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10 Best Dark Poems of All Time

I am feeling quite inspired lately by all this Poe, but Poe is certainly not the only famous and very talented dark poet out there. So, here is a list of some of the best of the best for that dark minds out there.

#1 – Sara Teasdale “If Death is Kind”

This Pulitzer prize winning bestseller spent much of her younger years isolated and ill though cultivating her love and talent for the written word. It did not stop her in adulthood from being a sought after beauty and being a part of an amazing group of women in the early 20th century that put together a popular literary magazine. She has many beautiful poems, but this one may be one of her most famous and a personal favorite.

You can find her works and more about her here:

#2 – Pablo Neruda “Here I Love You”

This famous Latin American poet was first published at the tender age of 13 and was well loved for his talent as well as his politics. Known for sparking controversy over his understanding of the erotic at a young age, his poems are often about death, love, lust, and how those three things seem to intertwine. In this poem, he explains what it feels like to love someone who does not love you back or is not there with you.

You can find some interesting information on his most famous works here:

#3 – Emily Dickinson “Because I could not stop for Death”

Arguably the most famous on the list, this poem and poet in general is my favorite, though it likely is overused and overanalyzed in school settings. But, let’s be honest, it stinks of greatness.

You can overdose on all Emily here:

#4 – Lord Byron “Dear Doctor, I have Read your Play”

Discounted for being born with disabilities, he became a Lord at the age of 10 and eventually went on to become one of the most well known satirical dark poets of all time. This little poem is a hilarious and still relevant even long after his death.

#5 – Kahlil Gibran “The Good God and the Evil God”

It was so hard to choose a favorite from him because all of his poems have such a pressing and important theme. Though an Arabic immigrant in the United States, he was educated and influenced by those of European literature. His poems are known for sheer simplicity and dark lessons that often spoke to those living the harsh existence of Middle eastern descent in the New World.

#6 – Alfred Lord Tennyson “Claribel”

Tennyson’s background is enough to put him on this list. A voice of the Victorian era much like Poe, it was a harsh family life that led him into his dark themes. An abusive and mentally unstable father often threatened death to his children and violence to his wife due to his displeasure that he was not the favored son and this forced into a life as a clergyman. The family was also plagued by epilepsy which was at the time thought to be shameful and caused by sexual excess. As an adult he often fell into trances due to inherited mental illness, and his almost a dozen siblings were haunted by similar problems.

#7 – Walt Whitman “I Sing the Body Electric”

A self-proclaimed traveler and a self-published author, many sing his praises as being the most influential American poet of the 19th century. His poems like many others in the genre beautify death and darkness. However, he was often known for singing the praises of democracy in his writing.

#8 – William Shakespeare “The Rape of Lucrece”

Many people forget that Shakespeare was a talented poet. This mysterious man with holes in his own history and thought to be bisexual or even homosexual in a time and place when he could not do so in the open are only a few of the things that make this legend intriguing. His poems talk of love, death, defilement, and even the Occult which he researched much for the wiles of King James. There could never be a list of great poems without mentioning him.

#9 – Emily Bronte “Plead for Me”

Often the overlooked of the three writing Bronte sisters in both life and death, Emily was a bit of a hermit, mysterious to the public in every way even to this day. Even as Charlotte and Ann sought fame in their writing, Emily was the quiet one at home, only three poems even seeing publication previous to her death. Her own sister wrote of Emily being someone who had a brilliant mind and imagination meant for writing but that because she had no experience in the world and felt things differently someone always had to be an interpreter between Emily and the rest of the world. It is for this discounting and also the belief that many of the writing talents and ideas of the sisters came from Emily herself that it is her I honor in this list.

#10 – Edgar Allan Poe “Annabel Lee”

There is no doubt all of his poems are brilliant, but it is the way love and darkness and beauty all mix that has captivated me most, and thus I chose my favorite carefully.

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