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.

22 Poems about Love and Pain by Famous Poets

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  1. 1. Touched By An Angel

    "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.

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    We, unaccustomed to courage
    exiles from delight
    live coiled in shells of loneliness
    until love leaves its high holy temple

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  3. 2. Tonight I Can Write The Saddest Lines

    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.).

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    Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

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

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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

    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.

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    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.

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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

    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.

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    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;

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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

    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.

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    "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.

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  8. 6. Return

    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.

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

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  9. 7. Love Is Not All

    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.

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    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;

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  10. 8. A Fallen Leaf

    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.

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    A trusting little leaf of green,
    A bold audacious frost;
    A rendezvous, a kiss or two,
    And youth for ever lost.

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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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  11. 9. Love

    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.

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    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

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  12. 10. Choice

    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.

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    I'd rather have the thought of you
    To hold against my heart,
    My spirit to be taught of you
    With west winds blowing,

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

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  13. 11. May

    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.

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    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.

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  14. 12. Ebb

    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.

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    I know what my heart is like
    Since your love died:
    It is like a hollow ledge
    Holding a little pool

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  15. 13. In The Orchard

    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.

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    "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

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  16. 14. The Kiss

    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.

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    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.

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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

    "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.

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    • By George Gordon, Lord Byron

    When we two parted
    In silence and tears,
    Half broken-hearted
    To sever for years,

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  18. 16. My Empire

    The poem is a profound meditation on the nature of happiness and fulfillment. The speaker rejects the allure of popularity and superficial beauty, finding true worth in intimate connections and inner strength. They prioritize depth over breadth, emphasizing the richness of a life centered on love. The poem challenges societal values, suggesting that material success and external validation are ultimately empty pursuits. Instead, it celebrates the profound joy and power found in mutual love, positioning it as the ultimate human experience.

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    I care not for the many,
    If but my few are kind;
    How poor are they who never joy
    Apart from crowds can find.

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  19. 17. Frost In Spring

    In her evocative poem, the poet uses vivid imagery and metaphor to contrast the natural beauty of Spring with the cold, numbing experience of lost love. The poet's use of personification, as seen in phrases like "Beauty breaking through" and "frost should fall upon us in the Spring," deepens the emotional impact and underscores the irony of love's departure during a season of renewal.

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    Oh, had it been in Autumn, when all is spent and sere,
    That the first numb chill crept on us, with its ghostly hint of fear,
    I had borne to see love go, with things detached and frail,
    Swept outward with the blowing leaf on the unresting gale.

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

    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.

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    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

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  21. 19. To A Young Girl

    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.

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    My dear, my dear, I know
    More than another
    What makes your heart beat so;
    Not even your own mother

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  22. 20. Lone Gentleman

    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.

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    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,

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