Famous Sad Love Poems

Famous Sad Love Poems

Classic Popular Sad Love Poems

Love is a two edged sword. No other emotion has the ability to make you feel both indescribable joy and deep fear and sadness, sometimes simultaneously. When love comes to an end or is not mutual, often a terrible sadness ensues, a pain felt deep in the chest, tearing at the heart, demanding to be felt. Only those who have loved and lost can know this pain. Poetry is often the only way to express this pain with words as it is deeply emotional and often defies logic. Those suffering because of love are likely to enjoy reading and writing sad love poems.

19 Poems about Love and Pain by Famous Poets

  1. 1. Touched By An Angel

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    "Touched By An Angel" by Maya Angelou is a powerful poem that explores the transformative power of love. Through the use of poetic techniques such as repetition and imagery, Angelou conveys the message that love can liberate individuals from their emotional confines. The poem's emotional tone is hopeful and optimistic, encouraging readers to be bold in the pursuit of love even though love does have a cost.

    We, unaccustomed to courage
    exiles from delight
    live coiled in shells of loneliness
    until love leaves its high holy temple
    and comes into our sight
    to liberate us into life.

    Love arrives
    and in its train come ecstasies
    old memories of pleasure
    ancient histories of pain.
    Yet if we are bold,
    love strikes away the chains of fear
    from our souls.

    We are weaned from our timidity
    In the flush of love's light
    we dare be brave
    And suddenly we see
    that love costs all we are
    and will ever be.
    Yet it is only love
    which sets us free

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  3. 2. Tonight I Can Write The Saddest Lines

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    This poem was published in 1924, just as Pablo Neruda entered his 20s. In this poem, the speaker is dealing with the end of a relationship and longing for the woman to be back in his arms. The repetition of, “Tonight I can write the saddest lines,” brings the reader’s attention to that theme throughout this sad love poem. Pablo Neruda used alliteration throughout this poem with many words beginning with “s” (saddest, shattered, stars, sky, soul, etc.).

    Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

    Write, for example, 'The night is shattered
    and the blue stars shiver in the distance.'

    The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.

    Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
    I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

    Through nights like this one I held her in my arms
    I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.

    She loved me sometimes, and I loved her too.
    How could one not have loved her great still eyes.

    Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
    To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.

    To hear the immense night, still more immense without her.
    And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.

    What does it matter that my love could not keep her.
    The night is shattered and she is not with me.

    This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance.
    My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

    My sight searches for her as though to go to her.
    My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.

    The same night whitening the same trees.
    We, of that time, are no longer the same.

    I no longer love her, that's certain, but how I loved her.
    My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.

    Another's. She will be another's. Like my kisses before.
    Her voice. Her bright body. Her infinite eyes.

    I no longer love her, that's certain, but maybe I love her.
    Love is so short, forgetting is so long.

    Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms
    my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

    Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
    and these the last verses that I write for her.

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    Neruda's poem resonates. Letting go is a process, when love is not requited anymore. How is it possible to do so easily? It is not. Today we are constantly surrounded by memories. The pain...

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  5. 3. I Shall Not Care

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    Some thought “I Shall Not Care” was a suicide note written by Sara Teasdale (1884-1933), but this poem was published more than a decade before she took her life. Each stanza of this poem has a different focus. The first stanza shares about no longer having any cares or pain after death. In contrast, the second stanza focuses on another person, almost as if saying that person will only come to realize his love for the speaker after her death.

    When I am dead and over me bright April
    Shakes out her rain-drenched hair,
    Tho' you should lean above me broken-hearted,
    I shall not care.

    I shall have peace, as leafy trees are peaceful
    When rain bends down the bough,
    And I shall be more silent and cold-hearted
    Than you are now.

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    The poem "I Shall Not Care" by Sara Teasdale is beautifully written tho' it does cause the reader to wonder what pain and hurt she was going through at the time of writing, the thought...

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  6. 4. When You Are Old

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    This poem by William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) was published in 1893 when he was 28. He was an Irish poet who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1923. This poem is addressed to the speaker’s lover, and in the end, shows the love did not last. People consider this poem to be about Maud Gonne. He loved her, but she married another man. This poem follows the ABBA rhyme scheme, which is not seen frequently in poetry except for Italian (Petrarchan) sonnets.

    When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
    And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
    And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
    Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

    How many loved your moments of glad grace,
    And loved your beauty with love false or true,
    But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
    And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

    And bending down beside the glowing bars,
    Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
    And paced upon the mountains overhead
    And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

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    In this poem, Yeats has used a universal theme. In their youth, many behave in a thoughtless manner and they miss certain things in life. Through his personal experience, Yeats makes the...

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  7. 5. Mad Girl's Love Song

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    Many of Sylvia Plath's poems have a theme of unrequited love, and this one is no different. She wrote this poem while she was a twenty-year-old student at Smith College. It has that very natural and relatable element of someone that age looking for love. The speaker is addressing a former lover, wishing he would return to her. Plath writes with a lot of emotion, making it clear how it feels to be rejected while still longing for someone to return feelings of love. She uses personification to give the stars and darkness human characteristics. This poem also utilizes the poetic technique of repetition.

    "I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;
    I lift my lids and all is born again.
    (I think I made you up inside my head.)

    The stars go waltzing out in blue and red,
    And arbitrary blackness gallops in:
    I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

    I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed
    And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.
    (I think I made you up inside my head.)

    God topples from the sky, hell's fires fade:
    Exit seraphim and Satan's men:
    I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

    I fancied you'd return the way you said,
    But I grow old and I forget your name.
    (I think I made you up inside my head.)

    I should have loved a thunderbird instead;
    At least when spring comes they roar back again.
    I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.
    (I think I made you up inside my head.)"

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  8. 6. Love Is Not All

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    Although love cannot heal ailments or sustain us physically, love is not something many would trade for all the wealth in the world. Some might see love as futile and frivolous, but others recognize its incredible power. They know its unmatched value. Famous poet Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950) turned down multiple suitors and marriage proposals to keep her career from being derailed. However, she eventually married in 1923.

    Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink
    Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain;
    Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink
    And rise and sink and rise and sink again;
    Love can not fill the thickened lung with breath,
    Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;
    Yet many a man is making friends with death
    Even as I speak, for lack of love alone.
    It well may be that in a difficult hour,
    Pinned down by pain and moaning for release,
    Or nagged by want past resolution’s power,
    I might be driven to sell your love for peace,
    Or trade the memory of this night for food.
    It well may be. I do not think I would.

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  9. 7. Return

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    In this poignant poem, the poet reflects on a bittersweet encounter with someone they deeply care about. Despite the return, silence reigns over the heart of the other person, keeping them emotionally distant. Through the unspoken words and the absence of a kiss, the speaker grapples with the lingering feelings of longing and unfulfilled desire.

    You came again, but silence
        Had fallen on your heart,
    And in your eyes were visions
        That held us still apart.

    And now I go on hearing
        The words you did not say,
    And the kiss you did not give me
        Burns on my lips to-day.

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  10. 8. Love

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    The narrator struggles with a broken heart and wants to stop loving someone, but he can’t. As time passes, the memory starts to fade, but there will always be things that trigger remembering everything once loved about the person. Pablo Neruda (1904-1973) wrote a lot about love and heartbreak, as he experienced both throughout his life.

    Because of you, in gardens of blossoming
    Flowers I ache from the perfumes of spring.
    I have forgotten your face, I no longer
    Remember your hands; how did your lips
    Feel on mine?

    Because of you, I love the white statues
    Drowsing in the parks, the white statues that
    Have neither voice nor sight.

    I have forgotten your voice, your happy voice;
    I have forgotten your eyes.

    Like a flower to its perfume, I am bound to
    My vague memory of you. I live with pain
    That is like a wound; if you touch me, you will
    Make to me an irreperable harm.

    Your caresses enfold me, like climbing
    Vines on melancholy walls.

    I have forgotten your love, yet I seem to
    Glimpse you in every window.

    Because of you, the heady perfumes of
    Summer pain me; because of you, I again
    Seek out the signs that precipitate desires:
    Shooting stars, falling objects.

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  11. 9. Choice

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    Angela Morgan was an American author who lived from 1875-1957. She wrote about many social issues, both of the wealthy and the poor. The narrator in this poem would rather hold onto thoughts of a loved one who has moved on than love another because no one can make the narrator feel the same way.

    I'd rather have the thought of you
    To hold against my heart,
    My spirit to be taught of you
    With west winds blowing,
    Than all the warm caresses
    Of another love's bestowing,
    Or all the glories of the world
    In which you had no part.

    I'd rather have the theme of you
    To thread my nights and days,
    I'd rather have the dream of you
    With faint stars glowing,
    I'd rather have the want of you,
    The rich, elusive taunt of you
    Forever and forever and forever unconfessed
    Than claim the alien comfort
    Of any other's breast.

    O lover! O my lover,
    That this should come to me!
    I'd rather have the hope of you,
    Ah, Love, I'd rather grope for you
    Within the great abyss
    Than claim another's kiss-
    Alone I'd rather go my way
    Throughout eternity.

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    I have never read anything by Angela Morgan, but this truly speaks to me right now.

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  12. 10. A Fallen Leaf

    Famous Poem

    When we are new to love, sometimes we fall too quickly and allow ourselves to be put in situations we end up regretting. Everything changes after that. Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919) was an American author and poet who became known as a poet even before graduating high school.

    A trusting little leaf of green,
    A bold audacious frost;
    A rendezvous, a kiss or two,
    And youth for ever lost.
    Ah, me!
    The bitter, bitter cost.

    A flaunting patch of vivid red,
    That quivers in the sun;
    A windy gust, a grave of dust,
    The little race is run.
    Ah, me!
    Were that the only one.

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    I believe this poem is referencing the fleeting duration of the human life span. A leaf in the spring starts out green and tender. Until the frost comes in the fall and gives the leaf a...

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  13. 11. In The Orchard

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    This is a unique poem by English poet Muriel Stuart (1885-1967). It’s considered her most famous poem. It’s a conversation between lovers who had shared an intimate moment together but have an argument because they see it differently. While this poem doesn’t follow a specific poetic form, it does have rhyming couplets.

    "I thought you loved me." "No, it was only fun."
    "When we stood there, closer than all?" "Well, the harvest moon
    "Was shining and queer in your hair, and it turned my head."
    "That made you?" "Yes." "Just the moon and the light it made
    "Under the tree?" "Well, your mouth, too." "Yes, my mouth?"
    "And the quiet there that sang like the drum in the booth.
    "You shouldn't have danced like that." "Like what?" "So close,
    "With your head turned up, and the flower in your hair, a rose
    "That smelt all warm." "I loved you. I thought you knew
    "I wouldn't have danced like that with any but you."
    "I didn't know. I thought you knew it was fun."
    "I thought it was love you meant." "Well, it's done." "Yes, it's done.
    "I've seen boys stone a blackbird, and watched them drown
    "A kitten ... it clawed at the reeds, and they pushed it down
    "Into the pool while it screamed. Is that fun, too?"
    "Well, boys are like that ... Your brothers..." "Yes, I know.
    "But you, so lovely and strong! Not you! Not you!"
    "They don't understand it's cruel. It's only a game."
    "And are girls fun, too?" "No, still in a way it's the same.
    "It's queer and lovely to have a girl..." "Go on."
    "It makes you mad for a bit to feel she's your own,
    "And you laugh and kiss her, and maybe you give her a ring,
    "But it's only in fun." "But I gave you everything."
    "Well, you shouldn't have done it. You know what a fellow thinks
    "When a girl does that." "Yes, he talks of her over his drinks
    "And calls her a—" "Stop that now. I thought you knew."
    "But it wasn't with anyone else. It was only you."
    "How did I know? I thought you wanted it too.
    "I thought you were like the rest. Well, what's to be done?"
    "To be done?" "Is it all right?" "Yes." "Sure?" "Yes, but why?"
    "I don't know. I thought you were going to cry.
    "You said you had something to tell me." "Yes, I know.
    "It wasn't anything really ... I think I'll go."
    "Yes, it's late. There's thunder about, a drop of rain
    "Fell on my hand in the dark. I'll see you again
    "At the dance next week. You're sure that everything's right?"
    "Yes." "Well, I'll be going." "Kiss me..." "Good night." ...
                    "Good night."

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  14. 12. May

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    Sara Teasdale was an American poet who lived from 1884-1933. "May" is about a woman who has not been treated well by a man. It shows how time can change a part of a person's life drastically. Teasdale's own marriage to Ernst Filsinger ended in 1929. Even while it appears that a person's life is as bright and beautiful as spring, she could feel like winter on the inside.

    The wind is tossing the lilacs,
    The new leaves laugh in the sun,
    And the petals fall on the orchard wall,
    But for me the spring is done.

    Beneath the apple blossoms
    I go a wintry way,
    For love that smiled in April
    Is false to me in May.

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  15. 13. Ebb

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    In this poem, Edna St. Vincent Millay powerfully portrays the heartbreak of losing a lover. She uses a shrinking pool of water as a metaphor for the feelings of loss and heartbreak.

    I know what my heart is like
             Since your love died:
    It is like a hollow ledge
    Holding a little pool
             Left there by the tide,
             A little tepid pool,
    Drying inward from the edge.

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  16. 14. The Kiss

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    Sara Teasdale (1884-1933) was a famous American poet. In 1913 she courted two men before deciding to marry Ernst Filsinger. Some wonder if she wished she chose Vachel Lindsay because her marriage to Filsinger ended in divorce in 1929. "The Kiss" shows that not all things are as wonderful as they first appear to be.

    I hoped that he would love me,
    And he has kissed my mouth,
    But I am like a stricken bird
    That cannot reach the south.

    For though I know he loves me,
    To-night my heart is sad;
    His kiss was not so wonderful
    As all the dreams I had.

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    Yes! Been there! It kinda takes away from the romance. It might be best to keep trying to fly south. Jac Judy A Campbell

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  17. 15. When We Two Parted

    • By George Gordon, Lord Byron

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    "When We Two Parted" by Lord Byron is a poignant exploration of the pain and sorrow experienced after the end of a romantic relationship. In this emotionally charged poem, Byron reflects on the aftermath of parting ways with a former lover. He reminisces about the shared moments and intimacy they once had, highlighting the deep emotional bond they shared. However, as the poem progresses, Byron reveals the betrayal and heartache he feels as his former lover moves on to be with someone else. Through vivid imagery and expressive language, Byron conveys the sense of loss and betrayal that accompanies the end of a once cherished relationship. "When We Two Parted" serves as a powerful reminder of the pain and sadness that can accompany the dissolution of love.

    When we two parted
        In silence and tears,
    Half broken-hearted
        To sever for years,
    Pale grew thy cheek and cold,
        Colder thy kiss;
    Truly that hour foretold
        Sorrow to this.

    The dew of the morning
        Sunk chill on my brow—
    It felt like the warning
        Of what I feel now.
    Thy vows are all broken,
        And light is thy fame;
    I hear thy name spoken,
        And share in its shame.

    They name thee before me,
        A knell to mine ear;
    A shudder comes o’er me—
        Why wert thou so dear?
    They know not I knew thee,
        Who knew thee too well—
    Long, long shall I rue thee,
        Too deeply to tell.

    In secret we met—
        In silence I grieve,
    That thy heart could forget,
        Thy spirit deceive.
    If I should meet thee
        After long years,
    How should I greet thee?—
        With silence and tears.

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  18. 16. What Lips My Lips Have Kissed, And Where, And Why

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    Edna St. Vincent Millay's poem "What Lips My Lips Have Kissed, And Where, And Why" delves into the poet's forgotten romantic encounters. The rain outside becomes a melancholic backdrop, filled with elusive memories and a sense of yearning. The speaker feels a quiet ache for the lovers who will never return, lost to time. The poem then shifts to a metaphor of a solitary winter tree, unaware of the departed birds. It reflects on the fleeting nature of love, leaving the speaker with only fragments of past romances. Ultimately, the poem encapsulates the wistful nostalgia and transience of love's impact on one's life.

    What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
    I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
    Under my head till morning; but the rain
    Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
    Upon the glass and listen for reply,
    And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
    For unremembered lads that not again
    Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.
    Thus in winter stands the lonely tree,
    Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
    Yet knows its boughs more silent than before:
    I cannot say what loves have come and gone,
    I only know that summer sang in me
    A little while, that in me sings no more.

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  19. 17. To A Young Girl

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    William Butler Yeats was an Irish poet who lived from 1865-1936. He started out studying painting, but he found his true passion in poetry. In 1923, he received the Nobel Prize for Literature. In this poem, we can see how love can be tricky and complicated but still full of passion.

    My dear, my dear, I know
    More than another
    What makes your heart beat so;
    Not even your own mother
    Can know it as I know,
    Who broke my heart for her
    When the wild thought,
    That she denies
    And has forgot,
    Set all her blood astir
    And glittered in her eyes

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  20. 18. Lone Gentleman

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    Pablo Neruda lived from 1904-1973 and was considered one of the greatest poets of his time who wrote in Spanish. Although he wrote in Spanish, his first wife did not even know how to speak the language. He was inspired by Walt Whitman and kept a framed picture of him on his table.

    The gay young men and the love-sick girls,
    and the abandoned widows suffering in sleepless delirium,
    and the young pregnant wives of thirty hours,
    and the raucous cats that cruise my garden in the shadows,
    like a necklace of pulsating oysters of sex
    surround my lonely residence,
    like enemies lined up against my soul,
    like conspirators in bedroom clothes
    who exchange long deep kisses to order.
     
    The radiant summer leads to lovers
    in predictable melancholic regiments,
    made of fat and skinny, sad and happy pairings:
    under the elegant coconut palms, near the ocean and the moon,
    goes an endless movement of trousers and dresses,
    a whisper of silk stockings being caressed,
    and womens breasts that sparkle like eyes.
     
    The little employee, after it all,
    after the weeks boredom, and novels read by night in bed,
    has definitively seduced the girl next door,
    and carried her away to a run-down movie house
    where the heroes are studs or princes mad with passion,
    and strokes her legs covered with soft down
    with his moist and ardent hands that smell of cigarettes.
     
    The seducers afternoons and married peoples nights
    come together like the sheets and bury me,
    and the hours after lunch when the young male students
    and the young girl students, and the priests, masturbate,
    and the creatures fornicate outright,
    and the bees smell of blood, and the flies madly buzz,
    and boy and girl cousins play oddly together,
    and doctors stare in fury at the young patients husband,
    and the morning hours in which the professor, as if to pass the time,
    performs his marriage duties, and breakfasts,
    and moreover, the adulterers, who love each other truly
    on beds as high and deep as ocean liners:
    finally, eternally surrounding me
    is a gigantic forest breathing and tangled
    with gigantic flowers like mouths with teeth
    and black roots in the shape of hooves and shoes.

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  21. 19. The Sick Rose

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    William Blake was an English poet who lived from 1757-1827. Blake spoke of having visions as a young child, and since he was different than others, his parents did not send him to school. He learned to read and write at home, and he began writing poetry at the age of twelve. The rose in this poem is a symbol of love and how love can become sick without realizing it. There are various "worms" that can come to destroy the love between two people.

    O Rose, thou art sick!
    The invisible worm
    That flies in the night,
    In the howling storm,
    Has found out thy bed
    Of crimson joy:
    And his dark secret love
    Does thy life destroy.

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