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The Power of Loss

Poems from Europe

Author Biographies
Poems from Europe
Poems from Asia
Poems from Africa
Poems from Other countries

the poems will be set up as such:
"TItle of Poem"
  -Translator (if one exists)
country of origin

"Autumn Song"
Violins complain
of autumn again,
       They sob and moan.
And my heartstrings ache
Like the song they make,
       A monotone.
Suffocating, drowned,
And holloly, sound
      The midnoght chimes.
Then the days return
I knew, and I mourn
       For bygone times.
And I fall and drift
With the winds that lift
       My heavy grief.
Here and there they blow,
And I rise and go,
       Like a dead leaf.
-Paul Verlaine
  -Translated by: Louis Simpson
"Sonnet 23"
What good is it to me if long ago
you eloquently praised my golden hair,
compared my eyes and beauty to the flare
of two suns where, you say, love bent the bow,
sending the darts that needled you with grief?
Where are your tears that faded in the ground?
Your death? by which your constant love is bound
in oaths and honor now beyond belief?
Your brutal goal was to make me a slave
beneath the ruse of being served by you.
Pardon me, friend, and for once hear me through:
I am outraged with anger and I rave.
Yet I am sure, wherever you have gone,
your martyrdom is hard as my black dawn.
-Louise Labe
  -Translated by: Willis Barnstone

"Small Solace"
Despair not. In loss,
after a warm door closes,
a chill one opens
-Richard George
United Kingdom
"Tears of the Fatherland"
Full now—yea, more than full--behold our devastation:
The frantic drum beat, and the brazen horde,
The thundering siege gun, and the blood-slick sword
Devour all diligence, and sweat, and careful preparation.

The church is overthrown; our mighty men are slain;
The town hall lies in dust; our towers burn;
Virgins are raped; and everywhere we turn
Are fire, plague, and death to pierce us—heart and brain.

Down walls and through the town runs always fresh-spilled blood
For eighteen summers now, our river's yearly flood
Near-choked with corpses, has pushed slowly, slowly on

But nothing will I say of one thing—worse, I know,
Than death, more grim than plague, or fire, or hunger's woe:
Those pillaged souls from whom even hope of heaven is gone.
-Andreas Gryphius
"The Lover Mourns For The Loss of Love"
PALE brows, still hands and dim hair,
I had a beautiful friend
And dreamed that the old despair
Would end in love in the end:
She looked in my heart one day
And saw your image was there;
She has gone weeping away.
-William Butler Yeats
"Sonnet 90: Then hate me when thou wilt; if ever, now"
Then hate me when thou wilt; if ever, now;
Now, while the world is bent my deeds to cross,
join with the spite of fortune, make me bow,
And do not drop in for an after-loss.
Ah, do not, when my heart hath 'scaped this sorrow,
Come in the rearward of a conquered woe;
Give not a windy night a rainy morrow,
To linger out a purposed overthrow.
If thou wilt leave me, do not leave me last,
When other petty griefs have done their spite,
But in the onset come; so shall I taste
At first the very worst of fortune's might,
And other strains of woe, which now seem woe,
Compared with loss of thee will not seem so.
-William Shakespeare
United Kingdom
"Lines 1-16 in the Iliad"
Anger be now your song, immortal one,
Akhilleus' anger, doomed and ruinous,
that caused the Akhaians loss on bitter loss
and crowded brave souls into the undergloom,
leaving so many dead men--carrion
for dogs and birds; and the will of Zeus was done.
Begin it when the two men first contending
broke with one another--
the Lord Marshal
Agamémnon, Atreus' son, and Prince Akhilleus.

Among the gods, who brought this quarrel on?
The son of Zeus by Lêto. Agamémnon
angered him, so he made a burning wind
of plague rise in the army: rank and file
sickened and died for the ill their chief had done
in despising a man of prayer.
I have lost, and lately, these
Many dainty mistresses:--
Stately Julia, prime of all;
Sapho next, a principal:
Smooth Anthea, for a skin
White, and heaven-like crystalline:
Sweet Electra, and the choice
Myrha, for the lute and voice.
Next, Corinna, for her wit,
And the graceful use of it;
With Perilla:--All are gone;
Only Herrick's left alone,
For to number sorrow by
Their departures hence, and die.
-Robert Herrick
United Kingdom
"The Loss of the Victoria"
Alas! Now o'er Britannia there hangs a gloom,
Because over 400 British Tars have met with a watery tomb;
Who served aboard the " Victoria," the biggest ship in the navy,
And one of the finest battleships that ever sailed the sea.

And commanded by Sir George Tyron, a noble hero bold,
And his name on his tombstone should be written in letters of gold;
For he was skilful in naval tactics, few men could with him cope,
And he was considered to be the nation's hope.

'Twas on Thursday, the twenty-second of June,
And off the coast of Syria, and in the afternoon,
And in the year of our Lord eighteen ninety-three,
That the ill-fated "Victoria" sank to the bottom of the sea.

The "Victoria" sank in fifteen minutes after she was rammed,
In eighty fathoms of water, which was smoothly calmed;
The monster war vessel capsized bottom uppermost,
And, alas, lies buried in the sea totally lost.

The "Victoria" was the flagship of the Mediterranean Fleet,
And was struck by the "Camperdown" when too close they did meet,
While practising the naval and useful art of war,
How to wheel and discharge their shot at the enemy afar.

Oh, Heaven ! Methinks I see some men lying in their beds,
And some skylarking, no doubt, and not a soul dreads
The coming avalanche that was to seal their doom,
Until down came the mighty fabric of the engine room.

Then death leaped on them from all quarters in a moment,
And there were explosions of magazines and boilers rent;
And the fire and steam and water beat out all life,
But I hope the drowned ones are in the better world free from strife.

Sir George Tyron was on the bridge at the moment of the accident
With folded arms, seemingly quite content;
And seeing the vessel couldn't be saved he remained till the last,
And went down with the "Victoria" when all succour was past.

Methinks I see him on the bridge like a hero brave,
And the ship slowly sinking into the briny wave;
And when the men cried, "Save yourselves without delay,"
He told them to save themselves, he felt no dismay.

'Twas only those that leaped from the vessel at the first alarm,
Luckily so, that were saved from any harm
By leaping into the boats o'er the vessel's side,
Thanking God they had escaped as o'er the smooth water they did glide.

At Whitehall, London, mothers and fathers did call,
And the pitiful scene did the spectators' hearts appal;
But the most painful case was the mother of J. P. Scarlet,
Who cried, "Oh, Heaven, the loss of my son I'll never forget."

Oh, Heaven! Befriend the bereaved ones, hard is their fate,
Which I am sorry at heart to relate;
But I hope God in His goodness will provide for them,
Especially the widows, for the loss of their men.

Alas! Britannia now will mourn the loss of her naval commander,
Who was as brave as the great Alexander;
And to his honour be it fearlessly told,
Few men would excel this hero bold.

Alas! 'Tis sad to be buried in eighty fathoms of Syrian sea,
Which will hide the secret of the "Victoria" to all eternity;
Which causes Britannia's sorrow to be profound
For the brave British Tars that have been drowned.
-William Topaz McGonagall
"Sonnet On Loss"
You’ve gone again, and I sit granite faced,
Astare at this, the loss of my estate,
To count my grievings, seen as if afar
Through mist and hurt, and bramble patch and pain
Where life may only tear you at the briar
To leave blood-blackberry patches at the stain
Of every love, turned ash, or died, or went
Beyond the realm of touch, or argument.
So here I sit, and never look aside
But stare ahead, pretending life pretence,
And sleep, that blessed anaesthetic state
As life, but turned about by accident –
While I, unmoved, unmoving sit in fear
That grief will overwhelm me as I stare.
-David Lewis Paget
United Kingdom

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