Poem Sampler

Poems about Loneliness and Solitude

Poetry offers solace for the lonely and a positive perspective on being alone.

Poems about Loneliness and Solitude
Tom Jolliffe, courtesy of the Geograph project

Poetry’s relationship to solitude is paradoxical: while many poets savor the isolation needed to write their best work, the finished product will ideally create connection, or even community.

 

CELEBRATING SOLITUDE

Solitude” by Caroline Caddy

like a good pair of binoculars
or a camera case
                perfectly and deeply compartmented.

Childhood’s Retreat” by Robert Duncan

to find my own, my secret
hiding sense and place, where from afar   
all voices and scenes come back

The Solitude of Night” by Li Po

I went along the river—alone in the moonlight. 

Ode on Solitude” by Alexander Pope

Thus let me live, unseen, unknown;
   Thus unlamented let me die;

The Sound of One Fork” by Minnie Bruce Pratt

Her younger neighbors think that she is lonely.
But I know what sufficiency she may possess.

American Solitude” by Grace Schulman 

                                    Hers is no common
emptiness, but a vaster silence filled   
with terns’ cries, an abundant solitude.

Sanctuary” by Jean Valentine

The uses of solitude. To imagine; to hear.
Learning braille. To imagine other solitudes.

Dance Russe” by William Carlos Williams

“I am lonely, lonely.
I was born to be lonely,
I am best so!”

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” by William Wordsworth

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;

 

WALLOWING IN LONELINESS

The Glass Essay” by Anne Carson

Whenever I visit my mother   
I feel I am turning into Emily Brontë, 

my lonely life around me like a moor, 

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

Proportion Surviving” by Renee Gladman

I began to trace things by their disappearance. Alone in the room, my memory, and anticipated darkness going for light.

Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden

What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices? 

Night” by Michael Hofmann

The night—yours to decide,
Among drink, or books, or lying there.

[He is pruning the privet]” by Joanne Kyger

You are not alone is this world
not a lone  a parallel world of reflection

Things” by Lisel Mueller

What happened is, we grew lonely
living among the things,

Flood: Years of Solitude” by Dionisio D. Martínez

To the one at the back of the empty bus.

‘Alone’” by Edgar Allan Poe

And all I lov’d—I lov’d alone—

Solitude” by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
    Weep, and you weep alone;

  

BEING ALONE IN A CROWD

Shy Boy” by Greg Sellers 

The orchestra’s now ready to Fauré
into the evening’s last song while I try
to convince myself to cross this room

Caedmon” by Denise Levertov

The cows
munched or stirred or were still. I
was at home and lonely,
both in good measure.

Bryant Park at Dusk” by Geoffrey Brock

I’m alone in a crowd—e pluribus plures.
             Far from a family I miss. 

On Broadway” by Claude McKay

Oh wonderful is Broadway — only
My heart, my heart is lonely.

 

PODCASTS
Four podcasts examine poetry’s power to exalt or alleviate loneliness.

The Healing Power of Poetry”: Jennifer Nix discusses how the poet Joanne Kyger helped her feel less lonely during a serious illness.

Loneliness Rhymes and Slippery Slopes”: Poems from Jane Mead, Bob Hicok, Rachel Wetzsteon, and Eleanor Ross Taylor; Ange Mlinko discusses poetry and the brain.

Light in the Service of Loneliness”: Fanny Howe, winner of the 2009 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, reads from her work.

A Wild Solitude Revealed”: Lisa Jarnot discusses the poetry of Robert Duncan.

 

Originally Published: November 29, 2012

COMMENTS (2)

On January 4, 2013 at 5:46pm patrick wrote:
yeats and his breathern would be surprised by what you call poetry. not in a good way

On January 4, 2013 at 11:32pm patrick wrote:
poor took less than a min. to write Critic

I will create for you a poem without a rhyming scheme inherent

A poem of words and thought and rhythm beauty in the flow of sound

A poem that takes you past the poorly pictured prose that does infect

So many pages that I read which show just how far we have fallen

Once upon a time in ages past the page was sacred ground

Not to waste a single scrap we thought and pondered then we wrote

Now we put a line of words with no direction or a goal

Call it poetry and pat ourselves for what is our great calling

Poetry is not about the writer but about what’s written

Give the world a something that brings forth a picture or a sound

Anything at all is better than this waste of wood and process

Someone try just once to realize that rhythm of some kind

Must be there maybe not rhyme but something in the beat of sound

I am but a pauper of this world but this I’ve always known

P.A.C.

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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