Poems about Loss

Hitchhiker by John Payne

‘Hitchhiker’ by John Payne is an interesting poem about a speaker’s reaction to loss. They address someone who has passed away and explore what that means for them.

Sonnet 152 by William Shakespeare

‘Sonnet 152,’ also known as ‘In loving thee thou know’st I am forsworn,’ addresses the state of the speaker’s relationship with the Dark Lady. He seems to be willing to address that there’s no future for them.

Dead Deer by David Groff

‘Dead Deer’ by David Groff is a memorable poem about death. It describes a car accident in which the speaker and a deer lose their lives.

Disabled by Wilfred Owen

A harrowing poem that was written by a WW1 veteran, Wilfred Owen describing the haunting loneliness of life as an injured post-war soldier.

When You Come by Maya Angelou

‘When You Come’ by Maya Angelou is a powerful piece about a past love. The poet uses figurative language to emphasize the experience of reliving the past.

The Slave Auction by Frances Harper

Have you ever imagined what it felt like observing innocent lives being traded at the slave auction? It is vividly portrayed through the eyes of Frances Harper in her poem ‘The Slave Auction’.

Sonnet by George Henry Boker

‘Sonnet’ by George Henry Boker is a war-time sonnet. It was written in order to emphasize how brave soldiers are and what they sacrifice.

For the Fallen by Laurence Binyon

‘For the Fallen’ by Laurence Binyon is a beautiful and powerful war poem. It addresses the losses England suffered in World War I while celebrating the soldier’s patriotism and bravery.

The Climate by Annelyse Gelman

‘The Climate’ by Annelyse Gelman is a powerful piece about the climate crisis. It is seen through an approaching wave and metaphorical beachgoers’ negligence.

No More Boomerang by Oodgeroo Noonuccal

‘No More Boomerang,’ a poem by the Aboriginal Australian political activist and poet Oodgeroo Noonuccal (also known as Kath Walker) features how the aboriginal culture is in crisis for the growing materialism and colonial hegemony.

Sonnet 143 by William Shakespeare

‘Sonnet 143,’ also known as ‘Lo, as a careful housewife runs to catch,’ uses a simile to depict the speaker’s feelings for the Dark Lady. He is described as a crying infant desperate for his mother’s return.

Water by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Within ‘Water,’ Emerson personifies the force, depicting it as having its own will and the ability to make choices for itself and for civilization. 

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.

The Day Lady Died by Frank O’Hara

Frank O’Hara wrote ‘The Day Lady Died’ in memory of the jazz singer Billie Holiday. She passed away from complications due to liver diseases in July 1959.

To an Athlete Dying Young by A. E. Housman

‘To an Athlete Dying Young’ by A. E. Housman describes the death of a youthful man who is celebrated for his glorious passing and remembered for his loss, rather than his athletic achievements.

On Her Blindness by Adam Thorpe

‘On Her Blindness’ by Adam Thorpe is a loving poem dedicated to the poet’s mother. It explores how lost sight can impact one’s life and the frustration of not being understood.

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.

Obituary by A. K. Ramanujan

‘Obituary’ by A.K. Ramanujan explores the universal toll a parent’s passing can have on a child and all the ways that their memory remains even after their death.

Amends by Adrienne Rich

‘Amends’ by Adrienne Rich is a beautiful poem in which the poet depicts the moon. She describes its presence in the sky and the peace it brings to humanity.

To My Mother by Edgar Allan Poe

‘To My Mother’ by Edgar Allan Poe is a thoughtful poem that addresses the poet’s personal losses, such as the death of his biological mother, and what high esteem he now holds mothers in.

The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe

‘The Raven’ is commonly considered to be Edgar Allan Poe’s poetic masterpiece. It details a harrowing night in the speaker’s life that includes incessant knocking and a talking raven that only says one word–“Nevermore.”

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