Famous Sad Poems - Page 2

21 - 38 of 38 Poems

  1. 21. Richard Cory

    Famous Poem

    A narrative poem, "Richard Cory" was first published in 1897, as part of The Children of the Night. It is one of Robinson's most popular and published poems. The poem describes a person who is wealthy, well-educated, mannerly, and admired by the people in his town. Despite all this, he takes his own life.

    Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
    We people on the pavement looked at him:
    He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
    Clean favored, and imperially slim.

    And he was always quietly arrayed,
    And he was always human when he talked;
    But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
    "Good-morning," and he glittered when he walked.

    And he was rich - yes, richer than a king -
    And admirably schooled in every grace:
    In fine, we thought that he was everything
    To make us wish that we were in his place.

    So on we worked, and waited for the light,
    And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
    And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
    Went home and put a bullet through his head.

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  3. 22. Windows

    Famous Poem

    You’ve probably heard the saying, “The grass is greener on the other side.” This poem captures that sentiment. Often, we look longingly at what others have while looking down on what is ours. The irony is that others see such beauty in what we have.

    I looked through others' windows
        On an enchanted earth,
    But out of my own window-
        Solitude and dearth.

    And yet there is a mystery
        I cannot understand-
    That others through my window
        See an enchanted land.

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  5. 23. After Auschwitz

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    Anne Sexton's poem "After Auschwitz" is a powerful emotional response to the Holocaust and slaughter of 6 million innocent Jewish men, women and children.. The speaker expresses anger towards the atrocities committed and questions why death doesn't seem to take those who deserve it. She condemns the men responsible for the Holocaust and suggests that all humanity must now bear guilt. For the depravity that the Nazis exhibited, demonstrated that all of us are capable of the same and that is a burden humanity must forever bear.

    Anger,
    as black as a hook,
    overtakes me.
    Each day,
    each Nazi
    took, at 8:00 A.M., a baby
    and sauteed him for breakfast
    in his frying pan.

    And death looks on with a casual eye
    and picks at the dirt under his fingernail.

    Man is evil,
    I say aloud.
    Man is a flower
    that should be burnt,
    I say aloud.
    Man
    is a bird full of mud,
    I say aloud.

    And death looks on with a casual eye
    and scratches his anus.

    Man with his small pink toes,
    with his miraculous fingers
    is not a temple
    but an outhouse,
    I say aloud.
    Let man never again raise his teacup.
    Let man never again write a book.
    Let man never again put on his shoe.
    Let man never again raise his eyes,
    on a soft July night.
    Never. Never. Never. Never. Never.
    I say those things aloud.

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  6. 24. The New Moon

    Famous Poem

    In Sara Teasdale's "The New Moon," the poet reflects on a day of hardship and struggle. Through the use of vivid imagery and personification, the poem portrays the day as a force that has physically and emotionally wounded her. However, amidst the bleakness, the poet discovers a glimmer of hope in the form of a delicate new moon. This celestial presence, described as a "maiden moon," brings beauty and inspiration, challenging bitterness and despair. Teasdale's skillful use of contrast and the moon's symbolism creates a sense of resilience and the power of finding solace in moments of darkness.

    Day, you have bruised and beaten me,
    As rain beats down the bright, proud sea,
    Beaten my body, bruised my soul,
    Left me nothing lovely or whole—
    Yet I have wrested a gift from you,
    Day that dies in dusky blue:

    For suddenly over the factories
    I saw a moon in the cloudy seas—
    A wisp of beauty all alone
    In a world as hard and gray as stone—
    Oh who could be bitter and want to die
    When a maiden moon wakes up in the sky?

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  7. 25. I Sit And Look Out

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    “I Sit and Look Out” captures the corruption of the world. Walt Whitman, an influential American poet, lived in the 1800s, a time that saw things like political slander, Trail of Tears, slavery, and the Civil War. In this poem, the speaker is merely an onlooker, not someone to get involved in all these negative affairs of society. However, readers might be inspired to do their part to create a positive influence on the world that will lessen the destruction.

    I SIT and look out upon all the sorrows of the world, and upon all
            oppression and shame;
    I hear secret convulsive sobs from young men, at anguish with
            themselves, remorseful after deeds done;
    I see, in low life, the mother misused by her children, dying,
            neglected, gaunt, desperate;
    I see the wife misused by her husband—I see the treacherous seducer
            of young women;
    I mark the ranklings of jealousy and unrequited love, attempted to be
            hid—I see these sights on the earth;
    I see the workings of battle, pestilence, tyranny—I see martyrs and
            prisoners;
    I observe a famine at sea—I observe the sailors casting lots who
            shall be kill'd, to preserve the lives of the rest;
    I observe the slights and degradations cast by arrogant persons upon
            laborers, the poor, and upon negroes, and the like;
    All these—All the meanness and agony without end, I sitting, look
            out upon,
    See, hear, and am silent.

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  8. 26. I Measure Every Grief I Meet

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    In this poem, the speaker compares her grief to the grief of those around her. She talks about the different types of grief and tries to make this emotion tangible. Emily Dickinson’s poems have consistent components, and this poem follows many of them: dashes, capitals in the middle of lines, and four-line stanzas.

    I measure every Grief I meet
    With narrow, probing, eyes –
    I wonder if It weighs like Mine –
    Or has an Easier size.

    I wonder if They bore it long –
    Or did it just begin –
    I could not tell the Date of Mine –
    It feels so old a pain –

    I wonder if it hurts to live –
    And if They have to try –
    And whether – could They choose between –
    It would not be – to die –

    I note that Some – gone patient long –
    At length, renew their smile – 
    An imitation of a Light
    That has so little Oil –

    I wonder if when Years have piled – 
    Some Thousands – on the Harm – 
    That hurt them early – such a lapse
    Could give them any Balm – 

    Or would they go on aching still
    Through Centuries of Nerve –
    Enlightened to a larger Pain – 
    In Contrast with the Love – 

    The Grieved – are many – I am told – 
    There is the various Cause – 
    Death – is but one – and comes but once – 
    And only nails the eyes – 

    There's Grief of Want – and grief of Cold – 
    A sort they call "Despair" – 
    There's Banishment from native Eyes –
    In sight of Native Air – 

    And though I may not guess the kind – 
    Correctly – yet to me
    A piercing Comfort it affords
    In passing Calvary – 

    To note the fashions – of the Cross – 
    And how they're mostly worn – 
    Still fascinated to presume
    That Some – are like my own –

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  9. 27. A Hero

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    Robert William Service was a British-Canadian author who lived from 1874-1958. He spent much of his early career years as a banker, but his dream was to be a cowboy. This poem shows the dark side of a person, someone who wishes to kill another, and in the end decides it's better to kill himself.

    Three times I had the lust to kill,
    To clutch a throat so young and fair,
    And squeeze with all my might until
    No breath of being lingered there.
    Three times I drove the demon out,
    Though on my brow was evil sweat. . . .
    And yet I know beyond a doubt
    He'll get me yet, he'll get me yet.

    I know I'm mad, I ought to tell
    The doctors, let them care for me,
    Confine me in a padded cell
    And never, never set me free;
    But Oh how cruel that would be!
    For I am young - and comely too . . .
    Yet dim my demon I can see,
    And there is but one thing to do.

    Three times I beat the foul fiend back;
    The fourth, I know he will prevail,
    And so I'll seek the railway track
    And lay my head upon the rail,
    And sight the dark and distant train,
    And hear its thunder louder roll,
    Coming to crush my cursed brain . . .
    Oh God, have mercy on my soul!

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  10. 28. One Art

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    Possibly her most famous poem, Elizabeth Bishop's,"One Art" is a villanelle, a 6 stanza poem that consists of five tercets (3 line stanzas), and one concluding quatrain (4 line stanza). For more about this challenging poetry form see How To Write a Villanelle.
    This poem is about loss and starts off light with a touch of humor, but loss is certainly not a humorous topic and as the stanzas go on the losses mount. Losing our most precious possessions, our friends and loved ones is a most difficult burden. Bishop lost both her parents as a child. Her father died when she was an infant and her mother was committed to an Insane Asylum when she was five. She never saw her mother again and grew up in the homes of various relatives.

    The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
    so many things seem filled with the intent
    to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

    Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
    of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
    The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

    Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
    places, and names, and where it was you meant
    to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

    I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
    next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
    The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

    I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
    some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
    I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

    —Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
    I love) I shan’t have lied.  It’s evident
    the art of losing’s not too hard to master
    though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

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  11. 29. Circus In Three Rings

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    Sylvia Plath was an American poet who lived from 1932-1963. Sylvia’s dad died during her childhood, and her husband left her for another woman. She experienced heartbreak and depression that ultimately led to her commit suicide at the age of 30. Her poetry was raw and honest, which can be seen in the chaos she captures in this poem. First published in The Atlantic Monthly in 1955, the hurricane mentioned in the poem could be compared to the personal struggles that swirled inside of her.

    In the circus tent of a hurricane
    designed by a drunken god
    my extravagant heart blows up again
    in a rampage of champagne-colored rain
    and the fragments whir like a weather vane
    while the angels all applaud.

    Daring as death and debonair
    I invade my lion's den;
    a rose of jeopardy flames in my hair
    yet I flourish my whip with a fatal flair
    defending my perilous wounds with a chair
    while the gnawings of love begin.

    Mocking as Mephistopheles,
    eclipsed by magician's disguise,
    my demon of doom tilts on a trapeze,
    winged rabbits revolving about his knees,
    only to vanish with devilish ease
    in a smoke that sears my eyes.

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  12. 30. Mirror

    Famous Poem

    Sylvia Plath was an American author and poet who lived from 1932-1963. She was a driven person, and she graduated summa cum laude from Smith College in 1955. Despite her success, Plath struggled with depression, and committed suicide in 1963. This poem shows the struggle a woman has with her identity as she grows older and begins to lose her youthfulness. It also uses personification by giving human characteristics to the mirror.

    I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.
    Whatever I see I swallow immediately
    Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.
    I am not cruel, only truthful,
    The eye of a little god, four-cornered.
    Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall.
    It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long
    I think it is part of my heart. But it flickers.
    Faces and darkness separate us over and over.

    Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me,
    Searching my reaches for what she really is.
    Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon.
    I see her back, and reflect it faithfully.
    She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands.
    I am important to her. She comes and goes.
    Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness.
    In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman
    Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.

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  13. 31. When I Have Fears

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    In this poem, John Keats (1795-1821) shares the fear of dying before accomplishing all he set out to do or finding the love he desires. We all have different things we want to achieve in life, and we don’t know how much time we will have to do them. Keats and his parents all died at a young age. Even though John Keats died at the age of 25, he had an incredible poetry career.

    When I have fears that I may cease to be
       Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain,
    Before high-pilèd books, in charactery,
       Hold like rich garners the full ripened grain;
    When I behold, upon the night’s starred face,
       Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
    And think that I may never live to trace
       Their shadows with the magic hand of chance;
    And when I feel, fair creature of an hour,
       That I shall never look upon thee more,
    Never have relish in the faery power
       Of unreflecting love—then on the shore
    Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
    Till love and fame to nothingness do sink.

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  14. 32. Acquainted With The Night

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    “Acquainted With The Night” was published in 1928. It has themes of sadness and isolation. The narrator avoids contact with people and tries to escape his despair. The narrator doesn’t want to let anyone in, which continues his cycle of loneliness. Robert Frost himself was familiar with despair. At the time of writing this poem, he had already lost two children. Two more of his six children would pass away before him in later years. This poem includes symbols such as night (depression) and the moon (hope). It’s written as a “terza rima,” which is a poem made up of tercets (three-line stanzas). Within those stanzas, the ending word of the second line sets up the rhyme of the first and third lines of the next stanza.

    I have been one acquainted with the night.
    I have walked out in rain—and back in rain.
    I have outwalked the furthest city light.

    I have looked down the saddest city lane.
    I have passed by the watchman on his beat
    And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

    I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
    When far away an interrupted cry
    Came over houses from another street,

    But not to call me back or say good-bye;
    And further still at an unearthly height,
    One luminary clock against the sky

    Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
    I have been one acquainted with the night

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  15. 33. On Another's Sorrow

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    This poem was published in Songs of Innocence in 1789. The innocence suggested within the poem is that sympathy alone can comfort and heal.

    Can I see another's woe,
    And not be in sorrow too?
    Can I see another's grief,
    And not seek for kind relief?

    Can I see a falling tear,
    And not feel my sorrow's share?
    Can a father see his child
    Weep, nor be with sorrow filled?

    Can a mother sit and hear
    An infant groan, an infant fear?
    No, no!  never can it be!
    Never, never can it be!
    And can He who smiles on all
    Hear the wren with sorrows small,
    Hear the small bird's grief and care,
    Hear the woes that infants bear --

    And not sit beside the next,
    Pouring pity in their breast,
    And not sit the cradle near,
    Weeping tear on infant's tear?

    And not sit both night and day,
    Wiping all our tears away?
    Oh no! never can it be!
    Never, never can it be!
    He doth give his joy to all:
    He becomes an infant small,
    He becomes a man of woe,
    He doth feel the sorrow too.

    Think not thou canst sigh a sigh,
    And thy Maker is not by:
    Think not thou canst weep a tear,
    And thy Maker is not near.

    Oh He gives to us his joy,
    That our grief He may destroy:
    Till our grief is fled an gone
    He doth sit by us and moan.

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  16. 34. Fire And Ice

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    A poem about the end of days, when the world will end by either fire or ice. "Fire and Ice" is one of Robert Frost's most popular poems. It was first published in 1920 in Harper's Magazine.

    Some say the world will end in fire,
    Some say in ice.
    From what I've tasted of desire
    I hold with those who favor fire.
    But if it had to perish twice,
    I think I know enough of hate
    To say that for destruction ice
    Is also great
    And would suffice.

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  17. 35. Miss Rosie

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    Lucille Clifton was an American poet who lived from 1936-2010. Many of her poems show a theme of having strength through adversity. In this poem, a passerby finds Miss Rosie along the street, and she hurls insult after insult at the homeless lady. But this old lady used to be the most beautiful lady in all of Georgia. The last line of the poem changes the tone that was used at the beginning.

    when I watch you
    wrapped up like garbage
    sitting, surrounded by the smell
    of too old potato peels
    or
    when I watch you
    in your old man's shoes
    with the little toe cut out
    sitting, waiting for your mind
    like next week's grocery
    I say
    when I watch you
    you wet brown bag of a woman
    who used to be the best looking gal in Georgia
    used to be called the Georgia Rose
    I stand up
    through your destruction
    I stand up

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  18. 36. The Lesson

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    In the poem "The Lesson" by Paul Laurence Dunbar, the speaker reflects on his own sadness and loneliness as he sits by his window, listening to the passionate song of a mockingbird in the cypress grove. The poet uses imagery to convey the deep emotions, describing his life as a "cold winter that knew no spring" and his mind as "weary and sick and wild." However, as he listens to the bird's song, a transformative thought enters his heart, inspiring him to use his own art to bring comfort to others. The poet employs metaphor, comparing the songs that emerge from the darkness of hearts to the joyous songs of the mockingbird in the cypress grove. Through his simple art of singing a lay, the speaker finds solace and realizes the power of comforting others to heal his own wounds

    My cot was down by a cypress grove,
    And I sat by my window the whole night long,
    And heard well up from the deep dark wood
    A mocking-bird's passionate song.

    And I thought of myself so sad and lone,
    And my life's cold winter that knew no spring;
    Of my mind so weary and sick and wild,
    Of my heart too sad to sing.

    But e'en as I listened the mock-bird's song,
    A thought stole into my saddened heart,
    And I said, "I can cheer some other soul
    By a carol's simple art."

    For oft from the darkness of hearts and lives
    Come songs that brim with joy and light,
    As out of the gloom of the cypress grove
    The mocking-bird sings at night.

    So I sang a lay for a brother's ear
    In a strain to soothe his bleeding heart,
    And he smiled at the sound of my voice and lyre,
    Though mine was a feeble art.

    But at his smile I smiled in turn,
    And into my soul there came a ray:
    In trying to soothe another's woes
    Mine own had passed away.

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  19. 37. An Irish Airman Foresees His Death

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    William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) was an Irish poet. This poem was written in 1918, near the end of World War I, and published the following year. In it, the speaker is coming to terms with the reality that he could die in the war. The speaker shares that the war will not make life better or worse. William Butler Yeats was highly involved in Ireland's politics, but the speaker of this poem did not fight in the war for political reasons. Instead, it was an “impulse of delight.” This poem does not have any stanza breaks, but it does follow the ABAB rhyme scheme.

    I know that I shall meet my fate
    Somewhere among the clouds above;
    Those that I fight I do not hate,
    Those that I guard I do not love;
    My country is Kiltartan Cross,
    My countrymen Kiltartan’s poor,
    No likely end could bring them loss
    Or leave them happier than before.
    Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
    Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,
    A lonely impulse of delight
    Drove to this tumult in the clouds;
    I balanced all, brought all to mind,
    The years to come seemed waste of breath,
    A waste of breath the years behind
    In balance with this life, this death.

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  20. 38. I Sit Beside The Fire And Think

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    The poem is from the perspective of an older person reflects on the past summers and autumns, while acknowledging the inevitability of winter and the unknown future. The poem uses repetition, to create a reflective and contemplative mood. The vivid imagery of nature serves to evoke a sense of nostalgia and emphasize the fleeting nature of life. Overall, the poem is about the passage of time and the transience of human existence.

    I sit beside the fire and think
    of all that I have seen
    of meadow-flowers and butterflies
    in summers that have been;

    Of yellow leaves and gossamer
    in autumns that there were,
    with morning mist and silver sun
    and wind upon my hair.

    I sit beside the fire and think
    of how the world will be
    when winter comes without a spring
    that I shall ever see.

    For still there are so many things
    that I have never seen:
    in every wood in every spring
    there is a different green.

    I sit beside the fire and think
    of people long ago
    and people who will see a world
    that I shall never know.

    But all the while I sit and think
    of times there were before,
    I listen for returning feet
    and voices at the door.

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21 - 38 of 38 Poems

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