Poems about Sorrow

Sorrow is defined as a feeling of deep grief, distress, or sadness in the face of a loss. It might also be applied to someone feeling regret in regard to a missed opportunity, relationship, or other connection. These poems evoke or explore sorrow and are written with a great deal of emotion and relatable imagery.

Life’s Tragedy by Paul Laurence Dunbar

‘Life’s Tragedy’ by Paul Laurence Dunbar considers the elements of life that create tragedy and suffering. The speaker asserts that missing out on perfect love and the perfect song leads to an “accursed” life.

Life's Tragedy by Paul Laurence Dunbar Visual Representation

DIVORCE by Kanye West

‘DIVORCE’ by Kanye West was written in order to reflect the writer’s experiences during his divorce from Kim Kardashian.

DIVORCE by Kanye West Visual Representation

Rowing by Anne Sexton

‘Rowing’ by Anne Sexton is a moving and unforgettable poem about depression. It was written two years before Sexton took her life in 1974.

Rowing by Anne Sexton Visual Representation

Sorrow by Edna St. Vincent Millay

‘Sorrow’ by Edna St. Vincent Millay is a lyric poem written about a speaker’s depression. The short piece is filled with evocative depictions of what feeling all-encompassing sorrow is like. 

Sorrow by Edna St. Vincent Millay 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

Alzheimer’s: The Wife by C. K. Williams

‘Alzheimer’s: The Wife’ by C. K. Williams is a powerful and moving poem. In it, the poet depicts a woman suffering from Alzheimer’s and a few simple moments from her day.

Alzheimer's: The Wife by C. K. Williams 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

Bobby Shafto’s Gone to Sea

‘Bobby Shafto’s Gone to Sea’ is a traditional English folk song and nursery rhyme. It describes a speaker’s longing for her love, Bobby Shafto, who is out on a sea voyage.

Bobby Shafto’s Gone to Sea

The Tantrum by A.E. Stallings

‘The Tantrum’ by A.E. Stallings is an compelling poem about loss. The speaker describes what a specific listener did when they saw their mother’s newly cut hair.

Hot Combs by Natasha Trethewey Visual Representation

Sonnet 117 by William Shakespeare

‘Sonnet 117,’ also known as ‘Accuse me thus: that I have scanted all,’ is a poem that delves into the complexities of relationships. The poet’s speaker emphasizes everything he’s done wrong and makes use his beloved understands them all.

In a Dark Time by Theodore Roethke

‘In a Dark Time’ by Theodore Roethke is a powerful, short poem about identity. The speaker contends with their mental health while exploring their darkness.

in a dark time by theodore roethke

Everything I touch by Kobayashi Issa

‘Everything I touch’ by Kobayashi Issa is a beautiful Japanese haiku written by one of the four great haiku masters. This piece speaks on what one might receive in return when they reach out with tenderness.

everything i touch by Kobayashi Issa

The River by Sara Teasdale

‘The River’ by Sara Teasdale is a short and effective poem. It uses a river as a narrator and describes its journey towards the ocean.

the river by sara teasdale visual representation

Sonnet 153 by William Shakespeare

‘Sonnet 153,’ also known as ‘Cupid laid by his brand and fell asleep,’ describes the speaker’s attempts to cure his lovesickness. He eventually fails and returns to the Dark Lady.

Sonnet 153 by WIlliam Shakespeare visual representation

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.

hitchhiker by john payne visual representation

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.

sonnet 152 by william shakespeare

Sonnet 151 by William Shakespeare

‘Sonnet 151,’ also known as ‘Love is too young to know what conscience is,’ is a lustful poem. It explores the speaker’s uncontrollable longing for the Dark Lady. 

Sonnet 151 by William Shakespeare Visual Representation

Sonnet 150 by William Shakespeare

‘Sonnet 150,’ also known as ‘O! from what power hast thou this powerful might,’ explores the ways the Dark Lady controls Shakespeare’s speaker. She makes him love her even though she’s cruel to him

Bonedog by Eva H.D.

‘Bonedog’ by Eva H.D. is a powerful poem about coming home. It considers what it’s like to make it through life, even when it’s mundane and painful.

Sonnet 148 by William Shakespeare

‘Sonnet 148,’ also known as ‘O me! What eyes hath Love put in my head,’ uses figurative language to describe the speaker’s state of mind. He’s blinded to his mistress’s faults, just like the sun becomes blinded by rain and clouds.

Sonnet 146 by William Shakespeare

‘Sonnet 146,’ also known as ‘Poor soul, the centre of my sinful earth,’ addresses the state of the speaker’s soul. He admonishes it for allowing him to worry about earthly pleasures.

Sonnet 147 by William Shakespeare

‘Sonnet 147,’ also known as ‘My love is as a fever, longing still,’ is a dark poem. It expresses the speaker’s loss of control over his body and mind. The Dark Lady has consumed his life like an illness.

Sonnet 147 by william shakespeare

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.

When You Come by Maya Angelou Visual Representation

Farewell, Ungrateful Traitor! by John Dryden

‘Farewell, Ungrateful Traitor!’ by John Dryden swears off men and relationships. The speaker asserts that men are incapable of being truthful or loving as much as women.

Farewell Ungrateful Traitor by John Dryden visual representation

The Harlem Dancer by Claude McKay

‘The Harlem Dancer’ by Claude McKay is a thoughtful poem about a dancer’s inner life. It speaks on the duality of what people see and what people experience.

The harlem dancer by claude mckay

Harlem Shadows by Claude McKay

‘Harlem Shadows’ by Claude McKay memorably addresses the lives of Black sex workers in Harlem. The poet describes their experience while also acknowledging their strength.

harlem shadows by claude mckay

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

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