Divorce Poems and Divorce Songs
Find divorce poems & divorce songs, with videos & lyrics. Read Pulitzer-Prize-winning divorce poems. Learn how to write poems about divorce & where to publish.
Poetry is written about all of life's major events, and divorce is no exception. The loss of a marriage is one of the most emotional human experiences. Because poetry is pure emotion, it is no wonder that poets often choose divorce and lost love as themes for their writing.
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Poem about Divorce
You see marriages crash and burn from a crises, such as infidelity or abuse. But, more often than not, marriages just fizzle out, as poet T. S. Eliot wrote: "Not with a bang, but a whimper."
How, then, can a waning marriage be described?
Absence of Color
by Writer Fox™
White like the dress she would always remember,
White with a lopsided hinge like the closet door
Opening of its own from the weight of more
Clothes on its back than it was made to bear.
Saying Enough! saying you can no longer
Hide away all of the years and their heavy store,
Knowing it was little more than a matter
Of time now, anyway she knew it was over.
Still hanging on like white skirts in September
White tails on a kite trailing on to white winter.
Divorce Poetry Commentary
Inside every divorce is a reflection of the wedding day. In Absence of Color, the first image is the wedding dress. The dress, the significant symbol, will always live in a bride's memories. It represents the beginning of the marriage. The poem moves in a fast-forward to the present stage of the marriage, as if the wedding dress itself has been moved to a closet with a broken door hinge. So, too, is the marriage worn out and all of the years of the marriage are stored in a closet. The weight of those years is heavy.
The climax of the thoughts of the narrator of the poem is a shout. It is an angry shout. It is the recognition, the harsh reality that the marriage cannot continue. Things tucked away in the closet can no longer be hidden there.
The dénouement is the acceptance of the end of the marriage, of the divorce. The garment (the white wedding dress) becomes out-of-sync for the season, hanging on too long. The marriage becomes a vapor trail, like contrails from a plane. The conclusion of the poem is the narrator's journey to the next season, with the white of the wedding dress becoming a memory, trailing behind.
Divorce Poems in Anthologies
Rave reviews accompany the divorce poetry anthology, Split Verse: Poems to Heal Your Heart:
"Split Verse is poetry of uncomprised insight and beauty that reflects the emotional, spiritual, and practical realities of making a transition out of an intimate relationship."
by Peter E. Murphy
We blast our wedding horns
And two years later
by Elizabeth Harrington
He is a man. He talks.
She is a woman. She listens.
He empties his pain
like small red plum tomatoes
into the waiting air.
The woman catches them
with outstretched palms.
Now the man is brown coffee that sobs.
He pours himself into the woman's eyes.
She nods and nods.
When he is empty he begins again.
Full of him, she sloshes with his story
and the problem of the can opener.
It's not working again.
Wordlessly, she begins to clean his house,
sorting the junk into piles.
The clutter begins to disappear
into meaningful piles.
She feels better and better.
But the attic is in her head,
you know, and although he sees it
he doesn't understand.
When the sun spreads its butter,
one of them is missing.
And the piles have disappeared, too.
Not a single object is left.
But if you added water to the woman,
she would fill up and expand till her stomach split.
And her sorrow would astound you
with its variety of colors and sounds
and the oddly shaped things
that spill from it: a bird feeder,
a shepherd's crook,
some wind chimes that would make you
turn your head if you could hear them.
But of course you never could.
Famous Divorce Poems
George Meredith (1828 – 1909) was a renowned English poet from the Victorian era. His collection of 50 sonnets, Modern Love, is the narrative of his failed marriage due to his wife's adultery. Though a censored subject at the time, this work gained an immediate audience and its emotional legacy continues to our day.
from Modern Love: Sonnet I
By George Meredith
By this he knew she wept with waking eyes:
That, at his hand's light quiver by her head,
The strange low sobs that shook their common bed
Were called into her with a sharp surprise,
And strangled mute, like little gaping snakes,
Dreadfully venomous to him. She lay
Stone-still, and the long darkness flowed away
With muffled pulses. Then, as midnight makes
Her giant heart of Memory and Tears
Drink the pale drug of silence, and so beat
Sleep's heavy measure, they from head to feet
Were moveless, looking through their dead black years,
By vain regret scrawled over the blank wall.
Like sculptured effigies they might be seen
Upon their marriage-tomb, the sword between;
Each wishing for the sword that severs all.
by Writer Fox™
The sonic booms
Of angry words
The open wounds
The words of war
The closed door
While we explore
The sophistry of silence.
I don't remember
What you said
I don't remember
What I said
Too much was said
I only know
That half the bed
Is cuddling in the cold.
How to Sleep Alone in a King Sized Bed
Published with rave reviews from Publisher Weekly and Ladies Home Journal, this memoir of starting over after a divorce begins with "When Things Fall Apart" and follows the author's journey.
This is a poetic narrative and a true story. It describes the process of emerging on the other side of divorce.
Carl Sandburg is one of America's favorite poets. He won three Pulitzer Prizes, two of them for poetry. Though happily married for 59 years, Sandburg wrote of the plight of others in the difficult early years of Chicago in his poetry collection Chicago Poems.
by Carl Sandburg (1878 - 1967)
I WISH to God I never saw you, Mag.
I wish you never quit your job and came along with me.
I wish we never bought a license and a white dress
For you to get married in the day we ran off to a minister
And told him we would love each other and take care of each other
Always and always long as the sun and the rain lasts anywhere.
Yes, I'm wishing now you lived somewhere away from here
And I was a bum on the bumpers a thousand miles away dead broke.
I wish the kids had never come
And rent and coal and clothes to pay for
And a grocery man calling for cash,
Every day cash for beans and prunes.
I wish to God I never saw you, Mag.
I wish to God the kids had never come.
Anne Sexton (1928 – 1974) won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1967. She was among the so-called confessional poets, writing exclusively about her personal life. Many poems were about her troubled marriage and her affairs.
Yet, she remained married and did not divorce until 1973. Anne suffered from severe mental illness and eventually took her own life.
Killing the Love
by Anne Sexton
I am the love killer,
I am murdering the music we thought so special,
that blazed between us, over and over.
I am murdering me, where I kneeled at your kiss.
I am pushing knives through the hands
that created two into one.
Our hands do not bleed at this,
they lie still in their dishonor.
I am taking the boats of our beds
and swamping them, letting them cough on the sea
and choke on it and go down into nothing.
I am stuffing your mouth with your
promises and watching
you vomit them out upon my face.
The Camp we directed?
I have gassed the campers.
Now I am alone with the dead,
flying off bridges,
hurling myself like a beer can into the wastebasket.
I am flying like a single red rose,
leaving a jet stream
and yet I feel nothing,
though I fly and hurl,
my insides are empty
and my face is as blank as a wall.
Shall I call the funeral director?
He could put our two bodies into one pink casket,
those bodies from before,
and someone might send flowers,
and someone might come to mourn
and it would be in the obits,
and people would know that something died,
is no more, speaks no more, won't even
drive a car again and all of that.
When a life is over,
the one you were living for,
where do you go?
I'll work nights.
I'll dance in the city.
I'll wear red for a burning.
I'll look at the Charles very carefully,
wearing its long legs of neon.
And the cars will go by.
The cars will go by.
And there'll be no scream
from the lady in the red dress
dancing on her own Ellis Island,
who turns in circles,
as the cars go by.
Edna St. Vincent Millay
Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892 – 1950) was one of America's best selling love poets. In 1923 she won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.
Some poems reflect a dark side of love, as in the divorce poem below.
Millay was married for 26 years until her husband's death, but both of them were reportedly involved in affairs throughout the marriage. They lived during a time in America when divorce was rare.
The following poem is an excerpt from her selected works:
The Spring and the Fall
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
In the spring of the year, in the spring of the year,
I walked the road beside my dear.
The trees were black where the bark was wet.
I see them yet, in the spring of the year.
He broke me a bough of the blossoming peach
That was out of the way and hard to reach.
In the fall of the year, in the fall of the year,
I walked the road beside my dear.
The rooks went up with a raucous trill.
I hear them still, in the fall of the year.
He laughed at all I dared to praise,
And broke my heart, in little ways.
Year be springing or year be falling,
The bark will drip and the birds be calling.
There's much that's fine to see and hear
In the spring of a year, in the fall of a year.
'Tis not love's going hurt my days.
But that it went in little ways.
New Poems About Divorce
On April 15, 2013, Sharon Olds won the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for her collection of divorce poems, Stag's Leap.
This volume chronicles the breakup of her 32-year marriage, twelve years earlier. These were poems she kept close to her heart and only released them for publication in 2012.
This powerful book represents the first time the Pulitzer has awarded a prize for any work about divorce, propelling the work to a place in history for the subject of divorce.
Excerpts from the book follow with ordering information.
by Sharon Olds
Now I come to look at love
in a new way, now that I know I'm not
standing in its light. I want to ask my
almost-no-longer husband what it's like to not
love, but he does not want to talk about it,
he wants a stillness at the end of it.
And sometimes I feel as if, already,
I am not here-to stand in his thirty-year
sight, and not in love's sight,
I feel an invisibility
like a neutron in a cloud chamber buried in a mile-long
accelerator, where what cannot
be seen is inferred by what the visible
does. After the alarm goes off,
I stroke him, my hand feels like a singer
who sings along him, as if it is
his flesh that's singing, in its full range,
tenor of the higher vertebrae,
baritone, bass, contrabass.
I want to say to him, now, What
was it like, to love me-when you looked at me,
what did you see? When he loved me, I looked
out at the world as if from inside
a profound dwelling, like a burrow, or a well, I'd gaze
up, at noon, and see Orion
shining-when I thought he loved me, when I thought
we were joined not just for breath's time,
but for the long continuance,
the hard candies of femur and stone,
the fastnesses. He shows no anger,
I show no anger but in flashes of humor,
all is courtesy and horror. And after
the first minute, when I say, Is this about
her, and he says, No, it's about
you, we do not speak of her.
By Sharon Olds
When we talk about when to tell the kids,
we are so together, so concentrated.
I mutter, "I feel like a killer." "I'm
the killer"—taking my wrist-he says,
holding it. He is sitting on the couch,
the worn indigo chintz around him,
rich as a night tide, with jellies,
I am sitting on the floor. I look up at him
as if within some chamber of matedness
some dust I carry around me. Tonight,
to breathe its Magellanic field is less
painful, maybe because he is drinking
a wine grown where I was born—fog,
eucalyptus, sempervirens—and I'm
sharing the glass with him. "Don't catch
my cold," he says,"—oh, that's right, you want
to catch my cold." I should not have told him that,
I tell him I will try to fall out of
love with him, but I feel I will love him
all my life. He says he loves me
as the mother of our children, and new troupes
of tears mount to the acrobat platforms
of my ducts and do their burning leaps,
some of them jump straight sideways, and for a
moment, I imagine a flurry
of tears like a wirra of knives thrown
at a figure to outline it—a heart's spurt
of rage. It glitters, in my vision, I nod
to it, it is my hope.
Songs About Divorce
This is the actual video of Tammy Wynette singing her 1968 Country Music Award song, D-I-V-O-R-C-E. This live performance was filmed in 1973.
As she sings the song, Tammy changed the spelling of the little boy's name to "G-E-O" instead of "J-O-E." This was intentional, and was for her daughter Tamala Georgette who was born in 1970 during her troubled marriage to George Jones. That marriage ended in divorce.
The song lyrics, written by Bobby Braddock and Curley Putman, follow the video.
Tammy Wynette Divorce Songs
D-I-V-O-R-C-E Song Lyrics
Tammy Wynette Divorce Song
Tammy Wynette was married five times and had four divorces before her death in 1998 at the age of 55.
In 1976, after her divorce from country singer George Jones, she released an album named for her #1 song on the U.S. Country Singles charts, 'Til I Can Make It On My Own.
This was Tammy's personal favorite song from the many which she authored and sang in her professional career.
The divorce song lyrics, which Tammy co-authored, are transcribed below the video.
Tammy Wynette Divorce Song Video
'Til I Can Make It On My Own After Divorce by Tammy Wynette
Yesterday was written by Paul McCartney in 1965, and was released on the sixth Beatles album, Help. In 1999, it was rated the best song of the 20th century by BBC Radio. It is the most famous divorce poem and divorce song of all time.
Watch the video which has been played more than seven million times on YouTube. The divorce song's Lyrics follow the video.
Yesterday Song Lyrics
This divorce song, I Still Miss You, is by country singer Keith Anderson. The lyrics follow the video.
I Still Miss You Divorce Song Lyrics
The Love Inside
The Love Inside by Barry Allan Gibb was recorded by Barbra Streisand. The lyrics are transcribed below the video:
The Love Inside
The Love Inside Song Lyrics
Publish Your Divorce Poems
Write Poems About Divorce
Poetry writing can be a cathartic experience for those dealing with divorce, because a poem is the release of pent-up emotions, spilling onto a piece of paper.
Writing poetry is about expressing feelings. It has no other purpose. The 19th century English novelist, Frederick William Robinson, described a poet's work as:
"The office of poetry is not to make us think accurately, but feel truly."
The art of poetry is the stirring of emotions in the mind of the reader.
Writing poetry about a divorce is revealing something about the marriage itself. But it is not the facts that are important; it is the emotions. For those divorcing, writing a poem can be the process of identifying, capturing and saving the emotional experience. Any one can write a poem because feelings are in the heart of every human being.
Find more than 50 quotations about divorce in this free, online resource:
More Poetry Collections
Read more poetry by Writer Fox™ in these collections:
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Read a narrative poem about peace and the definition of peace. 20 poetic definitions of peace from war, first published in The Journal of New Jersey Poets:
Read 60 spring poems, with the best new and famous poems about spring plus spring poems for kids:
Visit this online collection of more than 50 poems about winter.
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