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Famous Loss Poems by Famous Poets

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

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by Crowley, Aleister
But what were magic if it could not give
My thought enough vitality to live?
Do not then dream this night has been a loss!
All night I have hung, a god, upon the cross;
All night I have offered incense at the shrine;
All night you have been unutterably mine,
Miner in the memory of the first wild hour
When my rough grasp tore the unwilling flower
From your closed garden, mine in every mood,
In every tense, in every attitude,
In every possibility, still mine
While the sun's ...Read more of this...

by Brackenridge, Hugh Henry
...they saw it shine 
O'er Judah's happy land, and bade the hills, 
The rocky hills and barren vallies smile, 
The desert blossom and the wilds rejoice. 

This is that light and revelation pure, 
Which Jacob saw and in prophetic view, 
Did hail its author from the skies, and bade 
The sceptre wait with sov'reignty and sway 
On Judah's hand till Shiloh came. That light 
Which Beor's son in clearer vision saw, 
Its beams sore piercing his malignant eye; 
But yet constrain...Read more of this...

by Keats, John divine upon exalted couch,
And slumber in the arms of melody,
He pac'd away the pleasant hours of ease
With stride colossal, on from hall to hall;
While far within each aisle and deep recess,
His winged minions in close clusters stood,
Amaz'd and full offear; like anxious men
Who on wide plains gather in panting troops,
When earthquakes jar their battlements and towers.
Even now, while Saturn, rous'd from icy trance,
Went step for step with Thea through the woods,
Hype...Read more of this...

by Kipling, Rudyard 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 al...Read more of this...

by Alighieri, Dante those who die. 

Canto VI 

 THE misery of that sight of souls in Hell 
 Condemned, and constant in their loss, prevailed 
 So greatly in me, that I may not tell 
 How passed I from them, sense and memory failed 
 So far. 
 But here new torments I discern, 
 And new tormented, wheresoe'er I turn. 
 For sodden around me was the place of bane, 
 The third doomed circle, where the culprits know 
 The cold, unceasing, and relentless rain 
 Pour down without ...Read more of this...

by Byron, George (Lord)

The chief of Lara is return'd again: 
And why had Lara cross'd the bounding main? 
Left by his sire, too young such loss to know, 
Lord of himself; — that heritage of woe, 
That fearful empire which the human breast 
But holds to rob the heart within of rest! — 
With none to check, and few to point in time 
The thousand paths that slope the way to crime; 
Then, when he most required commandment, then 
Had Lara's daring boyhood govern'd men. 
It skills not, boots not, ...Read more of this...

by Marvell, Andrew
After the robber for her whelps doth yell; 
But sees enraged the river flow between, 
Frustrate revenge and love, by loss more keen, 
At her own breast her useless claws does arm: 
She tears herself, since him she cannot harm. 

The guards, placed for the chain's and fleet's defence, 
Long since were fled on many a feigned pretence. 
Daniel had there adventured, man of might, 
Sweet Painter, draw his picture while I write. 
Paint him of person tall, and big of ...Read more of this...

by Wordsworth, William
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
...Read more of this...

by Milton, John
...create your leader--next, free choice 
With what besides in council or in fight 
Hath been achieved of merit--yet this loss, 
Thus far at least recovered, hath much more 
Established in a safe, unenvied throne, 
Yielded with full consent. The happier state 
In Heaven, which follows dignity, might draw 
Envy from each inferior; but who here 
Will envy whom the highest place exposes 
Foremost to stand against the Thunderer's aim 
Your bulwark, and condemns to greatest shar...Read more of this...

by Milton, John
For only in destroying I find ease 
To my relentless thoughts; and, him destroyed, 
Or won to what may work his utter loss, 
For whom all this was made, all this will soon 
Follow, as to him linked in weal or woe; 
In woe then; that destruction wide may range: 
To me shall be the glory sole among 
The infernal Powers, in one day to have marred 
What he, Almighty styled, six nights and days 
Continued making; and who knows how long 
Before had been contriving? though perhaps...Read more of this...

by Tennyson, Alfred Lord
...woman sat,
All over earthy, like a piece of earth,
A pickaxe in her hand: then out I slipt
Into a land all of sun and blossom, trees
As high as heaven, and every bird that sings:
And here the night-light flickering in my eyes
Awoke me.' 

`That was then your dream,' she said,
`Not sad, but sweet.' 

`So sweet, I lay,' said he,
`And mused upon it, drifting up the stream
In fancy, till I slept again, and pieced
The broken vision; for I dream'd that still
The motion of ...Read more of this...

by Whitman, Walt
...or fancied indifference of some man or woman I love, 
The sickness of one of my folks, or of myself, or ill-doing, or loss or lack of
 money, or depressions or exaltations; 
Battles, the horrors of fratricidal war, the fever of doubtful news, the fitful
These come to me days and nights, and go from me again,
But they are not the Me myself. 

Apart from the pulling and hauling stands what I am; 
Stands amused, complacent, compassionating, idle, unitary;...Read more of this...

by Sexton, Anne
...trying to forget the mother
who built guilt with the lumber of a locked door
as she sobbed her soured mild and fed you loss
through the keyhole,
you who wrote out your own birth
and built it with your own poems,
your own lumber, your own keyhole,
into the trunk and leaves of your manhood,
you, who fell into my words, years
before you fell into me (the other,
both the Camp Director and the camper),
you who baited your hook with wide-awake dreams,
and calls and letters and onc...Read more of this...

by Masefield, John
...n about His head, 
Another mock by where He tread, 
Another nail, another cross. 
All that you are is that Christ's loss." 
The clock run down and struck a chime 
And Mrs. Si said, "Closing time."

The wet was pelting on the pane 
And something broke inside my brain, 
I heard the rain drip from the gutters 
And Silas putting up the shutters, 
While one by one the drinkers went; 
I got a glimpse of what it meant, 
How she and I had stood before 
In some old tow...Read more of this...

by Bridges, Robert Seymour
...tassell'd twigs, fair beds of primrose lie. 
Beneath the crisp and wintry carpet hid
A million buds but stay their blossoming;
And trustful birds have built their nests amid
The shuddering boughs, and only wait to sing
Till one soft shower from the south shall bid,
And hither tempt the pilgrim steps of spring. 

In thee my spring of life hath bid the while
A rose unfold beyond the summer's best,
The mystery of joy made manifest
In love's self-answering and awakening...Read more of this...

by Carroll, Lewis
...e painted clearly on each:
But, since he omitted to mention the fact,
 They were all left behind on the beach.

The loss of his clothes hardly mattered, because
 He had seven coats on when he came,
With three pair of boots--but the worst of it was,
 He had wholly forgotten his name.

He would answer to "Hi!" or to any loud cry,
 Such as "Fry me!" or "Fritter my wig!"
To "What-you-may-call-um!" or "What-was-his-name!"
 But especially "Thing-um-a-jig!"

While, for those...Read more of this...

by Scott, Sir Walter
...s abound,
     Such as are better missed than found;
     To meet with Highland plunderers here
     Were worse than loss of steed or deer.—
     I am alone;—my bugle-strain
     May call some straggler of the train;
     Or, fall the worst that may betide,
     Ere now this falchion has been tried.'

     But scarce again his horn he wound,
     When lo! forth starting at the sound,
     From underneath an aged oak
     That slanted from the islet roc...Read more of this...

by Chaucer, Geoffrey
...the mountain to the plain.
Well might Senec, and many a philosopher,
Bewaile time more than gold in coffer.
For loss of chattels may recover'd be,
But loss of time shendeth* us, quoth he. *destroys

It will not come again, withoute dread,*
No more than will Malkin's maidenhead,
When she hath lost it in her wantonness.
Let us not moulde thus in idleness.
"Sir Man of Law," quoth he, "so have ye bliss,
Tell us a tale anon, as forword* is. *the bargain
...Read more of this...

by Eliot, T S (Thomas Stearns)
Phlebas the Phoenician, a fortnight dead,
Forgot the cry of gulls, and the deep sea swell
And the profit and loss.
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.
or Jew
O you who turn the wheel and look to windward, 
Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you.
After the torchlight red on sweaty faces
After the ...Read more of this...

by Chaucer, Geoffrey
...self was slain,
That bought us with his hearte-blood again.
Lo here express of women may ye find
That woman was the loss of all mankind.
Then read he me how Samson lost his hairs
Sleeping, his leman cut them with her shears,
Through whiche treason lost he both his eyen.
Then read he me, if that I shall not lien,
Of Hercules, and of his Dejanire,
That caused him to set himself on fire.
Nothing forgot he of the care and woe
That Socrates had with his wives two;
...Read more of this...

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