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Famous Death Poems by Famous Poets

These are examples of famous Death poems written by some of the greatest and most-well-known modern and classical poets. PoetrySoup is a great educational poetry resource of famous death poems. These examples illustrate what a famous death poem looks like and its form, scheme, or style (where appropriate).

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by Whitman, Walt
...he song of the throes of Democracy. 

(Democracy—the destin’d conqueror—yet treacherous lip-smiles everywhere, 
And Death and infidelity at every step.) 

2
A Nation announcing itself, 
I myself make the only growth by which I can be appreciated,
I reject none, accept all, then reproduce all in my own forms. 

A breed whose proof is in time and deeds; 
What we are, we are—nativity is answer enough to objections; 
We wield ourselves as a weapon is wielded, 
We are ...Read More



by Dickinson, Emily
...Because I could not stop for Death-- 
He kindly stopped for me-- 
The Carriage held but just Ourselves-- 
And Immortality. 

We slowly drove--He knew no haste 
And I had put away 
My labor and my leisure too, 
For His Civility-- 

We passed the School, where Children strove 
At Recess--in the Ring-- 
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain-- 
We passed the Setting Sun-- 
...Read More

by Dickinson, Emily
...How far is it to Heaven?
As far as Death this way --
Of River or of Ridge beyond
Was no discovery.

How far is it to Hell?
As far as Death this way --
How far left hand the Sepulchre
Defies Topography....Read More

by Ginsberg, Allen
...
 Laredo with a belt of marijuana for New York, 
who ate fire in paint hotels or drank turpentine in 
 Paradise Alley, death, or purgatoried their 
 torsos night after night 
with dreams, with drugs, with waking nightmares, al- 
 cohol and cock and endless balls, 
incomparable blind; streets of shuddering cloud and 
 lightning in the mind leaping toward poles of 
 Canada & Paterson, illuminating all the mo- 
 tionless world of Time between, 
Peyote solidities of halls, backy...Read More

by Wilde, Oscar
...chord which ends the harmony,
And for its answering brother waits in vain
Sobbing for incompleted melody,
Dies a swan's death; but I the heir of pain,
A silent Memnon with blank lidless eyes,
Wait for the light and music of those suns which never rise.

The quenched-out torch, the lonely cypress-gloom,
The little dust stored in the narrow urn,
The gentle XAIPE of the Attic tomb, -
Were not these better far than to return
To my old fitful restless malady,
Or spend my days ...Read More



by Keats, John
...s left
Deserted, void, nor any haunt of mine.
The blaze, the splendor, and the symmetry,
I cannot see but darkness, death, and darkness.
Even here, into my centre of repose,
The shady visions come to domineer,
Insult, and blind, and stifle up my pomp.---
Fall!---No, by Tellus and her briny robes!
Over the fiery frontier of my realms
I will advance a terrible right arm
Shall scare that infant thunderer, rebel Jove,
And bid old Saturn take his throne again."---
...Read More

by Alighieri, Dante
...rk was no releasing way; 
 Above that dark was no relieving star. 
 If yet that terrored night I think or say, 
 As death's cold hands its fears resuming are. 

 Gladly the dreads I felt, too dire to tell, 
 The hopeless, pathless, lightless hours forgot, 
 I turn my tale to that which next befell, 
 When the dawn opened, and the night was not. 
 The hollowed blackness of that waste, God wot, 
 Shrank, thinned, and ceased. A blinding splendour hot 
 Flushed th...Read More

by Shakur, Tupac
...Life through my bloodshot eyes
would scare a square 2 death
poverty,murder,violence
and never a moment 2 rest
Fun and games are few
but treasured like gold 2 me
cuz I realize that I must return
2 my spot in poverty
But mock my words when I say
my heart will not exist
unless my destiny comes through
and puts an end 2 all of this ...Read More

by Wordsworth, William
...unknowing what he did,  He leapt amid a murd'rous Band,  And sav'd from Outrage worse than Death    The Lady of the Land;   And how she wept and clasp'd his knees  And how she tended him in vain—  And ever strove to expiate    The Scorn, that craz'd his Brain   And that she nurs'd him in a Cave;  And how his Madness w...Read More

by Whitman, Walt
...become of the women and children? 

They are alive and well somewhere; 
The smallest sprout shows there is really no death; 
And if ever there was, it led forward life, and does not wait at the end to
 arrest it, 
And ceas’d the moment life appear’d.

All goes onward and outward—nothing collapses; 
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier. 

7
Has any one supposed it lucky to be born? 
I hasten to inform him or her, it is just as lu...Read More

by Whitman, Walt
...expanded, broad with the haughty breadth of the universe, 
Old age, flowing free with the delicious near-by freedom of death. 

13
Allons! to that which is endless, as it was beginningless, 
To undergo much, tramps of days, rests of nights,
To merge all in the travel they tend to, and the days and nights they tend to, 
Again to merge them in the start of superior journeys; 
To see nothing anywhere but what you may reach it and pass it, 
To conceive no time, however dista...Read More

by Chesterton, G K
...one.

And a Shape that moveth murkily
In mirrors of ice and night,
Hath blanched with fear all beasts and birds,
As death and a shock of evil words
Blast a man's hair with white.

And the cry of the palms and the purple moons,
Or the cry of the frost and foam,
Swept ever around an inmost place,
And the din of distant race on race
Cried and replied round Rome.

And there was death on the Emperor
And night upon the Pope:
And Alfred, hiding in deep grass,
Hardened hi...Read More

by Byron, George (Lord)
...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 ...Read More

by Bridges, Robert Seymour
...forbore;
And wins again her love lost in the lore
Of schools and script of many a learned book:
For thou what ruthless death untimely took
Shalt now in better brotherhood restore,
And save my batter'd ship that far from shore
High on the dismal deep in tempest shook. 

So in despite of sorrow lately learn'd
I still hold true to truth since thou art true,
Nor wail the woe which thou to joy hast turn'd
Nor come the heavenly sun and bathing blue
To my life's need more splen...Read More

by Carroll, Lewis
...explained, in a tremulous tone,
 There was only one Beaver on board;
And that was a tame one he had of his own,
 Whose death would be deeply deplored.

The Beaver, who happened to hear the remark,
 Protested, with tears in its eyes,
That not even the rapture of hunting the Snark
 Could atone for that dismal surprise!

It strongly advised that the Butcher should be
 Conveyed in a separate ship:
But the Bellman declared that would never agree
 With the plans he had made fo...Read More

by Blake, William
...air;
Hungry clouds swag on the deep

Once meek, and in a perilous path,
The just man kept his course along 
The vale of death.
Roses are planted where thorns grow.
And on the barren heath
Sing the honey bees.

Then the perilous path was planted:
And a river, and a spring
On every cliff and tomb;
And on the bleached bones
Red clay brought forth.

Till the villain left the paths of ease,
To walk in perilous paths, and drive
The just man into barren climes.

...Read More

by Shelley, Percy Bysshe
...he trodden worms that crawled beneath,
And others mournfully within the gloom
Of their own shadow walked, and called it death ...
And some fled from it as it were a ghost,
Half fainting in the affliction of vain breath.
But more with motions which each other crost
Pursued or shunned the shadows the clouds threw
Or birds within the noonday ether lost,
Upon that path where flowers never grew;
And weary with vain toil & faint for thirst
Heard not the fountains wh...Read More

by Byron, George (Lord)
...ne! 
He died — but left his subjects still behind, 
One half as mad — and t'other no less blind. 

IX

He died! his death made no great stir on earth: 
His burial made some pomp; there was profusion 
Of velvet, gilding, brass, and no great dearth 
Of aught but tears — save those shed by collusion. 
For these things may be bought at their true worth; 
Of elegy there was the due infusion — 
Bought also; and the torches, cloaks, and banners, 
Heralds, and relics of old G...Read More

by Eliot, T S (Thomas Stearns)
...is blank, is something he carries on his back,
Which I am forbidden to see. I do not find
The Hanged Man. Fear death by water.
I see crowds of people, walking round in a ring.
Thank you. If you see dear Mrs. Equitone,
Tell her I bring the horoscope myself:
One must be so careful these days.
 Unreal City, 
Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,
A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,
I had not thought death had undone so many.
Sighs, short a...Read More

by Akhmatova, Anna
...you. And this to repeat --
Oh, if you could one moment tire of it!
The killer's sleep is haunted, dead man said,
Death's angel thus awaits me at deathbed.
Forgive me now. Lord teaches to forgive.
In burning agony my flesh does live,
And already the spirit gently sleeps,
A garden I recall, tender with autumn leaves
And cries of cranes, and the black fields around..
How sweet it would be with you underground!



x x x
The muse has left al...Read More

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