Death of a Loved One

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.

3 November 1984 by Sujata Bhatt

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. 

A Stopwatch and an Ordnance Map by Stephen Spender

And Soul by Eavan Boland

‘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. 

And Soul by Eavan Boland

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 Picture of Otto by Ted Hughes

Darling by Jackie Kay

‘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. 

Darling by Jackie Kay

Abuelito Who by Sandra Cisneros

‘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.

Abuelito Who by Sandra Cisneros

Nightmare Begins Responsibility by Michael S. Harper

‘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 by James Wright

‘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.

Complaint by James Wright

The Hill by Edgar Lee Masters

‘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.

The Hill by Edgar Lee Masters

Bells for John Whiteside’s Daughter by John Crowe Ransom

‘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.

Bells for John Whiteside’s Daughter by John Crowe Ransom

The Broken Chain by Ron Tranmer

‘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.

The Broken Chain by Ron Tranmer

Everyone Sang by Siegfried Sassoon

‘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.

Everyone Sang by Siegfried Sassoon

A Dirge by Christina Rossetti

‘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.

A Dirge by Christina Rossetti

The Yellow Dot by Robert Bly

‘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).

The Yellow Dot by Robert Bly

Good-bye by Walter de la Mare

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.”

Good-bye by Walter de la Mare

How It Is by Maxine Kumin

‘How It Is’ is written, remembering the best-loved confessional poet, Anne Sexton. This poem centers around an old blue jacket.

How It Is by Maxine Kumin

To My Father, Who Died by Dawn Garisch

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.

To My Father, Who Died by Dawn Garisch

Grandmother by Paula Gunn Allen

‘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.

Grandmother by Paula Gunn Allen

Cuba, 1962 by Ai

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.

Cuba, 1962 by Ai

The Funeral by Norman Dubie

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 Funeral by Norman Dubie

The Bustle in a House by Emily Dickinson

‘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.

The Bustle in a House by Emily Dickinson

Bill’s Story by Mark Doty

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.

Bill’s Story by Mark Doty

Lizzie Borden Took an Ax

‘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.

Lizzie Borden Took an Ax

For My Daughter by Weldon Kees

‘For My Daughter’ by Weldon Kees is an interesting poem about a speaker’s thoughts about having a daughter and considering her death. 

For My Daughter by Weldon Kees

Black Silk by Tess Gallagher

‘Black Silk’ by Tess Gallagher is a sorrowful poem. In it, the speaker uses a silk vest to convey the emotion surrounding a loss.

Black Silk by Tess Gallagher

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