51 Cathartic Poems About Guilt

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Here are my favorite poems about guilt categorized:

  • Poems about guilt and shame
  • Poems about guilt and regret
  • Poems about guilt and death

So if you want the best poems about guilt, then you’re in the right place.

Let’s get started!

51 Best Poems About Guilt (Categorized)
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Cathartic Poems About Guilt

Explore a carefully selected collection of the most powerful poems about guilt, thoughtfully categorized for your browsing pleasure.

Our selection features works that delve into the complex emotions of guilt and shame, as well as poems that explore the connection between guilt and death.

With our handpicked selection, you can find the best poems about guilt all in one convenient location.

Take a moment to explore these poignant works and the universal themes they address.

Keep reading!

My #1 Favorite Poem About Guilt

Beautiful woman in a ball gown

“Michael Robartes Asks Forgiveness Because of His Many Moods” by William Butler Yeats

If this importunate heart trouble your peace
With words lighter than air,
Or hopes that in mere hoping flicker and cease;
Crumple the rose in your hair;
And cover your lips with odorous twilight and say,
‘O Hearts of wind-blown flame!
‘O Winds, elder than changing of night and day,
‘That murmuring and longing came,
‘From marble cities loud with tabors of old
‘In dove-gray faery lands;
‘From battle banners fold upon purple fold,
‘Queens wrought with glimmering hands;
‘That saw young Niamh hover with love-lorn face
‘Above the wandering tide;
‘And lingered in the hidden desolate place,
‘Where the last Phoenix died
‘And wrapped the flames above his holy head;
‘And still murmur and long:
‘O Piteous Hearts, changing till change be dead
‘In a tumultuous song:’
And cover the pale blossoms of your breast
With your dim heavy hair,
And trouble with a sigh for all things longing for rest
The odorous twilight there.

Poems About Guilt and Shame

A woman sitting alone and depressed

“There Is a Shame of Nobleness” by Emily Dickinson

There is a shame of nobleness
Confronting sudden pelf,—
A finer shame of ecstasy
Convicted of itself.

A best disgrace a brave man feels,
Acknowledged of the brave,—
One more “Ye Blessed” to be told;
But this involves the grave.

“The Lover for Shamefastness Hideth His Desire Within His Faithful Heart” by Sir Thomas Wyatt

The long love that in my thought I harbour,
And in my heart doth keep his residence,
Into my face presseth with bold pretence,
And there campeth displaying his banner.
She that me learns to love and to suffer,
And wills that my trust, and lust’s negligence
Be reined by reason, shame, and reverence,
With his hardiness takes displeasure.
Wherewith love to the heart’s forest he fleeth,
Leaving his enterprise with pain and cry,
And there him hideth, and not appeareth.
What may I do, when my master feareth,
But in the field with him to live and die?
For good is the life, ending faithfully.

“Rest” by Henry Kendall

Sometimes we feel so spent for want of rest,
We have no thought beyond. I know to-day,
When tired of bitter lips and dull delay
With faithless words, I cast mine eyes upon
The shadows of a distant mountain-crest,
And said “That hill must hide within its breast
Some secret glen secluded from the sun.
Oh, mother Nature! would that I could run
Outside to thee; and, like a wearied guest,
Half blind with lamps, and sick of feasting, lay
An aching head on thee. Then down the streams
The moon might swim, and I should feel her grace,
While soft winds blew the sorrows from my face,
So quiet in the fellowship of dreams.”

A young couple in love in black coats walks in the countryside

“To Marguerite” by Ellis Parker Butler

So great my debt to thee, I know my life
Is all too short to pay the least I owe,
And though I live it all in that sweet strife,
Still shall I be insolvent when I go.
Bid, then, thy Bailiff Cupid come to me
And bind and lead me wheresoe’er thou art,
And let me live in sweet captivity
Within the debtor’s prison of thy heart.

“Sonnet 31” by Francesco Petrarca

He excuses himself for having so long delayed to visit her

So much I fear to encounter her bright eye.
Alway in which my death and Love reside,
That, as a child the rod, its glance I fly,
Though long the time has been since first I tried;
And ever since, so wearisome or high,
No place has been where strong will has not hied,
Her shunning, at whose sight my senses die,
And, cold as marble, I am laid aside:
Wherefore if I return to see you late,
Sure ’tis no fault, unworthy of excuse,
That from my death awhile I held aloof:
At all to turn to what men shun, their fate,
And from such fear my harass’d heart to loose,
Of its true faith are ample pledge and proof.

“Sins Loathed, and Yet Loved” by Robert Herrick

Shame checks our first attempts; but then ’tis prov’d
Sins first dislik’d are after that belov’d.

Woman holding chrysanthemum flowers near grey granite tombstone

“Rousseau” by Friedrich Schiller

Monument of our own age’s shame,
On thy country casting endless blame,
Rousseau’s grave, how dear thou art to me
Calm repose be to thy ashes blest!
In thy life thou vainly sought’st for rest,
But at length ’twas here obtained by thee!

When will ancient wounds be covered o’er?
Wise men died in heathen days of yore;
Now ’tis lighter yet they die again.
Socrates was killed by sophists vile,
Rousseau meets his death through Christians’ wile,
Rousseau who would fain make Christians men!

“Sonnet 62” by William Shakespeare

Sin of self-love possesseth all mine eye
And all my soul, and all my every part;
And for this sin there is no remedy,
It is so grounded inward in my heart.
Methinks no face so gracious is as mine,
No shape so true, no truth of such account;
And for myself mine own worth do define,
As I all other in all worths surmount.
But when my glass shows me myself indeed
Beated and chopp’d with tanned antiquity,
Mine own self-love quite contrary I read;
Self so self-loving were iniquity.
‘Tis thee, myself, that for myself I praise,
Painting my age with beauty of thy days.

“Oxford, May 30, 1820” by William Wordsworth

Shame on this faithless heart! that could allow
Such transport, though but for a moment’s space;
Not while, to aid the spirit of the place
The crescent moon clove with its glittering prow
The clouds, or night-bird sang from shady bough;
But in plain daylight: She, too, at my side,
Who, with her heart’s experience satisfied,
Maintains inviolate its slightest vow!
Sweet Fancy! other gifts must I receive;
Proofs of a higher sovereignty I claim;
Take from ‘her’ brow the withering flowers of eve,
And to that brow life’s morning wreath restore;
Let ‘her’ be comprehended in the frame
Of these illusions, or they please no more.

Silhouette of young woman which is looking at a sky in a sunset

“In Trouble and Shame” by D. H. Lawrence

I look at the swaling sunset
And wish I could go also
Through the red doors beyond the black-purple bar.

I wish that I could go
Through the red doors where I could put off
My shame like shoes in the porch,
My pain like garments,
And leave my flesh discarded lying
Like luggage of some departed traveller
Gone one knows not where.

Then I would turn round,
And seeing my cast-off body lying like lumber,
I would laugh with joy.

“Shame No Statist” by Robert Herrick

Shame is a bad attendant to a state:
He rents his crown that fears the people’s hate.

“In Vita” by Emma Lazarus

Sennuccio, I would have thee know the shame
That’s dealt to me, and what a life is mine.
Even as of yore, I struggle, burn and pine.
Laura transports me, I am still the same.
All meekness here, all pride she there became,
Now harsh, now kind, now cruel, now benign;
Here honor clothed her, there a grace divine;
Now gentle, now disdainful of my flame.
Here sweetly did she sing; there sat awhile;
There she turned back, she lingered in this spot.
Here with her splendid eyes my heart she clove.
She uttered there a word, and here did smile.
Here she changed color. Ah, in such fond thought,
Holds me by day and night, our master Love.

Woman looking out over the city

“Anarchy” by John McCrae

I saw a city filled with lust and shame,
Where men, like wolves, slunk through the grim half-light;
And sudden, in the midst of it, there came
One who spoke boldly for the cause of Right.

And speaking, fell before that brutish race
Like some poor wren that shrieking eagles tear,
While brute Dishonour, with her bloodless face
Stood by and smote his lips that moved in prayer.

“Speak not of God! In centuries that word
Hath not been uttered! Our own king are we.”
And God stretched forth his finger as He heard
And o’er it cast a thousand leagues of sea.

“Time Cures All” by Hilaire Belloc

It was my shame, and now it is my boast,
That I have loved you rather more than most.

“The Earth’s Shame” by Gilbert Keith Chesterton

Name not his deed: in shuddering and in haste
We dragged him darkly o’er the windy fell:
That night there was a gibbet in the waste,
And a new sin in hell.

Be his deed hid from commonwealths and kings,
By all men born be one true tale forgot;
But three things, braver than all earthly things,
Faced him and feared him not.

Above his head and sunken secret face
Nested the sparrow’s young and dropped not dead.
From the red blood and slime of that lost place
Grew daisies white, not red.

And from high heaven looking upon him,
Slowly upon the face of God did come
A smile the cherubim and seraphim
Hid all their faces from.

egyptian woman sits on sand desert praying to the sky

“Firdusi” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Oh world, with what baseness and guilt thou art rife!
Thou nurtures, trainest, and illest the while.

He only whom Allah doth bless with his smile
Is train’d and is nurtured with riches and life.

Poems About Guilt and Regret

Portrait of young beautiful woman in profile near misted window

“Sonnet 134” by William Shakespeare

So, now I have confess’d that he is thine,
And I my self am mortgag’d to thy will,
Myself I’ll forfeit, so that other mine
Thou wilt restore to be my comfort still:
But thou wilt not, nor he will not be free,
For thou art covetous, and he is kind;
He learn’d but surety-like to write for me,
Under that bond that him as fast doth bind.
The statute of thy beauty thou wilt take,
Thou usurer, that putt’st forth all to use,
And sue a friend came debtor for my sake;
So him I lose through my unkind abuse.
Him have I lost; thou hast both him and me:
He pays the whole, and yet am I not free.

“Wages” by Maurice Henry Hewlett

Sometimes the spirit that never leaves me quite
Taps at my heart when thou art in the way,
Saying, Now thy Queen cometh: therefore pray,
Lest she should see thee vile, and at the sight
Shiver and fly back piteous to the light
That wanes when she is absent. Then, as I may,
I wash my soil’d hands and muttering, say,
Lord, make me clean; robe Thou me in Thy white!

So for a brief space, clad in ecstasy,
Pure, disembodied, I fall to kiss thy feet,
And sense thy glory throbbing round about;
Whereafter, rising, I hold thee in a sweet
And gentle converse that lifts me up to be,
When thou art gone, strange to the gross world’s rout.

“Modern Love: 29” by George Meredith

Am I failing? For no longer can I cast
A glory round about this head of gold.
Glory she wears, but springing from the mould;
Not like the consecration of the Past!
Is my soul beggared? Something more than earth
I cry for still: I cannot be at peace
In having Love upon a mortal lease.
I cannot take the woman at her worth!
Where is the ancient wealth wherewith I clothed
Our human nakedness, and could endow
With spiritual splendour a white brow
That else had grinned at me the fact I loathed?
A kiss is but a kiss now! and no wave
Of a great flood that whirls me to the sea.
But, as you will! we’ll sit contentedly,
And eat our pot of honey on the grave.

Depressed Woman Feeling Sad Standing by the Window

“Louise Smith” by Edgar Lee Masters

Herbert broke our engagement of eight years
When Annabelle returned to the village
From the Seminary, ah me!
If I had let my love for him alone
It might have grown into a beautiful sorrow –
Who knows? – filling my life with healing fragrance.
But I tortured it, I poisoned it,
I blinded its eyes, and it became hatred –
Deadly ivy instead of clematis.
And my soul fell from its support,
Its tendrils tangled in decay.
Do not let the will play gardener to your soul
Unless you are sure
It is wiser than your soul’s nature.

“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.

I cannot see her, since the mist’s white scarf
Obscures the dark wood and the dull orange sky;
But she’s waiting, I know, impatient and cold, half
Sobs struggling into her frosty sigh.

Why does she come so promptly, when she must know
That she’s only the nearer to the inevitable farewell;
The hill is steep, on the snow my steps are slow –
Why does she come, when she knows what I have to tell?

“Sinners” by Robert Herrick

Sinners confounded are a twofold way,
Either as when, the learned schoolmen say,
Men’s sins destroyed are when they repent,
Or when, for sins, men suffer punishment.

Depressed young man sitting on floor in darkness

“Regret” by Olivia Ward Bush-Banks

I said a thoughtless word one day,
A loved one heard and went away;
I cried: “Forgive me, I was blind;
I would not wound or be unkind.”
I waited long, but all in vain,
To win my loved one back again.
Too late, alas! to weep and pray,
Death came; my loved one passed away.
Then, what a bitter fate was mine;
No language could my grief define;
Tears of deep regret could not unsay
The thoughtless word I spoke that day.

“Reconciliation” by William Butler Yeats

Some may have blamed you that you took away
The verses that could move them on the day
When, the ears being deafened, the sight of the eyes blind
With lightning you went from me, and I could find
Nothing to make a song about but kings,
Helmets, and swords, and half-forgotten things
That were like memories of you, but now
We’ll out, for the world lives as long ago;
And while we’re in our laughing, weeping fit,
Hurl helmets, crowns, and swords into the pit.
But, dear, cling close to me; since you were gone,
My barren thoughts have chilled me to the bone.

“A Little Boy’s Vain Regret” by Edith Matilda Thomas

He was six years old, just six that day,
And I saw he had something important to say
As he held in his hand a broken toy.
He looked in my face for an instant, and then
He said, with a sigh, and a downcast eye,
“If I could live my life over again,
I think I could be a better boy!”

Depressed young woman near window at home

“Silence” by D. H. Lawrence

Since I lost you I am silence-haunted,
Sounds wave their little wings
A moment, then in weariness settle
On the flood that soundless swings.

Whether the people in the street
Like pattering ripples go by,
Or whether the theatre sighs and sighs
With a loud, hoarse sigh:

Or the wind shakes a ravel of light
Over the dead-black river,
Or night’s last echoing
Makes the daybreak shiver:

I feel the silence waiting
To take them all up again
In its vast completeness, enfolding
The sound of men.

“Betrayal” by Walter De La Mare

She will not die, they say,
She will but put her beauty by
And hie away.

Oh, but her beauty gone, how lonely
Then will seem all reverie,
How black to me!

All things will sad be made
And every hope a memory,
All gladness dead.

Ghosts of the past will know
My weakest hour, and whisper to me,
And coldly go.

And hers in deep of sleep,
Clothed in its mortal beauty I shall see,
And, waking, weep.

Naught will my mind then find
In man’s false Heaven my peace to be:
All blind, and blind.

“Sonnet 113” by William Shakespeare

Since I left you, mine eye is in my mind;
And that which governs me to go about
Doth part his function and is partly blind,
Seems seeing, but effectually is out;
For it no form delivers to the heart
Of bird, of flower, or shape which it doth latch:
Of his quick objects hath the mind no part,
Nor his own vision holds what it doth catch;
For if it see the rud’st or gentlest sight,
The most sweet favour or deformed’st creature,
The mountain or the sea, the day or night:
The crow, or dove, it shapes them to your feature.
Incapable of more, replete with you,
My most true mind thus maketh mine untrue.

Young woman feeling depressed and stressed sitting in dark bedroom

“Before and After” by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Before I lost my love, he said to me:
‘Sweetheart, I like deep azure tints on you.’
But I, perverse as any girl will be
Who has too many lovers, wore not blue.

He said, ‘I love to see my lady’s hair
Coiled low like Clytie’s -with no wanton curl.’
But I, like any silly, wilful girl,
Said, ‘Donald likes it high,’ and wore it there.

He said, ‘I wish, love, when you sing to me,
You would sing sweet, sad things -they suit your voice.’
I tossed my head, and sung light strains of glee –
Saying, ‘This song, or that, is Harold’s choice.’

But now I wear no colour -none but blue.
Low in my neck I coil my silken hair.
He does not know it, but I strive to do
Whatever in his eyes would make me fair.

I sing no songs but those he loved the best.
(Ah! well, no wonder: for the mournful strain
Is but the echo of the voice of pain,
That sings so mournfully within my breast.)

I would not wear a ribbon or a curl
For Donald, if he died from my neglect –
Oh me! how many a vain and wilful girl
Learns true love’s worth, but -when her life is wrecked.

“Regret and Remorse” by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Regret with streaming eyes doth seem alway
A maiden widowed on her wedding day.

While dark Remorse, with eyes too sad for tears,
A crushed, desponding Magdalene appears.

One, with a hungering heart unsatisfied,
Mourns for imagined joys that were denied.

The other, pierced by recollected sin,
Broods o’er the scars of pleasures that have been.

“Regret and Remorse” by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Regret with streaming eyes doth seem alway
A maiden widowed on her wedding day.

While dark Remorse, with eyes too sad for tears,
A crushed, desponding Magdalene appears.

One, with a hungering heart unsatisfied,
Mourns for imagined joys that were denied.

The other, pierced by recollected sin,
Broods o’er the scars of pleasures that have been.

Silhouette of a women praying during sunset

“The Heart Healed and Changed by Mercy” by William Cowper

Sin enslaved me many years,
And led me bound and blind;
Till at length a thousand fears
Came swarming over my mind.

‘Where,’ I said, in deep distress,
‘Will these sinful pleasures end?
How shall I secure my peace,
And make the Lord my friend?’

Friends and ministers said much
The gospel to enforce;
But my blindness still was such,
I chose a legal course:
Much I fasted, watch’d, and strove,
Scarce would show my face abroad,
Fear’d almost to speak or move,
A stranger still to God.

Thus afraid to trust his grace,
Long time did I rebel;
Till, despairing of my case,
Down at his feet I fell:
Then my stubborn heart he broke,
And subdued me to his sway;
By a simple word he spoke,
‘Thy sins are done away.’

“I Watch, and Long Have Watched, With Calm Regret” by William Wordsworth

I watch, and long have watched, with calm regret
Yon slowly-sinking star, immortal Sire
(So might he seem) of all the glittering quire!
Blue ether still surrounds him, yet, and yet;
But now the horizon’s rocky parapet
Is reached, where, forfeiting his bright attire,
He burns, transmuted to a dusky fire,
Then pays submissively the appointed debt
To the flying moments, and is seen no more.
Angels and gods! We struggle with our fate,
While health, power, glory, from their height decline,
Depressed; and then extinguished; and our state,
In this, how different, lost Star, from thine,
That no to-morrow shall our beams restore!

“A Regret” by Charles Harpur

There’s a regret that from my bosom aye
Wrings forth a dirgy sweetness, like a rain
Of deathward love; that ever in my brain
Uttereth such tones as in some foregone way
Seem gathered from the harmonies that start
Into the dayspring, when some rarest view
Unveileth its Tempean grace anew
To meet the sun—the great world’s fervent heart.
’Tis that, though living in his tuneful day,
My boyhood might not see the gentle smile,
Nor hear the voice of Shelley; that away
His soul had journeyed, ere I might beguile
In my warm youth, by some fraternal lay,
One thought of his towards this my native isle.

sad beautiful blonde with flowers indoors

“She Loved Him” by George Pope Morris

She loved him–but she heeded not–
Her heart had only room for pride:
All other feelings were forgot,
When she became another’s bride.
As from a dream she then awoke,
To realize her lonely state,
And own it was the vow she broke
That made her drear and desolate!

She loved him–but the sland’rer came,
With words of hate that all believed;
A stain thus rested on his name–
But he was wronged and she deceived;
Ah! rash the act that gave her hand,
That drove her lover from her side–
Who hied him to a distant land,
Where, battling for a name, he died!

She loved him–and his memory now
Was treasured from the world apart:
The calm of thought was on her brow,
The seeds of death were in her heart.
For all the world that thing forlorn
I would not, could not be, and live–
That casket with its jewel gone,
A bride who has no heart to give!

“Memory” by William Browne

So shuts the marigold her leaves
At the departure of the sun;
So from the honeysuckle sheaves
The bee goes when the day is done;
So sits the turtle when she is but one,
And so all woe, as I since she is gone.

To some few birds kind Nature hath
Made all the summer as one day:
Which once enjoy’d, cold winter’s wrath
As night they sleeping pass away.
Those happy creatures are, that know not yet
The pain to be deprived or to forget.

I oft have heard men say there be
Some that with confidence profess
The helpful Art of Memory:
But could they teach Forgetfulness,
I’d learn; and try what further art could do
To make me love her and forget her too.

“Unfulfilled” by Corinne Roosevelt Robinson

I read the pain and pathos of your eyes,
The aftermath of anguish in your smile,
And yet I can but envy you the while!
Your heart has bled, an ardent sacrifice
To Love’s fulfillment. You have paid the price
Of keen, fierce living; nor can aught defile
The joys that once have been—they still beguile
The tear-swept memory that Time defies.

My soul’s adventure, pallid, incomplete,
Has lingered in the twilight, for my heart
Has dwelt aloof in some dim atmosphere
Betwixt the Earth and Heaven. My alien feet
Have known nor Pain nor its great counterpart.
I, who have never loved, may shed no tear.

Stressed young Asian woman suffering on depression

“Regret” by Richard Le Gallienne

One asked of regret,
And I made reply:
To have held the bird,
And let it fly;
To have seen the star
For a moment nigh,
And lost it
Through a slothful eye;
To have plucked the flower
And cast it by;
To have one only hope –
To die.

“Spirit of Sadness” by Richard Le Gallienne

She loved the Autumn, I the Spring,
Sad all the songs she loved to sing;
And in her face was strangely set
Some great inherited regret.

Some look in all things made her sigh,
Yea! sad to her the morning sky:
‘So sad! so sad its beauty seems’ –
I hear her say it still in dreams.

But when the day grew grey and old,
And rising stars shone strange and cold,
Then only in her face I saw
A mystic glee, a joyous awe.

Spirit of Sadness, in the spheres
Is there an end of mortal tears?
Or is there still in those great eyes
That look of lonely hills and skies?

“I Do Not Love Thee” by Caroline Elizabeth Sarah Norton

I do not love thee!—no! I do not love thee!
And yet when thou art absent I am sad;
And envy even the bright blue sky above thee,
Whose quiet stars may see thee and be glad.

I do not love thee!—yet, I know not why,
Whate’er thou dost seems still well done, to me:
And often in my solitude I sigh
That those I do love are not more like thee!

I do not love thee!—yet, when thou art gone,
I hate the sound (though those who speak be dear)
Which breaks the lingering echo of the tone
Thy voice of music leaves upon my ear.

I do not love thee!—yet thy speaking eyes,
With their deep, bright, and most expressive blue,
Between me and the midnight heaven arise,
Oftener than any eyes I ever knew.

I know I do not love thee! yet, alas!
Others will scarcely trust my candid heart;
And oft I catch them smiling as they pass,
Because they see me gazing where thou art.

beautiful girl in a white dress walks in the garden, sakura blooms

“Nothing Gold Can Stay” by Robert Frost

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Poems About Guilt and Death

little sad girl in front of grave

“Dora” by Thomas Edward Brown

She knelt upon her brother’s grave,
My little girl of six years old,
He used to be so good and brave,
The sweetest lamb of all our fold;
He used to shout, he used to sing,
Of all our tribe the little king,
And so unto the turf her ear she laid,
To hark if still in that dark place he play’d.
No sound! no sound!
Death’s silence was profound;
And horror crept
Into her aching heart, and Dora wept.
If this is as it ought to be,
My God, I leave it unto Thee.

“Sonnet 08” by Francesco Petrarca (Petrarch)

Since her calm angel face, long beauty’s fane,
My beggar’d soul by this brief parting throws
In darkest horrors and in deepest woes,
I seek by uttering to allay my pain.
Certes, just sorrow leads me to complain:
This she, who is its cause, and Love too shows;
No other remedy my poor heart knows
Against the troubles that in life obtain.
Death! thou hast snatch’d her hence with hand unkind,
And thou, glad Earth! that fair and kindly face
Now hidest from me in thy close embrace;
Why leave me here, disconsolate and blind,
Since she who of mine eyes the light has been,
Sweet, loving, bright, no more with me is seen?

“The Lover Laments the Death of His Love” by Sir Thomas Wyatt

The pillar perish’d is whereto I leant,
The strongest stay of mine unquiet mind;
The like of it no man again can find,
From east to west still seeking though he went,
To mine unhap. For hap away hath rent
Of all my joy the very bark and rind:
And I, alas, by chance am thus assign’d
Daily to mourn, till death do it relent.
But since that thus it is by destiny,
What can I more but have a woful heart;
My pen in plaint, my voice in careful cry,
My mind in woe, my body full of smart;
And I myself, myself always to hate,
Till dreadful death do ease by doleful state.

Closeup of womans hand on coffin

“Elegy” by D. H. Lawrence

Since I lost you, my darling, the sky has come near,
And I am of it, the small sharp stars are quite near,
The white moon going among them like a white bird among snow-berries,
And the sound of her gently rustling in heaven like a bird I hear.

And I am willing to come to you now, my dear,
As a pigeon lets itself off from a cathedral dome
To be lost in the haze of the sky, I would like to come,
And be lost out of sight with you, and be gone like foam.

For I am tired, my dear, and if I could lift my feet,
My tenacious feet from off the dome of the earth
To fall like a breath within the breathing wind
Where you are lost, what rest, my love, what rest.

“The Man He Killed” by Thomas Hardy

“Had he and I but met
By some old ancient inn,
We should have sat us down to wet
Right many a nipperkin!

“But ranged as infantry,
And staring face to face,
I shot at him as he at me,
And killed him in his place.

“I shot him dead because –
Because he was my foe,
Just so: my foe of course he was;
That’s clear enough; although

“He thought he’d ‘list, perhaps,
Off-hand like – just as I –
Was out of work – had sold his traps –
No other reason why.

“Yes; quaint and curious war is!
You shoot a fellow down
You’d treat if met where any bar is,
Or help to half-a-crown.”

“Sorrow” by D. H. Lawrence

Why does the thin grey strand
Floating up from the forgotten
Cigarette between my fingers,
Why does it trouble me?

Ah, you will understand;
When I carried my mother downstairs,
A few times only, at the beginning
Of her soft-foot malady,

I should find, for a reprimand
To my gaiety, a few long grey hairs
On the breast of my coat; and one by one
I let them float up the dark chimney.

Unhappy young woman near window indoors, space for text.

“The Maid’s Lament” by Walter Savage Landor

I loved him not; and yet now he is gone,
I feel I am alone.
I check’d him while he spoke; yet, could he speak,
Alas! I would not check.
For reasons not to love him once I sought,
And wearied all my thought
To vex myself and him; I now would give
My love, could he but live
Who lately lived for me, and when he found
‘Twas vain, in holy ground
He hid his face amid the shades of death.
I waste for him my breath
Who wasted his for me; but mine returns,
And this lorn bosom burns
With stifling heat, heaving it up in sleep,
And waking me to weep
Tears that had melted his soft heart: for years
Wept he as bitter tears.
‘Merciful God!’ such was his latest prayer,
‘These may she never share!’
Quieter is his breath, his breast more cold
Than daisies in the mould,
Where children spell, athwart the churchyard gate,
His name and life’s brief date.
Pray for him, gentle souls, whoe’er you be,
And, O, pray too for me!

“The Thrush Sings” by John Frederick Freeman

Singeth the Thrush, forgetting she is dead….
How could you, Thrush, forget that she is dead?
Or though forgetting, sing–and she is dead?
O hush,
Untimely, truant Thrush!

Singeth the Thrush, “I sing that she is dead!”
Thou thoughtless Thrush, she loved you who is dead,
Singeth the Thrush, “I sing her praise though dead.”
O hush,
Untimely, grievous Thrush!

Singeth the Thrush, “I sing your happy dead,
I sing her who is living, and no more dead,
I sing her joy–she is no longer dead.”
O hush,
Enough, thou heavenly Thrush!

“The Grave of Love” by Thomas Love Peacock

I dug, beneath the cypress shade,
What well might seem an elfin’s grave;
And every pledge in earth I laid,
That erst thy false affection gave.

I press’d them down the sod beneath;
I placed one mossy stone above;
And twined the rose’s fading wreath
Around the sepulchre of love.

Frail as thy love, the flowers were dead
Ere yet the evening sun was set:
But years shall see the cypress spread,
Immutable as my regret.