER BEAUTY.

Not of one dear hand only I complain,
Which hides it, to my loss, again from view,
But its fair fellow and her soft arms too
Are prompt my meek and passive heart to pain.
Love spreads a thousand toils, nor one in vain,
Amid the many charms, bright, pure, and new,
That so her high and heavenly part endue,
No style can equal it, no mind attain.
That starry forehead and those tranquil eyes,
The fair angelic mouth, where pearl and rose
Contrast each other, whence rich music flows,
These fill the gazer with a fond surprise,
The fine head, the bright tresses which defied
The sun to match them in his noonday pride.
Macgregor.


by Petrarch | |

SONNET CX.

SONNET CX.

Come talora al caldo tempo suole.

HE LIKENS HIMSELF TO THE INSECT WHICH, FLYING INTO ONE'S EYES, MEETS ITS DEATH.

As when at times in summer's scorching heats.
Lured by the light, the simple insect flies,
As a charm'd thing, into the passer's eyes,
Whence death the one and pain the other meets,
Thus ever I, my fatal sun to greet,
Rush to those eyes where so much sweetness lies
That reason's guiding hand fierce Love defies,
And by strong will is better judgment beat.
I clearly see they value me but ill,
[Pg 140]And, for against their torture fails my strength.
That I am doom'd my life to lose at length:
But Love so dazzles and deludes me still,
My heart their pain and not my loss laments,
And blind, to its own death my soul consents.
Macgregor.


by Petrarch | |

SONNET CXC

SONNET CXC

Passer mai solitario in alcun tetto.

FAR FROM HIS BELOVED, LIFE IS MISERABLE BY NIGHT AS BY DAY.

Never was bird, spoil'd of its young, more sad,
Or wild beast in his lair more lone than me,
[Pg 202]Now that no more that lovely face I see,
The only sun my fond eyes ever had.
In ceaseless sorrow is my chief delight:
My food to poison turns, to grief my joy;
The night is torture, dark the clearest sky,
And my lone pillow a hard field of fight.
Sleep is indeed, as has been well express'd.
Akin to death, for it the heart removes
From the dear thought in which alone I live.
Land above all with plenty, beauty bless'd!
Ye flowery plains, green banks and shady groves!
Ye hold the treasure for whose loss I grieve!
Macgregor.