9 Famous Sad Love Poems for the Broken Hearted

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Love is a beautiful thing, but it can also break our hearts and make us cry. And while we all want to move on eventually, sometimes, the best thing we can do to nurse a broken heart is to wallow in our own sadness for a little while.

Personally, I think that one of the best ways to wallow is to read a little sad poetry about love. These kinds of poems remind us that heartbreak is just another part of being human, and most, if not all of us, go through it at some point in our lives. 

These kinds of poems also help us process our pain, even though it hurts, which is exactly what we need to do before we can piece ourselves back together, dust ourselves off, and start over again. 

With that in mind, I’ve put together this list of sad love poems from some of the greatest poets who ever lived. 

I’ve also included a bonus biography section of these iconic poets so you can learn about the people behind these haunting words.

So, grab the tissues, buckle up, and don’t forget, there’s plenty more fish in the sea. 

Famous Sad Love Poems

#1. Mad Girl’s Love Song by Sylvia Plath

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.

I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed
And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

God topples from the sky, hell’s fires fade:
Exit seraphim and Satan’s men:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I fancied you’d return the way you said,
But I grow old and I forget your name.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

I should have loved a thunderbird instead;
At least when spring comes they roar back again.
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

#2. I Shall Not Care by Sara Teasdale

I Shall Not Care by Sara Teasdale

When I am dead and over me bright April
Shakes out her rain-drenched hair,
Tho’ you should lean above me broken-hearted,
I shall not care.

I shall have peace, as leafy trees are peaceful
When rain bends down the bough,
And I shall be more silent and cold-hearted
Than you are now.

#3. Choice by Angela Morgan

Choice by Angela Morgan

I’d rather have the thought of you
To hold against my heart,
My spirit to be taught of you
With west winds blowing,
Than all the warm caresses
Of another love’s bestowing,
Or all the glories of the world
In which you had no part.

I’d rather have the theme of you
To thread my nights and days,
I’d rather have the dream of you
With faint stars glowing,
I’d rather have the want of you,
The rich, elusive taunt of you
Forever and forever and forever unconfessed
Than claim the alien comfort
Of any other’s breast.

O lover! O my lover,
That this should come to me!
I’d rather have the hope of you,
Ah, Love, I’d rather grope for you
Within the great abyss
Than claim another’s kiss-
Alone I’d rather go my way
Throughout eternity.

#4. Ebb by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Ebb by Edna St. Vincent Millay

I know what my heart is like
         Since your love died:
It is like a hollow ledge
Holding a little pool
         Left there by the tide,
         A little tepid pool,
Drying inward from the edge.

Tonight I Can Write The Saddest Lines by Pablo Neruda
Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
Write, for example, ‘The night is shattered
and the blue stars shiver in the distance.’
The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

Through nights like this one I held her in my arms
I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.

She loved me sometimes, and I loved her too.
How could one not have loved her great still eyes.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.

To hear the immense night, still more immense without her.
And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.

What does it matter that my love could not keep her.
The night is shattered and she is not with me.

This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance.
My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

My sight searches for her as though to go to her.
My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.

The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same.

I no longer love her, that’s certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.

Another’s. She will be another’s. Like my kisses before.
Her voice. Her bright body. Her infinite eyes.

I no longer love her, that’s certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.

Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms
my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
and these the last verses that I write for her.

Bonus Read: 10 Classic Raw and Powerful Poems About Depression

#5. Tonight I Can Write The Saddest Lines by Pablo Neruda

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
Write, for example, ‘The night is shattered
and the blue stars shiver in the distance.’
The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.
Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.
Through nights like this one I held her in my arms
I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.
She loved me sometimes, and I loved her too.
How could one not have loved her great still eyes.
Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.
To hear the immense night, still more immense without her.
And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.
What does it matter that my love could not keep her.
The night is shattered and she is not with me.
This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance.
My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.
My sight searches for her as though to go to her.
My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.
The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same.
I no longer love her, that’s certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.
Another’s. She will be another’s. Like my kisses before.
Her voice. Her bright body. Her infinite eyes.
I no longer love her, that’s certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.
Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms
my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.
Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
and these the last verses that I write for her.

#6. The Sick Rose by William Blake

The Sick Rose by William Blake

O Rose, thou art sick!

The invisible worm

That flies in the night,

In the howling storm,

Has found out thy bed

Of crimson joy:

And his dark secret love

Does thy life destroy.

#7. I Made A Mistake by Charles Bukowski

I reached up into the top of the closet

and took out a pair of blue panties

and showed them to her and

asked “are these yours?”

and she looked and said,

“no, those belong to a dog.”

she left after that and I haven’t seen

her since. she’s not at her place.

I keep going there, leaving notes stuck

into the door. I go back and the notes

are still there. I take the Maltese cross

cut it down from my car mirror, tie it

to her doorknob with a shoelace, leave

a book of poems.

when I go back the next night everything

is still there.

I keep searching the streets for that

blood-wine battleship she drives

with a weak battery, and the doors

hanging from broken hinges.

I drive around the streets

an inch away from weeping,

ashamed of my sentimentality and

possible love.

a confused old man driving in the rain

wondering where the good luck

went.

#8. I Cannot Live With You by Emily Dickinson

I Cannot Live With You by Emily Dickinson

I cannot live with You – 

It would be Life – 

And Life is over there – 

Behind the Shelf

The Sexton keeps the Key to – 

Putting up

Our Life – His Porcelain – 

Like a Cup – 

Discarded of the Housewife – 

Quaint – or Broke – 

A newer Sevres pleases – 

Old Ones crack – 

I could not die – with You – 

For One must wait

To shut the Other’s Gaze down – 

You – could not – 

And I – could I stand by

And see You – freeze – 

Without my Right of Frost – 

Death’s privilege?

Nor could I rise – with You – 

Because Your Face

Would put out Jesus’ – 

That New Grace

Glow plain – and foreign

On my homesick Eye – 

Except that You than He

Shone closer by – 

They’d judge Us – How – 

For You – served Heaven – You know,

Or sought to – 

I could not – 

Because You saturated Sight – 

And I had no more Eyes

For sordid excellence

As Paradise

And were You lost, I would be – 

Though My Name

Rang loudest

On the Heavenly fame – 

And were You – saved – 

And I – condemned to be

Where You were not – 

That self – were Hell to Me – 

So We must meet apart – 

You there – I – here – 

With just the Door ajar

That Oceans are – and Prayer – 

And that White Sustenance – 

Despair –

A Fallen Leaf by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

A trusting little leaf of green,

A bold audacious frost;

A rendezvous, a kiss or two,

And youth for ever lost.

Ah, me!

The bitter, bitter cost.

A flaunting patch of vivid red,

That quivers in the sun;

A windy gust, a grave of dust,

The little race is run.

Ah, me!

Were that the only one.

#9. A Fallen Leaf by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

A trusting little leaf of green,
A bold audacious frost;
A rendezvous, a kiss or two,
And youth for ever lost.
Ah, me!
The bitter, bitter cost.

A flaunting patch of vivid red,
That quivers in the sun;
A windy gust, a grave of dust,
The little race is run.
Ah, me!
Were that the only one.

Who Are the Poets Behind These Sad Love Poems?

Read on for a short biography of each of the iconic writers behind the heartbreaking poems above.

#1. Sylvia Plath, 1932 – 1963

Sylvia Plath

Despite being one of the most famous American poets and novelists of all time, Sylvia Plath led a troubled life. In 1956, she married fellow writer Ted Hughes, but their rocky relationship was marred by abuse, and he ultimately abandoned her.

All the while, she suffered from crippling clinical depression, and in 1963, at only 30 years of age, she tragically died by suicide.

#2. Sara Teasdale, 1884 – 1933

Sara Teasdale

Born in St Louis, Missouri, poet Sarah Teasdale was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for her celebrated collection entitled ‘Love Songs.’

Yet, like Sylvia Plath, Teasdale also battled with mental health issues, and she sadly took her own life in 1933.

But while many have speculated that her iconic poem, “I Shall Not Care,” was a suicide note, this is an urban myth, as Teasdale penned this work almost two decades before her death.

#3. Angela Morgan, 1875 – 1957

Angela Morgan

The daughter of Northern abolitionist and state senator Albert T. Morgan, Angela Morgan began her writing career as a journalist. Her years as a reporter inspired her subsequent poetry laced with social commentary, and her career blossomed.

She was the first woman to read at London’s Poetry Society at the Savoy Chapel, and she went on to spend many years living in Europe. But despite her success, she suffered from financial troubles which plagued her until she died in 1957.

#4. Edna St. Vincent Millay, 1892 – 1950

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Poet, playwright, and feminist Edna St. Vincent Millay began penning her works at a young age. She became a prominent social and political activist, living in New York City’s bohemian Greenwich Village, where she lived a famously uninhibited, hedonistic lifestyle.

In 1923, she became the first woman in history to win the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Later in her career, she went on to write several novels under the pen name Nancy Boyd and the acclaimed opera, The King’s Henchman.

#5. Pablo Neruda, 1904 – 1973

Pablo Neruda

Born Ricardo Eliécer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto, this Nobel Prize-winning Chilean poet is known more famously by his pen name Pablo Neruda.

He began his writing career at 13, and even at this young age, he already had a keen interest in history and politics. So much so that he became a prominent politician and diplomat, working across several nations during his lifetime.

His most notable position was as a senator for the Chilean Communist Party, but when communism was outlawed in 1948, his political affiliations forced him into exile from his homeland for more than three years.

He was later diagnosed with cancer, but the true nature of his death is shrouded in mystery, with many believing he was poisoned.

#6. William Blake, 1757 – 1827

William Blake

Born in London, this famous English poet and artist is one of the most influential figures in British history.

His paintings and poetry are classic examples of the Pre-Romantic and Romantic movement. Yet while critics revered his work, especially in his later years, many of his contemporaries regarded him as mad due to the mystical and esoteric themes found within his work.

Nonetheless, this iconic writer and artist is still celebrated to this day, with the BBC placing him at number 38 in a poll of the 100 Greatest Britons of all time.

#7. Charles Bukowski, 1920 – 1994

Charles Bukowski

This iconic German-American writer penned countless poems and short stories during his lifetime, as well as several novels.

Bukowski was heavily inspired by social issues faced by the impoverished communities in his home city of Los Angeles, and he published many of his poems and short stories in small independent literary magazines and newspapers.

Thanks to the nature of his work, he was often regarded as a subversive figure. So much so that the FBI even maintained a file on him after his controversial column in the underground newspaper Open City, Notes of a Dirty Old Man.

#8. Emily Dickinson, 1830 – 1886

Emily Dickinson

Now a world-famous figure in American poetry, Emily Dickenson never received the recognition she deserved during her lifetime.

Born in Massachusetts, she was considered a curious and eccentric figure in her hometown and lived a somewhat isolated life. She never married and had few friends, yet she spent countless hours writing alone in her room. As a result, she’s one of the most prolific poets of her day, producing over 1,800 poems, only 10 of which were published during her lifetime.

It was only after her death, when her younger sister Lavinia stumbled across her extensive hidden works, that the world finally recognized the full scale of her talent and poetic prowess.

#9. Ella Wheeler Wilcox, 1850 – 1919

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

This American poet and author published her first work during her teenage years, and from then onwards, she dedicated her life to writing.

She was an unconventional figure, and her work pushed the boundaries of acceptability in a time where women faced strict expectations about their roles and behaviour in society.

Wilcox also had a strong interest in spiritualism, and in later life, she based a series of columns on her beyond-the-grave connection with her deceased husband.

She published her autobiography, The Worlds and I, just one year before her death in 1919.

Also Read: 4 Books that Increase Awareness and Help Fight Depression

Conclusion

These sad love poems show just how painful heartbreak can be. But sometimes, the best way to heal a broken heart is to embrace the pain and have a good cry, and these poems can help you do just that. 

Just remember, romantic love isn’t everything, and when a relationship breaks down, we need our friends to help us pick up the pieces. So, if these sad love poems have left you feeling blue, why not put a smile back on your face with these 20 poems about friendship to brighten your day.

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