Selected Poems

5 Poems About Betrayal – The Worst Sin

Last Updated: January 20, 2023

Betrayal is one of the most painful experiences a person can go through. It can come in many forms – from a loved one, a friend, or even a country. In this blog post, we will explore five powerful poems that delve into the theme of betrayal, highlighting the different ways it can manifest and the emotions it can evoke.

From heartbreak to anger, these poems capture the raw and visceral feelings that come with being betrayed. Whether you’ve experienced betrayal firsthand or simply want to understand the complexity of this emotion, these poems offer a unique perspective on one of the worst sins a person can commit.

1. Betrayal by Emily Dickinson

Who knows what intimacies our eyes may shout,
What evident secrets daily foreheads flaunt,
What panes of glass conceal our beating hearts?

The poem Betrayal by Emily Dickinson explores the idea that betrayal can be subtle and disguised in everyday interactions, and that it may not always be obvious. Dickinson uses imagery to convey this idea, describing a man who reveals “half himself” in the way a tune comes into equilibrium, and the way two pencil lines flow together and then separate. These images suggest that betrayal can be subtle and not always obvious and that it can be disguised in seemingly normal or even beautiful interactions.

The poem also explores the idea that people often keep their true selves hidden, and that betrayal may be rooted in this kind of deception. Dickinson uses the image of “panes of glass” to describe the concealment of people’s hearts, suggesting that people often hide their true selves behind a facade. Betrayal also questions the secrets that may be hidden behind the facade of everyday interactions, asking who knows what “intimacies our eyes may shout” and what secrets are “flaunted” by people’s foreheads.

2. Betrayal by Alice Notley

I keep going back to that word
the French like it trahison the French are partly me

In her poem Betrayal, Alice Notley explores the theme of betrayal and its impact on our identity and perception of reality. The speaker in the poem reflects on their French heritage, the connection to the word “trahison” (betrayal), and how it relates to their understanding of metaphysical betrayal. He or she also considers their own prior betrayal experiences, how they affected them, and how it connects to the passing of a loved one.

Betrayal also mentions the use of collages and the Fibonacci series as a metaphor for how the speaker pieces together their understanding of the world and experiences. Notley includes a dedication to Ross, a deceased loved one, and the idea that the speaker’s poems help those who have died. The poem ends with the idea that death and betrayal are inescapable parts of life and that the speaker must learn to accept and find meaning in them.

3. Betrayal by William Hathaway

It’s now all about money
about which poetry rarely reaches
transcendence. But love must still fester

William Hathaway discusses the topics of love, poetry, and money in his poem Betrayal. The speaker reflects on how love and poetry have become less important in a society that values money above all else. They express concern that people are more focused on financial gain than on the emotional and spiritual fulfillment that love and poetry can provide.

The speaker also refers to the use of soma as a way for people to numb their feelings and avoid dealing with the pain of betrayal. Hathaway argues that poetry is often seen as a way to deal with difficult emotions, but in a world where money is prioritized, it has lost its power to do so. Overall, the poem suggests that in a society where money is valued above all else, love and poetry are in danger of becoming irrelevant.

4. Betrayal by Andrea Hollander

They decide finally not to speak
of it, the one blemish in their otherwise
blameless marriage. It happened

Hollander’s poem Betrayal examines what happens once an affair occurs in a marriage. The couple decides not to discuss the event and instead chooses to move on. However, the emotional effects of the betrayal continue to linger, with both the person who committed the infidelity and the person who was betrayed still feeling the pain and longing caused by the event.

Hollander suggests that the betrayal has had a lasting impact on the marriage and that the couple is unable to move past it fully. She wrote it in a way that creates a sense of distance between the couple and the reader, emphasizing the emotional distance caused by the betrayal.

5. Betrayal by Jonathan Wells

America, we let you sleep too late.
You wake up groggy and confused
not recognizing the bedroom curtains.

Betrayal by Jonathan Wells is a poem that reflects on the state of America and its relationship with its people. The speaker, who represents the people, accuses America of sleeping too late and not recognizing its surroundings. The speaker also implies that the people are dependent on America for their survival, comparing themselves to holy water, vitamins, and a morning pill.

The poem suggests that there is a sense of betrayal or disappointment in the way America is behaving and the speaker is left feeling confused and disoriented as a result. The use of imagery such as “bedrock stairs” and “banister” creates a sense of instability and precariousness, further emphasizing the theme of betrayal.

Final thoughts

In conclusion, betrayal is a universal theme that is explored in literature, and these five poems are just a small sample of the many works that delve into this complex emotion. They show us how betrayal can come in many forms and how it can leave us feeling hurt, angry, and confused. These poems serve as a reminder that we are not alone in our struggles, and that even the greatest of poets have struggled with betrayal.

We hope that these poems have resonated with you and that they have helped you understand the complexity of this emotion. If you have any other poems about betrayal that you would like to share, please leave them in the comments section below. Thank you for reading and we hope you enjoyed this blog post.

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