Poems About Heartbreak (For Comfort and Deep Consolation)

– Poems About Heartbreak –

When we are experiencing heartbreak, many of us turn to poetry because poetry offers the difficult vocabulary that is needed in those situations. 

Poems About Heartbreak

Poems About Heartbreak

We show here the top 10 poems on heartbreak from the fifteenth century to the present.

1. Sir Thomas Wyatt, ‘They Flee From Me’

This rhyme-royal poetry, which may be autobiographical and alludes to Wyatt’s friendship with Anne Boleyn, was penned.

Wyatt no longer attracts the ladies who used to seek him out for sexual encounters.

They flee from me that sometimes did me seek
With naked foot, stalking in my chamber.
I have seen them gentle, tame, and meek,
That now are wild and do not remember
That sometimes they put themselves in danger
To take bread at my hand; and now they range,
Busily seeking with a continual change.

Thanked be fortune it hath been otherwise
Twenty times better; but once in special,
In thin array after a pleasant guise,
When her loose gown from her shoulders did fall,
And she me caught in her arms long and small;
Therewithall sweetly did me kiss
And softly said, ‘Dear heart, how like you this?’

It was no dream: I lay broad waking.
But all is turned thorough my gentleness
Into a strange fashion of forsaking;
And I have leave to go of her goodness,
And she also, to use newfangleness.
But since that I so kindly am served
I would fain know what she hath deserved.

This poem is likely to resonate with anybody who previously enjoyed popularity but has fallen out of favor while experiencing the heartache of romantic rejection, which is even more amazing since they penned it over a half-millennium ago.

2. William Shakespeare, Sonnet 87

Poems About Heartbreak

Shakespeare wrote a sonnet about heartbreak that is arguably his best.

Shakespeare makes it plain that he thinks the Fair Youth is out of his league and doesn’t genuinely love the poet the way he loves him.

Farewell! thou art too dear for my possessing,

And like enough thou know’st thy estimate,

The charter of thy worth gives thee releasing;

My bonds in thee are all determinate.

For how do I hold thee but by thy granting?

And for that riches where is my deserving?

The cause of this fair gift in me is wanting,

And so my patent back again is swerving.

Thy self thou gavest, thy own worth then not knowing,

Or me to whom thou gav’st it else mistaking;

So thy great gift, upon misprision growing,

Comes home again, on better judgement making.

Thus have I had thee, as a dream doth flatter,

In sleep a king, but waking no such matter.

Although the poet and the Fair Youth seem to have been in some form of relationship with the younger man reciprocating the Bard’s emotions.

He cuts his losses because he expects experiencing heartbreak.


3. Alfred, Lord Tennyson, ‘Mariana’

The words in question are taken from Measure for Measure, in which “the dejected Mariana” lives “at the moated grange,” having been abandoned by Angelo, who promised to marry her but then broke his promise.

This early poem, published in 1830, is said to have “arose to the music of Shakespeare’s words” (according to Tennyson).

‘Mariana in the Moated Grange’
(Shakespeare, Measure for Measure)

With blackest moss the flower-plots
Were thickly crusted, one and all:
The rusted nails fell from the knots
That held the pear to the gable-wall.
The broken sheds look’d sad and strange:
Unlifted was the clinking latch;
Weeded and worn the ancient thatch
Upon the lonely moated grange.
She only said, ‘My life is dreary,
He cometh not,’ she said;
She said, ‘I am aweary, aweary,
I would that I were dead!’

Her tears fell with the dews at even;
Her tears fell ere the dews were dried;
She could not look on the sweet heaven,
Either at morn or eventide.
After the flitting of the bats,
When thickest dark did trance the sky,
She drew her casement-curtain by,
And glanced athwart the glooming flats.
She only said, ‘The night is dreary,
He cometh not,’ she said;
She said, ‘I am aweary, aweary,
I would that I were dead!’

Upon the middle of the night,
Waking she heard the night-fowl crow:
The cock sung out an hour ere light:
From the dark fen the oxen’s low
Came to her: without hope of change,
In sleep she seem’d to walk forlorn,
Till cold winds woke the gray-eyed morn
About the lonely moated grange.
She only said, ‘The day is dreary,
He cometh not,’ she said;
She said, ‘I am aweary, aweary,
I would that I were dead!’

About a stone-cast from the wall
A sluice with blacken’d waters slept,
And o’er it many, round and small,
The cluster’d marish-mosses crept.
Hard by a poplar shook alway,
All silver-green with gnarled bark:
For leagues no other tree did mark
The level waste, the rounding gray.
She only said, ‘My life is dreary,
He cometh not,’ she said;
She said ‘I am aweary, aweary
I would that I were dead!’

And ever when the moon was low,
And the shrill winds were up and away,
In the white curtain, to and fro,
She saw the gusty shadow sway.
But when the moon was very low
And wild winds bound within their cell,
The shadow of the poplar fell
Upon her bed, across her brow.
She only said, ‘The night is dreary,
He cometh not,’ she said;
She said ‘I am aweary, aweary,
I would that I were dead!’

All day within the dreamy house,
The doors upon their hinges creak’d;
The blue fly sung in the pane; the mouse
Behind the mouldering wainscot shriek’d,
Or from the crevice peer’d about.
Old faces glimmer’d thro’ the doors
Old footsteps trod the upper floors,
Old voices called her from without.
She only said, ‘My life is dreary,
He cometh not,’ she said;
She said, ‘I am aweary, aweary,
I would that I were dead!’

The sparrow’s chirrup on the roof,
The slow clock ticking, and the sound
Which to the wooing wind aloof
The poplar made, did all confound
Her sense; but most she loathed the hour
When the thick-moted sunbeam lay
Athwart the chambers, and the day
Was sloping toward his western bower.
Then said she, ‘I am very dreary,
He will not come,’ she said;
She wept, ‘I am aweary, aweary,
Oh God, that I were dead!’

The poem uses vivid and unforgettable imagery, such as the “mouse” that “shrieked beneath the mouldering wainscot” or the “blue fly” that “sang in the glass.”

Written while Tennyson was barely entering his twenties, it is possibly his first significant achievement as a poet.

He cometh not, and He will not come. A repeating repetition, emphasizes Mariana’s status as a victim of unrequited love.

4. Christina Rossetti, ‘A Pause for Thought’

This poem’s image of grief and unrequited love paints a gloomy beginning, but as it progresses, the speaker expresses optimism that perhaps the love would someday be reciprocated.

I looked for that which is not, nor can be,
And hope deferred made my heart sick in truth:
But years must pass before a hope of youth
Is resigned utterly.

I watched and waited with a steadfast will:
And though the object seemed to flee away
That I so longed for, ever day by day
I watched and waited still.

Sometimes I said: This thing shall be no more;
My expectation wearies and shall cease;
I will resign it now and be at peace:
Yet never gave it o’er.

Sometimes I said: It is an empty name
I long for; to a name why should I give
The peace of all the days I have to live?—
Yet gave it all the same.

Alas, thou foolish one! alike unfit
For healthy joy and salutary pain:
Thou knowest the chase useless, and again
Turnest to follow it.

Rossetti (1830–94) produced a large body of poetry, most of which dealt with various forms of sadness. One of her best explorations of this subject is this.

5. Emily Dickinson, ‘You Left Me, Sweet, Two Legacies’

Poems About Heartbreak

The two stanzas of this brief poem by the prolific Emily Dickinson (1830–1866) present two opposing perspectives on love: the lover leaves behind a “legacy of love” that would please God himself, but same lover also leaves behind a suffering that is so great it is as big as the sea.

You left me, sweet, two legacies –
A legacy of love
A Heavenly Father would content,
Had He the offer of;

You left me boundaries of pain
Capacious as the sea,
Between eternity and time,
Your consciousness and me.


6. A. E. Housman, ‘He Would not Stay for Me, and Who can Wonder?’

A. E. Housman (1859–1936), the laureate of the shattered heart, whose refusal to marry was because of his long-standing love for Moses Jackson, would have to be included on any list of heartache poetry.

He would not stay for me, and who can wonder?
He would not stay for me to stand and gaze.
I shook his hand, and tore my heart in sunder,
And went with half my life about my ways.

We could have included many Housman poems here, but we used this little, four-line poem, which is presented in its entirety above.

7. W. B. Yeats, ‘Never Give all the Heart’

Poems About Heartbreak

Yeats gives some advice to would-be lovers in this little poem, as its title makes clear: don’t rush into love or infatuation since your partner won’t appreciate it.

Never give all the heart, for love
Will hardly seem worth thinking of
To passionate women if it seems
Certain, and they never dream
That it fades out from kiss to kiss;
For everything that’s lovely is
But a brief, dreamy, kind delight.
O never give the heart outright,
For they, for all smooth lips can say,
Have given their hearts up to the play.
And who could play it well enough
If deaf and dumb and blind with love?
He that made this knows all the cost,
For he gave all his heart and lost.

The saying “He who made this understands all the cost, / For he gave all his heart and lost” is a good reminder to temper your passion.


8. Philip Larkin, ‘Home is So Sad’

This little poem explores the melancholy that comes with abandoned homes, which appear to be “bereft” and to wither because of the loss of their occupants.

Home is so sad. It stays as it was left,
Shaped to the comfort of the last to go
As if to win them back. Instead, bereft
Of anyone to please, it withers so,
Having no heart to put aside the theft

And turn again to what it started as,
A joyous shot at how things ought to be,
Long fallen wide. You can see how it was:
Look at the pictures and the cutlery.
The music in the piano stool. That vase.

While spending the holidays at his mother’s home in Loughborough, Philip Larkin wrote the poem on New Year’s Eve 1958.

While visiting his mother, they frequently moved Larkin to create some of his most poignant poems about home, and this is one of his most lucid works on the subject.

We hope you can pick from this list Do well to share this with and leave us a comment in the comment section.

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