Some writers featured below suggest that the heartbroken should forget their past lovers while others spend the lines of their poems exploring the intricacies of depression and grief. No matter one’s experience in relationships, there is a poem on this list that should feel relatable.
Explore Touching Poems about Heartbreak
- 1 Because I Liked You Better by A.E. Housman
- 2 Sonnet 87 by William Shakespeare
- 3 Passion by Kathleen Raine
- 4 I Am Not Yours by Sarah Teasdale
- 5 Never Give All the Heart by W.B. Yeats
- 6 Love is Not All by Edna St. Vincent Millay
- 7 Resignation by Nikki Giovanni
- 8 He would not stay for me, and who can wonder by A.E. Housman
- 9 Mariana by Alfred Lord Tennyson
- 10 Never seek to tell thy love by William Blake
- 11 FAQs
Because I Liked You Better by A.E. Housman
‘Because I Liked You Better’ went unpublished during the poet’s lifetime but has since become well-known among lovers of Housman’s work. It is suggestive of the poet’s sexuality if one reads the lines as coming from the poet’s own perspective.
The speaker describes following his lover’s directive—to put him out of his mind and carry on with his life. This is a common theme in heartbreak poems, but it is harder to follow the advice than to read it. Here are a few of the best lines:
Because I liked you better
Than suits a man to say,
It irked you, and I promised
To throw the thought away.
Discover the poetry from A.E. Housman.
In this well-known “Fair Youth” sonnet, the poet addresses a young man that he loves. He tells the man that he means a lot to him, but, at the same time, he knows, due to the young man’s actions, that their relationship is not going to be what it could’ve been. The youth has realized that he is worth much more than he previously thought. Here are a few lines:
Farewell, thou art too dear for my possessing,
And like enough thou know’st thy estimate.
The charter of thy worth gives thee releasing;
My bonds in thee are all determinate.
Explore more William Shakespeare poems.
Passion by Kathleen Raine
‘Passion’ is an eight-stanza poem about heartbreak written in the first person. The speaker describes the feelings of heartbreak one experiences after someone they love turns them down. One has to choose to move on and rebuild their life. If they don’t, they’ll never live as happily as they could’ve. Here are a few lines:
Full of desire I lay, the sky wounding me,
Each cloud a ship without me sailing, each tree
Possessing what my soul lacked, tranquillity.
Read more Kathleen Raine poems.
In this lovely poem, Teasdale addresses someone who claims to love her or her speaker. She tells them that she is not theirs. The speaker takes control of this relationship, telling them that she does not want to be loved in the way that they seem to want to love her. Here are a few lines:
Yet I am I, who long to be
Lost as a light is lost in light.
Oh plunge me deep in love — put out
My senses, leave me deaf and blind […]
Explore more Sarah Teasdale poetry.
This lesser-read W.B. Yeats poem is a thoughtful piece that’s suited to someone experiencing heartbreak. It addresses how purposeless it can feel to give one’s heart to another person, only to have it ripped out. Women, the speaker states, “Have given their hearts up to the play.” The speaker warns against losing oneself to love with the following lines:
Never give all the heart, for love
Will hardly seem worth thinking of
To passionate women if it seem
Certain, and they never dream
That it fades out from kiss to kiss […]
Read more William Butler Yeats poems.
‘Love is Not All’ is also referred to as ‘Sonnet XXX.’ It is a traditional Shakespearean sonnet with fourteen lines of iambic pentameter. The poem was first published in Collected Poems in 1931 and remained one of Edna St. Vincent Millay’s most popular works.
The piece explores the ways that human beings suffer for love, as one might suffer after a heartbreak. She notes that love is not “all.” There are many ways that it cannot help someone make it through life. It does not provide food, shelter, water, or sleep. She continues on to write about how love cannot cure disease “nor set the fractured bone.” Here are a few more lines:
Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink
Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain;
Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink
And rise and sink and rise and sink again;
Love can not fill the thickened lung with breath,
Discover more Edna St. Vincent Millay poems.
Resignation by Nikki Giovanni
‘Resignation’ by Nikki Giovanni is another love poem. Unlike the other pieces on this list, the poem is directed to the speaker’s child. It begins with the phrase “I love you” and continues on, examining why that emotion exists. Here are a few lines:
I love you
because the Earth turns round the sun
because the North wind blows north
because the Pope is Catholic
Love, the poet states, is inescapable. It exists because it exists.
Read more Nikki Giovanni poems.
He would not stay for me, and who can wonder by A.E. Housman
This short poem describes a speaker waiting for “him,” a person they care about. They suggest that if they’d done a few things differently, their entire life would’ve changed. Here are two lines from the poem:
He would not stay for me, and who can wonder?
He would not stay for me to stand and gaze.
Discover the poetry from A.E. Housman.
‘Mariana’ is a famous love poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson. It was published in 1830 and was inspired by William Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure. It describes characters from the poem, like Mariana and Angelo. The latter promised to marry the former, and Mariana spends the lines of the poem exploring what her life could’ve been and is now:
With blackest moss the flower-plots
Were thickly crusted, one and all:
The rusted nails fell from the knots
That held the pear to the gable-wall.
Read more of Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poems.
‘Never seek to tell thy love’ describes why in some cases, one should not express their emotions to the person they love. It’s better to suffer in silence rather than risk being rejected. It’s possible that they won’t be reciprocated when these feelings are shared. That is going to be far more painful than keeping them to themselves. Here are a few of the best lines:
Never seek to tell thy love
Love that never told can be
For the gentle wind does move
Read more poetry from William Blake.
A heartbreak poem is a piece that was written about the subject of heartbreak. It could be written with the intention of soothing someone that the poet knows or with allowing the poet a creative outlet to express their deep emotions.
The best way to write a heartbreak poem is to spend a few moments writing down one’s thoughts surrounding the subject. What have you felt when you’ve experienced heartbreak? Consider what images come to mind, where you were when you felt that way, and what you would tell your past self.