25 Poems About Breaking Up, Grief, and Heartbreak for Readers Who Aren’t Excited About Valentine’s Day
Since there have been love poems, there have been poems about breaking up, grief, and heartbreak. Seriously, just take a look at Homer or Virgil. Or how about like 60% of what Shakespeare wrote about? Valentine’s Day can be a super fun holiday whether you are in a relationship or not. But if you aren’t particularly feeling Cupid this year, go ahead and wallow in these sad love (and anti-love) poems.
1. “After Love” by Sara Teasdale
There is no magic any more,
We meet as other people do,
You work no miracle for me
Nor I for you.
2. “The Break Up Poem” by Rage Almighty
3. “Oxymoronic Love” by Jennifer Militello
Hatred is the new love. Rage is right. Touch
is touch. The collars of the coat, turned down,
point up. The corners of our hearts are smoothed
with rough. Our glass breaks slick, our teeth
rip soft. The mollusk of me, shell-less.
4. “The Fist” by Derek Walcott
This fist clenched round my heart
loosens a little, and I gasp
brightness; but it tightens
again. When have I ever not loved
the pain of love? But this has moved
5. “104” from The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur
6. “Stay With Me” by Bianca Phipps
7. “Heavy” by Mary Oliver
I thought I could not
go any closer to grief
I went closer,
and I did not die.
had his hand in this,
8. A poem from The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace
9. “What Lips My Lips Have Kissed, and Where, and Why” by Edna St. Vincent Millay
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.
10. “My Honest Poem” by Rudy Francisco
11. “Sonnet 139” by William Shakespeare
O, call not me to justify the wrong
That thy unkindness lays upon my heart;
Wound me not with thine eye but with thy tongue;
Use power with power, and slay me not by art.
12. “Prism” by Andrea Gibson
13. “Never Give ALl the Heart” by W.B. Yeats
Never give all the heart, for love
Will hardly seem worth thinking of
To passionate women if it seem
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.
14. “Movement Song” by Audre Lorde
I have studied the tight curls on the back of your neck
moving away from me
beyond anger or failure
your face in the evening schools of longing
through mornings of wish and ripen
we were always saying goodbye
in the blood in the bone over coffee
before dashing for elevators going
in opposite directions
15. “For Women Who Are Difficult to Love” by Warsan Shire
16. “Mad Girl’s Love Song” by Sylvia Plath
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.
17. “Local News: Woman Dies in Chimney” by Kristin Tracy
They broke up and she, either fed up or drunk or undone,
ached to get back inside. Officials surmise
she climbed a ladder to his roof, removed
the chimney cap and entered feet first. Long story short,
she died there. Stuck. Like a tragic Santa. Struggling
for days, the news explains. It was a smell that led
to the discovery of her body. One neighbor
speaks directly into the microphone, asks how a person
18. “The Breakup” by Kyla Jenee Lacey
19. “This Was Once a Love Poem” by Jane Hirshfield
This was once a love poem,
before its haunches thickened, its breath grew short,
before it found itself sitting,
perplexed and a little embarrassed,
on the fender of a parked car,
while many people passed by without turning their heads.
20. “Are All the Breakups in Your Poems Real?” by Aimee Nezhukumatathil
If by real you mean as real as a shark tooth stuck
in your heel, the wetness of a finished lollipop stick,
the surprise of a thumbtack in your purse—
then Yes, every last page is true, every nuance,
bit, and bite. Wait. I have made them up—all of them—
and when I say I am married, it means I married
all of them, a whole neighborhood of past loves.
21. “You Fit Into Me” by Margaret Atwood
You fit into me
like a hook into an eye
a fish hook
an open eye
22. Poem from Pillow Thoughts by Courtney Peppernell
23. “A Winter’s Tale” by D.H. Lawrence
Yesterday the fields were only grey with scattered snow,
And now the longest grass-leaves hardly emerge;
Yet her deep footsteps mark the snow, and go
On towards the pines at the hills’ white verge.
24. “Love Elegy in the Chinese Garden, with Koi” by Nathan McClain
Near the entrance, a patch of tall grass.
Near the tall grass, long-stemmed plants;
each bending an ear-shaped cone
to the pond’s surface. If you looked closely,
you could make out silvery koi
swishing toward the clouded pond’s edge
25. “I Wanted to Make Myself Like the Ravine” by Hannah Gamble
I wanted to make myself like the ravine
so that all good things
would flow into me.
Because the ravine is lowly,
it receives an abundance.