5 great poems that talk about loss and death explained

Art is a flexible and great medium that can help us process our feelings of loss. Loss is different from grief in that loss is the act of being separated or losing a loved one while grief is the emotion that many feel after the loss. Many writers have used their talents to show us what those emotions look like to them and capture them in their ways. In this article, from Bereavement Poems & Articles, we share some of our favourite profound poems and talk about the authors who wrote them.

Nothing Gold Can Stay by Robert Frost

Robert Frost is an acclaimed American poet born in 1874. He won a Pulitzer Prize in Poetry in 1924 for his collection of poems in New Hampshire. One of his poems titled ‘Nothing Gold Can Stay’ talks about the fleeting nature of leaves in the lives of people. 

The poem is quite short but makes sure that every word is meaningful and has depth. In this poem, he shows the transition of the leaf as a vibrant and golden thing that becomes ordinary and, loses its lustre as the day sets much like how the total life of a person looks from afar.

Because I Could Not Stop For Death by Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson is an American poet who lived from 1830 to 1886. She was raised in a middle to upper-class family where she kept mostly to herself. Throughout her lifetime, she made about 1,800 poems but only a few were published. Her poems are known for having a deep and mysterious internal voice.

In the poem ‘Because I Could Not Stop For Death’ she writes about death as her travelling companion who was constantly with her. The poem also finds death has a personality in that he is patient and kind, always waiting for the poem’s speaker. The setting of the poem passes many places from schools to plains, and to a house.

Morning in the Burned House by Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood is a beloved Canadian poet who was born in 1939 and has received many awards throughout her writing career like the Arthur Clarke Award, National Book Critics Award, and PEN Center USA Lifetime Achievement Award among many others. She is best known for her books like The Handmaid’s Tale and Cat’s Eye.

‘Morning in the Burned House’ is written simply, is descriptive, and makes use of wordplay throughout the poem. 

Nostalgia plays an important role in the poem because the speaker remembers the past and dwells on it as opposed to choosing to live in the present while staying in a burned house. Loneliness is also present in the poem as the speaker talks about the emptiness of the house. Another strong theme is a loss because of how the writer mentions that there ‘is no house and no breakfast’ which breaks the perception of readers of the same house mentioned earlier.

Facing It by Yusef Komunyakaa

Yusef Komunyakaa is a poet who was born in Louisiana in 1947. Many of his poems speak about Southern culture, his upbringing, and his experience as an African American. Much of his poems are also influenced by jazz, blue, his experience as a soldier in Vietnam, and racism. 

In the poem ‘Facing It’s the speaker talks about his anger and frustration about the loss when it comes to the war in Vietnam. There are many attempts throughout the poem that describe the speaker’s loss and difficulty in keeping their emotions intact while also acknowledging that they’re just human and that they must reflect on their feelings towards the dire situation. 

The wording of the poem is simple to understand and takes the reader on a journey of emotions from start to finish. There are also many times throughout the poem where the aftermath of the Vietnam war is plain to see like in the section with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the names on it.

The Dying Child by John Clare

John Clare is an English poet who lived from 1793 to 1864. His poems talk about nature, his rural life, reflections on his childhood, and his wife. Many classify him as a romanticist because of his choice of words and style of writing.

His poem ‘The Dying Child’ has themes of nature as it changes seasons from Spring and then Winter as the child passes away. The child in the poem goes through the seasons and wonders curiously about the environment per season. Spring shows the child frolicking and playing with daisies and grass while Winter brings him calm and free death.

Bereavement Poems & Articles can help comfort you in times of need

How we choose to express our pain is highly personal, can affect us deeply, and helps us go through the motions of grieving. In reading these types of poems, we find how other people experience and deal with loss. It also reminds everyone that life is fleeting and that loss is a part of everyone’s life. If you’re looking for more ways to express your pain, check out our articles on poems about grief and songs for a grieving heart.

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