Grief Poems

In Memory of the Utah Stars

by William Matthews

‘In Memory of the Utah Stars’ captures the manner in which memories can provide us with both pleasure and pain.

The poem is presented as mournful, as they the narrator is grieving. It is, therefore, a reminder that we can grieve for things other than people. Teams, places, and moments in life can all cause us to grieve when we lose them.

Each of them must have terrified

his parents by being so big, obsessive

and exact so young, already gone

and leaving, like a big tipper,

Explore more poems about Grief

The Nightingale

by Philip Sidney

‘The Nightingale’ is a unique love-lyric that exploits the classical myth of Philomel to morph the personal rue of a lovelorn heart into a superb piece of poetry.

From the beginning to the end the poem talks about grief. the poem begins with the poet's grief of not getting his love and how tormented he is right now and in the second half of the poem, it is Philomela, who shows her grief of being deceived by her sister's husband.

The Dancing

by Gerald Stern

‘The Dancing’ by Gerald Stern is an emotionally complex poem that wrestles with feelings of joy and bittersweetness inspired by a fond memory.

The speaker carries this grief within them over the fact that they have not heard the music or experienced a happy moment like the one in their memory since that time. They're not only grieving over their parents but the loss of their youthful self as well.

The Portrait

by Stanley Kunitz

‘The Portrait’ by Stanley Kunitz is a sad poem about the speaker’s ill-fated attempt to learn more about their deceased father.

In the same way that unresolved anger can poison relationships, grief as well is a big piece of the poem. Both the mother and speaker carry the grief of losing their husband/father, but they deal with it in very different ways.


by Mark Doty

‘Brilliance’ by Mark Doty describes a dying man who wants to control his own life. He eventually opens himself up to new experiences.

The feelings associated with a death that has not yet happened are sometimes called anticipatory grief. The man feels anticipatory grief about his own life, which is why he feels the need to distance himself from the world. At the end of the poem, the speaker imagines a wonderful afterlife for the man; such imaginative exercises can be an important part of the grief process, both for the dying person and for the people who care about them. The poem does not deal with the grief after the man's death, but grief is still a pervasive emotion throughout the text.

The Almond Trees

by Derek Walcott

‘The Almond Trees’ By Derek Walcott is a confessional poem about identity, history, and cultural identity.

This poem talks about grief in multiple stanzas. It's a specific type of grief with a concise reason. The grief is for the culture that has changed due to violence, and the grief comes from the almond tree, a fellow survivor of the brutal events this culture endured.

Death of a Young Woman

by Gillian Clarke

Explore ‘Death of a Young Woman,’ where Clarke depicts how a loved one’s death lets a person free from their inward, endless suffering.

Grief coupled with a sense of relief is there in the heart of Clarke's poem 'Death of a Young Woman.'

A Muse of Water

by Carolyn Kizer

‘A Muse of Water’ by Carolyn Kizer is a unique poem that places women as a force of nature, like water, that men attempt to control, redirect, and oppress.

'A Muse of Water' reveals the ways in which, over time, people have destroyed the environment and continually put women in a subservient, servant-like role in society, comparing the two as the world decays. The grief that the water and women feel for their lost freedom and lost beauty is intense in this poem.

The Double Shame

by Stephen Spender

‘The Double Shame’ by Stephen Spender conveys a depiction of what the world feels like when one loses a very important person in their life. Everything is transformed in a way that makes a living from day to day difficult. 

The speaker alludes to a very strong, overwhelming form of grief that takes over someone's life after a loss.

To a Dead Friend

by Langston Hughes

‘To a Dead Friend’ by Langston Hughes is a depressing poem about the ways death can permanently alter one’s ability to see or feel joy.

Hughes presents their grief as both mood and world altering. Stopping just short of personifying the intense emotion as a thing unto itself, yet it still exerts a shocking level of influence on the speaker's life. As far as laments ago the Hughes' poem is without ornamentation and focuses instead on the simple but no less corrosive effects.

I felt a Funeral, in my Brain

by Emily Dickinson

‘I felt a Funeral, in my Brain’ by Emily Dickinson is a popular poem. In it, she depicts a very unusual idea of life after death.

The speaker expresses grief for their situation generally in this poem.

Indian Weavers

by Sarojini Naidu

‘Indian Weavers’ explores the inevitability of death while celebrating the cycles of human existence and experience.

The poem appears to suggest that grieving for somebody should involve celebrating their entire life and the lives of those that remain.

Mr. Flood’s Party

by Edwin Arlington Robinson

‘Mr. Flood’s Party’ by Edwin Arlington Robinson describes a man’s later years in life and how lonely he has become. It suggests that a long life is not always a blessing. 

Eben Flood has had to, and still does, grieve all those he's lost.

The Complaints of the Poor

by Robert Southey

‘The Complaints of the Poor’ by Robert Southey takes place in a city, likely London, and describes the desperate measures poverty drives people to. 

The characters in this poem are experiencing and observing a great deal of grief.

Two Armies

by Stephen Spender

‘Two Armies’ by Stephen Spender describes two armies on a devastating battlefield where every individual is suffering. Their common humanity is highlighted. 

It's clear that the speaker and the people in this poem all experience grief, for their own situations, and for everyone else around them.

Winter Stars

by Larry Levis

‘Winter Stars’ by Larry Levis tries to reconcile the estranged relationship between a son and their dying father.

Although the speaker's father appears to still be alive in the poem, it's clear they are feeling no small amount of grief over their decline. The cruel irony of their inability to coherently speak due to their aging mind is particularly sorrowful.

Bag of Mice

by Nick Flynn

‘Bag of Mice’ by Nick Flynn is a powerful poem that describes a speaker’s dream and a listener’s suicide note. It uses short, evocative lines that are easy to read and hard to forget.

The poem is steeped in a sense of grief and despair. The imagery of the burning bag and the scurrying mice is unsettling and distressing, while the release of the suicide note writer's voice into the night suggests a sense of finality and hopelessness.

Oddjob, a Bull Terrier

by Derek Walcott

‘Oddjob, a Bull Terrier’ by Derek Walcott is a thoughtful, emotional poem about loss and how unbearable the death of a pet can be. 

The speaker, Walcott, is grieving the loss of his dog and fills the lines with examples of his emotions.

3 November 1984

by Sujata Bhatt

In ‘3 November 1984,’ Indian-English poet Sujata Bhatt shows how history plays a vital role in the process of writing poetry, and their interconnectedness.

A Broken Appointment

by Thomas Hardy

Hardy’s poetry focuses on themes such as disappointment, thwarted love, and pessimism. ‘A Broken Appointment’ provokes empathy towards the lyrical voice.

A Child Of Mine

by Edgar Guest

‘A Child Of Mine’ is told from the perspective of God. He is speaking to prospective parents, informing them of their duties to His child.

A Coffin is a Small Domain

by Emily Dickinson

‘A Coffin—is a small Domain’ by Emily Dickinson explores death. It is characteristic of much of the poet’s work in that it clearly addresses this topic and everything that goes along with it.

A Different History

by Sujata Bhatt

‘A Different History’ by Sujata Bhatt is not a raging piece of protest, rather it teaches how to revisit one’s cultural past in a curious, sensible way.

A Long Journey

by Musaemura Zimunya

‘A Long Journey’ by Musaemura Zimunya is based on the changes that came to Rhodesia, a small country in southern Africa, after British colonial rule. The speaker explores the positive changes and the negative.

A Picture of Otto

by Ted Hughes

‘A Picture of Otto’ by Ted Hughes is addressed to Sylvia Plath’s father, Otto. It contains Hughes’ disagreements about how he and Otto were depicted in Plath’s work.

A Stopwatch and an Ordnance Map

by Stephen Spender

‘A Stopwatch and an Ordnance Map’ by Stephen Spender explores the Spanish Civil War through the lyrical depiction of one man’s death. It is marked by a stopwatch, the olive trees, and the continued conflict around him. 

Acquainted with the Night

by Robert Frost

‘Acquainted with the Night’ by Robert Frost is a personal poem that deals with themes of depression. It’s told, perhaps, from the poet’s own perspective.

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