Lament poetry

Lament poetry is a building block for a poem that you will eventually write that has a hopeful ending.

Putting real words to feelings is often like mixing two things that don’t go together. We’re trying to use language to describe an emotional and spiritual reality that was meant to be felt and not intellectualized.  As a result, lament poetry is quite difficult to write at a high level. It can come across as a hammer-over-the-head. Elegance, a light touch and careful patience is hard to come by.

(Remember though, reconciliation is not a one-size-fits-all situation. The process depends on the level of empathy a person has as to what they need and when.)

Here are some exquisite examples of lament poetry curated by the writer Eric David who recently lost a beloved son.


Did you know Shakespeare lost a son?

This speech is from Shakespeare’s play King John Act 3 Scene 4

Grief fills the room up of my absent child,

Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me,

Puts on his pretty looks, repeats his words,

Remembers me of all his gracious parts,

Stuffs out his vacant garments with his form;

Then, have I reason to be fond of grief?

Fare you well: had you such a loss as I,

I could give better comfort than you do.

I will not keep this form upon my head,

When there is such disorder in my wit.

O Lord! my boy, my Arthur, my fair son!

My life, my joy, my food, my all the world!

My widow-comfort, and my sorrows’ cure!


Funeral Blues by W.H. Auden

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.