Top 10 Best Poems About Sadness and Melancholy

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Poetry has ran the gamut of human emotions throughout its long history – but very few get the spotlight like sadness. So why do poets seem so set on exploring this most upsetting of emotions, and why are we as readers drawn to their expressions of grief, melancholy and hopelessness?

Why do we seek out stories of rejection and lost love? Why do we seem so bent on becoming embroiled in the dismay of others, or learning of the lethargic sadness that comes with depression – even when we seek out happiness and contentment in our own lives?

Perhaps it’s because poems about sadness let us know that we’re not alone at times when grief comes knocking at the door. Or perhaps it’s because they can serve as expressions of our own misery when we can’t articulate it ourselves. And then they provide catharsis, as they help to contextualise feelings of sadness as a natural part of human experience. In doing so, perhaps they can help us to move on.

In our collection below, you’ll find some of the best sadness poems ever written, exploring this complex emotion in its many different expressions. We hope that their words serve as a guide, helping you to navigate your own thoughts and feelings towards something more hopeful.

I Sit And Look Out

I SIT and look out upon all the sorrows of the world, and upon all
oppression and shame;
I hear secret convulsive sobs from young men, at anguish with
themselves, remorseful after deeds done;

Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman
31 May 1819 - 26 March 1892

Ode On Melancholy

No, no! go not to Lethe, neither twist
Wolf’s-bane, tight-rooted, for its poisonous wine;
Nor suffer thy pale forehead to be kissed
By nightshade, ruby grape of Proserpine;

John Keats

John Keats
31 October 1795 - 23 February 1821

I Measure Every Grief I Meet

I measure every Grief I meet
With narrow, probing, Eyes –
I wonder if It weighs like Mine –
Or has an Easier size.

Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson
10 December 1830 - 15 May 1886

After Auschwitz

as black as a hook,
overtakes me.
Each day,
each Nazi
took, at 8: 00 A.M., a baby
and sauteed him for breakfast
in his frying pan.

Anne Sexton

Anne Sexton
9 November 1928 - 4 October 1974

The Rainy Day

The day is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains,and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the mouldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
27 February 1807 - 24 March 1882

Who Am I?

My head knocks against the stars.
My feet are on the hilltops.
My finger-tips are in the valleys and shores of
universal life.

Carl Sandburg

Carl Sandburg
6 January 1878 - 22 July 1967

Sadness Poems
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