Today is a day where all I want to do is grieve, and read poems about loss and death. Here are a few that I’ve kept close over the years, including two attempts by me.

Inarticulate Grief by Richard Aldington, 1892 - 1962

Let the sea beat its thin torn hands
In anguish against the shore,
Let it moan
Between headland and cliff;
Let the sea shriek out its agony
Across waste sands and marshes,
And clutch great ships,
Tearing them plate from steel plate
In reckless anger;
Let it break the white bulwarks
Of harbour and city;
Let it sob and scream and laugh
In a sharp fury,
With white salt tears
Wet on its writhen face;
Ah! let the sea still be mad
And crash in madness among the shaking rocks—
For the sea is the cry of our sorrow.

On my First Son by Ben Jonson 1572 - 1637

Farewell, thou child of my right hand, and joy;
My sin was too much hope of thee, lov’d boy.
Seven years tho’ wert lent to me, and I thee pay,
Exacted by thy fate, on the just day.
O, could I lose all father now! For why
Will man lament the state he should envy?
To have so soon ‘scap’d world’s and flesh’s rage,
And if no other misery, yet age?
Rest in soft peace, and, ask’d, say, “Here doth lie
Ben Jonson his best piece of poetry.”
For whose sake henceforth all his vows be such,
As what he loves may never like too much.

The Suicide by Edna St. Vincent Millay, 1892 - 1950

“Curse thee, Life, I will live with thee no more!
Thou hast mocked me, starved me, beat my body sore!
And all for a pledge that was not pledged by me,
I have kissed thy crust and eaten sparingly
That I might eat again, and met thy sneers
With deprecations, and thy blows with tears,—
Aye, from thy glutted lash, glad, crawled away,
As if spent passion were a holiday!
And now I go. Nor threat, nor easy vow
Of tardy kindness can avail thee now
With me, whence fear and faith alike are flown;
Lonely I came, and I depart alone,
And know not where nor unto whom I go;
But that thou canst not follow me I know.”

Dead by Winifred M. Letts, 1882 - 1972

In misty cerements they wrapped the word
My heart had feared so long: dead… dead… I heard
But marvelled they could think the thing was true
Because death cannot be for such as you.
So while they spoke kind words to suit my need
Of foolish idle things my heart took heed,
Your racquet and worn-out tennis shoe,
Your pipe upon the mantel,—then a bird
Upon the wind-tossed larch began to sing
And I remembered how one day in Spring
You found the wren’s nest in the wall and said
“Hush!… listen! I can hear them quarrelling…”
The tennis court is marked, the wrens are fled,
But you are dead, beloved, you are dead

Into the land of the living by Mohamed, 2021

For you
I swam through solid rock
Slept on a bed of air
And built you a house out of water
I walked a mile in the shoes of time
Dove into the depths of the ocean
And took Poseidon’s chariot for a spin

For you I slowed down light
Spun the Earth the other way
Moved the Moon a little closer
And brought the sky to my cheeks
I crushed a planet between my fingers
Took a sip of the glowing Sun
Travelled back in time
And swallowed a galaxy whole

I had tea with Adam and Eve
Took a photo of the Big Bang
Played catch with a dinosaur
And split the atom with my teeth

For you that I’ve done and more
Would you now do one thing for me —
Come back into the land of the living

You are flying high by Mohamed, 2021

Bring me back a token
From your trip to the mountains

Pack me a bag of martian soil
To remind me of you

Bring me a token
From your journeys beyond the planet

Take me a picture
Of the moons of Saturn
The rings of Jupiter
Bring me a taste of the Titan seas

A small keychain will do
From your trips around the Milky Way

Bring back a memory
At least
From your dive into the Sun
Your whirl inside a black hole

Your flesh turned into light
Out of reach, but not of sight

You as a human, a woman,
A particle
Traversing the skies, the galaxies,
Riding a cosmic wave

You, my dear, are flying high
And not lying in your grave.

Question by May Swenson, 1913 - 1989

Body my house
my horse my hound
what will I do
when you are fallen

Where will I sleep
How will I ride
What will I hunt

Where can I go
without my mount
all eager and quick
How will I know
in thicket ahead
is danger or treasure
when Body my good
bright dog is dead

How will it be
to lie in the sky
without roof or door
and wind for an eye

With cloud for shift
how will I hide?