April is National Poetry Month. So, we did some reading to uncover some of the most popular poems written about death and loss.
Here are two of the American women poets we discovered:
Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)
Critics say her poetry was influenced by seventeenth-century English metaphysical poets as well as her Puritan New England upbringing town. Unfortunately, she was not publicly recognized during her lifetime.
“If I Should Die”
If I should die,
And you should live,
And time should gurgle on,
And morn should beam,
And noon should burn,
As it has usual done;
If birds should build as early,
And bees as bustling go,–
One might depart at option
From enterprise below!
‘Tis sweet to know that stocks will stand
When we with daisies lie,
That commerce will continue,
And trades as briskly fly.
It make the parting tranquil
And keeps the soul serene,
That gentlemen so sprightly
Conduct the pleasing scene!
Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892 –1950)
She was both a poet and a playwright. Recipient of the Pultizer Prize for Poetry in 1923, she was the third woman ever to win this prestigious award. According to fellow poet Richard Wilbur “She wrote some of the best sonnets of the century.”
“And you as well must die”
And you as well must die, belovèd dust,
And all your beauty stand you in no stead;
This flawless, vital hand, this perfect head,
This body of flame and steel, before the gust
Of Death, or under his autumnal frost,
Shall be as any leaf, be no less dead
Than the first leaf that fell,this wonder fled,
Altered, estranged, disintegrated, lost.
Nor shall my love avail you in your hour.
In spite of all my love, you will arise
Upon that day and wander down the air
Obscurely as the unattended flower,
It mattering not how beautiful you were,
Or how belovèd above all else that dies.