Hell Poems

Poems about hell venture into the realm of darkness and explore the concept of spiritual suffering, punishment, or the existential dread associated with the idea of a hellish realm.

These poems often depict the anguish, torment, and despair experienced in such a place. They may delve into guilt, remorse, or the consequences of one’s actions. Poems about hell may use vivid imagery, metaphor, and symbolism to evoke a sense of terror and a confrontation with one’s deepest fears.

They can be contemplative, cautionary, or philosophical, prompting reflection on morality, redemption, and the human condition.

The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

by William Blake

‘The Marriage of Heaven and Hell’ by William Blake explores the tension between opposing forces and the transformative power of embracing contradiction.

The topic of hell is explored as a necessary counterpart to heaven, representing the dualities of human experience. The poem challenges the conventional notion of hell as a place of punishment, suggesting that it contains transformative potential and creativity. It invites readers to reconsider their perceptions of hell and perceive it as an essential part of the human journey, providing opportunities for growth and enlightenment.

Rintrah roars and shakes his fires in the burdened air;

Hungry clouds swag on the deep.

Once meek, and in a perilous path,

The just man kept his course along

Amethyst Beads

by Eavan Boland

‘Amethyst Beads’ by Eavan Boland alludes to Greek mythology and the suffering of a child, Persephone, after she was separated from her mother, Demeter.

While the poem takes place in the ancient Greek version of the underworld, it is not a reflection of the Judeo-Christian conception of Hell. However, the poem does touch upon themes of despair and regret which are equally applicable to Hell.

My Life Closed Twice Before Its Close

by Emily Dickinson

‘My life closed twice before its close’ by Emily Dickinson uses heartbreak as a metaphor for death. She also experiments with the meaning of “closure.”

Dickinson uses the juxtaposition between Heaven and Hell in order to mirror the highs and lows of life. The binary opposites which are evoked through this Biblical imagery serve to remind the reader that our lives are capable of being enriched and joyful, as well as being painful and full of suffering.

My life closed twice before its close—

It yet remains to see

If Immortality unveil

A third event to me

The Hollow Men

by T.S. Eliot

‘The Hollow Men’ presents the hollow, degenerated, and disillusioned people dealing with their meaningless existence amidst the ruins of the postwar world.

Eliot refers to the river place where souls wait to be ferried either to hell or heaven while alluding to the first and second books of Divine Comedy. "Hollow Men" of the modern world are not even taken into hell and are condemned to stay eternally by the river without any hope for redemption.

We are the hollow men

We are the stuffed men

Leaning together

Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!

Holy Sonnet II

by John Donne

‘Holy Sonnet II’ by John Donne is the second in a series of religious sonnets that Donne is well-known for. This poem is directed to God and explores a speaker’s concerns about their fate. 

Donne's poem showcases the speaker's apprehension at the prospect of being taken to Hell when he dies, as he knows he has lived a sinful life. In typical Donne fashion, the poem reiterates the fact that faith in God can rescue the man from that horrific fate, if he can only repent for his sins.

As due by many titles I resign

Myself to thee, O God. First I was made

By Thee; and for Thee, and when I was decay’d

Thy blood bought that, the which before was Thine.


by Frederick Seidel

‘1968’ describes the aftermath of a raucous Hollywood party. Seidel works into this context a broader critique of sociopolitical realities.

While the mansion is called a “Paradise”, the appellation is, without a doubt, heavily sarcastic, and when one looks carefully at the stanza in question, one finds elements one would more readily associate with hell – the subtropical clamminess, the foggy vision, and of course the faceless victims of murder. Indeed the belief one is in paradise, which some of the participants in the part presumably share, may be part of the setting’s hellish quality.

A football spirals through the oyster glow

Of dawn dope and fog in L.A.’s

Bel Air, punted perfectly. The foot

That punted it is absolutely stoned.

‘Twas the old — road — through pain—

by Emily Dickinson

‘Twas the old — road — through pain—’ by Emily Dickinson describes a woman’s path from life to death and her entrance into Heaven. 

The poet's main character in this poem implies that she doesn't want to have displeased God throughout her life and end up in Hell.

In Chambers bright —

Too out of sight — though —

For our hoarse Good Night —

To touch her Head!

Holy Sonnet IX

by John Donne

‘Holy Sonnet IX’ by John Donne, also known by its first line ‘If poisonous minerals, and if that tree’ is one of several “Holy Sonnets” the poet composed during his lifetime. This particular poem focuses on a dispute between the speaker and God.

If poisonous minerals, and if that tree,

Whose fruit threw death on (else immortal) us,

If lecherous goats, if serpents envious

Cannot be damn'd, alas ! why should I be ?

I did not reach Thee

by Emily Dickinson

‘I did not reach Thee’ by Emily Dickinson is a complex poem about a speaker’s journey through life. She expresses both optimism and hesitation in the face of her death and attempts to reach God. 

I did not reach Thee

But my feet slip nearer every day

Three Rivers and a Hill to cross

Mad Girl’s Love Song

by Sylvia Plath

‘Mad Girl’s Love Song’ by Sylvia Plath explores the truth of a relationship. The speaker wonders how deep and meaningful it really was.

"I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;

I lift my lids and all is born again.

(I think I made you up inside my head.)

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