Unrequited Love Poems:11 Poems That Express Pain And Despair

Unrequited Love Poems:11 Poems That Express Pain And Despair; Why do you and I need these unrequited love poems? There is nothing worse than unrequited love. You give your heart and soul to someone and they don’t even care. That hurts! These really good unrequited love poems speak of the pain, hurt and despair one feels when the feelings of love aren’t reciprocated.

Take A Look At Our 11 Unrequited Love Poems For The Week!

Unrequited Love Poems

1. I Dreamed That I Was Old

By Stanley Kunitz

I dreamed that I was old: in stale declension
Fallen from my prime, when company
Was mine, cat-nimbleness, and green invention,
Before time took my leafy hours away.

My wisdom, ripe with body’s ruin, found
Itself tart recompense for what was lost
In false exchange: since wisdom in the ground
Has no apocalypse or pentecost.

I wept for my youth, sweet passionate young thought,
And cozy women dead that by my side
Once lay: I wept with bitter longing, not
Remembering how in my youth I cried.

It is love that often gives us nightmares of spending days of our old age alone. It is the fear of not finding a soul mate that makes us wonder how we will get through our old age. Number 1 on our list of unrequited love poems here talks of a similar fear that poet experiences in his dream, the type that a lot of anti love quotes tend to embody also.

2. “Take, oh take those lips away”

By William Shakespeare
(from Measure for Measure)

Take, oh take those lips away,
That so sweetly were forsworn;
And those eyes, the break of day,
Lights that do mislead the morn:
But my kisses bring again, bring again;
Seals of love, but sealed in vain, sealed in vain.

This cruel choice of unrequited love poems talks about a lying lover who never returned love in its truest form. She says those lips and eyes which lied must be taken away. The poet asks for her kisses to be returned giving it a double meaning which shows that she wants to be kissed back but says that she doesn’t want to be.

[Read More: Missing You Love Poems]

3. The Dream

By John Donne

Dear love, for nothing less than thee
Would I have broke this happy dream;
It was a theme
For reason, much too strong for fantasy,
Therefore thou wak’d’st me wisely; yet
My dream thou brok’st not, but continued’st it.
Thou art so true that thoughts of thee suffice
To make dreams truths, and fables histories;
Enter these arms, for since thou thought’st it best,
Not to dream all my dream, let’s act the rest.

As lightning, or a taper’s light,
Thine eyes, and not thy noise wak’d me;
Yet I thought thee
(For thou lovest truth) an angel, at first sight;
But when I saw thou sawest my heart,
And knew’st my thoughts, beyond an angel’s art,
When thou knew’st what I dreamt, when thou knew’st when
Excess of joy would wake me, and cam’st then,
I must confess, it could not choose but be
Profane, to think thee any thing but thee.

Coming and staying show’d thee, thee,
But rising makes me doubt, that now
Thou art not thou.
That love is weak where fear’s as strong as he;
‘Tis not all spirit, pure and brave,
If mixture it of fear, shame, honour have;
Perchance as torches, which must ready be,
Men light and put out, so thou deal’st with me;
Thou cam’st to kindle, goest to come; then I
Will dream that hope again, but else would die.

The poet here is talking about the woman in his dreams. He says he wants the dream to become a reality with the woman being by his side. This poem is all about a man’s fantasies which he longs for to live in the real world. He imagines the woman as the perfect person to be by his side. Most unrequited love poems for him normally talk of ‘the woman in his dreams’; but one may also say that such ‘teenage’ fantasies can be solved with a good bit of teenage love advice.

4. The December Rose

By Edith Nesbit

Here’s a rose that blows for Chloe,
Fair as ever a rose in June was,
Now the garden’s silent, snowy,
Where the burning summer noon was.

In your garden’s summer glory
One poor corner, shelved and shady,
Told no rosy, radiant story,
Grew no rose to grace its lady.

What shuts sun out shuts out snow too;
From his nook your secret lover
Shows what slighted roses grow to
When the rose you chose is over.

Edith here beautifully captures the feeling of love using a rose as a metaphor for it. In this seasonal option of unrequited love poems, she talks of how love fades away and gardens that were once glorious in summer are now silent and snowy.

5. The Rival

By Thomas Hardy

I determined to find out whose it was –
The portrait he looked at so, and sighed;
Bitterly have I rued my meanness
And wept for it since he died!
I searched his desk when he was away,
And there was the likeness – yes, my own!
Taken when I was the season’s fairest,
And time-lines all unknown.
I smiled at my image, and put it back,
And he went on cherishing it, until
I was chafed that he loved not the me then living,
But that past woman still.
Well, such was my jealousy at last,
I destroyed that face of the former me;
Could you ever have dreamed the heart of woman
Would work so foolishly!

Some unrequited love poems are all about how love fades away and we only stay in love with the idea of who our lover once was; much like this one. The character in the poem realizes that her lover didn’t love her in the present but loved who she was in the past. Her jealousy destroys her love and her image in his life.

[Read More: Maya Angelou Love Poems]

6. Debt

By Sara Teasdale

What do I owe to you
Who loved me deep and long?
You never gave my spirit wings
Or gave my heart a song.
But oh, to him I loved,
Who loved me not at all,
I owe the open gate
That led through heaven’s wall.

Most unrequited love poems involve the ‘other’, who wins or loses, just like in real life. The poem here seems to be an indication to a love triangle where the leading lady is loved by a man whom she does not love at all. And the man she herself loves does not love her back. She questions what she owes the one she doesn’t love while making it clear that she owed the heaven’s gate to the one she loved.

7. The Silent Lover

By Sir Walter Raleigh

WRONG not, sweet empress of my heart,
The merit of true passion,
With thinking that he feels no smart,
That sues for no compassion.

Silence in love bewrays more woe
Than words, though ne’er so witty:
A beggar that is dumb, you know,
May challenge double pity.

Then wrong not, dearest to my heart,
My true, though secret passion;
He smarteth most that hides his smart,
And sues for no compassion.

The poet here talks of the secret lover who keeps his passion in his heart. He compares it to a person who is smart. He says smartest is he who hides his smartness. Therefore, passionate is he who keeps his passion within his heart. As far as unrequited love poems go, this one is a very one sided example.

8. The Heart of Stone

By John Harrington

Whence comes my love? O heart, disclose!
It was from cheeks that shame the rose,
From lips that spoil the ruby’s praise,
From eyes that mock the diamond’s blaze:
Whence comes my woe? as freely own;
Ah me! ’twas from a heart like stone.

The blushing cheek speaks modest mind,
The lips befitting words most kind,
The eye does tempt to love’s desire,
And seems to say, “‘Tis Cupid’s fire;”
Yet all so fair but speak my moan,
Since nought doth say the heart of stone.

Why thus, my love, so kind bespeak
Sweet eye, sweet lip, sweet blushing cheek,
Yet not a heart to save my pain?
O Venus, take thy gifts again!
Make not so fair to cause our moan,
Or make a heart that’s like your own.

This poem seems to speak of being with one who loves you terribly but there’s no one to understand your sorrows. As is another common incidence with unrequited love poems, the poet speaks of Cupid’s fire but also mentions his own pain that shows the plight of being in a one-sided love affair.

[Read More: Walt Whitman Love Poems]

9. Song At Capri

By Sara Teasdale

When beauty grows too great to bear
How shall I ease me of its ache,
For beauty more than bitterness
Makes the heart break.

Now while I watch the dreaming sea
With isles like flowers against her breast,
Only one voice in all the world
Could give me rest.

Sara Teasdale here speaks of the heartbreak that brings sorrow and silence. She says it is beauty that hurts more than bitterness and when she sees the dreaming sea she feels there’s only one voice of her lover that could give her peace. Unrequited love poems poignantly express all that could never be, but would have been the poet’s own version of ‘perfect’.

10. In Her Precincts

By Thomas Hardy

Her house looked cold from the foggy lea,
And the square of each window a dull black blur
Where showed no stir:
Yes, her gloom within at the lack of me
Seemed matching mine at the lack of her.
The black squares grew to be squares of light
As the eyeshade swathed the house and lawn,
And viols gave tone;
There was glee within. And I found that night
The gloom of severance mine alone.

This poem speaks another situation of a lot of sweeter unrequited love poems, of the time when two hearts could not meet and all they see is coldness all around. He talks about the vibe that the two feel for each other and how gloom takes over.

11. Never give all the heart

By W. B. Yeats

Never give all the heart, for love
Will hardly seem worth thinking of
To passionate women if it seem
Certain, and they never dream
That it fades out from kiss to kiss;
For everything that’s lovely is
But a brief, dreamy, kind delight.
O never give the heart outright,
For they, for all smooth lips can say,
Have given their hearts up to the play.
And who could play it well enough
If deaf and dumb and blind with love?
He that made this knows all the cost,
For he gave all his heart and lost.

The poet here talks of the short-lived love affair that fades away with time and everything is dreamy and kind but only for a brief moment. He says never give all your heart as the one who does ultimately loses in the end.

[Read More: Sorry Love Poems]

Love isn’t necessarily always felt both ways. It isn’t necessary that one may always get what they want. Many in the world go through the pain of unrequited love. But I feel it is this love that makes one stronger in dealing with and accepting things that were not in our control. What do you think?

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