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Best Famous Pain Poems

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

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Written by Maya Angelou |

Still I Rise

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you? Why are you beset with gloom? 'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns, With the certainty of tides, Just like hopes springing high, Still I'll rise.
Did you want to see me broken? Bowed head and lowered eyes? Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.
Does my haughtiness offend you? Don't you take it awful hard 'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines Diggin' in my own back yard.
You may shoot me with your words, You may cut me with your eyes, You may kill me with your hatefulness, But still, like air, I'll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you? Does it come as a surprise That I dance like I've got diamonds At the meeting of my thighs? Out of the huts of history's shame I rise Up from a past that's rooted in pain I rise I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide, Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear I rise Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear I rise Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise I rise I rise.

Written by Maya Angelou |

Touched by An Angel

We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.
Love arrives and in its train come ecstasies old memories of pleasure ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold, love strikes away the chains of fear from our souls.
We are weaned from our timidity In the flush of love's light we dare be brave And suddenly we see that love costs all we are and will ever be.
Yet it is only love which sets us free.

Written by Robert Burns |

To a Mouse

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

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

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

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

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

More great poems below...

Written by Matthew Arnold |

Dover Beach

The sea is calm to-night.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair Upon the straits; on the French coast the light Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand, Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air! Only, from the long line of spray Where the sea meets the moon-blanch'd land, Listen! you hear the grating roar Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling, At their return, up the high strand, Begin, and cease, and then again begin, With tremulous cadence slow, and bring The eternal note of sadness in.
Sophocles long ago Heard it on the {AE}gean, and it brought Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow Of human misery; we Find also in the sound a thought, Hearing it by this distant northern sea.
The Sea of Faith Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furl'd.
But now I only hear Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar, Retreating, to the breath Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear And naked shingles of the world.
Ah, love, let us be true To one another! for the world, which seems To lie before us like a land of dreams, So various, so beautiful, so new, Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light, Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain; And we are here as on a darkling plain Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, Where ignorant armies clash by night.

Written by |


I know what the caged bird feels, alas!
   When the sun is bright on the upland slopes;
When the wind stirs soft through the springing grass,
And the river flows like a stream of glass;
   When the first bird sings and the first bud opes,
And the faint perfume from its chalice steals—
I know what the caged bird feels!

I know why the caged bird beats his wing
   Till its blood is red on the cruel bars;
For he must fly back to his perch and cling
When he fain would be on the bough a-swing;
   And a pain still throbs in the old, old scars
And they pulse again with a keener sting—
I know why he beats his wing!

I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
   When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,—
When he beats his bars and he would be free;
It is not a carol of joy or glee,
   But a prayer that he sends from his heart's deep core,
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings—
I know why the caged bird sings!

Written by Maya Angelou |

Million Man March Poem

The night has been long,
The wound has been deep,
The pit has been dark,
And the walls have been steep.
Under a dead blue sky on a distant beach, I was dragged by my braids just beyond your reach.
Your hands were tied, your mouth was bound, You couldn't even call out my name.
You were helpless and so was I, But unfortunately throughout history You've worn a badge of shame.
I say, the night has been long, The wound has been deep, The pit has been dark And the walls have been steep.
But today, voices of old spirit sound Speak to us in words profound, Across the years, across the centuries, Across the oceans, and across the seas.
They say, draw near to one another, Save your race.
You have been paid for in a distant place, The old ones remind us that slavery's chains Have paid for our freedom again and again.
The night has been long, The pit has been deep, The night has been dark, And the walls have been steep.
The hells we have lived through and live through still, Have sharpened our senses and toughened our will.
The night has been long.
This morning I look through your anguish Right down to your soul.
I know that with each other we can make ourselves whole.
I look through the posture and past your disguise, And see your love for family in your big brown eyes.
I say, clap hands and let's come together in this meeting ground, I say, clap hands and let's deal with each other with love, I say, clap hands and let us get from the low road of indifference, Clap hands, let us come together and reveal our hearts, Let us come together and revise our spirits, Let us come together and cleanse our souls, Clap hands, let's leave the preening And stop impostering our own history.
Clap hands, call the spirits back from the ledge, Clap hands, let us invite joy into our conversation, Courtesy into our bedrooms, Gentleness into our kitchen, Care into our nursery.
The ancestors remind us, despite the history of pain We are a going-on people who will rise again.
And still we rise.
Poem read at the Million Man March

Written by Fleda Brown |

The Women Who Loved Elvis All Their Lives

She reads, of course, what he's doing, shaking Nixon's hand, 
dating this starlet or that, while he is faithful to her 
like a stone in her belly, like the actual love child, 
its bills and diapers.
Once he had kissed her and time had stood still, at least some point seems to remain back there as a place to return to, to wait for.
What is she waiting for? He will not marry her, nor will he stop very often.
Desireé will grow up to say her father is dead.
Desireé will imagine him standing on a timeless street, hungry for his child.
She will wait for him, not in the original, but in a gesture copied to whatever lover she takes.
He will fracture and change to landscape, to the Pope, maybe, or President Kennedy, or to a pain that darkens her eyes.
"Once," she will say, as if she remembers, and the memory will stick like a fishbone.
She knows how easily she will comply when a man puts his hand on the back of her neck and gently steers her.
She knows how long she will wait for rescue, how the world will go on expanding outside.
She will see her mother's photo of Elvis shaking hands with Nixon, the terrifying conjunction.
A whole war with Asia will begin slowly, in her lifetime, out of such irreconcilable urges.
The Pill will become available to the general public, starting up a new waiting in that other depth.
The egg will have to keep believing in its timeless moment of completion without any proof except in the longing of its own body.
Maris will break Babe Ruth's record while Orbison will have his first major hit with "Only the Lonely," trying his best to sound like Elvis.
© 1999, Fleda Brown (first published in The Iowa Review, 29 [1999])

Written by Thomas Hardy |


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.

Written by Anne Bradstreet |

The Prologue


To sing of wars, of captains, and of kings,
Of cities founded, commonwealths begun,
For my mean pen, are too superior things,
And how they all, or each, their dates have run
Let poets, and historians set these forth,
My obscure verse shall not so dim their worth.
2 But when my wond'ring eyes, and envious heart, Great Bartas' sugared lines do but read o'er, Fool, I do grudge the Muses did not part 'Twixt him and me that overfluent store; A Bartas can do what a Bartas will, But simple I, according to my skill.
3 From schoolboy's tongue, no rhetoric we expect, Nor yet a sweet consort, from broken strings, Nor perfect beauty, where's a main defect; My foolish, broken, blemished Muse so sings; And this to mend, alas, no art is able, 'Cause nature made it so irreparable.
4 Nor can I, like that fluent sweet-tongued Greek Who lisped at first, speak afterwards more plain.
By art, he gladly found what he did seek, A full requital of his striving pain: Art can do much, but this maxim's most sure.
A weak or wounded brain admits no cure.
5 I am obnoxious to each carping tongue, Who says my hand a needle better fits; A poet's pen all scorn I should thus wrong; For such despite they cast on female wits: If what I do prove well, it won't advance, They'll say it's stolen, or else it was by chance.
6 But sure the antique Greeks were far more mild, Else of our sex, why feigned they those nine, And poesy made Calliope's own child? So 'mongst the rest they placed the arts divine: But this weak knot they will full soon untie, The Greeks did nought, but play the fool and lie.
7 Let Greeks be Greeks, and women what they are, Men have precedency, and still excel; It is but vain, unjustly to wage war; Men can do best, and women know it well; Preeminence in each and all is yours, Yet grant some small acknowledgement of ours.
8 And oh, ye high flown quills that soar the skies, And ever with your prey, still catch your praise, If e'er you deign these lowly lines your eyes, Give wholesome parsley wreath, I ask no bays: This mean and unrefinèd stuff of mine, Will make your glistering gold but more to shine.

Written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow |

The Fire of Drift-Wood

We sat within the farm-house old,
  Whose windows, looking o'er the bay,
Gave to the sea-breeze damp and cold,
  An easy entrance, night and day.
Not far away we saw the port, The strange, old-fashioned, silent town, The lighthouse, the dismantled fort, The wooden houses, quaint and brown.
We sat and talked until the night, Descending, filled the little room; Our faces faded from the sight, Our voices only broke the gloom.
We spake of many a vanished scene, Of what we once had thought and said, Of what had been, and might have been, And who was changed, and who was dead; And all that fills the hearts of friends, When first they feel, with secret pain, Their lives thenceforth have separate ends, And never can be one again; The first slight swerving of the heart, That words are powerless to express, And leave it still unsaid in part, Or say it in too great excess.
The very tones in which we spake Had something strange, I could but mark; The leaves of memory seemed to make A mournful rustling in the dark.
Oft died the words upon our lips, As suddenly, from out the fire Built of the wreck of stranded ships, The flames would leap and then expire.
And, as their splendor flashed and failed, We thought of wrecks upon the main, Of ships dismasted, that were hailed And sent no answer back again.
The windows, rattling in their frames, The ocean, roaring up the beach, The gusty blast, the bickering flames, All mingled vaguely in our speech; Until they made themselves a part Of fancies floating through the brain, The long-lost ventures of the heart, That send no answers back again.
O flames that glowed! O hearts that yearned! They were indeed too much akin, The drift-wood fire without that burned, The thoughts that burned and glowed within.

Written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow |

The Day is Done

THE DAY is done and the darkness 
Falls from the wings of Night  
As a feather is wafted downward 
From an eagle in his flight.
I see the lights of the village 5 Gleam through the rain and the mist And a feeling of sadness comes o'er me That my soul cannot resist: A feeling of sadness and longing That is not akin to pain 10 And resembles sorrow only As the mist resembles the rain.
Come read to me some poem Some simple and heartfelt lay That shall soothe this restless feeling 15 And banish the thoughts of day.
Not from the grand old masters Not from the bards sublime Whose distant footsteps echo Through the corridors of Time.
20 For like strains of martial music Their mighty thoughts suggest Life's endless toil and endeavor; And to-night I long for rest.
Read from some humbler poet 25 Whose songs gushed from his heart As showers from the clouds of summer Or tears from the eyelids start; Who through long days of labor And nights devoid of ease 30 Still heard in his soul the music Of wonderful melodies.
Such songs have power to quiet The restless pulse of care And come like the benediction 35 That follows after prayer.
Then read from the treasured volume The poem of thy choice And lend to the rhyme of the poet The beauty of thy voice.
40 And the night shall be filled with music And the cares that infest the day Shall fold their tents like the Arabs And as silently steal away.

Written by Allen Ginsberg |

Hospital Window

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

Written by Jean Toomer |

Harvest Song

 I am a reaper whose muscles set at sundown.
All my oats are cradled.
But I am too chilled, and too fatigued to bind them.
And I hunger.
I crack a grain between my teeth.
I do not taste it.
I have been in the fields all day.
My throat is dry.
I hunger.
My eyes are caked with dust of oatfields at harvest-time.
I am a blind man who stares across the hills, seeking stack'd fields of other harvesters.
It would be good to see them .
crook'd, split, and iron-ring'd handles of the scythes.
It would be good to see them, dust-caked and blind.
I hunger.
(Dusk is a strange fear'd sheath their blades are dull'd in.
) My throat is dry.
And should I call, a cracked grain like the oats.
eoho-- I fear to call.
What should they hear me, and offer me their grain, oats, or wheat, or corn? I have been in the fields all day.
I fear I could not taste it.
I fear knowledge of my hunger.
My ears are caked with dust of oatfields at harvest-time.
I am a deaf man who strains to hear the calls of other harvesters whose throats are also dry.
It would be good to hear their songs .
reapers of the sweet-stalk'd cane, cutters of the corn.
even though their throats cracked and the strangeness of their voices deafened me.
I hunger.
My throat is dry.
Now that the sun has set and I am chilled, I fear to call.
(Eoho, my brothers!) I am a reaper.
(Eoho!) All my oats are cradled.
But I am too fatigued to bind them.
And I hunger.
I crack a grain.
It has no taste to it.
My throat is dry.
O my brothers, I beat my palms, still soft, against the stubble of my harvesting.
(You beat your soft palms, too.
) My pain is sweet.
Sweeter than the oats or wheat or corn.
It will not bring me knowledge of my hunger.

Written by Sandra Cisneros |

One Last Poem For Richard

December 24th and we’re through again.
This time for good I know because I didn’t throw you out — and anyway we waved.
No shoes.
No angry doors.
We folded clothes and went our separate ways.
You left behind that flannel shirt of yours I liked but remembered to take your toothbrush.
Where are you tonight? Richard, it’s Christmas Eve again and old ghosts come back home.
I’m sitting by the Christmas tree wondering where did we go wrong.
Okay, we didn’t work, and all memories to tell you the truth aren’t good.
But sometimes there were good times.
Love was good.
I loved your crooked sleep beside me and never dreamed afraid.
There should be stars for great wars like ours.
There ought to be awards and plenty of champagne for the survivors.
After all the years of degradations, the several holidays of failure, there should be something to commemorate the pain.
Someday we’ll forget that great Brazil disaster.
Till then, Richard, I wish you well.
I wish you love affairs and plenty of hot water, and women kinder than I treated you.
I forget the reason, but I loved you once, remember? Maybe in this season, drunk and sentimental, I’m willing to admit a part of me, crazed and kamikaze, ripe for anarchy, loves still.

Written by Emily Dickinson |

I measure every grief I meet

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