Suffering

an afternoon nap by Arthur Yap

‘an afternoon nap’ by Arthur Yap explores the lacunae in the modern education system and how it results in anxiety and stress in students.

Two Armies by Stephen Spender

‘Two Armies’ by Stephen Spender describes two armies on a devastating battlefield where every individual is suffering. Their common humanity is highlighted. 

Parrot by Stevie Smith

‘Parrot’ is a moving exploration of imprisonment and suffering set against the backdrop of the modern, urban world.

Disappointed by Paul Laurence Dunbar

‘Disappointed’ by Paul Laurence Dunbar is an inspirational poem in which Dunbar depicts an old man working hard in the last years of his life and losing everything he strove for. 

Courage by Anna Akhmatova

‘Courage’ by Anna Akhmatova is a passionate poem about courage in the face of war. Specifically, Akhmatova was writing about World War II. 

White Roses by Gillian Clarke

‘White Roses’ by Gillian Clarke is a heart-wrenching poem and true story about a sick child who bravely contends with pain during his short life. 

Void in Law by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

‘Void in Law’ by Elizabeth Barrett Browning depicts the scuffle many Victorian women endured after getting married. The woman has been left alone with no real resources by a husband who prefers to spend time with his mistress.

Rubble by Jackie Kay

‘Rubble’ by Jackie Kay is a dramatic monologue that was included in her collection, Darling: New & Selected Poems. It conveys an individual’s cluttered and chaotic mind. 

Plague by Jackie Kay

‘Plague’ by Jackie Kay is a poem about death, specifically about the plague in London and how a mother is forced to contend with the knowledge that both her sons are going to die.

The Old Fools by Philip Larkin

‘The Old Fools’ by Philip Larkin is a poem about what happens when one grows older and begins to forget about their life.

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.

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. 

Anorexic by Eavan Boland

‘Anorexic’ by Eavan Boland conveys the mindset of a woman determined to destroy her physical body through starvation and filled with hatred for her sinful past, as according to the Biblical story of Adam and Eve.

Holy Thursday (Songs of Experience) by William Blake

‘Holy Thursday’ by William Blake depicts the poor children of London attending church on Holy Thursday. Specifically, Blake describes their songs, appearance, and how their existence challenges the message the church is trying to convey.

First March by Ivor Gurney

‘First March,’ written by one of the lesser known First World War poets, Ivor Bertie Gurney, is about a soldier’s emotional state while returning to his home.

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. 

Blackberrying by Sylvia Plath

‘Blackberrying’ by Sylvia Plath explores decaying and flourishing life and human mortality. It was published in 1971 in Crossing the Water, after the poet’s death.

Sheep In Fog by Sylvia Plath

The poem ‘Sheep In Fog’ describes Sylvia Plath’s feelings of anxiety, uncertainty, helplessness, and depression.

Contusion by Sylvia Plath

‘Contusion’ by Sylvia Plath is a memorable, short poem about death and a loss of passion or meaning in one’s life. It is a dramatic monologue written 12 days before the poet’s death. 

I can wade Grief-

‘I can wade Grief-‘ by Emily Dickinson is a fairly simple poem about strength in the face of sorrow. The speaker describes the detrimental effect of happiness during a period of struggle.

Symptoms of Love by Robert Graves

‘Symptoms of Love’ is a fascinating mediation on the agony that can arise from being in love and whether that suffering is ever worthwhile.

The Yachts by William Carlos Williams

‘The Yachts’ by William Carlos Williams depicts the winners, or yacht-owners, in the capitalist system and the losers, or the poor, who are drowning in the waters around the boats. 

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