18 of the Most Famous Poems About Death

Old cemetary

Famous poems about death are both classical and modern as the subject of death has always been intriguing. As we struggle to come to terms with our own death and the death of our loved ones, we can turn to famous poems about death to find peace and possibly understanding.

Famous Poems About Death

Many of these poems are not always sad and melancholy. In fact, many are inspirational such as the Battle Hymn of the Republic by Julia Ward Howe published in 1860. Here is an excerpt from this famous poem, which was later made into a song:

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,

With a glory in his bosom that transfigures you and me:

As he died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,

While God is marching on.

Poems about Death

Many famous poems about death are not always intended to comfort someone going through grief of a loved one or even to be read at funerals. The following poems about death should be read to come to terms with death and dying and possibly make sense of the process.

The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe

The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe may be one of the first poems many people think of when thinking of poetry on the subject of death. Following is a small excerpt from The Raven:

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,

And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.

Eagerly I wished the morrow; - vainly I had sought to borrow

From my books surcease of sorrow - sorrow for the lost Lenore -

For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore -

Nameless here for evermore.

Spirits of the Dead-an excerpt by Edgar Allan Poe

Be silent in that solitude,

Which is not loneliness- for then

The spirits of the dead, who stood

In life before thee, are again

In death around thee, and their will

Shall overshadow thee; be still.

dying is fine)but Death

The following free verse poem by EE Cummings titled, dying is fine)but Death, is correctly reproduced as follows. The symbols and shortened words add to the mystique of dying. Interestingly, the poem was written years before text messaging and other modern methods of communication in which it is common to truncate words and use symbols. A small excerpt from EE Cummings poem:

dying is fine)but Death...

cause dying is

perfectly natural;perfectly


it mildly lively(but


is strictly


& artificial &

Death is a Fisherman-Excerpt by Benjamin Franklin

Death is a fisherman, the world we see

His fish-pond is, and we the fishes be;

Fifteen Men On The Dead Man's Chest by Robert Louse Stevenson in 1883-Small Excerpt

Fifteen men on the Dead Man's Chest

Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!

More Poems About Death

Following is a short list of famous poems about death.

For Whom The Bell Tolls also known by the title No Man is an Island, by John Donne

God Save the Flag by Oliver Wendell Holmes

In Flanders Fields by Dr. John McCrae

No Coward Soul Is Mine by Emily Bronte

Remembrance by Emily Bronte

Tears, Idle Tears by Alfred Lord Tennyson

The Man he Killed by Thomas Hardy

Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold

Death by William Butler Yeats

Border Balad by Sir Walter Scott

Death by Emily Bronte

Darkness by Lord Byron

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18 of the Most Famous Poems About Death