42 Greatest Poems about Farewell and Absence

Everyone had experienced farewells even once in their lives. It might be parting with someone we love or someone we used to love. It might be in the form of saying goodbyes to our old selves or something related to ourselves. Whatever it might be, parting usually comes with sadness. The same with absence, we might feel resentment or even sorrow.

These are forty-three (43) greatest poems about farewell and absence that you might also relate to, and if you are interested in these topics, these poems are for you.

Keep reading!

Good-bye


“Farewell! farewell!” is often heard
From the lips of those who part:
’T is a whispered tone,—’t is a gentle word,
But it springs not from the heart.
It may serve for the lover’s closing lay,
To be sung ’neath a summer sky;
But give to me the lips that say
The honest words, “Good-bye!”


“Adieu! adieu!” may greet the ear,
In the guise of courtly speech:
But when we leave the kind and dear,
’T is not what the soul would teach.
Whene’er we grasp the hands of those
We would have forever nigh,
The flame of Friendship bursts and glows
In the warm, frank words, “Good-bye.”


The mother, sending forth her child
To meet with cares and strife,
Breathes through her tears her doubts and fears
For the loved one’s future life.
No cold “adieu,” no “farewell,” lives
Within her choking sigh,
But the deepest sob of anguish gives,
“God bless thee, boy! Good-bye!”


Go, watch the pale and dying one,
When the glance hast lost its beam;
When the brow is cold as the marble stone,
And the world a passing dream;
And the latest pressure of the hand,
The look of the closing eye,
Yield what the heart must understand,
A long, a last Good-bye.

Anonymous

Parting


If thou dost bid thy friend farewell,
But for one night though that farewell may be,
Press thou his hand in thine.
How canst thou tell how far from thee
Fate or caprice may lead his steps ere that to-morrow comes?
Men have been known to lightly turn the corner of a street,
And days have grown to months, and months to lagging years,
Ere they have looked in loving eyes again.
Parting, at best, is underlaid
With tears and pain.
Therefore, lest sudden death should come between,
Or time, or distance, clasp with pressure firm
The hand of him who goeth forth;
Unseen, Fate goeth too.
Yes, find thou always time to say some earnest word
Between the idle talk,
Lest with thee henceforth,
Night and day, regret should walk.

Coventry Patmore

The Parting Lovers


From the Chinese by William. R. Alger


She says, “The cock crows,—hark!”
He says, “No! still ’t is dark.”


She says, “The dawn grows bright,”
He says, “O no, my Light.”


She says, “Stand up and say,
Gets not the heaven gray?”


He says, “The morning star
Climbs the horizon’s bar.”


She says, “Then quick depart:
Alas! you now must start;


But give the cock a blow
Who did begin our woe!”

Anonymous

“Come, let us kisse and parte”


Since there ’s no helpe,—come, let us kisse and parte,
Nay, I have done,—you get no more of me;
And I am glad,—yea, glad with all my hearte,
That thus so cleanly I myselfe can free.
Shake hands forever!—cancel all our vows;
And when we meet at any time againe,
Be it not seene in either of our brows,
That we one jot of former love retaine.


Now—at the last gaspe of Love’s latest breath—
When, his pulse failing, Passion speechless lies;
When Faith is kneeling by his bed of death,
And Innocence is closing up his eyes,
Now! if thou wouldst—when all have given him over—
From death to life thou mightst him yet recover.

Michael Drayton

“Farewell! thou art too dear”


Sonnet LXXXVII.
Farewell! thou art too dear for my possessing,
And like enough thou know’st thy estimate:
The charter of thy worth gives thee releasing;
My bonds in thee are all determinate.
For how do I hold thee but by thy granting?
And for that riches where is my deserving?
The cause of this fair gift in me is wanting,
And so my patent back again is swerving.
Thyself thou gav’st, thy own worth then not knowing,
Or me, to whom thou gav’st it, else mistaking;
So thy great gift, upon misprision growing,
Comes home again, on better judgment making.
Thus have I had thee, as a dream doth flatter;
In sleep a king, but, waking, no such matter.

William Shakespeare

A farewell


Flow down, cold rivulet, to the sea,
Thy tribute wave deliver:
No more by thee my steps shall be,
For ever and for ever.


Flow, softly flow, by lawn and lea,
A rivulet then a river:
Nowhere by thee my steps shall be
For ever and for ever.


But here will sigh thine alder tree
And here thine aspen shiver;
And here by thee will hum the bee,
For ever and for ever.


A thousand suns will stream on thee,
A thousand moons will quiver;
But not by thee my steps shall be,
For ever and for ever.

Alfred Lord Tennyson

Farewell


I leave the world to-morrow,
What news for Fairyland?
I’m tired of dust and sorrow
And folk on every hand.


A moon more calm and splendid
Moves there through deeper skies,
By maiden stars attended
She peaces goddes-wise.


And there no wrath oppresses,
And there no teardrops start,
There cool winds breathe caresses,
That soothe the weary heart.


The wealth the mad world follows
Turns ashes in the hand
Of him who sees the hollows
And glades of Fairyland.


And pine boughs sigh no sorrow
Where fairy rotas play,
I leave the world to-morrow
For ever and a day.

Enid Derham

“We parted in silence”


We parted in silence, we parted by night,
On the banks of that lonely river;
Where the fragrant limes their boughs unite,
We met—and we parted forever!
The night-bird sung, and the stars above
Told many a touching story,
Of friends long passed to the kingdom of love,
Where the soul wears its mantle of glory.


We parted in silence,—our cheeks were wet
With the tears that were past controlling;
We vowed we would never, no, never forget,
And those vows at the time were consoling;
But those lips that echoed the sounds of mine
Are as cold as that lonely river;
And that eye, that beautiful spirit’s shrine,
Has shrouded its fires forever.


And now on the midnight sky I look,
And my heart grows full of weeping;
Each star is to me a sealèd book,
Some tale of that loved one keeping.
We parted in silence,—we parted in tears,
On the banks of that lonely river:
But the odor and bloom of those bygone years
Shall hang o’er its waters forever.

Louisa Macartney Crawford

“Farewell!—but whenever”


Farewell!—but whenever you welcome the hour
That awakens the night-song of mirth in your bower,
Then think of the friend that once welcomed it too,
And forgot his own griefs, to be happy with you.
His griefs may return—not a hope may remain
Of the few that have brightened his pathway of pain—
But he ne’er can forget the short vision that threw
Its enchantment around him while lingering with you!


And still on that evening when Pleasure fills up
To the highest top sparkle each heart and each cup,
Where’er my path lies, be it gloomy or bright,
My soul, happy friends! will be with you that night;
Shall join in your revels, your sports, and your wiles,
And return to me, beaming all o’er with your smiles—
Too blest if it tell me that, ’mid the gay cheer,
Some kind voice has murmured, “I wish he were here!”


Let Fate do her worst, there are relics of joy,
Bright dreams of the past, which she cannot destroy;
Which come in the night-time of sorrow and care,
And bring back the features which joy used to wear.
Long, long be my heart with such memories filled!
Like the vase in which roses have once been distilled—
You may break, you may shatter the vase, if you will,
But the scent of the roses will hang round it still.

Thomas Moore

Absence


When I think on the happy days
I spent wi’ you, my dearie;
And now what lands between us lie,
How can I be but eerie!


How slow ye move, ye heavy hours,
As ye were wae and weary!
It was na sae ye glinted by
When I was wi’ my dearie.

Anonymous

Absence


What shall I do with all the days and hours
That must be counted ere I see thy face?
How shall I charm the interval that lowers
Between this time and that sweet time of grace?


Shall I in slumber steep each weary sense,
Weary with longing?—shall I flee away
Into past days, and with some fond pretence
Cheat myself to forget the present day?


Shall love for thee lay on my soul the sin
Of casting from me God’s great gift of time?
Shall I, these mists of memory locked within,
Leave and forget life’s purposes sublime?


O, how or by what means may I contrive
To bring the hour that brings thee back more near?
How may I teach my drooping hope to live
Until that blessèd time, and thou art here?


I ’ll tell thee; for thy sake I will lay hold
Of all good aims, and consecrate to thee,
In worthy deeds, each moment that is told
While thou, belovèd one! art far from me.


For thee I will arouse my thoughts to try
All heavenward flights, all high and holy strains;
For thy dear sake I will walk patiently
Through these long hours, nor call their minutes pains.


I will this dreary blank of absence make
A noble task-time; and will therein strive
To follow excellence, and to o’ertake
More good than I have won since yet I live.


So may this doomèd time build up in me
A thousand graces, which shall thus be thine;
So may my love and longing hallowed be,
And thy dear thought an influence divine.

Frances Anne Kemble

“I love my Jean”


Of a’ the airts the wind can blaw,
I dearly like the west;
For there the bonnie lassie lives,
The lassie I lo’e best.
There wild woods grow, and rivers row,
And monie a hill ’s between;
But day and night my fancy’s flight
Is ever wi’ my Jean.


I see her in the dewy flowers,
I see her sweet and fair;
I hear her in the tunefu’ birds,
I hear her charm the air;
There ’s not a bonnie flower that springs
By fountain, shaw, or green;
There ’s not a bonnie bird that sings,
But minds me of my Jean.

Robert Burns

The Present Good


From “The Task,” Book VI.


Not to understand a treasure’s worth
Till time has stol’n away the slighted good,
Is cause of half the poverty we feel,
And makes the world the wilderness it is.

William Cowper

To Her Absent Sailor


From “The Tent on the Beach”


Her window opens to the bay,
On glistening light or misty gray,
And there at dawn and set of day
In prayer she kneels:
“Dear Lord!” she saith, “to many a home
From wind and wave the wanderers come;
I only see the tossing foam
Of stranger keels.


“Blown out and in by summer gales,
The stately ships, with crowded sails,
And sailors leaning o’er their rails,
Before me glide;
They come, they go, but nevermore,
Spice-laden from the Indian shore,
I see his swift-winged Isidore
The waves divide.


“O Thou! with whom the night is day
And one the near and far away,
Look out on yon gray waste, and say
Where lingers he.
Alive, perchance, on some lone beach
Or thirsty isle beyond the reach
Of man, he hears the mocking speech
Of wind and sea.


“O dread and cruel deep, reveal
The secret which thy waves conceal,
And, ye wild sea-birds, hither wheel
And tell your tale.
Let winds that tossed his raven hair
A message from my lost one bear,—
Some thought of me, a last fond prayer
Or dying wail!


“Come, with your dreariest truth shut out
The fears that haunt me round about;
O God! I cannot bear this doubt
That stifles breath.
The worst is better than the dread;
Give me but leave to mourn my dead
Asleep in trust and hope, instead
Of life in death!”


It might have been the evening breeze
That whispered in the garden trees,
It might have been the sound of seas
That rose and fell;
But, with her heart, if not her ear,
The old loved voice she seemed to hear:
“I wait to meet thee: be of cheer,
For all is well!”

John Greenleaf Whittier

“Come to me, dearest”


Come to me, dearest, I ’m lonely without thee,
Daytime and night-time, I ’m thinking about thee;
Night-time and daytime, in dreams I behold thee;
Unwelcome the waking which ceases to fold thee.
Come to me, darling, my sorrows to lighten,
Come in thy beauty to bless and to brighten;
Come in thy womanhood, meekly and lowly,
Come in thy lovingness, queenly and holy.


Swallows will flit round the desolate ruin,
Telling of spring and its joyous renewing;
And thoughts of thy love, and its manifold treasure,
Are circling my heart with a promise of pleasure.
O Spring of my spirit, O May of my bosom,
Shine out on my soul, till it bourgeon and blossom;
The waste of my life has a rose-root within it,
And thy fondness alone to the sunshine can win it.


Figure that moves like a song through the even;
Features lit up by a reflex of heaven;
Eyes like the skies of poor Erin, our mother,
Where shadow and sunshine are chasing each other;
Smiles coming seldom, but childlike and simple,
Planting in each rosy cheek a sweet dimple;—
O, thanks to the Saviour, that even thy seeming
Is left to the exile to brighten his dreaming.


You have been glad when you knew I was gladdened;
Dear, are you sad now to hear I am saddened?
Our hearts ever answer in tune and in time, love,
As octave to octave, and rhyme unto rhyme, love:
I cannot weep but your tears will be flowing,
You cannot smile but my cheek will be glowing;
I would not die without you at my side, love,
You will not linger when I shall have died, love.


Come to me, dear, ere I die of my sorrow,
Rise on my gloom like the sun of to-morrow;
Strong, swift, and fond as the words which I speak, love, 35
With a song on your lip and a smile on your cheek, love.
Come, for my heart in your absence is weary,—
Haste, for my spirit is sickened and dreary,—
Come to the arms which alone should caress thee,
Come to the heart that is throbbing to press thee!

Joseph Brenan

Thinkin’ Long


Oh thinkin’ long ’s the weary work!
It breaks my heart from dawn
Till all the wee, wee, friendly stars
Come out at dayli’gone.
An’ thinkin’ long ’s the weary work,
When I must spin and spin,
To drive the fearsome fancies out,
An’ hold the hopeful in!


Ah, sure my lad is far away!
My lad who left our glen
When from the soul of Ireland came
A call for fightin’ men;
I miss his gray eyes glancin’ bright,
I miss his liltin’ song,
And that is why, the lonesome day,
I ’m always thinkin’ long.


May God’s kind angels guard him
When the fray is fierce and grim,
And blunt the point of every sword
That turns its hate on him,
Where round the torn yet dear green flag
The brave and lovin’ throng—
But the lasses of Glenwherry smile
At me for thinkin’ long.

Anna MacManus (Ethna Carbery)

To Lucasta


If to be absent were to be
Away from thee;
Or that, when I am gone,
You or I were alone;
Then, my Lucasta, might I crave
Pity from blustering wind or swallowing wave.


But I ’ll not sigh one blast or gale
To swell my sail,
Or pay a tear to ’suage
The foaming blue-god’s rage;
For, whether he will let me pass
Or no, I ’m still as happy as I was.


Though seas and lands be ’twixt us both,
Our faith and troth,
Like separated souls,
All time and space controls:
Above the highest sphere we meet,
Unseen, unknown; and greet as angels greet.


So, then, we do anticipate
Our after-fate,
And are alive i’ the skies,
If thus our lips and eyes
Can speak like spirits unconfined
In heaven,—their earthly bodies left behind.

Richard Lovelace

“Ae fond kiss, and then we sever”


Ae fond kiss, and then we sever;
Ae fareweel, alas, forever!
Deep in heart-wrung tears I ’ll pledge thee;
Warring sighs and groans I ’ll wage thee.
Who shall say that fortune grieves him,
While the star of hope she leaves him?
Me, nae cheerfu’ twinkle lights me;
Dark despair around benights me.


I ’ll ne’er blame my partial fancy—
Naething could resist my Nancy:
But to see her was to love her,
Love but her, and love forever.
Had we never loved sae kindly,
Had we never loved sae blindly,
Never met—or never parted,
We had ne’er been broken-hearted.


Fare thee weel, thou first and fairest!
Fare thee weel, thou best and dearest!
Thine be ilka joy and treasure,
Peace, enjoyment, love, and pleasure!
Ae fond kiss, and then we sever;
Ae fareweel, alas, forever!
Deep in heart-wrung tears I ’ll pledge thee,
Warring sighs and groans I ’ll wage thee!

Robert Burns

The Old Familiar Faces


I have had playmates, I have had companions,
In my days of childhood, in my joyful school-days;
All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.


I have been laughing, I have been carousing,
Drinking late, sitting late, with my bosom cronies;
All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.


I loved a Love once, fairest among women:
Closed are her doors on me, I must not see her,—
All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.


I have a friend, a kinder friend has no man:
Like an ingrate, I left my friend abruptly;
Left him, to muse on the old familiar faces.


Ghost-like I paced round the haunts of my childhood,
Earth seemed a desert I was bound to traverse,
Seeking to find the old familiar faces.


Friend of my bosom, thou more than a brother,
Why wert not thou born in my father’s dwelling?
So might we talk of the old familiar faces.


How some they have died, and some they have left me,
And some are taken from me; all are departed;
All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.

Charles Lamb

“O, my Luve ’s like a red, red rose”


O, my Luve ’s like a red, red rose
That ’s newly sprung in June:
O, my Luve ’s like the melodie
That ’s sweetly played in tune.


As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I:
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry:


Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi’ the sun:
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o’ life shall run.


And fare thee weel, my only Luve!
And fare thee weel awhile!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho’ it were ten thousand mile.

Robert Burns

To Lucasta, on Going to the Wars


Tell me not, sweet, I am unkinde,
That from the nunnerie
Of thy chaste breast and quiet minde,
To warre and armes I flee.


True, a new mistresse now I chase.—
The first foe in the field;
And with a stronger faith imbrace
A sword, a horse, a shield.


Yet this inconstancy is such
As you, too, shall adore;
I could not love thee, deare, so much,
Loved I not honour more.

Richard Lovelace

Jeanie Morrison


I’ve wandered east, I ’ve wandered west,
Through mony a weary way;
But never, never can forget
The luve o’ life’s young day!
The fire that ’s blawn on Beltane e’en
May weel be black gin Yule;
But blacker fa’ awaits the heart
Where first fond luve grows cule.


O dear, dear Jeanie Morrison,
The thochts o’ bygane years
Still fling their shadows ower my path,
And blind my een wi’ tears:
They blind my een wi’ saut, saut tears,
And sair and sick I pine,
As memory idly summons up
The blithe blinks o’ langsyne.


’T was then we luvit ilk ither weel,
’T was then we twa did part;
Sweet time—sad time! twa bairns at scule,
Twa bairns, and but ae heart!
’T was then we sat on ae laigh bink,
To leir ilk ither lear;
And tones and looks and smiles were shed,
Remembered evermair.


I wonder, Jeanie, aften yet,
When sitting on that bink,
Cheek touchin’ cheek, loof locked in loof,
What our wee heads could think.
When baith bent doun ower ae braid page,
Wi’ ae buik on our knee,
Thy lips were on thy lesson, but
My lesson was in thee.


O, mind ye how we hung our heads,
How cheeks brent red wi’ shame,
Whene’er the scule-weans, laughin’, said
We cleeked thegither hame?
And mind ye o’ the Saturdays,
(The scule then skail’t at noon,)
When we ran off to speel the braes,—
The broomy braes o’ June?


My head rins round and round about,—
My heart flows like a sea,
As ane by ane the thochts rush back
O’ scule-time, and o’ thee.
O mornin’ life! O mornin’ luve!
O lichtsome days and lang,
When hinnied hopes around our hearts
Like simmer blossoms sprang!


O, mind ye, luve, how aft we left
The deavin’, dinsome toun,
To wander by the green burnside,
And hear its waters croon?
The simmer leaves hung ower our heads,
The flowers burst round our feet,
And in the gloamin’ o’ the wood
The throssil whusslit sweet;


The throssil whusslit in the woods,
The burn sang to the trees,—
And we, with nature’s heart in tune,
Concerted harmonies;
And on the knowe abune the burn,
For hours thegither sat
In the silentness o’ joy, till baith
Wi’ very gladness grat.


Ay, ay, dear Jeanie Morrison,
Tears trickled doun your cheek
Like dew-beads on a rose, yet nane
Had ony power to speak!
That was a time, a blessed time,
When hearts were fresh and young,
When freely gushed all feelings forth,
Unsyllabled—unsung!


I marvel, Jeanie Morrison,
Gin I hae been to thee
As closely twined wi’ earliest thochts
As ye hae been to me?
O, tell me gin their music fills
Thine ear as it does mine!
O, say gin e’er your heart grows grit
Wi’ dreamings o’ langsyne?


I ’ve wandered east, I ’ve wandered west,
I ’ve borne a weary lot;
But in my wanderings, far or near,
Ye never were forgot.
The fount that first burst frae this heart
Still travels on its way;
And channels deeper, as it rins,
The luve o’ life’s young day.


O dear, dear Jeanie Morrison,
Since we were sindered young
I ’ve never seen your face nor heard
The music o’ your tongue;
But I could hug all wretchedness,
And happy could I dee,
Did I but ken your heart still dreamed
O’ bygane days and me!

William Motherwell

“As slow our ship”


As slow our ship her foamy track
Against the wind was cleaving,
Her trembling pennant still looked back
To that dear isle ’t was leaving.
So loath we part from all we love,
From all the links that bind us;
So turn our hearts, as on we rove,
To those we ’ve left behind us!


When, round the bowl, of vanished years
We talk with joyous seeming,—
With smiles that might as well be tears,
So faint, so sad their beaming;
While memory brings us back again
Each early tie that twined us,
O, sweet ’s the cup that circles then
To those we ’ve left behind us!


And when, in other climes, we meet
Some isle or vale enchanting,
Where all looks flowery, wild, and sweet,
And naught but love is wanting;
We think how great had been our bliss
If Heaven had but assigned us
To live and die in scenes like this,
With some we ’ve left behind us!


As travellers oft look back at eve
When eastward darkly going,
To gaze upon that light they leave
Still faint behind them glowing,—
So, when the close of pleasure’s day
To gloom hath near consigned us,
We turn to catch one fading ray
Of joy that ’s left behind us.

Thomas Moore

“Maid of Athens, ere we part”


Maid of Athens, ere we part,
Give, O, give me back my heart!
Or, since that has left my breast,
Keep it now, and take the rest!
Hear my vow before I go,
[Greek].


By those tresses unconfined,
Wooed by each Ægean wind;
By those lids whose jetty fringe
Kiss thy soft cheeks’ blooming tinge;
By those wild eyes like the roe,
[Greek].


By that lip I long to taste;
By that zone-encircled waist;
By all the token-flowers that tell
What words can never speak so well;
By love’s alternate joy and woe,
[Greek].


Maid of Athens! I am gone.
Think of me, sweet! when alone.
Though I fly to Istambol,
Athens holds my heart and soul:
Can I cease to love thee? No!
[Greek].

Lord Byron

Kathleen Mavourneen


Kathleen Mavourneen! the gray dawn is breaking,
The horn of the hunter is heard on the hill;
The lark from her light wing the bright dew is shaking,—
Kathleen Mavourneen! what, slumbering still?


Oh, hast thou forgotten how soon we must sever?
Oh! hast thou forgotten this day we must part?
It may be for years, and it may be forever!
Oh, why art thou silent, thou voice of my heart?
Oh! why art thou silent, Kathleen Mavourneen?


Kathleen Mavourneen, awake from thy slumbers!
The blue mountains glow in the sun’s golden light;
Ah, where is the spell that once hung on my numbers?
Arise in thy beauty, thou star of my night!


Mavourneen, Mavourneen, my sad tears are falling,
To think that from Erin and thee I must part!
It may be for years, and it may be forever!
Then why art thou silent, thou voice of my heart?
Then why art thou silent, Kathleen Mavourneen?

Louisa Macartney Crawford

Song of the Young Highlander


Summoned from His Bride by the “Fiery Cross of Roderick Dhu”


From “The Lady of the Lake”


The heath this night must be my bed,
The bracken curtain for my head,
My lullaby the warder’s tread,
Far, far from love and thee, Mary;
To-morrow eve, more stilly laid
My couch may be my bloody plaid,
My vesper song, thy wail, sweet maid!
It will not waken me, Mary!


I may not, dare not, fancy now
The grief that clouds thy lovely brow,
I dare not think upon thy vow,
And all it promised me, Mary.
No fond regret must Norman know;
When bursts Clan-Alpine on the foe,
His heart must be like bended bow,
His foot like arrow free, Mary!


A time will come with feeling fraught!
For, if I fall in battle fought,
Thy hapless lover’s dying thought
Shall be a thought on thee, Mary.
And if returned from conquered foes,
How blithely will the evening close,
How sweet the linnet sing repose,
To my young bride and me, Mary!

Sir Walter Scott

“Adieu, adieu! my native shore”


Adieu, adieu! my native shore
Fades o’er the waters blue;
The night-winds sigh, the breakers roar,
And shrieks the wild sea-mew.
Yon sun that sets upon the sea
We follow in his flight;
Farewell awhile to him and thee,
My native Land—Good Night!


A few short hours, and he will rise
To give the morrow birth;
And I shall hail the main and skies,
But not my mother earth.
Deserted is my own good hall,
Its hearth is desolate;
Wild weeds are gathering on the wall;
My dog howls at the gate.

Lord Byron

Black-Eyed Susan


All in the Downs the fleet was moored,
The streamers waving in the wind,
When black-eyed Susan came aboard;
“O, where shall I my true-love find?
Tell me, ye jovial sailors, tell me true
If my sweet William sails among the crew.”


William, who high upon the yard
Rocked with the billow to and fro,
Soon as her well-known voice he heard
He sighed, and cast his eyes below:
The cord slides swiftly through his glowing hands,
And quick as lightning on the deck he stands.


So the sweet lark, high poised in air,
Shuts close his pinions to his breast
If chance his mate’s shrill call he hear,
And drops at once into her nest:—
The noblest captain in the British fleet
Might envy William’s lips those kisses sweet.


“O Susan, Susan, lovely dear,
My vows shall ever true remain;
Let me kiss off that falling tear;
We only part to meet again.
Change as ye list, ye winds; my heart shall be
The faithful compass that still points to thee.


“Believe not what the landmen say
Who tempt with doubts thy constant mind:
They ’ll tell thee, sailors, when away,
In every port a mistress find;
Yes, yes, believe them when they tell thee so,
For thou art present wheresoe’er I go.


“If to fair India’s coast we sail,
Thy eyes are seen in diamonds bright,
Thy breath is Afric’s spicy gale,
Thy skin is ivory so white.
Thus every beauteous object that I view
Wakes in my soul some charm of lovely Sue.


“Though battle call me from thy arms,
Let not my pretty Susan mourn;
Though cannons roar, yet safe from harms
William shall to his dear return.
Love turns aside the balls that round me fly,
Lest precious tears should drop from Susan’s eye.”


The boatswain gave the dreadful word,
The sails their swelling bosom spread;
No longer must she stay aboard:
They kissed, she sighed, he hung his head.
Her lessening boat unwilling rows to land;
“Adieu!” she cried; and waved her lily hand.

John Gay

Lochaber No More


Farewell to Lochaber! and farewell, my Jean,
Where heartsome with thee I hae mony day been;
For Lochaber no more, Lochaber no more,
We ’ll maybe return to Lochaber no more!
These tears that I shed they are a’ for my dear,
And no for the dangers attending on wear,
Though borne on rough seas to a far bloody shore,
Maybe to return to Lochaber no more.


Though hurricanes rise, and rise every wind,
They ’ll ne’er make a tempest like that in my mind;
Though loudest of thunder on louder waves roar,
That ’s naething like leaving my love on the shore.
To leave thee behind me my heart is sair pained;
By ease that ’s inglorious no fame can be gained;
And beauty and love ’s the reward of the brave,
And I must deserve it before I can crave.


Then glory, my Jeany, maun plead my excuse;
Since honor commands me, how can I refuse?
Without it I ne’er can have merit for thee,
And without thy favor I ’d better not be.
I gae then, my lass, to win honor and fame,
And if I should luck to come gloriously hame,
I ’ll bring a heart to thee with love running o’er,
And then I ’ll leave thee and Lochaber no more.

Allan Ramsay

“O, saw ye bonnie Leslie?”


O, saw ye bonnie Leslie
As she gaed o’er the border?
She ’s gane, like Alexander,
To spread her conquests farther.


To see her is to love her,
And love but her forever;
For nature made her what she is,
And ne’er made sic anither!


Thou art a queen, fair Leslie,
Thy subjects we, before thee;
Thou art divine, fair Leslie,
The hearts o’ men adore thee.


The deil he could na scaith thee,
Or aught that wad belang thee;
He ’d look into thy bonnie face,
And say, “I canna wrang thee!”


The Powers aboon will tent thee;
Misfortune sha’ na steer 1 thee;
Thou ’rt like themselves sae lovely
That ill they ’ll ne’er let near thee.


Return again, fair Leslie,
Return to Caledonie!
That we may brag we hae a lass
There ’s nane again sae bonnie.

Robert Burns

Qua Cursum Ventus


As ships, becalmed at eve, that lay
With canvas drooping, side by side,
Two towers of sail at dawn of day
Are scarce long leagues apart descried.


When fell the night, up sprang the breeze,
And all the darkling hours they plied,
Nor dreamt but each the selfsame seas
By each was cleaving, side by side:


E’en so,—but why the tale reveal
Of those whom, year by year unchanged,
Brief absence joined anew to feel,
Astounded, soul from soul estranged?


At dead of night their sails were filled,
And onward each rejoicing steered;—
Ah! neither blame, for neither willed
Or wist what first with dawn appeared.


To veer, how vain! On, onward strain,
Brave barks! In light, in darkness too,
Through winds and tides one compass guides;
To that and your own selves be true.


But O blithe breeze! and O great seas!
Though ne’er, that earliest parting past,
On your wide plain they join again,—
Together lead them home at last.


One port, methought, alike they sought,—
One purpose hold where’er they fare;
O bounding breeze, O rushing seas,
At last, at last, unite them there!

Arthur Hugh Clough

Auf Wiedersehen


Summer


The little gate was reached at last,
Half hid in lilacs down the lane;
She pushed it wide, and, as she past,
A wistful look she backward cast,
And said,—“Auf wiedersehen!”


With hand on latch, a vision white
Lingered reluctant, and again
Half doubting if she did aright,
Soft as the dews that fell that night,
She said,—“Auf wiedersehen!”


The lamp’s clear gleam flits up the stair;
I linger in delicious pain;
Ah, in that chamber, whose rich air
To breathe in thought I scarcely dare,
Thinks she,—“Auf wiedersehen!”


’T is thirteen years; once more I press
The turf that silences the lane;
I hear the rustle of her dress,
I smell the lilacs, and—ah, yes,
I hear,—“Auf wiedersehen!”


Sweet piece of bashful maiden art!
The English words had seemed too fain,
But these—they drew us heart to heart,
Yet held us tenderly apart;
She said,—“Auf wiedersehen!”

James Russell Lowell

Palinode


Autumn


Still thirteen years: ’t is autumn now
On field and hill, in heart and brain;
The naked trees at evening sough;
The leaf to the forsaken bough
Sighs not,—“Auf wiedersehen!”


Two watched yon oriole’s pendent dome,
That now is void, and dank with rain,
And one,—oh, hope more frail than foam!
The bird to his deserted home
Sings not,—“Auf wiedersehen!”


The loath gate swings with rusty creak;
Once, parting there, we played at pain;
There came a parting, when the weak
And fading lips essayed to speak
Vainly,—“Auf wiedersehen!”


Somewhere is comfort, somewhere faith,
Though thou in outer dark remain;
One sweet sad voice ennobles death,
And still, for eighteen centuries saith
Softly,—“Auf wiedersehen!”


If earth another grave must bear,
Yet heaven hath won a sweeter strain,
And something whispers my despair,
That, from an orient chamber there,
Floats down,—“Auf wiedersehen!”

James Russell Lowell

The Rustic Lad’s Lament in the Town


O, Wad that my time were owre but,
Wi’ this wintry sleet and snaw,
That I might see our house again,
I’ the bonnie birken shaw!
For this is no my ain life,
And I peak and pine away
Wi’ the thochts o’ hame and the young flowers,
In the glad green month of May.


I used to wauk in the morning
Wi’ the loud sang o’ the lark,
And the whistling o’ the ploughman lads,
As they gaed to their wark;
I used to wear the bit young lambs
Frae the tod and the roaring stream;
But the warld is changed, and a’ thing now
To me seems like a dream.


There are busy crowds around me,
On ilka lang dull street;
Yet, though sae mony surround me,
I ken na ane I meet:
And I think o’ kind kent faces,
And o’ blithe an’ cheery days,
When I wandered out wi’ our ain folk,
Out owre the simmer braes.


Waes me, for my heart is breaking!
I think o’ my brither sma’,
And on my sister greeting,
When I cam frae hame awa.
And O, how my mither sobbit,
As she shook me by the hand,
When I left the door o’ our auld house,
To come to this stranger land.


There ’s nae hame like our ain hame—
O, I wush that I were there!
There ’s nae hame like our ain hame
To be met wi’ onywhere;
And O that I were back again,
To our farm and fields sae green;
And heard the tongues o’ my ain folk,
And were what I hae been!

David Macbeth Moir

Daisy


Where the thistle lifts a purple crown
Six foot out of the turf,
And the harebell shakes on the windy hill—
O the breath of the distant surf!—


The hills look over on the South,
And southward dreams the sea;
And, with the sea-breeze hand in hand,
Came innocence and she.


Where ’mid the gorse the raspberry
Red for the gatherer springs,
Two children did we stray and talk
Wise, idle, childish things.


She listened with big-lipped surprise,
Breast-deep mid flower and spine:
Her skin was like a grape, whose veins
Run snow instead of wine.


She knew not those sweet words she spake,
Nor knew her own sweet way;
But there ’s never a bird, so sweet a song
Thronged in whose throat that day!


Oh, there were flowers in Storrington
On the turf and on the sprays;
But the sweetest flower on Sussex hills
Was the Daisy-flower that day!


Her beauty smoothed earth’s furrowed face!
She gave me tokens three:—
A look, a word of her winsome mouth,
And a wild raspberry.


A berry red, a guileless look,
A still word,—strings of sand!
And yet they made my wild, wild heart
Fly down to her little hand.


For standing artless as the air,
And candid as the skies,
She took the berries with her hand,
And the love with her sweet eyes.


The fairest things have fleetest end:
Their scent survives their close,
But the rose’s scent is bitterness
To him that loved the rose!


She looked a little wistfully,
Then went her sunshine way:—
The sea’s eye had a mist on it,
And the leaves fell from the day.


She went her unremembering way,
She went and left in me
The pang of all the partings gone,
And partings yet to be.


She left me marvelling why my soul
Was sad that she was glad;
At all the sadness in the sweet,
The sweetness in the sad.


Still, still I seemed to see her, still
Look up with soft replies,
And take the berries with her hand,
And the love with her lovely eyes.


Nothing begins, and nothing ends,
That is not paid with moan;
For we are born in others’ pain,
And perish in our own.

Francis Thompson

Love’s Memory


From “All ’s Well That Ends Well,” Act I. Sc. 1.


I am undone: there is no living, none,
If Bertram be away. It were all one,
That I should love a bright particular star,
And think to wed it, he is so above me:
In his bright radiance and collateral light
Must I be comforted, not in his sphere.
The ambition in my love thus plagues itself:
The hind that would be mated by the lion
Must die for love. ’T was pretty, though a plague,
To see him every hour; to sit and draw
His archèd brows, his hawking eye, his curls,
In our heart’s table,—heart too capable
Of every line and trick of his sweet favor:
But now he ’s gone, and my idolatrous fancy
Must sanctify his relics.

William Shakespeare

Farewells


They are so sad to say: no poem tells
The agony of hearts that dwells
In lone and last farewells.


They are like deaths: they bring a wintry chill
To summer’s roses, and to summer’s rill;
And yet we breathe them still.


For pure as altar-lights hearts pass away;
Hearts! we said to them, “Stay with us! stay!”
And they said, sighing as they said it, “Nay.”


The sunniest days are shortest; darkness tells
The starless story of the night that dwells
In lone and last farewells.


Two faces meet here, there, or anywhere:
Each wears the thoughts the other face may wear;
Their hearts may break, breathing, “Farewell fore’er.”

Abram Joseph Ryan

“What ails this heart o’ mine?”


What ails this heart o’ mine?
What ails this watery ee?
What gars me a’ turn pale as death
When I take leave o’ thee?
When thou art far awa’,
Thou ’lt dearer grow to me;
But change o’ place and change o’ folk
May gar thy fancy jee.


When I gae out at e’en,
Or walk at morning air,
Ilk rustling bush will seem to say
I used to meet thee there:
Then I ’ll sit down and cry,
And live aneath the tree,
And when a leaf fa’s i’ my lap,
I ’ll ca ’t a word frae thee.


I ’ll hie me to the bower
That thou wi’ roses tied,
And where wi’ mony a blushing bud
I strove myself to hide.
I ’ll doat on ilka spot
Where I ha’e been wi’ thee;
And ca’ to mind some kindly word
By ilka burn and tree.

Susanna Blamire

Song of Egla


Day, in melting purple dying;
Blossoms, all around me sighing;
Fragrance, from the lilies straying;
Zephyr, with my ringlets playing;
Ye but waken my distress;
I am sick of loneliness!


Thou, to whom I love to hearken,
Come, ere night around me darken;
Though thy softness but deceive me,
Say thou ’rt true, and I ’ll believe thee;
Veil, if ill, thy soul’s intent,
Let me think it innocent!


Save thy toiling, spare thy treasure;
All I ask is friendship’s pleasure;
Let the shining ore lie darkling,—
Bring no gem in lustre sparkling;
Gifts and gold are naught to me,
I would only look on thee!


Tell to thee the high-wrought feeling,
Ecstasy but in revealing;
Paint to thee the deep sensation,
Rapture in participation;
Yet but torture, if comprest
In a lone, unfriended breast.


Absent still! Ah! come and bless me!
Let these eyes again caress thee.
Once in caution, I could fly thee;
Now, I nothing could deny thee.
In a look if death there be,
Come, and I will gaze on thee!

Maria Gowen Brooks (Maria del Occidente)

Robin Adair


What’s this dull town to me?
Robin ’s not near,—
He whom I wished to see,
Wished for to hear;
Where ’s all the joy and mirth
Made life a heaven on earth,
O, they ’re all fled with thee,
Robin Adair!


What made the assembly shine?
Robin Adair:
What made the ball so fine?
Robin was there:
What, when the play was o’er,
What made my heart so sore?
O, it was parting with
Robin Adair!


But now thou art far from me,
Robin Adair;
But now I never see
Robin Adair;
Yet him I loved so well
Still in my heart shall dwell;
O, I can ne’er forget
Robin Adair!


Welcome on shore again,
Robin Adair!
Welcome once more again,
Robin Adair!
I feel thy trembling hand;
Tears in thy eyelids stand,
To greet thy native land,
Robin Adair!


Long I ne’er saw thee, love,
Robin Adair;
Still I prayed for thee, love,
Robin Adair;
When thou wert far at sea,
Many made love to me,
But still I thought on thee,
Robin Adair.


Come to my heart again,
Robin Adair;
Never to part again,
Robin Adair;
And if thou still art true,
I will be constant too,
And will wed none but you,
Robin Adair!

Lady Caroline Keppel

Old Folks at Home


Way down upon de Swanee Ribber,
Far, far away,
Dere ’s wha my heart is turning ebber,
Dere ’s wha de old folks stay.
All up and down de whole creation
Sadly I roam,
Still longing for de old plantation,
And for de old folks at home.


All de world am sad and dreary,
Ebery where I roam;
Oh, darkeys, how my heart grows weary,
Far from de old folks at home!


All round de little farm I wandered
When I was young,
Den many happy days I squandered,
Many de songs I sung.
When I was playing wid my brudder
Happy was I;
Oh, take me to my kind old mudder!
Dere let me live and die.


One little hut among de bushes,
One dat I love,
Still sadly to my memory rushes,
No matter where I rove.
When will I see de bees a-humming
All round de comb?
When will I hear de banjo tumming,
Down in my good old home?


All de world am sad and dreary,
Ebery where I roam;
Oh, darkeys, how my heart grows weary,
Far from de old folks at home!

Stephen Collins Foster

My Old Kentucky Home


Negro Song


The sun shines bright on our old Kentucky home;
’T is summer, the darkeys are gay;
The corn top ’s ripe and the meadow ’s in the bloom,
While the birds make music all the day;
The young folks roll on the little cabin floor,
All merry, all happy, all bright;
By’m by hard times comes a knockin’ at the door,—
Then, my old Kentucky home, good night!


CHORUS
Weep no more, my lady; O, weep no more to-day!
We ’ll sing one song for the old Kentucky home,
For our old Kentucky home far away.


They hunt no more for the possum and the coon,
On the meadow, the hill, and the shore;
They sing no more by the glimmer of the moon,
On the bench by the old cabin door;
The day goes by, like the shadow o’er the heart,
With sorrow where all was delight;
The time has come, when the darkeys have to part,
Then, my old Kentucky home, good night!


Weep no more, my lady, etc.


The head must bow, and the back will have to bend,
Wherever the darkey may go;
A few more days, and the troubles all will end,
In the field where the sugar-canes grow;
A few more days to tote the weary load,
No matter, it will never be light;
A few more days till we totter on the road,
Then, my old Kentucky home, good night!


Weep no more, my lady; O, weep no more to-day!
We ’ll sing one song for the old Kentucky home,
For our old Kentucky home far away.

Stephen Collins Foster

Parting of Hector and Andromache


From the Greek by Alexander Pope


From “The Iliad,” Book VI.


“Too daring prince! ah whither dost thou run?
Ah too forgetful of thy wife and son!
And think’st thou not how wretched we shall be,
A widow I, a helpless orphan he!
For sure such courage length of life denies,
And thou must fall, thy virtue’s sacrifice.
Greece in her single heroes strove in vain;
Now hosts oppose thee, and thou must be slain!
Oh grant me, gods! ere Hector meets his doom,
All I can ask of heaven, an early tomb!
So shall my days in one sad tenor run,
And end with sorrows as they first begun.
No parent now remains, my griefs to share,
No father’s aid, no mother’s tender care.
The fierce Achilles wrapt our walls in fire,
Laid Thebè waste, and slew my warlike sire!
His fate compassion in the victor bred;
Stern as he was, he yet revered the dead,
His radiant arms preserved from hostile spoil,
And laid him decent on the funeral pile;
Then raised a mountain where his bones were burned;
The mountain nymphs the rural tomb adorned;
Jove’s sylvan daughters bade their elms bestow
A barren shade, and in his honor grow.

*        *        *        *        *

“Yet while my Hector still survives, I see
My father, mother, brethren, all, in thee.
Alas! my parents, brothers, kindred, all,
Once more will perish if my Hector fall.
Thy wife, thy infant, in thy danger share;
Oh prove a husband’s and a father’s care!
That quarter most the skillful Greeks annoy,
Where yon wild fig-trees join the wall of Troy:
Thou, from this tower defend th’ important post;
There Agamemnon points his dreadful host,
That pass Tydides, Ajax, strive to gain,
And there the vengeful Spartan fires his train.
Thrice our bold foes the fierce attack have given,
Or led by hopes, or dictated from heaven.
Let others in the field their arms employ,
But stay my Hector here, and guard his Troy.”
The chief replied: “That post shall be my care,
Nor that alone, but all the works of war.
[How would the sons of Troy, in arms renowned,
And Troy’s proud dames, whose garments sweep the ground,
Attaint the lustre of my former name,
Should Hector basely quit the field of fame?
My early youth was bred to martial pains,
My soul impels me to th’ embattled plains:
Let me be foremost to defend the throne,
And guard my father’s glories, and my own.
Yet come it will, the day decreed by fates;
(How my heart trembles while my tongue relates)
The day when thou, imperial Troy! must bend,
And see thy warriors fall, thy glories end.
And yet no dire presage so wounds my mind,
My mother’s death, the ruin of my kind,
Not Priam’s hoary hairs denied with gore,
Not all my brothers gasping on the shore;
As thine, Andromachè! thy griefs I dread;
I see thee trembling, weeping, captive led!]
In Argive looms our battles to design,
And woes of which so large a part was thine!
To bear the victor’s hard commands or bring
The weight of waters from Hyperia’s spring.
There, while you groan beneath the load of life,
They cry, Behold the mighty Hector’s wife!
Some haughty Greek, who lives thy tears to see,
Embitters all thy woes by naming me.
The thoughts of glory past, and present shame,
A thousand griefs, shall waken at the name!
May I lie cold before that dreadful day,
Pressed with a load of monumental clay!
Thy Hector, wrapped in everlasting sleep,
Shall neither hear thee sigh, nor see thee weep.”
Thus having spoke, th’ illustrious chief of Troy
Stretched his fond arms to clasp the lovely boy.
The babe clung crying to his nurse’s breast,
Scared at the dazzling helm, and nodding crest.
With secret pleasure each fond parent smiled,
And Hector hastèd to relieve his child;
The glittering terrors from his brows unbound,
And placed the beaming helmet on the ground.
Then kissed the child, and, lifting high in air,
Thus to the gods preferred a father’s prayer:
“O thou whose glory fills th’ ethereal throne,
And all ye deathless powers! protect my son!
Grant him, like me, to purchase just renown,
To guard the Trojans, to defend the crown,
Against his country’s foes the war to wage,
And rise the Hector of the future age!
So when, triumphant from successful toils,
Of heroes slain he bears the reeking spoils,
Whole hosts may hail him with deserved acclaim,
And say, This chief transcends his father’s fame:
While pleased, amidst the general shouts of Troy,
His mother’s conscious heart o’erflows with joy.”
He spoke, and fondly gazing on her charms
Restored the pleasing burden to her arms;
Soft on her fragrant breast the babe she laid,
Hushed to repose, and with a smile surveyed.
The troubled pleasure soon chastised by fear,
She mingled with the smile a tender tear.
The softened chief with kind compassion viewed,
And dried the falling drops, and thus pursued:
“Andromachè! my soul’s far better part,
Why with untimely sorrows heaves thy heart?
No hostile hand can antedate my doom,
Till fate condemns me to the silent tomb.
Fixed is the term to all the race of earth,
And such the hard condition of our birth.
No force can then resist, no flight can save;
All sink alike, the fearful and the brave.
No more—but hasten to thy tasks at home,
There guide the spindle, and direct the loom:
Me glory summons to the martial scene,
The field of combat is the sphere for men.
Where heroes war, the foremost place I claim,
The first in danger as the first in fame.”
Thus having said, the glorious chief resumes
His towery helmet, black with shading plumes.
His princess parts with a prophetic sigh,
Unwilling parts, and oft reverts her eye,
That streamed at every look: then, moving slow,
Sought her own palace, and indulged her woe.
There, while her tears deplored the godlike man,
Through all her train the soft infection ran;
The pious maids their mingled sorrows shed,
And mourn the living Hector as the dead.

Homer

So, here is the greatest compilation of poems about farewell and absence.

Let me know which one is your favorite! 😉

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: