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Famous Sickness Poems by Famous Poets

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

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by Crowley, Aleister
The first made holy and the last made sweet
By this same love; a year of wealth and woe,
Joy, poverty, health, sickness --- all one glow
In the pure light that filled our firmament
Of supreme silence and unbarred extent,
Wherein one sacrament was ours, one Lord,
One resurrection, one recurrent chord,
One incarnation, one descending dove,
All these being one, and that one being Love!

You sent your spirit into tunes; my soul
Yearned in a thousand melodies to enscroll
...Read more of this...

by Brackenridge, Hugh Henry
...cide, as if 'twere fortitude 
And higher merit to recede from life, 
Shunning the ills of poverty, or pain, 
Or wasting sickness, or the victor's sword, 
Than to support with patience fully tried 
As Job, thence equall'd with him in renown. 

Shut from the light of revelation clear 
The world lay hid in shades, and reason's lamp 
Serv'd but to show how dark it was; but now 
The joyous time with hasty steps advanc'd, 
When truth no more should with a partial ray 
Shine on...Read more of this...

by Donne, John
..., and soul's delivery. 
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men, 
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell; 
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well 
And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then? 
One short sleep past, we wake eternally, 
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die. 
...Read more of this...

by Tennyson, Alfred Lord
...ive; and as the year
Roll'd itself round again to meet the day
When Enoch had return'd, a languor came
Upon him, gentle sickness, gradually
Weakening the man, till he could do no more,
But kept the house, his chair, and last his bed.
And Enoch bore his weakness cheerfully.
For sure no gladlier does the stranded wreck
See thro' the gray skirts of a lifting squall
The boat that bears the hope of life approach
To save the life despair'd of, than he saw
Death dawning on h...Read more of this...

by Eliot, T S (Thomas Stearns)
...dying nurse
Whose constant care is not to please
But to remind of our, and Adam's curse,
And that, to be restored, our sickness must grow worse.

 The whole earth is our hospital
Endowed by the ruined millionaire,
Wherein, if we do well, we shall
Die of the absolute paternal care
That will not leave us, but prevents us everywhere.

 The chill ascends from feet to knees,
The fever sings in mental wires.
If to be warmed, then I must freeze
And quake in frigid purga...Read more of this...

by Byron, George (Lord)
...ough at first 
Their evil judgment augur'd of the worst, 
And each long restless night, and silent mood, 
Was traced to sickness, fed by solitude: 
And though his lonely habits threw of late 
Gloom o'er his chamber, cheerful was his gate; 
For thence the wretched ne'er unsoothed withdrew, 
For them, at least, his soul compassion knew. 
Cold to the great, contemptuous to the high, 
The humble pass'd not his unheeding eye; 
Much he would speak not, but beneath his roof 
The...Read more of this...

by Bukowski, Charles a thing as cockeyed optimism
that overlooks all
basic problems justr for
the sake of
this is a sheild and a 

The knife got near my
throat again,
I almost turned on the
but when the good
moments arrived
I did'nt fight them off
like an alley 
I let them take me,
i luxuriated in them,
I bade them welcome
I even looked into
the mirror
once having thought
myself to be
I now liked what
I saw,almost
handsome,y...Read more of this...

by Herbert, George
...nts wait on Man
Than he'll take notice of:  in every path
     He treads down that which doth befriend him
     When sickness makes him pale and wan.
O mighty love!  Man is one world, and hath
          Another to attend him.

          Since then, my God, thou hast
So brave a palace built, O dwell in it
     That it may dwell with thee at last!
     Till then, afford us so much wit,
That, as the world serves us, we may serve thee,
          And both thy s...Read more of this...

by Milton, John
...their own; 
Or if his likeness, by themselves defaced; 
While they pervert pure Nature's healthful rules 
To loathsome sickness; worthily, since they 
God's image did not reverence in themselves. 
I yield it just, said Adam, and submit. 
But is there yet no other way, besides 
These painful passages, how we may come 
To death, and mix with our connatural dust? 
There is, said Michael, if thou well observe 
The rule of Not too much; by temperance taught, 
In what thou...Read more of this...

by Milton, John
..., under change of times,
And condemnation of the ingrateful multitude.
If these they scape, perhaps in poverty
With sickness and disease thou bow'st them down,
Painful diseases and deform'd, 
In crude old age;
Though not disordinate, yet causless suffring
The punishment of dissolute days, in fine,
Just or unjust, alike seem miserable,
For oft alike, both come to evil end.
So deal not with this once thy glorious Champion,
The Image of thy strength, and mighty minister....Read more of this...

by Whitman, Walt
...ner, dress, associates, looks, compliments, dues, 
The real 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; ...Read more of this...

by Byron, George (Lord)
...thy veins is flushing? 
My own have nearly caught the same, 
At least I feel my cheek too blushing. 
To soothe thy sickness, watch thy health, 
Partake, but never waste thy wealth, 
Or stand with smiles unmurmuring by, 
And lighten half thy poverty; 
Do all but close thy dying eye, 
For that I could not live to try; 
To these alone my thoughts aspire: 
More can I do? or thou require? 
But, Selim, thou must answer why 
We need so much of mystery? 
The cause I cannot dream...Read more of this...

by Byron, George (Lord)
...such a time?


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...Read more of this...

by Wordsworth, William
...for which no knell was heard.  Fondly we wished, and wished away, nor knew,  'Mid that long sickness, and those hopes deferr'd,  That happier days we never more must view:  The parting signal streamed, at last the land withdrew.   But from delay the summer calms were past.  On as we drove, the equinoctial deep  Ran mountains-high before the howling blast.  We...Read more of this...

by Bradstreet, Anne
...inning, blushing can't reveal,
2.4 But night and darkness must with shame conceal.
2.5 My mother's breeding sickness, I will spare,
2.6 Her nine months' weary burden not declare.
2.7 To shew her bearing pangs, I should do wrong,
2.8 To tell that pain, which can't be told by tongue.
2.9 With tears into this world I did arrive;
2.10 My mother still did waste, as I did thrive,
2.11 Who yet with love and all alacity,
2.12 Spending w...Read more of this...

by Chaucer, Geoffrey
...ell better than they can themselves devise?
Some man desireth for to have richess,
That cause is of his murder or great sickness.
And some man would out of his prison fain,
That in his house is of his meinie* slain. *servants 
Infinite harmes be in this mattere.
We wot never what thing we pray for here.
We fare as he that drunk is as a mouse.
A drunken man wot well he hath an house,
But he wot not which is the right way thither,
And to a drunken man th...Read more of this...

by Tennyson, Alfred Lord
...bind my throbbing brow, 
To smoothe my pillow, mix the foaming draught 
Of fever, tell me pleasant tales, and read 
My sickness down to happy dreams? are you 
That brother-sister Psyche, both in one? 
You were that Psyche, but what are you now?' 
'You are that Psyche,' said Cyril, 'for whom 
I would be that for ever which I seem, 
Woman, if I might sit beside your feet, 
And glean your scattered sapience.' 
Then once more, 
'Are you that Lady Psyche,' I began, 
'That on ...Read more of this...

by Pope, Alexander
...ead aside,
Faints into Airs, and languishes with Pride;
On the rich Quilt sinks with becoming Woe,
Wrapt in a Gown, for Sickness, and for Show.
The Fair ones feel such Maladies as these,
When each new Night-Dress gives a new Disease.

A constant Vapour o'er the Palace flies;
Strange Phantoms rising as the Mists arise; 
Dreadful, as Hermit's Dreams in haunted Shades,
Or bright as Visions of expiring Maids.
Now glaring Fiends, and Snakes on rolling Spires,
Pale Spec...Read more of this...

by Herbert, George
...ief like mine? 

In healing not my self, there doth consist
All that salvation, which ye now resist; 
Your safety in my sickness doth subsist: 
Was ever grief like mine? 

Betwixt two thieves I spend my utmost breath, 
As he that for some robbery suffereth.
Alas! what have I stolen from you? death: 
Was ever grief like mine? 

A king my title is, prefixt on high; 
Yet by my subjects am condemn'd to die
A servile death in servile company; 
Was ever grief like mine? 

They ...Read more of this...

by Chaucer, Geoffrey
...r live.* *were guilty in their
Of wenches would I *beare them on hand,* *falsely accuse them*
When that for sickness scarcely might they stand,
Yet tickled I his hearte for that he
Ween'd* that I had of him so great cherte:** *though **affection16
I swore that all my walking out by night
Was for to espy wenches that he dight:* *adorned
Under that colour had I many a mirth.
For all such wit is given us at birth;
Deceit, weeping, and spinning, God doth give
To w...Read more of this...

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