Poems about Grief

Death of a Young Son by Drowning by Margaret Atwood

‘Death of a Young Son by Drowning’ by Margaret Atwood is a beautiful and impactful poem about the death of Susanna Moodie’s young son. Atwood explores the grief of the mother and how her life changed. 

Death of a Young Son by Drowing by Margaret Atwood 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

Ten Little Soldiers (And Then There Were None)

‘Ten Little Soldiers’ was included in Agatha Christie’s classic mystery novel, ‘And Then There Were None.’ It iserves as an epigraph, appearing at the beginning of the book, and is connected with all ten deaths that occur on the island. It is unclear who wrote the first version of this nursery rhyme.

Ten Little Soldier Boys 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

Love Songs In Age by Philip Larkin

Philip Larkin explores the immense power in ‘Love Songs In Age,’ and how reality can never fulfill the potential they promise us.

Love Songs in Age by Philip Larkin 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

Arabic by Naomi Shihab Nye

‘Arabic’, a thoughtful poem by Naomi Shihab Nye appears in Red Suitcase: Poems (1994). This poem features a speaker’s forgetfulness concerning her mother tongue (Arabic) and culture.

Arabic by Naomi Shihab Nye Visual Representation

Triolet by Robert Bridges

‘Triolet’ by Robert Bridges is a short love poem that takes a specific poetic form. It acknowledges that love is a painful experience and personifies the force as a “hard master.” 

Triolet by Robert Bridges Visual Representation

The Measures Taken by Erich Fried

‘The Measures Taken’ by Erich Fried is a powerful piece about war and loss. The reader is asked to consider their concepts of good, evil, and who deserves to live throughout the poem. 

The Measures Taken by Erich Fried Visual Representation

Bereft by Robert Frost

‘Bereft’ by Robert Frost is a beautiful poem that exemplifies a speaker’s loneliness. He uses natural imagery to depict the changes in his life and how he feels about the world. 

Bereft by Robert Frost Visual Representation

The Meeting by Katherine Mansfield

‘The Meeting’ by Katherine Mansfield is a short and image-rich poem that depicts a speaker’s reaction to a permanent separation from her lover. 

The Meeting by Katherine Mansfield 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

Origin of the Marble Forest by Gregory Orr

‘Origin of the Marble Forest’ by Gregory Orr is an interesting and moving poem about someone’s past relationships. The speaker declares them “stone,” solidifying them in their life forever. 

Origin of the Marble Forest by Gregory Orr Visual Representation

Amateur Fighter by Natasha Trethewey

‘Amateur Fighter’ is a poem about a speaker thinking of her father, a boxer. His painful journey inside and outside the ring is portrayed through this piece.

Amateur Fighter by Natasha Trethewey Visual Representation

Separation by W. S. Merwin

‘Separation’ by W. S. Merwin is about what it feels like to be absent from someone you love. The poem uses a clever simile to depict these emotions. 

Separation by W. S. Merwin Visual Representation

Eating Together by Li-Young Lee

‘Eating Together’ by Li-Young Lee is a beautiful contemporary poem about death. It uses a thoughtful simile and direct language.

Eating Together by Li-Young Lee Visual Representation

Alcohol by Franz Wright

‘Alcohol’ by Franz Wright is a moving poem that explores the complexities of addiction. It’s told from the perspective of alcohol, addressing someone who is addicted to the substance.

Alcohol by Franz Wright Visual Representation

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.

Bag of Mice by Nick Flynn Visual Representation

Middle Passage by Robert Hayden

‘Middle Passage’ by Robert Hayden is a narrative poem written in the 1940s. It describes the happenings of the Atlantic Slave Trade, as told from the perspective of several white narrators.

Middle Passage by Robert Hayden Visual Representation

I Am! by John Clare

‘I Am!’ by John Clare is a powerful poem about a speaker’s struggle with depression, loneliness, and a desire to find peace in Heaven. 

On the Beach by Anne Ranasinghe

‘On the Beach’ by Anne Ranasinghe is a dark and disturbing poem in which the poet explores sadism through the narrative of a dog’s fate at the beach.

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