Longing Poems

These verses about longing transport readers to the realm of unfulfilled desires and yearnings. They paint intricate pictures of the soul’s unrest, the hunger for connection, or the nostalgia for a long-time time.

Poets use metaphors and vivid descriptions to evoke the profound emotions of longing, creating a tapestry of unrequited love, unattained dreams, or distant lands calling. Such poems often explore the complexities of human emotions, leaving readers with both melancholy and hope.

Gacela of Unforseen Love

by Federico Garcia Lorca

‘Gacela of Unforseen Love’ explores the relationship between love and despair through a remembered romance which has run its course.

If there was one word to encompass Lorca's poetic output, it might be this one. Desire, especially unfulfilled desire and longing forms a crucial part of Lorca's portfolio and this poem in particular.

No one understood the perfume

of the dark magnolia of your womb

Nobody knew that you tormented

a hummingbird of love between your teeth.

A Hymn to God the Father

by John Donne

In ‘A Hymn to God the Father,’ Donne’s introspective and confessional tone explores sin, forgiveness, and the speaker’s personal relationship with God.

‘A Hymn to God the Father’ poignantly addresses the topic of longing. The speaker's words convey a profound yearning for forgiveness, redemption, and a closer relationship with God. Lines such as "Wilt Thou forgive that sin, through which I run / And do run still, though still I do deplore?" depict an unfulfilled longing for absolution. The repetition of the phrase "Wilt Thou forgive" intensifies the sense of longing, emphasizing the speaker's desperate desire for divine mercy. The poem explores the depths of longing, capturing the ache and longing for spiritual solace, highlighting the universal human longing for spiritual fulfillment and connection with a higher power.

Wilt thou forgive that sin where I begun, 

Which was my sin, though it were done before?

Wilt thou forgive that sin, through which I run,

And do run still, though still I do deplore?

A Far Cry from Africa

by Derek Walcott

‘A Far Cry from Africa’ encapsulates the turbulent struggle between ancestral African roots and colonial influence, invoking introspection and cultural complexities within a powerful poetic narrative.

Derek Walcott's poem addresses the topic of longing through its exploration of cultural heritage and the complexities of identity. The poem evokes a deep sense of yearning for connection and belonging. Walcott portrays the speaker's internal struggle, torn between African roots and European influences, as a reflection of the longing for a sense of place and identity. The vivid imagery and emotional language used throughout the poem convey the ache for a lost or distant homeland. 'A Far Cry from Africa' captures the universal human longing for a connection to one's roots, inviting readers to contemplate their own desires for a sense of belonging and fulfillment.

A wind is ruffling the tawny pelt

Of Africa. Kikuyu, quick as flies,

Batten upon the bloodstreams of the veldt.

Corpses are scattered through a paradise.

The childless woman

by Hattori Ransetsu

‘The childless woman’ by Hattori Ransetsu is a beautifully emotional poem about a childless woman longing to have real children.

The central theme of longing permeates the poem. The childless woman's yearning for children is portrayed through her tenderness toward dolls. The poem captures the depth and intensity of longing, emphasizing the human capacity to yearn for something that feels elusive or unattainable.

The childless woman,

How tender she is

To the dolls!

The Old Vicarage, Grantchester

by Rupert Brooke

‘The Old Vicarage, Grantchester’ is a light poem about a homesick traveler sentimentally remembering his former home in the English town of Grantchester. The poem takes a gently satirical tone to its subject matter.

In this poem, the speaker is in a foreign place that he finds unpleasant. He longs for his old home in the English town of Grantchester. In fact, the chief emotion the speaker is shown to experience in the poem is probably longing. He repeatedly makes passionate expressions of longing to be back in Grantchester. Eventually, he resolves to return.

Just now the lilac is in bloom,

All before my little room;

And in my flower-beds, I think,

Smile the carnation and the pink;


by Keith S. Wilson

‘Heliocentric’ by Keith S. Wilson is a singsongy poem about an astronaut in space missing someone on Earth whom he loves and desires.

Longing is one of the major topics of 'Heliocentric.' The astronaut in space, away from his love interest, laments and can't wait to get back to her. The words used paint a clear picture of how much he longs for her, and he basically counts down to his return to earth. This poem does a very good job of this and ranks high amongst poems about longing.

I’m striving to be a better astronaut,

but consider where I’m coming from,

the exosphere,

a desk where the bluest air

Their Pleas

by Kelly Cherry

‘Their Pleas’ talks about the longing of departed souls for guidance, connection, and empathy in their journey through the afterlife.

The poem is deeply intertwined with the theme of longing. For instance, the spirits' need for a "sighted guide" and a "remnant of the old world" accentuates their longing for guidance and a tangible connection to their earthly past. The yearning for touch and to be touched, as they once were, underscores the universal human longing for connection and affection. The spirits' pleas and actions evoke a sense of longing for understanding, empathy, and compassion from the living world.

They pluck my sleeve, tug my hand, pull

my hair. They do not kneel to kiss my hem.

No, it’s not like that but they want tokens.

Again, not souvenirs but something small

Ash Wednesday

by T.S. Eliot

In rich poetic language, ‘Ash Wednesday’ presents the spiritual struggle of an alienated individual lacking faith in decayed modern culture.

Throughout the poem, the speaker struggles to attain spiritual meaning and divine connection. The speaker's yearning with reflections on solace and spirituality evokes readers longing for spiritual solace, especially for the modern reader trapped in a complex, rapidly changing, uncertain modern world.

Because I do not hope to turn again

Because I do not hope

Because I do not hope to turn

Desiring this man's gift and that man's scope

The Sea and the Hills

by Rudyard Kipling

‘The Sea and the Hills’ by Rudyard Kipling depicts the ocean, its heaving waves, incredible winds, and ever-present danger. It has evoked longing in men throughout time and will continue to do so, just as one longs to return home. 

Kipling's poem implies that people long not just for the sea, but for what it represents, which is everything they have ever lost or hoped to gain.

Who hath desired the Sea? - the sight of salt water unbounded -

The heave and the halt and the hurl and the crash of the comber wind-hounded?

The sleek-barrelled swell before storm, grey, foamless, enormous, and growing

Stark calm on the lap of the Line or the crazy-eyed hurricane blowing -


by T.S. Eliot

Once considered as a preface to the major poem ‘The Waste Land’ by T.S. Eliot, ‘Gerontion’ effectively deals with the huge psychological, spiritual, and physical destruction caused by the great war.

The old man presents a universal human condition of the transience of human life and longing for youth while simultaneously showing a hopeless modern world. Thus, evoking the emotion of longing among readers for the lost life years and premodern world.

Here I am, an old man in a dry month,

Being read to by a boy, waiting for rain.

I was neither at the hot gates

Nor fought in the warm rain

Explore more poems about Longing

I Know, You Walk—

by Hermann Hesse

‘I Know, You Walk—’ by Hermann Hesse is a foreboding poem that depicts a nightly encounter between a troubled speaker and the visage of a person they dread running into you.

A topic that this poem by Hermann Hesse touches on is intense longing. Throughout the poem, various things are yearned for, be they a balm for another person's emotional desolation or a home in which to rest. This powerfully poignant feeling is made all the more intense by the poem's imagery of these two people walking aimlessly and anxiously alone at night.

I walk so often, late, along the streets,

Lower my gaze, and hurry, full of dread,

Suddenly, silently, you still might rise

In Kyoto

by Matsuo Bashō

‘In Kyoto’ by Matsuo Bashō expresses a deep sense of longing and nostalgia for the city of Kyoto through a 3-line haiku.

The central theme of this poem is longing and nostalgia for a familiar place. The speaker's emotional attachment to Kyoto creates a sense of transience and impermanence, emphasizing the importance of cherishing the moments we have.

In Kyoto,

hearing the cuckoo,

I long for Kyoto.

Sweeney among the Nightingales

by T.S. Eliot

‘Sweeney Among the Nightingales’ reflects the modern world’s degraded state through its layered allusions, symbolism, and imagery.

The constant juxtaposition of the ancient with the present and allusions to lost moral and heroic values evoke longing among readers for a lost golden age of humanity. The readers might feel longing for the lost values, heroics, and humanized world.

Apeneck Sweeney spread his knees

Letting his arms hang down to laugh,

The zebra stripes along his jaw

Swelling to maculate giraffe.

The Jewel Stairs’ Grievance (translated by Ezra Pound)

by Li Bai

‘The Jewel Stairs’ Grievance’ (translated by Ezra Pound) by Li Bai captures the lovelorn yearning of a woman waiting for her lover late at night in a picturesque scene of melancholic beauty.

The speaker's sense of longing is also prevalent throughout the poem. It is one of the unspoken elements of the poem that is illustrated through Li Bai's impactful imagery and quietly alluded to by the speaker's actions. The poem also does not offer any resolution to this longing and ends instead with an image of the speaker still staring out in hopes of catching a glimpse of the person they're waiting for.

The jewelled steps are already quite white with dew,

It is so late that the dew soaks my gauze stockings,

And I let down the crystal curtain

And watch the moon through the clear autumn.

The Waste Land

by T.S. Eliot

‘The Waste Land,’ epitomizing literary modernism, is one of the most important poems of the 20th century portraying its despondent mood in a new form.

With constant reference to the prewar world and classical allusions, the feelings of longing are evoked for a past that at least had hope and faith in the times of despair. The lost structures and values to rely on during a crisis are missed in the face of a desolate world.

April is the cruellest month, breeding

Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing

Memory and desire, stirring

Dull roots with spring rain.

Late Love

by Jackie Kay

‘Late Love’ explores the transformative power of love, contrasting its passionate heights with the fading memories and passage of time.

This poem by Jackie Kay deeply engages with the topic of longing through its nostalgic and introspective tone. The portrayal of non-lovers as dull and clueless emphasizes the yearning and longing for the passionate experiences of love. The descriptions of past kisses, touches, and anticipation for a phone call evoke a sense of longing and desire for connection. The poem beautifully captures the wistful longing that accompanies the absence or loss of love.

How they strut about, people in love,

how tall they grow, pleased with themselves,

their hair, glossy, their skin shining.

They don’t remember who they have been.


by Mimi Khalvati

‘Ghazal’ is an ancient Persian form of poetry that makes use of couplets, which are quite similar to sonnets that have been in use by the European poets.

This poem evokes a sense of longing, depicting the speaker's yearning for a deep connection and union. The repeated refrains underscore the intense desire for the beloved's presence and attention. The poem explores the emotional ache and longing that can arise from unfulfilled yearnings and the search for a profound bond.

If I am the grass and you the breeze, blow through me.

If I am the rose and you the bird, then woo me.

Heaven-Haven: A Nun Takes the Veil

by Gerard Manley Hopkins

IN ‘Heaven-Haven: A Nun Takes the Veil’ the speaker yearns for a tranquil sanctuary, free from life’s storms, desiring a realm of eternal springs and serene beauty.

This poem addresses the topic of longing by portraying the speaker's intense yearning for an idealized existence. The vivid imagery and descriptive language used to evoke a strong sense of desire and a deep longing to escape the adversities of life, seeking solace in a tranquil sanctuary.

I have desired to go

Where springs not fail,

To fields where flies no sharp and sided hail

And a few lilies blow.


by Friedrich Schiller 

‘Evening’ by Friedrich Schiller contains a speaker’s plea to Apollo that he allow the sun to set and rest, and love to descend.

The poem captures a sense of longing, both in the natural world and within human hearts, suggesting an inherent desire for fulfillment and connection that pervades the human experience. The poet longs for a life that's filled with rest and love.

Oh! thou bright-beaming god, the plains are thirsting,

Thirsting for freshening dew, and man is pining;

Wearily move on thy horses--

Let, then, thy chariot descend!

In a Wood

by Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy’s ‘In a Wood’ explores disillusionment in nature as conflicts and rivalries undermine the speaker’s search for solace.

The poem perceives the topic of longing as an inherent part of the human experience. The speaker's initial longing for solace and harmony in nature reflects a yearning for escape and peace. However, the poem suggests that longing can lead to disappointment and disillusionment when reality falls short of expectations. It portrays longing as a complex emotion that drives individuals to seek fulfillment but can also reveal the limitations and challenges of finding true satisfaction.

Pale beech and pine-tree blue,

Set in one clay,

Bough to bough cannot you

Bide out your day?

Romance Sonámbulo

by Federico Garcia Lorca

‘Romance Sonámbulo’ by Federico García Lorca is a mournful and beautiful dream sequence in which the poet longs for something unattainable. 

This poem resonates with a profound sense of longing. The characters yearn for connection and fulfillment, their desires driving the narrative forward. Lorca captures the intensity and yearning associated with longing.

Green, how I want you green.

Green wind. Green branches.

The ship out on the sea

and the horse on the mountain.

Amoretti LXVII: Like as a Huntsman

by Edmund Spenser

Edmund Spenser’s ‘Amoretti LXVII: Like as a Huntsman’ explores the pursuit of love and the unexpected rewards it brings.

The poem addresses the topic of longing through the depiction of the speaker's intense pursuit of his beloved. The imagery of the huntsman's weary chase and the panting hounds signifies a deep yearning and longing. The repeated attempts to capture the elusive deer and the anticipation of quenching thirst at the next brook evoke a sense of longing and desire for a connection with the beloved.

Like as a huntsman after weary chase,

Seeing the game from him escap'd away,

Sits down to rest him in some shady place,

With panting hounds beguiled of their prey:

I Loved You

by Alexander Pushkin

‘I Loved You’ by Alexander Pushkin is a simple but effective poem in which the speaker expresses his devotion and respect for a woman he loved.

Longing is important to the lines of the poem, expressing the speaker's yearning for the beloved. It portrays longing as a powerful emotion that transcends time and distance, highlighting the enduring nature of love and its ability to persist despite the challenges and struggles faced.

I loved you: yet the love, maybe,

Has not extinguished in my heart;

But hence may not it trouble thee;

I do not want to make you sad.

The Lovers of the Poor

by Gwendolyn Brooks

Gwendolyn Brooks’ scathing critique exposes Ladies’ insincere charity, highlighting social inequality and privilege.

This poem explores the topic of longing through the contrasting desires of the Ladies from the Ladies' Betterment League and the impoverished community. The Ladies long for appearances and detachment from poverty's harsh realities, while the impoverished long for genuine empathy and understanding. The poem highlights the longing for authentic engagement and compassion in the face of social inequality.

arrive. The Ladies from the Ladies’ Betterment League

Arrive in the afternoon, the late light slanting

In diluted gold bars across the boulevard brag

Around the Campfire

by Emilie Pinet

Amidst scarlet flames and camaraderie, ‘Around the Campfire’ captures transformative connections. Vivid imagery illuminates rekindled friendships, binding souls in tranquility.

The poem 'Around the Campfire' delves into longing through its depiction of shared connections. The camaraderie, laughter, and rekindled friendships evoke a sense of yearning for meaningful human interactions. The tranquil escape from worries and the vivid imagery of the campfire scene evoke a poignant longing for moments of unity and tranquility.

Rising from the fire like a phoenix,

ash morphs into flights of flaming darts.

And shadows mark the fringes of light,

extinguishing all unwary sparks.



by Edgar Guest

Edgar Albert Guest’s ‘Thanksgiving’ radiates familial warmth, intertwining laughter, gratitude, and time-honored traditions in shared gatherings.

This poem explores longing through its depiction of yearning for family reunions. The lines "Give me the end of the year" express a deep desire for the holiday season, highlighting the anticipation of coming together. The poem's emphasis on reuniting, sharing stories, and cherishing moments reflects a profound longing for the emotional connections and togetherness celebrated during Thanksgiving.

Gettin’ together to smile an’ rejoice,

An’ eatin’ an’ laughin’ with folks of your choice;

An’ kissin’ the girls an’ declarin’ that they

Are growin’ more beautiful day after day;

Ex-Basketball Player

by John Updike

‘Ex-Basketball Player’ by John Updike explores the faded glory of Flick Webb, a former basketball star, as he navigates a life of unfulfilled potential and routine.

This poem addresses the topic of longing through its portrayal of Flick Webb's yearning for recognition, purpose, and a return to his past glory. The poem captures the longing for a sense of fulfillment and significance that comes from his days as a basketball player. The vivid imagery and nostalgic tone evoke a deep longing for the past and the unfulfilled desires that linger, inviting readers to contemplate their own yearnings and the fleeting nature of fulfillment.

Pearl Avenue runs past the high-school lot,

Bends with the trolley tracks, and stops, cut off

Before it has a chance to go two blocks,

At Colonel McComsky Plaza. Berth’s Garage

Populist Manifesto

by Lawrence Ferlinghetti 

Lawrence Ferlinghetti passionately urges poets to break free, engage the world, and speak out for transformative change.

This poem addresses the topic of longing through its call for poets to awaken from isolation and embrace a new vision. The poem suggests that poets have been holed up for too long in closed worlds, longing for a sense of connection and purpose. Ferlinghetti's passionate call to action reflects a longing for poets to break free from their limitations and engage with the world, channeling their creative longing into transformative and socially conscious poetry.

Poets, come out of your closets,

Open your windows, open your doors,

You have been holed-up too long

in your closed worlds.



The Slave Mother

by Frances Harper

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper’s ‘The Slave Mother’ portrays an enslaved woman’s anguish, emphasizing the enduring power of love amid oppression.

This poem delves into longing through the mother's profound yearning for her child and a better life. The poem vividly portrays her emotional struggles and desire for reunification, highlighting the power of maternal love and the intense longing for freedom and family unity. This theme of longing underscores the human capacity for hope and resilience amidst the oppressive realities of slavery.

Heard you that shriek? It rose

So wildly on the air,

It seem’d as if a burden’d heart

Was breaking in despair.

To a Highland Girl

by William Wordsworth

‘To a Highland Girl’ by Wordsworth celebrates the beauty and innocence of the girl, her harmonious connection to nature.

The poem regards longing as a deep yearning and desire for a closer connection. The speaker expresses a longing to be in the presence of the Highland girl, to hear her and see her. This longing reflects the human desire for deeper bonds and connections, emphasizing the emotional impact and the sense of incompleteness that comes from being separated from someone or something that is deeply cherished.

Sweet Highland Girl, a very shower

Of beauty is thy earthly dower!

Twice seven consenting years have shed

Their utmost bounty on thy head:

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