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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.

25 Poems About Breaking Up, Grief, and Heartbreak for Readers Who Aren't Excited About Valentine's Day

1. “After Love” by Sara Teasdale

Excerpt:

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

Excerpt:

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

Excerpt:

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

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6. “Stay With Me” by Bianca Phipps

7. “Heavy” by Mary Oliver

Excerpt:

That time
I thought I could not
go any closer to grief
without dying

I went closer,
and I did not die.
Surely God
had his hand in this,

8. A poem from The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace

https://www.instagram.com/p/BlYUE4RgzU5/

9. “What Lips My Lips Have Kissed, and Where, and Why” by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Excerpt:

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

Excerpt:

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

Excerpt:

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

Excerpt:

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
without goodbyes.

15. “For Women Who Are Difficult to Love” by Warsan Shire

16. “Mad Girl’s Love Song” by Sylvia Plath

Excerpt:

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

Excerpt:

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

Excerpt:

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

Excerpt:

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

Excerpt:

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

Excerpt:

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

Excerpt:

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.

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