Heartbreak Poems

Poems about heartbreak delve into the profound pain and emotional turmoil that accompanies the loss of love or the shattering of relationships.

These poems capture the depths of sorrow, longing, and grief experienced during a broken heart. They often explore themes of betrayal, disappointment, and loss that come with a shattered bond. Poems about heartbreak may employ metaphorical language to depict the anguish and vulnerability of a wounded soul.

They offer solace, validation, and a means of catharsis for those navigating the complex emotions associated with heartbreak. These poems serve as a reminder of the resilience of the human spirit and the potential for healing and growth in the face of emotional pain.

Hymn to Aphrodite

by Sappho

The ‘Hymn to Aphrodite’ by Sappho is an ancient lyric in which Sappho begs for Aphrodite’s help in managing her turbulent love life.

'Hymn to Aphrodite' is a timeless classic because it chronicles Sappho's 2,500+-year-old feelings of heartbreak, and they are the exact same emotions that we all go through after getting rejected. This poem, thus, is the original heartbreak poem, and it has also inspired thousands of heartbreak poems all across the world.

Beautiful-throned, immortal Aphrodite,

Daughter of Zeus, beguiler, I implore thee,

Weigh me not down with weariness and anguish

O thou most holy!

Paraphrase on Anacreon: Ode to the Swallow

by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

‘Paraphrase on Anacreon: Ode to the Swallow,’ is a translation of a Greek lyric poem in which the speaker explains that love constantly (and annoyingly) inhabits their heart.

In this poem, the speaker seems to feel heartbreak. Their sorrowful tone and frustration indicate that, while they currently possess and have had many lovers and infatuations throughout their lifetime, they crowd the speaker's heart with overwhelming noise. While lovers who leave also offer new love to the speaker, the speaker seems to wish that those loves would just leave them alone for a while.

Thou indeed, little Swallow,

A sweet yearly comer.

Art building a hollow

New nest every summer.

Dear heart, why will you use me so

by James Joyce

‘Dear heart, why will you use me so’ by James Joyce both revels and despairs the rapturous reign and inevitable sundering that love delivers.

Although a love poem, James Joyce doesn't shy away from exploring heartbreak either. This appears to be one of the central topics of this poem from 'Chamber Music,' with the speaker wrestling and preparing for the seemingly inevitable end. In doing so, they question the purpose of their own heart in falling for a love that has wrought so much sorrow.

Dear heart, why will you use me so?

Dear eyes that gently me upbraid,

Still are you beautiful—but O,

How is your beauty raimented!

“Take me anywhere” (from Hermetic Definition: ‘Red Rose and a Beggar’)

by Hilda Doolittle

In “Take me anywhere, anywhere;” by Hilda Doolittle, the poet-speaker addresses a lover, expressing the way in which she takes refuge in their affection.

"Take me anywhere, anywhere;" reeks of heartbreak, and Doolittle's many allusions to her former lovers in this poem are evidence. While the poem comes off as a sweet gesture from a lover to a lover, it is truly a desperate attempt for Hilda to regain the attention of anyone, anywhere, who will love her and become an intellectual and romantic guide for her.

Take me anywhere, anywhere;

I walk into you,


O friends, (translated by Jane Hirshfield)

by Mirabai

‘O friends,’ by Mirabai is a deeply poignant poem that wrestles exhaustingly with a yearning heartache.

Heartbreak is another topic in the poem as Mirabai likens Krishna to both a deity to be worshipped and followed but also loved. According to legend, the poet saw herself as joining the god in a spiritual marriage. Even when the poet was married (through an arranged marriage), she maintained her love for Krishna. In this poem, share reveals her heartbreak in being apart from him and also that people do not understand her love.

O friends, I am mad

with love, and no one sees.

La Figlia Che Piange

by T.S. Eliot

‘La Figlia Che Piange’ presents the internal conflict of the speaker as he cannot come to terms with the memories of his breakup.

'La Figlia Che Piange' subtly engages with the topic of heartbreak as the poem presents the speaker's inner conflict who is not satisfied with the way he broke up with his ex-lover, so, throughout the poem, he recreates his breakup scene wherein he breaks the heart of his ex-lover. The speaker's heartbreak is not explicit in the poem; however, the multiple voices and the speaker's oscillation from a controlling aesthete, embittered lover to an emotional man suggest the pain of heartbreak.

So I would have had him leave,

So I would have had her stand and grieve,

So he would have left

As the soul leaves the body torn and bruised,

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.

Philip Sidney is heartbroken as he could not achieve his beloved and the agony of his unrequited love pierces his heart. Simultaneously, what Philomela had experienced, is traumatic for her. Her sister's husband Tereus used her as his pleasure trophy and Philomela lost her virginity without her consent. And to top it up, Tere cut her tongue just to stop Philomela from spreading the secret.

O Philomela fair, O take some gladness,

That here is juster cause of plaintful sadness:

Thine earth now springs, mine fadeth;

Thy thorn without, my thorn my heart invadeth.

The Heart asks Pleasure – first

by Emily Dickinson

‘The heart asks pleasure first’ by Emily Dickinson depicts the needs of the heart. They are highly changeable and include pleasure and excuse from pain.

Heartbreak and pain are things that the heart does not want to experience in this poem.

The Heart asks Pleasure—first—

And then—Excuse from Pain—

And then—those little Anodynes

That deaden suffering—

Life in a Love

by Robert Browning

‘Life in a Love’ by Robert Browning is an obsessive love poem in which a speaker tells the person they’re in love with that no matter how many times they’re torn down; they’re always going to get back up. 

It's very clear that the speaker in this passionate poem has experienced a great deal of heartbreak. He's been knocked down by the person he loves over and over but is unwilling to give up on them.

Escape me?



While I am I, and you are you,

The Highwayman

by Alfred Noyes

‘The Highwayman’ by Alfred Noyes is a gothic narrative of tells of the story of the highwayman, the red coats who wanted to capture him and his lover. 

Beyond the evident sorrow of death, the poem dives deep into the nuanced agony of separation, unfulfilled promises, and lost potential. The fleeting moments they shared become even more poignant, knowing that they’ll never get the life they dreamed of together. It’s a reminder of the unpredictability of life and the profound pain love can bring.

The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees.

The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas.

The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,

And the highwayman came riding—


The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.


Explore more poems about Heartbreak

Little Boy Blue

by Eugene Field

‘Little Boy Blue’ by Eugene Field is a beautiful, heartbreaking poem that describes the aftermath of a child’s death. It focuses on the child’s toys and how, despite many years having gone by, they’re still waiting for him. 

The child's death brought about a great deal of sorrow and heartbreak. The poet describes the toys in this poem but, through their description, also alludes to what the family must be experiencing.

The little toy dog is covered with dust,

But sturdy and staunch he stands;

The little toy soldier is red with rust,

And his musket molds in his hands.

My Kate

by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

‘My Kate’ by Elizabeth Barrett Browning is a sorrowful elegy dedicated to a morally righteous and important woman who has passed away. 

The speaker is heartbroken over the death of her friend, Kate. She is dealing with the loss of this friend by taking readers through how important Kate was to her life and the lives of many others.

She was not as pretty as women I know,

And yet all your best made of sunshine and snow

Drop to shade, melt to nought in the long-trodden ways,

While she's still remembered on warm and cold days--



by Edgar Allan Poe

‘Ulalume’ explores the depths of sorrow and the haunting impact of loss, as the speaker navigates a dark and mysterious landscape.

The poem looks into the topic of heartbreak through the speaker's profound sorrow and emotional turmoil. The references to lost love, withering leaves symbolizing a broken heart, and haunting encounters evoke feelings of heartbreak. The poem's exploration of grief and the enduring impact of loss resonates with readers, capturing the essence of heartbreak and the longing for what is gone.

The skies they were ashen and sober;

The leaves they were crispéd and sere—

The leaves they were withering and sere;

It was night in the lonesome October

A Complaint

by William Wordsworth

In the poem ‘A Complaint’ by William Wordsworth, the first and primary emotion is loss – loss of ideals, loss of friendship, loss of love.

There is a change—and I am poor;

Your love hath been, nor long ago,

A fountain at my fond heart's door,

Whose only business was to flow;

A Dream

by Edgar Allan Poe

‘A Dream’ by Edgar Allan Poe describes a speaker’s waking and dreaming state and the brief moments of light and hope he experiences. 

In visions of the dark night

I have dreamed of joy departed—

But a waking dream of life and light

Hath left me broken-hearted.

A False Step

by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

‘A False Step’ written by Elizabeth Barret Browning explores how a woman regrets her heartless action taken during her youth.

Sweet, thou hast trod on a heart.

Pass! there's a world full of men;

And women as fair as thou art

Must do such things now and then.

A Renewal

by James Merrill

‘A Renewal’ by James Merrill describes the plight of a speaker who tries to end a relationship but, as soon as they successfully do so, our struck by a violent resurgence of the same love that they had lost.

A Slumber did my Spirit Seal

by William Wordsworth

‘A Slumber did my Spirit Seal’ by William Wordsworth is one of five “Lucy” poems that Wordsworth published in the volume Lyrical Ballads, that he co-authored with Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

A slumber did my spirit seal;

I had no human fears:

She seemed a thing that could not feel

The touch of earthly years.

A Thousand Martyrs

by Aphra Behn

‘A Thousand Martyrs’ by Aphra Behn is a powerful exploration of faith, persecution, and the enduring strength of the human spirit.

Ae Fond Kiss

by Robert Burns

‘Ae Fond Kiss’ by Robert Burns tells of the unfortunate parting of two lovers, and a speaker’s depression over the many parts of his life he is losing.

Autumn Valentine

by Dorothy Parker

‘Autumn Valentine’ by Dorothy Parker reveals two moments in the scope of the narrator’s pain — one when the pain was new and one when it had endured for a time in the shadows.

Buried Love

by Sara Teasdale

‘Buried Love’ by Sara Teasdale expresses a contrast of emotion within the narrator as she grieves a “Love” that was “bittersweet.”


by Kanye West

‘DEAD’ by Kanye West addresses feelings of alienation and isolation. Specifically, those surrounding the writer’s relationship with his now ex-wife, Kim Kardashian.

Elegy VII: Nature’s lay idiot, I taught thee to love

by John Donne

‘Elegy VII’ by John Donne, also known as ‘Nature’s lay idiot, I taught thee to love,’ is a typical piece about unrequited love.

Nature’s lay idiot, I taught thee to love,

And in that sophistry, oh, thou dost prove

Too subtle: Fool, thou didst not understand

The mystic language of the eye nor hand:

Fare Thee Well

by Lord Byron

‘Fare Thee Well’ by Lord Byron is a fifteen stanza poem written by Byron after separating from his wife in the early 1800s.

Fare thee well! and if for ever,

Still for ever, fare thee well:

Even though unforgiving, never

'Gainst thee shall my heart rebel.

Heart, we will forget him! By Emily Dickinson

by Emily Dickinson

‘Heart, we will forget him!’ by Emily Dickinson is a keen observation of the aftermath of a powerful love affair and how it will, or will not, be “forgotten.”

Heart, we will forget him!

You an I, tonight!

You may forget the warmth he gave,

I will forget the light.

If I can stop one heart from breaking

by Emily Dickinson

‘If I can stop one heart from breaking’ by Emily Dickinson is a selfless proclamation of one’s desire to help. The poet’s speaker offers help in a variety of ways in some cases to better her own life.

If I can stop one heart from breaking,

I shall not live in vain;

If I can ease one life the aching,

We're glad you like visiting Poem Analysis...

We've got everything you need to master poetry

But, are you ready to take your learning

to the next level?