The best sad love poems speak of unrequited love, love that is returned yet forbidden by society, and love that has been found and then lost again, often through death. Some of the greatest poets of all time have experienced the emptiness that inspires the best sad love poems, and their words continue to comfort others who are going through similar troubles. Read the lines to find comfort or just to be moved by their eloquence, living-and loving-vicariously through another’s words.
1. Emily Dickinson’s “I Cannot Live with You”
In this poem, the author illustrates the concept of love “so close, yet so far away.” Though readers can only speculate about Dickinson’s love in this poem, anyone experiencing forbidden love may be able to empathize and take comfort in her words.
2. Edgar Allan Poe’s “Annabel Lee”
This is one of the best sad love poems, and one of the most famous as well. The author loved Annabel Lee since childhood, until, “wind came out of the cloud by night, chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.” He never stops thinking about her; nothing can “dissever [his] soul from the soul of the beautiful Annabel Lee.” It’s an intense read about love that was found and then lost, though it had time to grow into something stronger than anything on earth, in heaven, or in hell.
3. Pablo Neruda’s “Matilde Urrutia, I’m Leaving You Here”
Matilde Urrutia was Pablo Neruda’s wife. He died years before she did, and this poem speaks of how he sees her, “You have an earth heart but your hands are from heaven,” and how he regrettably leaves her behind. He says, “My love is a child crying, reluctant to leave your arms.” He knew he had to tell her goodbye, as he was terminally ill with cancer. The poem allows the reader to experience their love and the agony of separation.
4. Robert Frost’s “Wind and Window Flower”
Many readers may have experienced unrequited love and can dive into this poem with complete understanding. The wind, or the man, feels as if there is one thing (person) he can love. He comes by time and time again to try to win her favor. She never reciprocates completely. He eventually gives up and moves on to be found, “a hundred miles away.”
5. Emily Dickinson’s “You Left Me”
This is a short poem, but it gets the message across. Her lover showed her depths of emotion-love when he was there and exquisite pain when he went away and left her behind.
6. Sir Walter Raleigh’s “A Farewell to False Love”
This is one of the top sad love poems because it’s not just sad, it’s angry. What could be sadder than betrayal that persuades the author to adopt contempt for love as a whole? This is one of the best poems for someone going through a breakup where they feel as if their lover’s feelings were never true, that they were just pretending to care all along.