Poems About Losing a Son


Poems about grieving the death of a son can help express a range of emotions and bring comfort during this sad time. When reading such poems aloud readers must take their time reading slowly and attentively to detect any cliched phrases that may detract from their meaning.

Examine images and motifs scattered throughout the poem to ascertain their meaning. Be mindful of its progress – its stanza structure or use of figurative language may reveal clues as well.

Margaret Atwood’s “Death of a Young Son by Drowning”

Margaret Atwood wrote this haunting poem in 1970 as part of The Journals of Susanna Moodie’s collection of poetry. Atwood used earthy language and imagery throughout to capture a sense of trauma and loss – something all readers can identify with and grasp when mourning a child’s loss.

The first stanza details how Atwood’s son fell onto a riverbank and was carried away by its currents, leaving behind swirling ice and trees in its path. She compares his head to that of a bathysphere (used by deep sea explorers to explore ocean depths), before reflecting upon how his lifeless body was recovered “like a heart”, still shocked from hearing such news.

Atwood further explores motherhood in her second stanza. She describes how her son was an adventurous spirit who liked exploring new places at his own risk, yet Atwood worried it might lead to potentially hazardous situations. Finally, Atwood concludes that his death served as an impactful turning point in her own life and altered her plans significantly.

The third stanza of Atwood’s poem details her son’s sudden and shocking death by drowning. She describes how his body was found floating facedown in a river, like an open heart; retrieval efforts then took place using poles and hooks before Atwood finally spoke about how shocked she felt by this turn of events.

Even though Atwood wrote his poem free verse, its rhythm can still be detected thanks to various types of similes used to compare two, unlike things by using “like” and “as.” For instance, Atwood used the phrases “heart-shaped” in line three and “regions” inline four as similes to link disparate objects together.

Atwood’s poem is powerful because it illustrates how quickly life can change and is unpredictable, reminding us to appreciate every moment as death can strike at any moment – particularly relevant to today’s fast-paced society with its increased risk of unplanned tragedies. Additionally, this piece stresses the importance of always being ready for what life throws your way, which serves as an important message in terms of your journeys.

Susanna Moodie’s “My Son’s First Bike Ride”

Susanna Strickland Moodie was born in Bungay, Suffolk England on 6 December 1803. Her family encouraged her and her siblings to write, and over time produced poetry, short sketches, natural history reports, and children’s fables among other works. Susanna also published numerous religious-themed works including accounts of conversion and deathbed repentance.

After her marriage in 1831, Moodie moved with her husband to Upper Canada (Ontario). At first, they tried farming near Cobourg; however, they soon found they weren’t suitable to pioneer life and moved to Belleville in 1840 where Moodie was appointed sheriff of Victoria District and wrote for journals like Literary Garland as well as English publications like Harpers.

Moodie’s writing style was distinguished by realistic details and narrative power, including vivid descriptions of backwoods customs and people that are both memorable and compelling. Her emphasis on common sense, resisting sentimentality, and portraying realistic characters made Moodie stand out among her contemporaries. Furthermore, Moodie used humor and satire to emphasize how important humor can be in dealing with difficult circumstances.

Her early works were key in shaping her view of Canadian society and pioneer life. Transcription of slave narratives for London publisher Pringle inspired her to adopt an impartial viewpoint of colonial society and promote objectivity in her work. Additionally, she was an early supporter of anti-slavery movements such as the Family Compact which promoted moderate reform.

In 1852, Moodie published Roughing It in the Bush, an account of her experiences as a settler in Upper Canada. This book cemented Moodie as an iconic figure within Canadian literature history. Flora Lyndsay (1853), Life in the Clearings Versus the Bush (1954), and Mark Hurdlestone (1957) have become both an accurate depiction of the immigrant experience as well as a picture of the Canadian national psyche. Due to its success, three sequels were published: Flora Lyndsay (1853), Life in the Clearings Versus the Bush (1954), and Mark Hurdlestone (1957). These novels show how Moodie’s impressions of Canadian culture change as her understanding of it grows. Together they form a “trilogy” of immigrant experiences from her preparations for departure in Roughing It through to her appraisals of Canadian towns and institutions in its sequels – all three novels receiving positive critical reception.

Edward Hirsch’s “Gabriel: A Poem”

Edward Hirsch’s Gabriel stands out as one of the more ambitious elegies written recently. A book-length poem, it addresses Edward Hirsch’s grief over Gabriel’s death at 22 in 2011. Gabriel had Tourette’s and was on the independent end of autism; after responding to a Craigslist post during Hurricane Irene and heading for New Jersey with friends, taking party drugs that caused seizures that eventually caused seizures that eventually led to his demise. Hirsch explores Gabriel through stoner cartoons and Blink-182 references while simultaneously tapping into literature’s long literary tradition of elegy for insight and inspiration.

This poem is constructed out of fragments, with ten stanzas appearing on each page that often form an entire thought or concept, similar to Mallarme or Dickinson. Additionally, there are bits from snippets written by his brother’s girlfriend’s speechwriter; an autopsy report quotation (“The body was of a well-nourished white male/ the brain and organs weighed an average 182 pounds”); all this material coalesces into one haunting whole.

Hirsch creates an emotionally gripping, human mourning in Gabriel. Her writing introduces us to an entirely novel form of elegy.

Hirsch’s desire to find solace in nature parallels that of Keats who, upon encountering death’s irrecoverability, resolved to project himself into the nightingale’s narrative of eternal rest as an attempt at absorption through unyielding forms such as nightingales’ songbird song – though for Hirsch, merging himself with nature is no escape; rather it serves to confirm his loss irrevocably.

Hirsch’s Elegies is an expansive and ambitious work, taking full advantage of all poetic possibilities available to it. Drawing from both longstanding elegy traditions as well as contemporary poetic idiom, they make full use of them both broadly and intimately, in a style resembling confessional poetry or howling poetry at its worst, it offers both expansive yet intimate reading experiences reminiscent of confessional poems as well as being steeped in literary history while conversant with contemporary idiom. Though grim in tone it remains one of the most moving read poems ever read; many reviewers including the New York Times Book Review have called it an iconic masterpiece of sorrow that every poet should read and take note of.