Death

Death is one of the only themes that is truly universal. Poets have been writing about death from the beginning of recorded history, fearing it, fighting it, and embracing it. Depending on the content of the poem, readers might find themselves thrust into a world where death is everpresent or one in which the main character is peacefully carried to their fate.

My Last Duchess by Robert Browning

‘My Last Duchess’ by Robert Browning is a well-known dramatic monologue. It suggests that the speaker has killed his wife and will soon do the same to the next.

The Send-Off by Wilfred Owen

‘The Send-Off’ is an anti-war poem and is atypically dark, which was a trademark of Wilfred Owen’s poetry.

Futility by Wilfred Owen

Despite Wilfred Owen’s prodigious writing, only five poems were ever published in his lifetime – probably because of his strong anti-war sentiment, which would not have been in line with British policy at the time, particularly in their attempt to gather rather more and more people to sign up for the war.

Futility by Wilfred Owen

Lucy Gray by William Wordsworth

Any readers familiar with William Wordsworth’s poetry, such as ‘Lucy Gray,’ know that the death of a child is a common theme throughout his works. Wordsworth suffered the loss of his own son and daughter, and those deaths seem to forever haunt him.

The Lesson by Maya Angelou

‘The Lesson’ by Maya Angelou is about life and death. The speaker begins the poem by claiming that she has died already, more than once, and that she will keep on dying.

An Irish Airman Foresees His Death by William Butler Yeats

After losing his dear friend in World War I, William Butler Yeats wrote this particular poem, ‘An Irish Airman Foresees His Death. Robert Gregory, an Irish Airman, was accidentally shot down by an Italian Aviator, who happened to be a dear friend of Yeats.

An Irish Airman Foresees His Death by William Butler Yeats

Death in the Arctic by Robert Service

Robert Service’s ‘Death in the Arctic’ tells a bleak, dark story in such an evocative way that even after the poem finishes, the reader can’t help but wonder for more.

Death in the Arctic by Robert Service

Porphyria’s Lover by Robert Browning

Robert Browning’s poem, ‘Porphyria’s Lover,’ opens up with a classic setting of a stormy evening. It is a story of a deranged and lovesick man.

Porphyria’s Lover by Robert Browning

A Terre by Wilfred Owen

Wilfred Owen wrote ‘A Terre’ about the aftermath of the war. In it, a soldier reminisces about his days before the war – the days when he had full functionality of his limbs, and could do whatever he wanted – to an unknown listener, most likely a young and influential boy.

A Question by Robert Frost

Frost’s ‘A Question’ is a powerfully emotional poem. In it, the poet paints a picture of suffering, pointing to the fact that life itself is filled with scars of the soul and body.

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