Loneliness In Art: Timeless Poems About Loneliness

Updated October 3, 2022 by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Poetry and Loneliness:

It is ironic that the more connected we get to each other via social media, the less we connect face to face. And there's a lot to be said about face-to-face connection! For one thing, you can't hug someone on Facebook, and there's so much that can only be conveyed through body language. Even a positive facial expression can mean everything when we can't find the words to express what we feel.

When we're feeling isolated, there's a comfort about knowing that we're not alone. One of the best ways to receive solace is through art like poetry, which lets us know our feelings are universal. Here are some loneliness poems that may help you feel a little less alone.

Poems About Loneliness

Wondering Why People Feel So Lonely Sometimes?

Loneliness Theme - Loneliness in Poetry

We'll start off with some general poems that are about loneliness that will come as a comfort to anyone who feels alone in their emotions. The first poem we'll look at is "Night" by Michael Hofmann...

Night 

In "Night," Michael Hofmann expresses how we don't think twice about doing everyday activities like laundry or shopping unless we are experiencing loneliness or otherwise burdened. In poems like these, we read how being upset makes it difficult to accomplish these usually mundane tasks:

It's all right

Unless you're either lonely or under attack.

That strange effortful

Repositioning of yourself. Laundry, shopping,

Hours, the telephone-unless misinformed-

Only ever ringing for you, if it ever does.

The night-yours to decide,

Among drink, or books, or lying there.

On your back, or curled up.

An embarrassment of poverty.

Flood: Years of Solitude

Dionisio D. Martínez's "Flood: Years of Solitude" is relatable to anyone who has experienced loneliness. Note how the narrator conveys in the last line with only two simple words how we are all in this together:
To the one who sets a second place at the table anyway.
To the one at the back of the empty bus.
To the ones who name each piece of stained glass projected on a white wall.
To anyone convinced that a monologue is a conversation with the past.
To the one who loses with the deck he marked.
To those who are destined to inherit the meek.
To us.

On Broadway

"On Broadway" by Claude McKay describes what it feels like to experience loneliness in a crowd. And how much more crowded does it get than on Broadway?

About me young, careless feet
Linger along the garish street;
Above, a hundred shouting signs
Shed down their fantastic bright glow
Upon the merry crowd and lines
Of moving carriages below.
Oh wonderful is Broadway-only
My heart, my heart is lonely.
Desire naked, linked with Passion,
Goes trutting by in brazen fashion;
From playhouse, cabaret, and inn
The rainbow lights of Broadway blaze
All gay without, all glad within;
As in a dream, I stand and gaze
At Broadway, shining Broadway-only
My heart, my heart is lonely.

It's Not All Bad

Sometimes we're alone and we're okay with it. In these situations, we're not experiencing loneliness. We are simply by ourselves. It's nice to be alone sometimes to enjoy the quiet and take the time to reflect. It can be healthy to be alone with our thoughts. Some of us love to be alone so much so that we write poems about it. "Ode on Solitude" by Alexander Pope is another one of the poems for loneliness:

Ode on Solitude

Happy the man, whose wish and care
A few paternal acres bound,
Content to breathe his native air,
In his own ground.
Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread,
Whose flocks supply him with attire,
Whose trees in summer yield him shade,
In winter fire.
Blest, who can unconcernedly find
Hours, days, and years slide soft away,
In health of body, peace of mind,
Quiet by day,
Sound sleep by night; study and ease,
Together mixed; sweet recreation;
And innocence, which most does please,
With meditation.
Thus let me live, unseen, unknown;
Thus unlamented let me die;
Steal from the world, and not a stone
Tell where I lie.

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud

One of the best-known poems celebrating solitude is William Wordsworth's "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud." Although the poems start on a sad note, the narrator becomes positively gleeful upon discovering some beautiful daffodils. After this discovery, whenever he feels that familiar tinge of loneliness, he remembers those flowers, which puts a new, positive spin on the idea of being alone:

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed-and gazed-but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Poems On Others

When we're experiencing loneliness, we often reflect on the people who we care about and wish they were by our side. But what if we have no one to care about? It can be sad and scary for those who are forced to go through life alone, either by choice or design. One of Maya Angelou's poems, "Alone", details why humans need each other to survive:

Alone

Lying, thinking

Last night

How to find my soul a home

Where water is not thirsty

And bread loaf is not stone

I came up with one thing

And I don't believe I'm wrong

That nobody,

But nobody

Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone

Nobody, but nobody

Can make it out here alone.

There are some millionaires

With money, they can't use

Their wives run round like banshees

Their children sing the blues

They've got expensive doctors

To cure their hearts of stone.

But nobody

No, nobody

Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone

Nobody, but nobody

Can make it out here alone.

Now if you listen closely

I'll tell you what I know

Storm clouds are gathering

The wind is gonna blow

The race of man is suffering

And I can hear the moan,

'Cause nobody,

But nobody

Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone

Nobody, but nobody

Can make it out here alone.

Those Winter Sundays

Perhaps we feel most alone when we lose a friend or family, either to death or distance. When someone we love is no longer around, we begin to reflect on the things they did for us, and we often feel guilty with loneliness that we did not do enough in return to show our appreciation.

Robert Hayden's "Those Winter Sundays" perfectly encapsulates what it's like to be an adult reflecting on the things our parents did for us when we were children, and how we were unaware of the extent of their love at the time.

Sundays too my father got up early

and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,

then with cracked hands that ached

from labor in the weekday weather made

banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

I'd wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.

When the rooms were warm, he'd call,

and slowly I would rise and dress,

fearing the chronic anger of that house,

Speaking indifferently to him,

who had driven out the cold

and polished my good shoes as well.

What did I know, what did I know

of love's austere and lonely offices?

Solutions 

We will all feel lonely at some point in life. Here are some suggestions that can help:

Practice self-care. Making your alone time relaxing can help you value it more.

Think positively. Studies show that people feeling loneliness tend to be "glass half empty" types. Being more aware of how your thoughts affect your mood will give you better control of your emotions too.

Find somebody to lean on. The best cure for loneliness is being around others. Rely on your support system to help you through rough times. If you are struggling to meet people, there are apps to help you make friends.

Talk to a Therapist

Wondering Why People Feel So Lonely Sometimes?

If you struggle with loneliness, help is available. If you have recently lost someone close to you, you may need professional help. And if you feel like there's never anyone around when you need someone to talk to, an in-person or online therapist can offer you a space to explore your feelings of loneliness and how to alleviate them.

Online therapy has been shown to be effective for managing social anxiety, which can lead to feelings of loneliness. Participants in a study were treated through the use of videoconferencing and found improvements in their quality of life. Improvements were also found in those experiencing depression. The study pointed to the effectiveness of successfully delivering cognitive-behavior therapy through videoconferencing and that it is equal to or better than face-to-face therapy.

How BetterHelp Can Support You

If you’re considering online therapy, BetterHelp is an option. Our online therapists are available anytime you need a shoulder to cry on or some friendly advice. They can also offer safe suggestions to help you connect with people in your area. You can meet with a therapist when it’s convenient for you and wherever you feel most comfortable. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp therapists from people experiencing similar issues.

Therapist Reviews

"Stephen is extremely professional. He is very helpful and kind. I feel so much better after talking to him. He listens to you and cares for you. And makes you feel like you are not alone."

"Shelley is very accommodating, gentle and encouraging. No matter what place I was in, she tries to make me comfortable exactly where that is. She is the comforting soul that keep me company in a lonely place. I look forward to each of our session, and I'm given weekly takeaways to reflect on that helps tremendously, step by step, week by week. Learning to love yourself, learning to love your time spent, these are not always the easiest thing to do, but it's a lifelong process. Shelley is the perfect guide."

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