Poem Sampler

Poems of Sorrow and Grieving

Classic and contemporary poems about ultimate losses.
By The Editors

REMEMBERING A PARENT

Making a Fist
by Naomi Shihab Nye
I who did not die, who am still living,
still lying in the backseat behind all my questions,
clenching and opening one small hand.

oh antic God by Lucille Clifton
oh antic God
return to me 
 

The Night Where You No Longer Live by Meaghan O'Rourke
And did you still create me
And what was I like on the first day of my life

 

LOVE LOST

Ae Fond Kiss by Robert Burns 
Ae fond kiss, and then we sever; 
Ae fareweel, and then forever!

And Thou art Dead, as Young and Fair by Lord Byron
And thou art dead, as young and fair
As aught of mortal birth;


Ebb by Edna St. Vincent Millay
I know what my heart is like
Since your love died:


Epigrams: Epitaph on Elizabeth, L.H. by Ben Jonson
Wouldst thou hear what man can say
In a little? Reader, stay.


DEATH OF A CHILD

An Arbor by Linda Gregerson
The world’s a world of trouble, your mother must
have told you
that. Poison leaks into the basements


The Bad Season Makes the Poet Sad by Robert Herrick
Dull to myself, and almost dead to these
My many fresh and fragrant mistresses


The Dying Child by John Clare
He could not die when trees were green,
For he loved the time too well



GRIEVING THE DEATH OF A FRIEND

Buried at Springs by James Schuyler
There is a hornet in the room
and one of us will have to go


Elegy with a Chimneysweep Falling Inside It by Larry Levis
Those twenty-six letters filling the blackboard
Compose the dark


Facing It by Yusef Komunyakaa
My black face fades,
hiding inside the black granite.



REGRET & DEPRESSION

A Daughter of Eve by Christina Rossetti
A fool I was to sleep at noon,
And wake when night is chilly


The Debt by Paul Laurence Dunbar
This is the debt I pay
Just for one riotous day,


“Come, come thou bleak December wind” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Come, come thou bleak December wind,
And blow the dry leaves from the tree!

Originally Published: May 12th, 2006
  1. September 11, 2007
     Tracy

    hey i really liked your poem.

    to The dying child
    written by: John clare!

    KEEP WRITING YOUR REALLY GOOD AT IT.

  2. October 19, 2007
     Brenda

    I saw this poem in an obituary column and wondered if anyone knows who wrote it.


    Will you peek from behind God's sun today?

    Are you perched on a nearby cloud?

    Do you hear me when I whisper your name?

    Or cry for you outloud?

    Words can't express how I miss you each day.

    Nor th edepth of my sadness within!

    Comfort DOES come inpockets of peach

    With memories I cherish being your twin!

  3. October 21, 2007
     Monique

    I really enjoy all these poems!!!!!

  4. October 24, 2007
     Bones

    The Dept is a great one.

    The metaphor,

    how the lines flow together to form a poem,

    also how each line is around the same length.

    Also in which the pattern it rymes is also amazing.

    Very poetic

  5. November 1, 2007
     Rosie

    Looking for a poem written by a

    mother to be read by daughter upon

    her death, taken from a book of

    poems from about 1930-40 to 2000.

    Heard it being read about 7 weeks ago

    on 89.7 radio

  6. November 3, 2007
     Anonymous

    hey these poems are ok even im a writer i cant help but wonder if u can get some techniques from me

  7. November 19, 2007
     Anonymous

    Two of you guys are complete idiots.

    Tracy, these were all written by different poets, hence having the name of the poet next to them. In fact, a lot of them are already dead, so I'm sure they're going to keep writing.

    And the person who said that these poets could get techniques from him needs to drive to the nearest bridge and fling themselves off of it as soon as possible. I won't even elaborate on that.

  8. December 30, 2007
     Anonymous

    looks like children fool themselves so innocent but not observative

  9. January 21, 2008
     Kelly

    Okay, if you're going to post on a poetry website, hence being related to English, please use correct grammar, spelling, and usage of words ('Your' and 'you're' are very different words). It's driving me crazy. I can't even understand the comment written on November 2. It might as well have been written in Russian, and I certainly won't be asking for techniques if that's what it's implying.

  10. January 30, 2008
     Anonymous

    the poem that brenda wrote was a really good one


  11. March 21, 2008
     KARINA

    GOD READING THESE WITH TEARS RIP LITTLE BRO

  12. March 23, 2008
     Kev

    I have been writing for some time, now. I have not been exposed to much poetry, except in high school, but when I write poetry is what comes out. How would on go about submitting their writing for publication.

  13. April 12, 2008
     Clare

    Can anyone help me please, i read a poem at my grandad's funeral in january and can't find it anywhere! The dirt line as i recall is 'the light in your eyes has now gone for nobody else to see, the smile on your face did a good job of hiding your secret for not to see' i would love to get the full version again as it's being put on a memorial stone for my grandad's grave. Please can you help me!!

  14. April 23, 2008
     Marija

    My, oh my...is ANYBODY checking these comments before they are placed on this site? My mother tongue is not the English language, but I am appaled at the grammar and the bad writing that passes for English here. Please, do a service to the poets and spare them of suffering - if they ever stumble into these waters.

  15. June 23, 2008
     Elizabeth CROSS

    How would one go about submitting their writing for publication?

    I have a few I know God put upon my heart!

    One was written in July 29th,2000 & read at my brother's funeral,& the one read at my father's funeral in April,1st,2001

    Thank you for any advice on this .

    Elizabeth C. Cross Johnson City Tenn.37601

  16. June 25, 2008
     junepetrolle

    I'm looking for Laura Gilpin's poem, "The Dying Tree"

    First line is,"It is obvious to me that the tree is dying."

    Last line: But how can you say no to a dying tree?


    Please please, anyone with any info please email me.

    June

  17. June 25, 2008
     Renae

    I can not find this poem anywhere, I've been told it's Emily Dickenson??

    Do not stand at my grave and weep, I am not there, I do not sleep

    I am the thousand winds that blow, I am the diamond glints on snow

    I am the sunlught on ripened grain, I am the gentle autumn rain

    When you awake in the morning hush, I am the swift uplifting rush

    Of quiet birds in circling flight

    I am the soft star shine at night

    Don not stand at my grave and cry,

    I am not there, I did not die


    Can anyone help?

  18. June 25, 2008
     Renae

    Sorry about the above "grammer/spelling", I was in a hurry and didn't look before I posted!

  19. July 5, 2008
     Nettie

    To: "On April 11, 2008 at 06:04 Clare wrote:

    Can anyone help me please, i read a poem at my grandad's funeral in january and can't find it anywhere! The dirt line as i recall is 'the light in your eyes has now gone for nobody else to see, the smile on your face did a good job of hiding your secret for not to see' i would love to get the full version again as it's being put on a memorial stone for my grandad's grave. Please can you help me!!"


    The Light In Your Eyes


    The light in your eyes now is gone,

    For nobody else to see.

    The smile on your face did a good job

    Hiding your secret for us not to see.

    I wish there was a way for me to have just five minutes with you.

    If God would of wanted just one more year,

    I'm sure He would of still taken you

    But, now that He did,

    there's not much I can do, but

    Learn to live and deal with it.

    I remember the times we had together,

    They were so much fun.

    But, now that you are gone,

    I have to learn that all those times are done.

    I just want you to know, that

    I'll love you forever,

    No matter where you are.

    And up in the sky I named after you,

    Your own little star.

    It's the one in the middle of Orion's belt,

    And I'm sure you've seen it before.

    And when I look at it

    It reminds me of you walking

    through Heaven's doors.

    There is one more thing that I want

    to request while you're up in Heaven skies

    You better not ever, ever, ever lose

    that Beautiful Light In Your Eyes!

  20. July 5, 2008
     Nettie

    To: "On June 24, 2008 at 08:06 Renae wrote:

    I can not find this poem anywhere, I've been told it's Emily Dickenson??

    Do not stand at my grave and weep, I am not there, I do not sleep

    I am the thousand winds that blow, I am the diamond glints on snow

    I am the sunlught on ripened grain, I am the gentle autumn rain

    When you awake in the morning hush, I am the swift uplifting rush

    Of quiet birds in circling flight

    I am the soft star shine at night

    Don not stand at my grave and cry,

    I am not there, I did not die "


    That poem is anonymous.

  21. September 3, 2008
     John A. Tabah

    I just read one of Ted Kooser Poems and I like his style - writting about his father and I liked his style so much - that I wrote this poem to a friend who died in VietNam:


    On June 7th 2008, 39 years had past

    and if I had died instead of you.


    Today, I would not be miserable from

    my repeating nightly dreams-


    of your comming back to life.


    Nor from hearing your screams and the moans of our dying friends


    and seeing the bleeding of your wounds.


    Two Vietnamese Dwarfs dressed in black with Wok looking straw hats


    appear at the foot of my bed and grab my ankles


    attempting to drag me back into time to that horrible night of June 7th 1969.


    I wake up spooked from a fear of those demons being real and feeling guilty


    of my fear to go back into time to save you.


    Once again I think of your wife and baby


    knowing of how they must miss you

    and knowing


    that the moments before your death - you were thinking about them.


    Again, today I will hide those thoughts and my sleepless nights -


    knowing that I can not change time nor rid myself of my guilt.


  22. September 15, 2008
     joan young

    my granma used to say a poem to me that i really loved, unfortunately ican not remember all the words and would dearly love to know if any one can HELP Its called Keeping his Word,

    The first line goes~Only A Penny A box he said, But the gentleman turned away his head,as if to shrink from the squalid sight,of a boy who stood in the fading light.

  23. November 5, 2008
     Janet Williams

    IF YOU ONLY KNEW


    How much you are so very missed and thought of everyday. Many times when I’m talking with friends or just sitting in the living-room looking out on the patio; remembering when we used to sit out there and you would make me laugh and laugh. Every time the wind chimes swing in the breezes, and they still hang in the exact same spots that you hung them. I don’t think I will ever move them.


    If you only knew……


    The many times I’ve said “my son was hilarious”, or “my son was so handsome”, or “you would have really liked my son”. Sometimes, my whole being feels like it’s being crushed it’s so weighted down with the ache of my heart. I ask myself all the time “why did he choose to go away?” Losing you was so devastating I can hardly put it into words. When you died, a part of me died too. You will never know how many nights I’ve cried myself to sleep thinking about you and the last day we saw each other; and how much guilt I carry for not being there for you when you needed me the most. Thinking if I could only turn back the hands of time and do that day all over again.


    If you only knew……


    There are times when I can hardly believe you are gone forever.

    No more seeing your beautiful face, your beautiful smile, and your beautiful blue eyes. No more “Happy Mothers Day” from my only son. No more Happy Birthdays and seeing your face light up when you open your gifts and watching you eat the cheesecake that you loved so much.

    All the “little things” you used to say and do. You were such a character. You were my heart and I loved you so very, very much.


    If you only knew……




    By: Janet Williams

    Mother of Ryan Williams

    10/24/1983 - 05/02/2007




  24. November 7, 2008
     Alfred J. Peccini

    I need help in trying to find the title and author of a poem about a woman and her mother who was cosidered her enemy.It was read on the air by Garrison Keiler on his morning program ,the Writers Almanac on Nov.6,2008.Thank You.P.S.Your Web Site is wonderful.I'll return again and again!

  25. November 11, 2008
     Regina Vergara

    I would like to read two poems I heard last week on The Writer´s Almanac on National Public Radio, San Antonio. I was driving at the time so my atention was divided and I could not get neither the author nor the title. They were aired on November 6 and 7, 2008. One was about an elderly mother (the enemy), the other was about 'those days when I´m not my father'. Can you help me? I am a constant listener of NPR. Thank you. Regina Vergara

  26. November 11, 2008
     Anonymous
  27. November 12, 2008
     a.t

    >>I can not find this poem anywhere, I've been told it's Emily Dickenson??

    Do not stand at my grave and weep, I am not there, I do not sleep

    I am the thousand winds that blow, I am the diamond glints on snow

    I am the sunlught on ripened grain, I am the gentle autumn rain

    When you awake in the morning hush, I am the swift uplifting rush

    Of quiet birds in circling flight

    I am the soft star shine at night

    Don not stand at my grave and cry,

    I am not there, I did not die >>


    It's by Mary Elizabeth Frye.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D...

  28. November 14, 2008
     Leokadia Mzungu

    Dear Sir/Madam,


    I have some poem have written.


    Can i send them to you.


    Thanik You.


    Leokadia

  29. December 5, 2008
     moriah

    i think all these poems are great,keep on puting the great stuff out there!!!!!

  30. December 6, 2008
     Albert R. Medeiros

    I am searching for a poem titled:


    Yesterday, A Veteran Died.


    Can anyone help me?

  31. December 7, 2008
     Mary K Schuller

    TO: JANET WILLIAMS

    Late night/early morning, I sit here bouncing around the internet. Immobilized by self-pity, mourning the end of a marriage that never was what I am now recalling. I read your words and am so ashamed. I think of my son and how incredibly fortunate I am. So much of what you said, moments that you shared with your son, were uncannily familiar to me. I wish I could take your pain away. Thank you for sharing and reminding me of what really matters.

  32. February 11, 2009
     cathy

    looking for a poem heard on npr - a writer's almanac - quite some time ago. it was a very bittersweet reflection on a parent's son turning 16. can anyone help? thanks for all the great poetry. i listen daily.

  33. February 18, 2009
     grim

    ooh /If you only knew what it ment


    No matter what it ment

  34. February 21, 2009
     Mike

    I have absolutely no idea why the poetry foundation would be interested in dividing poems into such specific categories.


    "Yes, I'd like one poem on Love and Loss, please, with a side of father issues."

  35. March 11, 2009
     Paul

    I am hoping someone might help me find a very sweet poem I read years ago. It was told from the point of view of a young father putting his infant daughter to bed, while sadly remembering the baby's twin, who had died at childbirth.

  36. March 17, 2009
     clare

    I need help some one help

  37. April 6, 2009
     Troy

    I'm looking for apoem I do'nt remember well. God has not promised skies always blue rose covered pathways...
    Can any one help me please
    thank you
    TK

  38. June 10, 2009
     Appalled

    It's hard to believe how stupid most of these posts are.

  39. July 29, 2009
     Commenter

    If you don't like these posts, you're
    missing the point of them. There's
    some bad grammar in them and some
    bad spelling. There's some corny
    poetry here too. But bad spelling,
    grammar, structure are the poetry of
    today. Regular (unpublished) people
    who are feeling things about the saddest
    thing in the world - death and they are
    saying them here. Others are trying to
    find some forgotten poem to help them
    express profound sorrow. When it
    comes to something like loss of a loved
    one, this is the poetry of the people.
    When I read them I think about the 2
    people who will think like this when I
    die. It will be profoundly bad for them
    for me to be dead and away from these
    two. Everyone else will just go on. but
    these two will need to find some way to
    deal with it. I hope they read the
    comments here and thereby share their
    sorrow with other people.

  40. September 5, 2009
     James Luttrell

    Please tell me who wrote" Perhaps the Heart"

    1st line--

    Perhaps the heart cannot renew its song

    Thanks for your help, Jim

  41. October 28, 2009
     Kneazle Lady

    To Marija and the November 18, 2007 commenters: The same people who murder the English language in comments on poetry websites are the ones who care more about their cellular phones and their ridiculous garb than they do about exercising their minds in any way. They speak a brutish form of the English language, and they are consummately rude. When asked to earn their grades, they suddenly rev themselves up into a brief intelligent lather, only enough to complain to the administration, who coddles them back into toddler-level submissiveness. Sullen, intellectually-inept, and eternally immature, these young cattle go on to dismal and boring lives, and they know not why they are bored, since everyone who could have made a difference has refrained from telling them that being bored is a characteristic of...BORING people. Welcome to the onslaught and the death of civilization; it is nothing less than the end.

  42. April 9, 2010
     Andy

    Paul -
    You may be thinking of James Russell Lowell's "The First Snow-Fall" -- which is an incredible poem that you will probably like even if it's not the one you were remembering. Good luck...

    On March 10, 2009 at 5:46 pm Paul wrote:
    I am hoping someone might help me find a very sweet poem I read years ago. It was told from the point of view of a young father putting his infant daughter to bed, while sadly remembering the baby's twin, who had died at childbirth.

  43. October 2, 2010
     Georgia Seely

    I lost two sons in less then two years the last who was 44 jumped of the bridge depressed his brother who died of diabetis and his birthday is oct 3 and Nick will be buried oct the 2 they were so close. Had no warning this was going to happen. need a poem. God Bless Georgia

  44. March 16, 2011
     cici

    for those searching for specific poems, there is a wonderful resource called JSTOR. It is available for scholarly research and you have to access it through an institution, but if you have access to a larger library, chances are they are participating members and you access JSTOR through them. The website for JSTOR also has a list available of participating institutions by geographical location. So check them out, it truly is a great resource

  45. March 16, 2011
     cici

    and please, can we stop the hating? what is the point of mockery? please tell me how that helps?

    tolerance, compassion and patience are so sorely lacking now-a-days...oh my, here i am with my measly 138 IQ using such poor english as now-a-days.

    GET OVER IT. Be Polite. Be Helpful. It won't kill you