Loss Poems

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 loss of a child and how that loss affects the child's still-waiting toys is at the heart of the poem. While the speaker does not mention the child's parents, it's likely that they, too are preserving something of the same attitude as the personified toys.

Death of a Young Woman

by Gillian Clarke

Explore ‘Death of a Young Woman,’ where Clarke depicts how a loved one’s death lets a person free from their inward, endless suffering.

Loss and death are two central themes of Clarke's 'Death of a Young Woman.' Read this poem to explore how people do not react to loss in the same way.

Oddjob, a Bull Terrier

by Derek Walcott

‘Oddjob, a Bull Terrier’ by Derek Walcott is a thoughtful, emotional poem about loss and how unbearable the death of a pet can be. 

Walcott speaks about loss and how it impacts people within the two stanzas of this poem.

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. 

Loss is a critical topic in this poem. The speaker has experienced the loss of someone she loves dearly and is reacting to it through the construction of this poem that focuses on this woman's life.

The Double Shame

by Stephen Spender

‘The Double Shame’ by Stephen Spender conveys a depiction of what the world feels like when one loses a very important person in their life. Everything is transformed in a way that makes a living from day to day difficult. 

The speaker understands what its like to experience an overwhelming loss and uses the poem to describe it.


by Jean Bleakney

‘Winterisation’ subtly weaves the processes of preparing for winter and steeling oneself for news of bereavement.

The poem is concerned with things we have lost and also acutely aware of the things we may still lose if we do not prepare.

The Virgins

by Derek Walcott

Derek Walcott’s poem ‘The Virgins’ gives a holistic view of the life, economy, and culture of one of the Virgin Islands of the US, Saint Croix.

Loss is one of the important themes in 'The Virgins' wherein Walcott talks about the deterioration of the local economy and socio-economic condition.

The Wind in the Dooryard

by Derek Walcott

‘The Wind in the Dooryard’ by Derek Walcott was written after the death of Eric Roach, a well-respected poet who died by suicide in 1974. This poem is dedicated to his life and work. 

Loss is an incredibly important part of this Walcott poem. Walcott is reacting to the loss of fellow poet Eric Roach who is today regarded as one of his most important contemporaries.

Mr. Flood’s Party

by Edwin Arlington Robinson

‘Mr. Flood’s Party’ by Edwin Arlington Robinson describes a man’s later years in life and how lonely he has become. It suggests that a long life is not always a blessing. 

Eben has dealt with a great deal of loss and death in his life.

The First Snowfall

by James Russell Lowell

‘The First Snowfall’ by James Russell Lowe is a deeply sad poem about the death of a child and what it’s like to consider that loss as time passes. 

Loss is something that both characters in this poem have experienced and which is symbolized through the poet's description of the winter scene. Often, this time of year is associated with death.


by Felicia Hemans

‘Casabianca’ by Felicia Hemans describes a boy’s refusal to leave his father’s ship, despite the fact that it’s being consumed by flames and is soon to sink. He waits for an order from his father, unaware that he has passed away. 

A great deal is lost in this poem. This includes the ship, the captain, members of the crew (most likely), and the young boy, the captain's son - Casabianca. He dies while waiting for his father to give him an order.

Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note

by Amiri Baraka

‘Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note’ (1961) is the titular poem of Amiri Baraka’s first collection of poems. This piece introduces a depressed narrator engrossed with the thoughts of dying.

This poem relates to loss in a few different ways. The speaker seems to be struggling with a sense of loss or absence in their life. For example, the line "nobody sings anymore" suggests a loss of joy or music in the speaker's life.

Far over the misty mountains cold

by J.R.R. Tolkien

‘Far over the misty mountains cold’ by J.R.R. Tolkien depicts the destruction of Thorin Oakenshield’s home and his desire to win it back from Smaug. 

This poem alludes to the losses that the dwarves have suffered. The dwarves' treasure was stolen from them by the dragon, Smaug, and they lost their homes and halls in the ensuing battle.


by Robert Louis Stevenson

‘Requiem’ by Robert Louis Stevenson is a poem about accepting death and finding peace in going “home” after a long life. 

The person who buried the speaker has experienced a loss of someone they care about.

Bag of Mice

by Nick Flynn

‘Bag of Mice’ by Nick Flynn is a powerful poem that describes a speaker’s dream and a listener’s suicide note. It uses short, evocative lines that are easy to read and hard to forget.

The poem captures the pain of loss and grief, as the author grapples with the aftermath of suicide. The burning bag of mice represents the sense of loss and emptiness that follows death.

Beach Burial

by Kenneth Slessor

‘Beach Burial’ by Kenneth Slessor is a deeply emotional poem about the cost of war. It uses hard-to-forget images of bodies washing up on a beach to highlight this fact.

The poem highlights the loss experienced by those who bury the sailors and the families of the deceased. Readers should feel some of the same emotions of loss that the sailor's families might feel.

Before She Died

by Karen Chase

‘Before She Died’ by Karen Chase is a poem about how someone’s death, or impending death, changes the way that one understands the world. 

Loss, specifically the loss of a loved one, is one of the most important topics in this poem. The speaker's experience of nature is entirely changed due to their thoughts about their dying loved one. They see everything differently.

Suicide in the Trenches

by Siegfried Sassoon

‘Suicide in the Trenches’ is an incredibly tragic poem. Siegfried Sassoon explores the mental deterioration of a young soldier in the trenches of WW1 and his suicide.

The loss described in this poem is one of the innumerable lives lost during WWI. The poet zoomed in on this one instance but, by doing so, alludes to the immeasurable suffering experienced during the war.

The Spires of Oxford

by Winifred Mary Letts

‘The Spires of Oxford’ by Winifred M. Letts is a memorial war poem that explores the loss of innumerable men from Oxford. The poet expresses her hope these men are in Heaven.

Loss is a very important topic at work in this poem. A great deal of life has been lost in war, and the speaker acknowledges this as they pass by Oxford.

Jenny Kiss’d Me

by Leigh Hunt

‘Jenny Kiss’d Me’ by Leigh Hunt is a powerful declaration of happiness in the face of the passage of time. A great deal of joy can be found in a single happy memory, the speaker suggests. 

The speaker describes how many things have been lost, including his health and youth. But he knows (or at least he hopes) that his memory of Jenny's kiss will never disappear.

Chorus of the Captains

by Amanda Gorman

Amanda Gorman’s ‘Chorus of the Captains’ is an occasional poem written for and performed at the 52nd Super Bowl. It describes the work of three American heroes in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Loss is another important part of this poem, one that.'s alluded to through the stories that Gorman weaves into her verse. She speaks about the very real issues that people face and the losses they suffer.

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.

A Broken Appointment

by Thomas Hardy

Hardy’s poetry focuses on themes such as disappointment, thwarted love, and pessimism. ‘A Broken Appointment’ provokes empathy towards the lyrical voice.

A Conceit

by Maya Angelou

The speaker in ‘A Conceit’ by Maya Angelou indicates she is interested in a relationship that is real and tangible. This is not something she’s willing to back down from.

A Dirge Without Music

by Edna St. Vincent Millay

‘A Dirge Without Music’ by Edna St. Vincent Millay is a beautiful dirge. The poet uses clear and lyrical language to describe how lovers and thinkers alike go into the darkness of death with a little remaining.

A Pastoral

by Agha Shahid Ali

‘A Pastoral’ by Agha Shahid Ali is a moving poem. In it, the poet reflects his love for Kashmir and his affection for his motherland.

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 Quoi Bon Dire

by Charlotte Mew

‘A Quoi Bon Dire’ by Charlotte Mew, explores the process of aging and deals with topics such as loss and death. Here’s a complete analysis.

A River

by A. K. Ramanujan

‘A River’ by A.K. Ramanujan focuses on the Madurai River, how it has been depicted by poets throughout time, and brings the suffering that exists along its banks to the reader’s attention.

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