Poems or fables about loss.
February 8, 2017 12:02 AM   Subscribe

I'm going through a breakup that has been devastating to me and has shattered me. I loved her like no one, and I have loved in the past numerous times. I thought she was the one. Then she left. Any poems or short stories that capture what I'm feeling? How she can throw me away so easily?
posted by heliosanthus to Grab Bag (12 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
The Sentence by Anna Akhmatova

And the stone word fell
On my still-living breast.
Never mind, I was ready.
I will manage somehow.

Today I have so much to do:
I must kill memory once and for all,
I must turn my soul to stone,
I must learn to live again—

Unless . . . Summer's ardent rustling
Is like a festival outside my window.
For a long time I've foreseen this
Brilliant day, deserted house.
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 1:00 AM on February 8, 2017 [7 favorites]

The book How to Survive the Loss of a Love is filled with poetry about loss and love as well as practical tips for surviving. Good luck to you.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 4:57 AM on February 8, 2017

Perhaps Elizabeth Bishop's One Art? It's not a consoling poem but it's a sharp and beautiful one on this theme.
posted by Aravis76 at 6:09 AM on February 8, 2017 [3 favorites]

Sorry you are going through this. I don't have a story or a poem, but this song might help you deal with some of the emotional devastation and loneliness you are likely feeling. I thought of it because it contains some wisdom that I wanted to pass along: "When the world falls apart, some things stay in place."

Please be nice to yourself. That thing you wanted to buy, but weren't sure about? Buy it. Take yourself out and show yourself a good time, as much as that is possible. Do that after you grieve, because you have to grieve first. I'd really recommend contacting any friends you have and asking them for support. That's what they are there for, and you will be more likely to return the favor if you do this.
posted by Mr. Fig at 6:44 AM on February 8, 2017

"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.

Bonus: Andrew Bird turned this into a wonderful song.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:55 AM on February 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

Not a poem (though its words read like one), but I also recommend I Loved You Better Than You Knew by The Carter Family.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:10 AM on February 8, 2017

Wild Geese
Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
posted by wemayfreeze at 7:29 AM on February 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

The Stone Crab: A Love Poem

Delicacy of warm Florida waters,
his body is undesirable. One giant claw
is his claim to fame, and we claim it,
more than once. Meat sweeter than lobster,
less dear than his life, when grown that claw
is lifted, broken off at the joint.
Mutilated, the crustacean is thrown back
into the water, back upon his resources.
One of nature’s rarities, he replaces
an entire appendage as you or I
grow a nail. (No one asks how he survives
that crabby sea with just one claw;
two-fisted menaces real as night-
mares, ten-tentacled nights cold
as fright.) In time he grows another,
large, meaty, magnificent as the first.
And one astonished, snap! it too
is twigged off, the cripple dropped
back into treachery. Unlike a twig,
it sprouts again. How many losses
can he endure? Well,
his shell is hard, the sea wide.
Something vital is broken off, he doesn’t
nurse the wound; develops something new.

(Robert Phillips)
posted by dlugoczaj at 7:35 AM on February 8, 2017 [3 favorites]

Woke Up New by The Mountain Goats.
posted by Ragged Richard at 7:42 AM on February 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

Failing and Flying by Jack Gilbert isn't the emotional place you are now, but where you will hopefully get.
posted by the primroses were over at 9:15 AM on February 8, 2017

I've always like Merle Shain's books for this.
posted by BoscosMom at 9:36 AM on February 8, 2017

The Uses of Sorrow
Mary Oliver

(In my sleep I dreamed this poem)

Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.

It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.

posted by superfluousm at 12:31 PM on February 8, 2017 [5 favorites]

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