Poem Sampler

Poems for Farewells and Goodbyes

Poems for Farewells and Goodbyes

Some farewells are mundane; others are momentous. Whether we say goodbye to lovers, family members, friends, or old habits—temporarily or forever—these poems capture those complicated emotions.

 

SNEERING, SOUR, AND SCORNFUL FAREWELLS
If many goodbyes are difficult, parting from a lover can be devastating. These poets indulge their wrath, but manage to do so with twinges of irony and humor.

Parting Song” by Jill Alexander Essbaum

First
it is one day without you.

Bitch” by Carolyn Kizer

“Give my regards to your wife,” I say. You gag
As I drag you off by the scruff,
Saying, “Goodbye! Goodbye! Nice to have seen you again.”

On Monsieur’s Departure” by Queen Elizabeth I

I love and yet am forced to seem to hate,
I do, yet dare not say I ever meant,
I seem stark mute but inwardly do prate.

Sonata” by Gjertrud Schnackenberg

Me heart detests, reviles, denounces, loathes
Your absence with a passion like a furnace.

 

GOODBYE, LOVE: ACCEPTANCE AND MOVING ON
Instead of taking you through every stage of grief for a lost love affair, we’ll jump to the final one: poems like these, which find their way to solace.

Leave-Taking” by Louse Bogan

Let us know this for leavetaking,
That I may not be heavy upon you,
That you may blind me no more.

Stanzas” by Emily Brontë

... follow out the happiest story—
It closes with a tomb!”

So We’ll Go No More a Roving” by Lord Byron

Though the night was made for loving,
   And the day returns too soon,
Yet we'll go no more a roving
   By the light of the moon.

Movement Song” by Audre Lorde

Do not remember me
as disaster
nor as the keeper of secrets

PARTIES, CARS, AND AIRPORTS: GOODBYES TO FAMILY AND FRIENDS These poems evoke small moments, significant turning points, and even death: whatever the occasion, the farewells are deeply felt.

The Party” by Jason Shinder

... saying goodbye Victoria goodbye Sophie goodbye
Lili goodbye sweetie take care be well hang in there see you soon.

In My Dreams” by Stevie Smith

In my dreams I am always saying goodbye and riding away,   
Whither and why I know not nor do I care.

Waving Goodbye” by Gerald Stern

I wanted to know what it was like before we
had voices and before we had bare fingers and before we
had minds ...

 

At the San Francisco Airport” by Yvor Winters

This is the terminal, the break.
Beyond this point, on lines of air,
You take the way that you must take;
And I remain in light and stare—
In light, and nothing else, awake.

CARPE DIEM
These poets, in anticipating goodbyes and endings, find ways to seize the day and enjoy the present moment.

Ode I.11” by Horace

And forget about hope. Time goes running, even
As we talk. Take the present, the future’s no one’s affair.

Bronzed” by Dean Young

                                                                     The sea
seemingly a constant to the naked eye is one
long goodbye


QUITTING

Sometimes saying goodbye means quitting something you’re good at, breaking a bad habit, or refusing to join ranks with a cause you don’t believe in.

On Quitting” by Edgar Guest

Can you quit a thing that you like a lot?
You may talk of pluck; it’s an easy word,

A Farewell to Tobacco” by Charles Lamb

For I must (nor let it grieve thee,
Friendliest of plants, that I must) leave the.
For thy sake, TOBACCO, I
Would do any thing but die,
And but seek to extend my days
Long enough to sing thy praise.

Gone Away Blues” by Thomas McGrath

The inscrutable look on your scrutable face I can read at a glance—
And I’m cutting out of here at the first chance.

 

UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN
These are “anti-goodbye” poems of a sort: they refuse sentimental farewells, or insist that goodbyes are only temporary.

Aloha’oe (Farewell to Thee)” by Queen Lydia Kamakaeha Lili’uokalani

Farewell to thee, farewell to thee
Thou charming one who dwells in shaded bowers
One fond embrace ere I depart
Until we meet again.

Closings” by Donald Hall

He left Tree alone and desolate
but without anger. Tree knew Liam
did what he planned and needed to do.

Indians Never Say Good-bye” by Leanne Howe

The rest of the visit blurs. My last memories are from that day. She waves to me from her front porch.

 

SEE ALSO: Occasions: Farewells & Good Luck

 

 

 

Originally Published: July 5, 2012

COMMENTS (3)

On July 6, 2012 at 12:09pm Kathie Farrington wrote:
I understand goodbye/I'd recognize it anywhere/Goodbye/And I am in the cold once more/Alone/Left to bear this Understanding/all alone/Understanding has no MEANING all alone/It's not MEANT for solitude/Goodbye/There's no one here to share my burden/Gone/No place to lay my burden down/Move on/Step by step by weary step/Move on. By Kathie Farrington I'd like to be a part of your poetry world...so how do I go about making the connection?

On July 10, 2012 at 1:33pm jennie battles wrote:
speaking of goodbyes...

Have you never read Vachel Lindsay's heartbreakingly beautiful, "The Traveller Heart"?

v.1 "I would be one with the dark, dark earth:---
Follow the plow with a yokel tread.
I would be part of the Indian corn,
Walking the rows with the plumes o'erhead.

v.4 I would be one with the sacred earth
On to the end, till I sleep with the dead.
Terror shall put no spears through me.
Peace shall jewel my shroud instead.

from v. 5 Stars for my pillow there in the gloom,---
Oak-roots arching about my head!

v. 7 Fruit of the traveller-heart of me,
Fruit of my harvest-songs long sped:
Sweet with the life of my sunburned days,
When the sheaves were ripe, and the apples red."

1913.

OR, how about this one? from...

IN PRAISE OF SONGS THAT DIE
"Is there no refuge-house of song,
No home, no haven where songs belong?
O precious hymns that come and go!
You perish, and I love you so!"

1910-1912

On August 3, 2012 at 1:16pm Lynn Lawrence wrote:
Thanks for this sampler. Does anyone know who took the evocative
photograph?

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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