How can you mend a broken heart?
Perhaps poems about heartbreak aren’t the first things that come to mind, but surprisingly, they can help.
If you’ve had your heart torn apart by love (and who hasn’t?), reading heartbreak poems can validate your pain in a way that booze and binge-watching just can’t touch.
The eloquent wordsmithery of these poets remind you that the pain of lost love is universal.
It hurts beyond measure for a while, maybe a long while.
But like all wounds, a broken heart will heal over time.
19 Heartbreak Poems to Soothe Your Pain
Still enduring the despair of having your heart smashed into a million pieces? We understand.
Nothing is so exquisitely painful as the end of a love affair. Go on and wallow in your grief for a while – it’s expected. You’ll know the day when you’re ready to move on.
But for now, read through our collection of lost love poems to validate your anguish – or perhaps to take the first step toward healing.
1. 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.
2. He Would Not Stay for Me, by A.E. Housman
He would not stay for me, and who can wonder?
He would not stay for me to stand and gaze.
I shook his hand, and tore my heart in sunder,
And went with half my life about my ways.
3. 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
where a boy tugs at his mother’s shirt for a quarter.
To buy fish feed. And watching that boy,
as he knelt down to let the koi kiss his palms,
I missed what it was to be so dumb
as those koi. I like to think they’re pure,
that that’s why even after the boy’s palms were empty,
after he had nothing else to give, they still kissed
his hands. Because who hasn’t done that—
loved so intently even after everything
has gone? Loved something that has washed
its hands of you? I like to think I’m different now,
that I’m enlightened somehow,
but who am I kidding? I know I’m like those koi,
still, with their popping mouths, that would kiss
those hands again if given the chance. So dumb.
4. A Reason to Be Angry, by Andrea “Vocab” Anderson
I made mosaics
laid my heart’s tiles on display.
Now, you walk on them.
5. 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.
You were the wind and I the sea –
There is no splendor any more,
I have grown listless as the pool
Beside the shore.
But though the pool is safe from storm
And from the tide has found surcease,
It grows more bitter than the sea,
For all its peace.
6. 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.
O never give the heart outright,
For they, for all smooth lips can say,
Have given their hearts up to the play.
And who could play it well enough
If deaf and dumb and blind with love?
He that made this knows all the cost,
For he gave all his heart and lost.
7. 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.
It remembers itself dressing as if for a great engagement.
It remembers choosing these shoes,
this scarf or tie.
Once, it drank beer for breakfast,
drifted its feet
in a river side by side with the feet of another.
Once it pretended shyness, then grew truly shy,
dropping its head so the hair would fall forward,
so the eyes would not be seen.
It spoke with passion of history, of art.
It was lovely then, this poem.
8. I Tried to Stop Loving You, by Courtney Peppernell, Pillow Talks
I tried to stop loving you
so I built walls around my heart
and found other names
to whisper in the night.
But you carved yourself into my veins
whether you meant to or not.
And sometimes I wonder
if you remember the way we looked at each other
or maybe you just forgot.
9. 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?
10. Walking Away, by Vanessa Brown
I’m tired of dreaming.
I’m through with trying.
Tired of living, yet scared of dying.
Maybe things are good for you,
but look at all that I’ve been through.
Look at all the pain I’ve won.
I bet you think that it’s been fun.
You never thought I’d turn away.
You never believed you’d see this day.
Look again because here I go,
leaving behind all I know.
Changing it all as I must do.
Not daring to stop and think things through.
Wanting to run as fast as I can,
not stopping until I understand.
Like why did I let things get this way?
Why didn’t I leave yesterday?
How are things going to be
since there is no more you and me?
11. I Lost It, by Carrie Berry
You took my fears away
And made them true.
You took my love away
And ripped my heart out, too.
You took my laughter away,
And my happiness, too,
And let all my sadness
And tears get through.
The rest of me that was left
Also left with you.
I lost myself
When I lost you.
12. Drowning, by Madison A. Wakfield
I look around at everyone going past and suddenly I can’t breathe.
It looks so easy for them,
Going about and laughing,
Having the time of their lives.
Why is it so easy for them?
Then I think of you.
I think about our times spent.
I remember walking together,
I remember nights together,
I remember movies together,
I remember how it all started.
But then I think of you.
I begin to wonder,
Am I really drowning?
Not when I have you.
Then I realize,
I’m losing you,
And these pleasant memories?
They turn to bitter reminders of once was.
Maybe I am drowning.
Because without you,
I can’t breathe.
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13. Feeling Out Of Touch, Maybe I Feel Too Much, by Kaileigh Rabidoux
Hard to breathe
Weird to touch
Think too much
To figure out
Engulfed in doubt
Don’t look back
Too much pain
And in fact
Nothing to gain
Filled with knots
A penny for my thoughts
I deserved a dime
Who’s to say what’s true
I never said I was right
Guess I never knew
It’s not worth the fight
Thinking about before
Don’t know who I was
Could have closed the door
And never been an “us”
Said you would stay
Promised you could
Chose to walk away
I knew you would
Everything was fine
Said we’d never part
Knew it was a line
But gave you my heart
I’ll take the blame
I’ve always known
I played your game
You lost alone
I know you know
There’s more to give
You were a stepping stone
I have a life to live
Hard to love
Weird to trust
Think it was lust
14. Wait, by Galway Kinnell
Wait, for now.
Distrust everything if you have to.
But trust the hours. Haven’t they
carried you everywhere, up to now?
Personal events will become interesting again.
Hair will become interesting.
Pain will become interesting.
Buds that open out of season will become interesting.
Second-hand gloves will become lovely again;
their memories are what give them
the need for other hands. The desolation
of lovers is the same: that enormous emptiness
carved out of such tiny beings as we are
asks to be filled; the need
for the new love is faithfulness to the old.
Don’t go too early.
You’re tired. But everyone’s tired.
But no one is tired enough.
Only wait a little and listen:
music of hair,
music of pain,
music of looms weaving our loves again.
Be there to hear it, it will be the only time,
most of all to hear your whole existence,
rehearsed by the sorrows, play itself into total exhaustion.
15. Are You Going to Stay, by Thomas Meyer
What was it I was going to say?
Slipped away probably because
it needn’t be said. At that edge
almost not knowing but second
guessing the gain, loss, or effect
of an otherwise hesitant remark.
Slant of light on a brass box. The way
a passing thought knots the heart.
There’s nothing, nothing to say.
16. The Fist, by Derek Walcott
The 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
past love to mania. This has the strong
clench of the madman, this is
gripping the ledge of unreason, before
plunging howling into the abyss.
Hold hard then, heart. This way at least you live.
17. They Part, by Dorothy Parker
And if, my friend, you’d have it end,
There’s naught to hear or tell.
But need you try to black my eye
In wishing me farewell?
Though I admit an edgèd wit
In woe is warranted,
May I be frank? . . . Such words as “——”
Are better left unsaid.
There’s rosemary for you and me;
But is it usual, dear,
To hire a man, and fill a van
By way of souvenir?
18. Having a Fight with You, by Patrick Phillips
is like being burned up
in a twelfth-floor elevator.
Or drowned in a flipped SUV.
It’s like waking with scalpels
arrayed on my chest.
Like being banished to 1983.
Having a fight with you
is never, ever less horrid: that whisper
that says you never loved me—
my heart a stalled engine
out the little square window.
Your eyes a white-capped black sea.
19. A Broken Heart, by Rumi
I said I shall tell
the tale of my heart
as best as I can;
in the storm of my tears,
with a bleeding heart,
I failed to do that!
I tried to relate to event
in broken, muted words;
The cup of my thoughts
was so fragile,
that I fell into pieces
like shattered glass.
Many ships were wrecked
in this storm;
What is my little helpless boat
The waves destroyed my ship,
neither good remained nor bad;
Free from myself,
I tied my body to a raft.
Now, I am neither up nor down –
no this is not a fair description;
I am up on a wave one instant,
and down under another the next.
I am not aware of my existence,
I know only this:
When I am, I am not,
and when I am not, I am!
Did you find yourself in any of these emotional deep broken heart poems? At the very least, you’ll recognize you aren’t alone in your suffering. And you likely already know that the only way to mend a broken heart is with time.
Even so, we hope these heartache poems have soothed your soul just a bit and provided a life rope to get you through the day.