Poems about the Death of a Loved One

Abuelito Who by Sandra Cisneros

‘Abuelito Who’ by Sandra Cisneros is a powerful poem about the importance of family. The poem conveys the ways that illness and change within the family dynamic can have on a child.

Abuelito Who by Sandra Cisneros Visual Representation

Nightmare Begins Responsibility by Michael S. Harper

‘Nightmare Begins Responsibility’ by Michael S. Harper is an unforgettable poem in which the speaker describes the loss of a child. While struggling to trust the doctors caring for his newborn son, the speaker watches on helplessly. 

Complaint by James Wright

‘Complaint’ is one of the early poems of James Wright with a conventional form and meter. This poem is about a rural folk’s dissatisfaction with her dead wife’s absence.

Complaint by James Wright Visual Representation

The Hill by Edgar Lee Masters

‘The Hill’ by Edgar Lee Masters describes the lives and deaths of some of the residents of Spoon River—the community that features in much of his verse.

The Hill by Edgar Lee Masters Visual Representation

Bells for John Whiteside’s Daughter by John Crowe Ransom

‘Bells for John Whiteside’s Daughter’ by John Crowe Ransom is an elegy for Whiteside’s daughter, a young girl who passed away suddenly. It’s unclear why she died, but, the speaker spends the bass majority of this poem depicting her lively and playful life.

Bells for John Whiteside's Daughter by John Crowe Ransom Visual Representation

The Broken Chain by Ron Tranmer

‘The Broken Chain’ by Ron Tranmer explores the feelings of grief that a family suffers when one of their much-loved members passed away. The poet uses the metaphor of a broken chain to describe their loss.

The Broken Chain by Ron Tranmer Visual Representation

Everyone Sang by Siegfried Sassoon

‘Everyone Sang’ by Siegfried Sassoon is a moving poem about the joy experienced at the end of World War I. Knowing that the horrors of the war are over, the world sang out with the joy of a newly uncaged bird.

Everyone Sang by Siegfried Sassoon Visual Representation

A Dirge by Christina Rossetti

‘A Dirge’ by Christina Rossetti is a thoughtful and moving poem about death. It speaks on the birth and death of an important person in the speaker’s life.

A Dirge by Christina Rossetti Visual Representation

The Yellow Dot by Robert Bly

‘The Yellow Dot,’ written in remembrance of poet Jane Kenyon, is about the inevitability of death and God’s despotic ruling over humankind. It was published in Robert Bly’s best-known collection, Morning Poems (1997).

The Yellow Dot by Robert Bly Visual Representation

Good-bye by Walter de la Mare

Walter de la Mare’s poem ‘Good-bye’ illustrates the impact of the “last of last words” with the help of vivid, pessimistic imagery. It’s all about one’s emotional distress caused by a heart-wrenching “Goodbye.”

Good-bye by Walter de la Mare Visual Representation

How It Is by Maxine Kumin

‘How It Is’ is written, remembering the best-loved confessional poet, Anne Sexton. This poem centers around an old blue jacket.

How It Is by Maxine Kumin Visual Representation

To My Father, Who Died by Dawn Garisch

Dawn Garisch’s poem ‘To My Father, Who Died’ is about the relationship of the poet’s father with the sea. It depicts the cycle of life and death through the metaphor of the sea.

To My Father, Who Died by Dawn Garisch Visual Representation

Grandmother by Paula Gunn Allen

‘Grandmother’ (1991) is written by the Native American feminist poet Paula Gunn Allen. This poem is about the role of a speaker’s grandmother in her family.

Grandmother by Paula Gunn Allen Visual Representation

Cuba, 1962 by Ai

Ai’s poem ‘Cuba, 1962’ appears in her poetry collection Vice: New and Selected Poems (1999), winner of the National Book Award for Poetry. This piece is written in the context of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

Cuba, 1962 by Ai Visual Representation

The Funeral by Norman Dubie

Norman Dubie’s ‘The Funeral’ is about a speaker’s aunt who died of cancer. In this piece, the speaker shares one of the best memories with her.

The Funeral by Norman Dubie Visual Representation

The Bustle in a House by Emily Dickinson

‘The Bustle in a House’ by Emily Dickinson is a short poem about the effects of death. It describes the “bustle” in a home the morning after an important loss.

The Bustle in a House by Emily Dickinson Visual Representation

Bill’s Story by Mark Doty

Mark Doty’s ‘Bill’s Story’ appears in his best-known poetry collection My Alexandria (1993). This poem is about the death of a speaker’s sister suffering from dementia and AIDS.

Bill's Story by Mark Doty Visual Representation

Lizzie Borden Took an Ax

‘Lizzie Borden Took an Ax’ is a well-known children’s rhyme that alludes to the accusations against Lizzie Borden in regard to the murder of her father and step-mother.

Lizzie Borden Took an Ax Visual Representation

For My Daughter by Weldon Kees

‘For My Daughter’ by Weldon Kees is an interesting poem about a speaker’s thoughts about having a daughter and considering her death. 

For My Daughter by Weldon Kees Visual Representation

Black Silk by Tess Gallagher

‘Black Silk’ by Tess Gallagher is a sorrowful poem. In it, the speaker uses a silk vest to convey the emotion surrounding a loss.

Black Silk by Tess Gallagher Visual Representation

Prospice by Robert Browning

In ‘Prospice’ by Robert Browning, the speaker talks of facing death bravely and being reunited with his soulmate. Read the poem, with a complete analysis.

Prospice by Robert Browning Visual Representation

10 of the Best Poems about the Heart

Here is a list of 10 heart-to-heart poems from poets ranging from William Shakespeare, Dante Alighieri, Emily Dickinson, and Dylan Thomas. These poems explore the nature of love, heartache, and hearty emotions stored within.

Best Poems about the Heart Visual Representation

White Apples by Donald Hall

The poet of ‘White Apples’ Donald Hall uses plain language and a simple style to describe the effect of a loved one’s death in a speaker’s mind. The way he misses his father is described in this poem.

White Apples by Donald Hall Visual Representation

Shooting Stars by Carol Ann Duffy

A Jew waiting to fall apart into pieces, German soldiers waiting to kill more; this theme is featured in many holocaust poems of the 20th century and Carol Ann Duffy’s ‘Shooting Stars’ is one of them. This piece tells the story of a Jewish girl who speaks of the sufferings she endured.

Shooting Stars by Carol Ann Duffy Visual Representation

10 Incredible Poems of the Black Lives Matter Movement

On this list, readers will find ten incredible poems inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. Some celebrate Black history, identity, and love while others mourn the loss of countless men and women, like Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

Incredible Poems of the Black Lives Matter Movement Visual Representation

Afterglow by Helen Lowrie Marshall

‘Afterglow’ by Helen Lowrie Marshall is a popular funeral poem. It describes a speaker’s hope that they’re remembered fondly and warmly.

Afterglow by Helen Lowrie Marshall visual_representation

Epitaph by Merrit Malloy

‘Epitaph’ by Merrit Malloy is a beautiful poem about the good that can come out of death. The speaker wants their memory used to make the world a better place.

epitaph by merrit meloy

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