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.
‘That girl who laughed and had black eyes’ by Stephen Spender is all about a girl the speaker admires and loves. She still lives in the speaker’s thoughts even after her death.
‘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.
‘And Soul’ by Eavan Boland is a poem about death and a body’s dissolution into the elements that it is made up of. The poet emphasizes the connection between a human being made nearly entirely of water and a city that’s drenched by a particularly rainy summer season.
‘Easter Monday (In Memoriam E.T.)’ is a fascinating exploration of grief and friendship against the backdrop of the First World War.
‘The last Night that She lived’ by Emily Dickinson is a poem about a dying woman’s final moments and how a specific observer felt about her death.
‘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.
‘Darling’ by Jackie Kay describes a woman’s death on a beautiful summer day and her close friend’s reaction. It was inspired by a personal loss the poet experienced.
‘Abuelito Who’ by Sandra Cisneros is a powerful poem about the importance of family. The poem conveys the ways that illness and change within the family dynamic can have on a child.
‘Nightmare Begins Responsibility’ by Michael S. Harper is an unforgettable poem in which the speaker describes the loss of a child. While struggling to trust the doctors caring for his newborn son, the speaker watches on helplessly.
‘Complaint’ is one of the early poems of James Wright with a conventional form and meter. This poem is about a rural folk’s dissatisfaction with her dead wife’s absence.
‘The Hill’ by Edgar Lee Masters describes the lives and deaths of some of the residents of Spoon River—the community that features in much of his verse.
‘Bells for John Whiteside’s Daughter’ by John Crowe Ransom is an elegy for Whiteside’s daughter, a young girl who passed away suddenly. It’s unclear why she died, but, the speaker spends the bass majority of this poem depicting her lively and playful life.
‘The Broken Chain’ by Ron Tranmer explores the feelings of grief that a family suffers when one of their much-loved members passed away. The poet uses the metaphor of a broken chain to describe their loss.
‘Everyone Sang’ by Siegfried Sassoon is a moving poem about the joy experienced at the end of World War I. Knowing that the horrors of the war are over, the world sang out with the joy of a newly uncaged bird.
‘A Dirge’ by Christina Rossetti is a thoughtful and moving poem about death. It speaks on the birth and death of an important person in the speaker’s life.
‘The Yellow Dot,’ written in remembrance of poet Jane Kenyon, is about the inevitability of death and God’s despotic ruling over humankind. It was published in Robert Bly’s best-known collection, Morning Poems (1997).
William Stafford shows his unique style of writing, the use of imagery, and symbolism in his poem ‘Monuments for a Friendly Girl at a Tenth Grade Party.’ He uses flashbacks to his school days when he first met his childhood love, Ruth, and felt “alive.”
Walter de la Mare’s poem ‘Good-bye’ illustrates the impact of the “last of last words” with the help of vivid, pessimistic imagery. It’s all about one’s emotional distress caused by a heart-wrenching “Goodbye.”
‘How It Is’ is written, remembering the best-loved confessional poet, Anne Sexton. This poem centers around an old blue jacket.
Dawn Garisch’s poem ‘To My Father, Who Died’ is about the relationship of the poet’s father with the sea. It depicts the cycle of life and death through the metaphor of the sea.
‘Grandmother’ (1991) is written by the Native American feminist poet Paula Gunn Allen. This poem is about the role of a speaker’s grandmother in her family.
Ai’s poem ‘Cuba, 1962’ appears in her poetry collection Vice: New and Selected Poems (1999), winner of the National Book Award for Poetry. This piece is written in the context of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.
Norman Dubie’s ‘The Funeral’ is about a speaker’s aunt who died of cancer. In this piece, the speaker shares one of the best memories with her.
‘The Bustle in a House’ by Emily Dickinson is a short poem about the effects of death. It describes the “bustle” in a home the morning after an important loss.
Mark Doty’s ‘Bill’s Story’ appears in his best-known poetry collection My Alexandria (1993). This poem is about the death of a speaker’s sister suffering from dementia and AIDS.
‘Lizzie Borden Took an Ax’ is a well-known children’s rhyme that alludes to the accusations against Lizzie Borden in regard to the murder of her father and step-mother.
‘For My Daughter’ by Weldon Kees is an interesting poem about a speaker’s thoughts about having a daughter and considering her death.
‘Black Silk’ by Tess Gallagher is a sorrowful poem. In it, the speaker uses a silk vest to convey the emotion surrounding a loss.
‘As from a Quiver of Arrows’ by Carl Phillips is a thoughtful piece that presents readers with numerous questions around the rituals of death and loss.