35 Best Poems About Self Harm

Here are the 35 best poems about self-harm categorized:

  • Poems about depression and anxiety
  • Poems about self harm and suicide
  • Poems about healing from self harm

If you want the best self-harm poems, then this poetry collection is for you.

This poem collection may upset or trigger you. Please read this with caution.
If you or someone you know is going through something difficult, struggling with thoughts of suicide or self-harm, you’re not alone. Helplines can provide free, confidential, and immediate support!

Table of Contents

Unhappy young man and his inner trauma or bleeding scar

My Favorite Self Harm Poem

Sad and depressed young woman sitting on the floor in the living room looking outside the door

Resumé

Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.

Dorothy Parker

Poems About Depression and Anxiety

Sad man with depression

The Debt

This is the debt I pay
Just for one riotous day,
Years of regret and grief,
Sorrow without relief.

Pay it I will to the end —
Until the grave, my friend,
Gives me a true release —
Gives me the clasp of peace.

Slight was the thing I bought,
Small was the debt I thought,
Poor was the loan at best —
God! but the interest!

Paul Laurence Dunbar

Alone

I am alone, in spite of love,
In spite of all I take and give—
In spite of all your tenderness,
Sometimes I am not glad to live.
I am alone, as though I stood
On the highest peak of the tired gray world,
About me only swirling snow,
Above me, endless space unfurled;
With earth hidden and heaven hidden,
And only my own spirit’s pride
To keep me from the peace of those
Who are not lonely, having died.

Sara Teasdale

After

I will not walk in the wood to-night,
I will not stand by the water’s edge
And see day lie on the dusk’s bright ledge
Until it turn, a star at its breast,
To rest.

I will not see the wide-flung hills
Closing darkly about my grief,
I wore a crown of their lightest leaf,
But now they press like a cold, blue ring,
Imprisoning.

I dare not meet that caroling blade,
Jauntily drawn in the sunset pine,
Stabbing me with its thrust divine,
Knowing my naked, aching need,
Till I bleed.

Sheathe your song, invincible bird,
Strike not at me with that flashing note,
Have pity, have pity, persistent throat,
Deliver me not to your dread delight
To-night!

I am afraid of the creeping wood,
I am afraid of the furtive trees,
Hiding behind them, memories,
Ready to spring, to clutch, to tear,
Wait for me there.

Leonora Speyer
Bipolar people emotion mental woman

We Wear The Mask

We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?

Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!

Paul Laurence Dunbar

I Am!

I am! yet what I am none cares or knows,
My friends forsake me like a memory lost;
I am the self-consumer of my woes,
They rise and vanish in oblivious host,
Like shades in love and death’s oblivion lost;
And yet I am! and live with shadows tost

Into the nothingness of scorn and noise,
Into the living sea of waking dreams,
Where there is neither sense of life nor joys,
But the vast shipwreck of my life’s esteems;
And e’en the dearest—that I loved the best—
Are strange—nay, rather stranger than the rest.

I long for scenes where man has never trod;
A place where woman never smil’d or wept;
There to abide with my creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept:
Untroubling and untroubled where I lie;
The grass below—above the vaulted sky.

John Clare

A Question

A voice said, Look me in the stars
And tell me truly, men of earth,
If all the soul-and-body scars
Were not too much to pay for birth.

Robert Frost
Woman in a desert at sunrise

Exile

I have made grief a gorgeous, queenly thing,
And worn my melancholy with an air.
My tears were big as stars to deck my hair,
My silence stunning as a sapphire ring.
Oh, more than any light the dark could fling
A glamour over me to make me rare,
Better than any color I could wear
The pearly grandeur that the shadows bring.
What is there left to joy for such as I?
What throne can dawn upraise for me who found
The dusk so royal and so rich a one?
Laughter will whirl and whistle on the sky—
Far from this riot I shall stand uncrowned,
Disrobed, bereft, an outcast in the sun.

Winifred Welles

Irreparableness

I have been in the meadows all the day
And gathered there the nosegay that you see
Singing within myself as bird or bee
When such do field-work on a morn of May.
But, now I look upon my flowers, decay
Has met them in my hands more fatally
Because more warmly clasped, and sobs are free
To come instead of songs. What do you say,
Sweet counsellors, dear friends? that I should go
Back straightway to the fields and gather more?
Another, sooth, may do it, but not I!
My heart is very tired, my strength is low,
My hands are full of blossoms plucked before,
Held dead within them till myself shall die.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Upon Some Distemper of Body

In anguish of my heart replete with woes,
And wasting pains, which best my body knows,
In tossing slumbers on my wakeful bed,
Bedrenched with tears that flowed from mournful head,
Till nature had exhausted all her store,
Then eyes lay dry, disabled to weep more;
And looking up unto his throne on high,
Who sendeth help to those in misery;
He chased away those clouds and let me see
My anchor cast i’ th’ vale with safety.

He eased my soul of woe, my flesh of pain,
and brought me to the shore from troubled main.

Anne Bradstreet
Man in despair with raised hands and bowed head, in a low light

I Felt A Funeral In My Brain

I felt a funeral in my brain,
And mourners, to and fro,
Kept treading, treading, till it seemed
That sense was breaking through.

And when they all were seated,
A service like a drum
Kept beating, beating, till I thought
My mind was going numb.

And then I heard them lift a box,
And creak across my soul
With those same boots of lead, again.
Then space began to toll

As all the heavens were a bell,
And Being but an ear,
And I and silence some strange race,
Wrecked, solitary, here.

Emily Dickinson

Sonnet 29

When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man’s art and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
(Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth) sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

William Shakespeare

Escape

Shadows, shadows,
Hug me round,
So that I shall not be found
By sorrow:
She pursues me
Everywhere,
I can’t lose her
Anywhere.

Fold me in your black
Abyss,
She will never look
In this,—
Shadows, shadows,
Hug me round
In your solitude
Profound.

Georgia Douglas Johnson
Blurred victim of violence

It Was Not Death, For I Stood Up

It was not Death, for I stood up,
And all the Dead, lie down—
It was not Night, for all the Bells
Put out their Tongues, for Noon.

It was not Frost, for on my Flesh
I felt Siroccos—crawl—
Nor Fire—for just my Marble feet
Could keep a Chancel, cool—
And yet, it tasted, like them all,
The Figures I have seen
Set orderly, for Burial,
Reminded me, of mine—

As if my life were shaven,
And fitted to a frame,
And could not breathe without a key,
And ’twas like Midnight, some –

When everything that ticked—has stopped—
And Space stares—all around—
Or Grisly frosts—first Autumn morns,
Repeal the Beating Ground—

But, most, like Chaos—Stopless—cool—
Without a Chance, or Spar—
Or even a Report of Land—
To justify—Despair.

Emily Dickinson

Poems About Self Harm and Suicide

Depressed man standing on edge of cliff

Rhyme Against Living

If wild my breast and sore my pride,
I bask in dreams of suicide;
If cool my heart and high my head,
I think, “How lucky are the dead!”

Dorothy Parker

A Wish

The days drag on, each moment multiplies
Within my wounded heart the pain and sadness
Of an unhappy love and, dark, gives rise.
To sleepless dreams, the haunting dreams of madness
But I do not complain – instead, I weep;
Tears bring me solace, comforted they leave me.
My spirit, captive held by grief, a deep.
And bitter rapture finds in them, believe me.
Pass, life! Come, empty phantom, onward fly.
And in the silent void of darkness vanish.
Dear it to me my love’s unending anguish;
If as I die I love, pray let me die.

Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin

A Hero

Three times I had the lust to kill,
To clutch a throat so young and fair,
And squeeze with all my might until
No breath of being lingered there.
Three times I drove the demon out,
Though on my brow was evil sweat. . . .
And yet I know beyond a doubt
He’ll get me yet, he’ll get me yet.

I know I’m mad, I ought to tell
The doctors, let them care for me,
Confine me in a padded cell
And never, never set me free;
But Oh how cruel that would be!
For I am young – and comely too . . .
Yet dim my demon I can see,
And there is but one thing to do.

Three times I beat the foul fiend back;
The fourth, I know he will prevail,
And so I’ll seek the railway track
And lay my head upon the rail,
And sight the dark and distant train,
And hear its thunder louder roll,
Coming to crush my cursed brain . . .
Oh God, have mercy on my soul!

Robert W. Service
Mountain rock range

Stones

It is best now
to give suffering its way with me,
like a sea with a stone,
and let the spray which is others’ joy—
the spray dancing on those
I bumped against
while bounding and tumbling and rolling here—
give me content.

Suffering
carves smoothness
which cannot cut any longer—
should I roll again

Alfred Kreymborg

I Measure Every Grief I Meet

I measure every Grief I meet
With narrow, probing, eyes –
I wonder if It weighs like Mine –
Or has an Easier size.

I wonder if They bore it long –
Or did it just begin –
I could not tell the Date of Mine –
It feels so old a pain –

I wonder if it hurts to live –
And if They have to try –
And whether – could They choose between –
It would not be – to die –

I note that Some – gone patient long –
At length, renew their smile –
An imitation of a Light
That has so little Oil –

I wonder if when Years have piled –
Some Thousands – on the Harm –
That hurt them early – such a lapse
Could give them any Balm –

Or would they go on aching still
Through Centuries of Nerve –
Enlightened to a larger Pain –
In Contrast with the Love –

The Grieved – are many – I am told –
There is the various Cause –
Death – is but one – and comes but once –
And only nails the eyes –

There’s Grief of Want – and grief of Cold –
A sort they call “Despair” –
There’s Banishment from native Eyes –
In sight of Native Air –

And though I may not guess the kind –
Correctly – yet to me
A piercing Comfort it affords
In passing Calvary –

To note the fashions – of the Cross –
And how they’re mostly worn –
Still fascinated to presume
That Some – are like my own –

Emily Dickinson

An Irish Airman Foresees His Death

I know that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the clouds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate,
Those that I guard I do not love;
My country is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan’s poor,
No likely end could bring them loss
Or leave them happier than before.
Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;
I balanced all, brought all to mind,
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.

William Butler Yeats
Woman standing in the sunset sea waves i

Suicide’s Note

The calm,
Cool face of the river
Asked me for a kiss.

Langston Hughes

A Ballad Of Suicide

The gallows in my garden, people say,

Is new and neat and adequately tall;
I tie the noose on in a knowing way

As one that knots his necktie for a ball;
But just as all the neighbours-on the wall –
Are drawing a long breath to shout “Hurray!”

The strangest whim has seized me. . . . After all
I think I will not hang myself to-day.
To-morrow is the time I get my pay-

My uncle’s sword is hanging in the hall –
I see a little cloud all pink and grey-

Perhaps the rector’s mother will not call – I fancy that I heard from Mr. Gall
That mushrooms could be cooked another way-

I never read the works of Juvenal –
I think I will not hang myself to-day.
The world will have another washing-day;

The decadents decay; the pedants pall;
And H. G. Wells has found that children play,

And Bernard Shaw discovered that they squall,
Rationalists are growing rational –
And through thick woods one finds a stream astray

So secret that the very sky seems small –
I think I will not hang myself to-day.

ENVOI
Prince, I can hear the trumpet of Germinal,
The tumbrils toiling up the terrible way;

Even to-day your royal head may fall,
I think I will not hang myself to-day

Gilbert Keith Chesterton

Richard Cory

Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
“Good-morning,” and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich – yes, richer than a king –
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.

Edwin Arlington Robinson
Thin woman lying in bed

Here Dead We Lie

Here dead we lie
Because we did not choose
To live and shame the land
From which we sprung.

Life, to be sure,
Is nothing much to lose,
But young men think it is,
And we were young.

Alfred Edward Housman

Sorrows of Werther

Werther had a love for Charlotte
Such as words could never utter;
Would you know how first he met her?
She was cutting bread and butter.
Charlotte was a married lady,
And a moral man was Werther,
And, for all the wealth of Indies,
Would do nothing for to hurt her.
So he sighed and pined and ogled,
And his passion boiled and bubbled,
Till he blew his silly brains out,
And no more was by it troubled.
Charlotte, having seen his body
Borne before her on a shutter,
Like a well-conducted person,
Went on cutting bread and butter.

William Makepeace Thackeray

I Shall Not Care

When I am dead and over me bright April
Shakes out her rain-drenched hair,
Tho’ you should lean above me broken-hearted,
I shall not care.

I shall have peace, as leafy trees are peaceful
When rain bends down the bough,
And I shall be more silent and cold-hearted
Than you are now.

Sara Teasdale
Lonely woman walking in a foggy old city in city street lights

Morning

You’re unhappy, sick at heart:
Oh, I know it-here such sickness isn’t rare.
Nature can but mirror
The surrounding poverty.

All is ever drear and dismal,
Pastures, fields, and meadows,
Wet and drowsy jackdaws
Resting on the peaked haystacks;

Here’s a drunken peasant driving
His collapsing nag
Into far-off blueish mists,
Such a gloomy sky . . . It makes one weep!

The rich city is no better, though:
The same storm clouds race across the sky;
It’s hard on the nerves-steel shovels
Scraping, screeching as they clean the streets

Work’s beginning everywhere;
From the fire tower an alarm goes up;
A condemned man’s brought outside
Where the executioners already wait.

At the break of day a prostitute is hurrying
Home from someone’s bed;
Officers inside a hired carriage
Leave the city-there will be a duel.

Shopkeepers have roused themselves
And they rush to sit behind their counters:
All day long they need to swindle
If they want to eat their fill at night.

Listen! Cannon fire from the fortress!
There’s a flood endangering the capital . . .
Someone’s died: Upon a scarlet cushion
Lies a first-class Anna decoration.

Now a yardman beats a thief-he got him!
Geese are driven out to slaughter;
From an upper floor the crackle
Of a shot-another suicide. .

Nikolay Alekseyevich Nekrasov

Midnight Oil

Cut if you will, with Sleep’s dull knife,
Each day to half its length, my friend,-
The years that Time take off my life,
He’ll take from off the other end!

Edna St. Vincent Millay

The Suicide

Vast was the wealth I carried in life’s pack –
Youth, health, ambition, hope and trust; but Time
And Fate, those robbers fit for any crime,
Stole all, and left me but the empty sack.
Before me lay a long and lonely track
Of darkling hills and barren steeps to climb;
Behind me lay in shadows the sublime
Lost lands of Love’s delight. Alack! Alack!

Unwearied, and with springing steps elate,
I had conveyed my wealth along the road.
The empty sack proved now a heavier load:
I was borne down beneath its worthless weight.
I stumbled on, and knocked at Death’s dark gate.
There was no answer. Stung by sorrow’s goad
I forced my way into that grim abode,
And laughed, and flung Life’s empty sack to Fate.

Unknown and uninvited I passed in
To that strange land that hangs between two goals,
Round which a dark and solemn river rolls –
More dread its silence than the loud earth’s din.
And now, where was the peace I hoped to win?
Black-masted ships slid past me in great shoals,
Their bloody decks thronged with mistaken souls.
(God punishes mistakes sometimes like sin.)

Not rest and not oblivion I found.
My suffering self dwelt with me just the same;
But here no sleep was, and no sweet dreams came
To give me respite. Tyrant Death, uncrowned
By my own hand, still King of Terrors, frowned
Upon my shuddering soul, that shrank in shame
Before those eyes where sorrow blent with blame,
And those accusing lips that made no sound.

What gruesome shapes dawned on my startled sight
What awful sighs broke on my listening ear!
The anguish of the earth, augmented here
A thousand-fold, made one continuous night.
The sack I flung away in impious spite
Hung yet upon me, filled, I saw in fear.
With tears that rained from earth’s adjacent sphere,
And turned to stones in falling from that height.

And close about me pressed a grieving throng,
Each with his heavy sack, which bowed him so
His face was hidden. One of these mourned: “Know
Who enters here but finds the way more long
To those fair realms where sounds the angels’ song.
There is no man-made exit out of woe;
Ye cannot dash the locked door down and go
To claim thy rightful joy through paths of wrong.”

He passed into the shadows dim and grey,
And left me to pursue my path alone.
With terror greater than I yet had known.
Hard on my soul the awful knowledge lay,
Death had not ended life nor found God’s way;
But, with my same sad sorrows still my own,
Where by-roads led to by-roads, thistle-sown,
I had but wandered off and gone astray.

With earth still near enough to hear its sighs,
With heaven afar and hell but just below,
Still on and on my lonely soul must go
Until I earn the right to Paradise.
We cannot force our way into God’s skies,
Nor rush into the rest we long to know;
But patiently, with bleeding steps and slow
Toil on to where selfhood in Godhood dies.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Poems About Healing From Self Harm

Woman with the white dress sit and watching the mountain

Ode on Melancholy

No, no, go not to Lethe, neither twist
Wolf’s-bane, tight-rooted, for its poisonous wine;
Nor suffer thy pale forehead to be kiss’d
By nightshade, ruby grape of Proserpine;
Make not your rosary of yew-berries,
Nor let the beetle, nor the death-moth be
Your mournful Psyche, nor the downy owl
A partner in your sorrow’s mysteries;
For shade to shade will come too drowsily,
And drown the wakeful anguish of the soul.

But when the melancholy fit shall fall
Sudden from heaven like a weeping cloud,
That fosters the droop-headed flowers all,
And hides the green hill in an April shroud;
Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose,
Or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave,
Or on the wealth of globed peonies;
Or if thy mistress some rich anger shows,
Emprison her soft hand, and let her rave,
And feed deep, deep upon her peerless eyes.

She dwells with Beauty—Beauty that must die;
And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips
Bidding adieu; and aching Pleasure nigh,
Turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips:
Ay, in the very temple of Delight
Veil’d Melancholy has her sovran shrine,
Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue
Can burst Joy’s grape against his palate fine;
His soul shalt taste the sadness of her might,
And be among her cloudy trophies hung.

John Keat

On Pain

And a woman spoke, saying, Tell us of Pain.
And he said:
Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.
And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy;
And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields.
And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief.

Much of your pain is self-chosen.
It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self.
Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence and tranquility:
For his hand, though heavy and hard, is guided by the tender hand of the Unseen,
And the cup he brings, though it burn your lips, has been fashioned of the clay which the Potter has moistened with His own sacred tears.

Kahlil Gibran

Severer Service of Myself

Severer Service of myself
I hastened to demand
To fill the awful Vacuum
Your life had left behind

I worried Nature with my Wheels
When Hers had ceased to run
When she had put away Her Work
My own had just begun.

I strove to weary Brain and Bone
To harass to fatigue
The glittering Retinue of nerves
Vitality to clog

To some dull comfort Those obtain
Who put a Head away
They knew the Hair to
And forget the color of the Day

Affliction would not be appeased
The Darkness braced as firm
As all my stratagem had been
The Midnight to confirm

No Drug for Consciousness can be
Alternative to die
Is Nature’s only Pharmacy
For Being’s Malady

Emily Dickinson
Person in the red field

Fire-Flowers

And only where the forest fires have sped,
Scorching relentlessly the cool north lands,
A sweet wild flower lifts its purple head,
And, like some gentle spirit sorrow-fed,
It hides the scars with almost human hands.

And only to the heart that knows of grief,
Of desolating fire, of human pain,
There comes some purifying sweet belief,
Some fellow-feeling beautiful, if brief.
And life revives, and blossoms once again.

Emily Pauline Johnson

Tasting the Earth

In a dark hour, tasting the Earth.

As I lay on my couch in the muffled night, and the rain lashed at my window,
And my forsaken heart would give me no rest, no pause and no peace,
Though I turned my face far from the wailing of my bereavement…
Then I said: I will eat of this sorrow to its last shred,
I will take it unto me utterly,
I will see if I be not strong enough to contain it…
What do I fear? Discomfort?
How can it hurt me, this bitterness?

The miracle, then!
Turning toward it, and giving up to it,
I found it deeper than my own self…
O dark great mother-globe so close beneath me…
It was she with her inexhaustable grief,
Ages of blood-drenched jungles, and the smoking of craters, and the roar of tempests,
And moan of the forsaken seas,
It was she with the hills beginning to walk in the shapes of the dark-hearted animals,
It was she risen, dashing away tears and praying to dumb skies, in the pomp-crumbling tragedy of man…
It was she, container of all griefs, and the buried dust of broken hearts,
Cry of the christs and the lovers and the child-stripped mothers,
And ambition gone down to defeat, and the battle overborne,
And the dreams that have no waking…

My heart became her ancient heart:
On the food of the strong I fed, on dark strange life itself:
Wisdom-giving and sombre with the unremitting love of ages…

There was dank soil in my mouth,
And bitter sea on my lips,
In a dark hour, tasting the Earth.

James Oppenheim

Resumé

Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.

Dorothy Parker
Sun and clouds

The Rainy Day

The day is cold, and dark, and dreary
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the mouldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary.

My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
My thoughts still cling to the mouldering Past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast,
And the days are dark and dreary.

Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow