The Dark Night of the Soul by St. John of the Cross
St. John of the Cross

In a dark night,
With anxious love inflamed,
O, happy lot!
Forth unobserved I went,
My house being now at rest.


In darkness and in safety,
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In Passing by Lisel Mueller
Lisel Mueller
How swiftly the strained honey
of afternoon light
flows into darkness

and the closed bud shrugs off
its special mystery
in order to break into blossom

as if what exists, exists
so that it can be lost
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Song by Louise Bogan
Louise Bogan
Love me because I am lost;
Love me that I am undone.
That is brave,—no man has wished it,
Not one.

Be strong, to look on my heart
As others look on my face.
Love me,—I tell you that it is a ravaged
Terrible place.
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Diminished Galleries by Keith Waldrop
Keith Waldrop
too old for
vision I must
settle for dreams

specific forms
of cloud

(body surrounded by

every sensation con-
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“The Perfect World” by Kahlil Gibran
Kahlil Gibran
God of lost souls, thou who are lost amongst the gods, hear me:

Gentle Destiny that watchest over us, mad, wandering spirits, hearme:

I dwell in the midst of a perfect race, I the most imperfect.

I, a human chaos, a nebula of confused elements, I move amongstfinished worlds—peoples of complete laws and pure order, whosethoughts are assorted, whose dreams are arranged, and whose visionsare enrolled and registered.

Their virtues, O God, are measured, their sins are weighed, andeven the countless things that pass in the dim twilight of neithersin nor virtue are recorded and catalogued.

Here days and night are divided into seasons of conduct and governedby rules of blameless accuracy.

To eat, to drink, to sleep, to cover one’s nudity, and then to beweary in due time.

To work, to play, to sing, to dance, and then to lie still whenthe clock strikes the hour.

To think thus, to feel thus much, and then to cease thinking andfeeling when a certain star rises above yonder horizon.

To rob a neighbour with a smile, to bestow gifts with a gracefulwave of the hand, to praise prudently, to blame cautiously, todestroy a sound with a word, to burn a body with a breath, and thento wash the hands when the day’s work is done.

To love according to an established order, to entertain one’s bestself in a preconceived manner, to worship the gods becomingly,to intrigue the devils artfully—and then to forget all as thoughmemory were dead.

To fancy with a motive, to contemplate with consideration, to behappy sweetly, to suffer nobly—and then to empty the cup so thattomorrow may fill it again.

All these things, O God, are conceived with forethought, born withdetermination, nursed with exactness, governed by rules, directedby reason, and then slain and buried after a prescribed method.And even their silent graves that lie within the human soul aremarked and numbered.

It is a perfect world, a world of consummate excellence, a world ofsupreme wonders, the ripest fruit in God’s garden, the master-thoughtof the universe.

But why should I be here, O God, I a green seed of unfulfilledpassion, a mad tempest that seeketh neither east nor west, abewildered fragment from a burnt planet?

Why am I here, O God of lost souls, thou who art lost amongst the gods?
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Why This Sudden At-Homeness by Paul Celan
Paul Celan
Why this sudden at-homeness, all-out, all-in?
I can, look, sink myself into you, glacierlike,
you yourself slay your brothers:
earlier than they
I was with you, Snowed One.

Throw your tropes
in with the rest:
Someone wants to know,
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After the War by May Wedderburn Cannan
May Wedderburn Cannan
After the war perhaps I'll sit again
Out on the terrace where I sat with you,
And see the changeless sky and hills beat blue
And live an afternoon of summer through.

I shall remember then, and sad at heart
For the lost day of happiness we knew,
Wish only that some other man were you
And spoke my name as once you used to do.
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Soldier: Twentieth Century by Isaac Rosenberg
Isaac Rosenberg
I love you, great new Titan!
Am I not you?
Napoleon and Caesar
Out of you grew.

Out of unthinkable torture,
Eyes kissed by death,
Won back to the world again,
Lost and won in a breath,

Cruel men are made immortal.
Out of your pain born,
They have stolen the sun's power
With their feet on your shoulders worn.

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Thanksgiving by Robert Nichols
Robert Nichols
Amazement fills my heart to-night,
Amaze and awful fears;
I am a ship that sees no light,
But blindly onward steers.

Flung toward heaven’s toppling rage,
Sunk between steep and steep,
A lost and wondrous fight I wage
With the embattled deep.

I neither know nor care at length
Where drives the storm about;
Only I summon all my strength
And swear to ride it out.

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The Ball Poem by John Berryman
John Berryman
What is the boy now, who has lost his ball.
What, what is he to do? I saw it go
Merrily bouncing, down the street, and then
Merrily over—there it is in the water!
No use to say 'O there are other balls':
An ultimate shaking grief fixes the boy
As he stands rigid, trembling, staring down
All his young days into the harbour where
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Now I knew I lost her — (1274) by Emily Dickinson
Emily Dickinson
Now I knew I lost her —
Not that she was gone —
But Remoteness travelled
On her Face and Tongue.

Alien, though adjoining
As a Foreign Race —
Traversed she though pausing
Latitudeless Place.
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Elegy for Philip Sidney by Baron Brooke Fulke Greville
Baron Brooke Fulke Greville
Silence augmenteth grief, writing increaseth rage,
Staled are my thoughts, which loved and lost the wonder ofour age;
Yet quickened now with fire, though dead with frost ere now,
Enraged I write I know not what; dead, quick, I know not how.

Hard-hearted minds relent and rigor's tears abound,
And envy strangely rues his end, in whom no fault was found.
Knowledge her light hath lost, valor hath slain her knight,
Sidney is dead, dead is my friend, dead is the world's delight.

Place, pensive, wails his fall whose presence was her pride;
Time crieth out, My ebb is come; his life was my spring tide.
Fame mourns in that she lost the ground of her reports;
Each living wight laments his lack, and all in sundry sorts.

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Sheridan at Cedar Creek by Herman Melville
Herman Melville
(October, 1864) Shoe the steed with silver
That bore him to the fray,
When he heard the guns at dawning—
Miles away;
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Bound for Hell by Marina Tsvetaeva
Marina Tsvetaeva
Hell, my ardent sisters, be assured,
Is where we’re bound; we’ll drink the pitch of hell—
We, who have sung the praises of the lord
With every fiber in us, every cell.

We, who did not manage to devote
Our nights to spinning, did not bend and sway
Above a cradle—in a flimsy boat,
Wrapped in a mantle, we’re now borne away.
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The Friends of Heraclitus by Charles Simic
Charles Simic
Your friend has died, with whom
You roamed the streets,
At all hours, talking philosophy.
So, today you went alone,
Stopping often to change places
With your imaginary companion,
And argue back against yourself
On the subject of appearances:
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On Hurricane Jackson by Alan Dugan
Alan Dugan
Now his nose’s bridge is broken, one eye
will not focus and the other is a stray;
trainers whisper in his mouth while one ear
listens to itself, clenched like a fist;
generally shadowboxing in a smoky room,
his mind hides like the aching boys
who lost a contest in the Panhellenic games
and had to take the back roads home,
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Book 6, Epigram 30 by Thomas Bastard
Thomas Bastard
Upon the plain as I rode all alone,
Assaulted by two sturdy lads I was;
I am a poor man Sires, let me be gone.
Nay, but ye shall be poor before ye pass.
And so I was: yet lost nothing thereby.
Would they had robbed me of my poverty.

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Poem by Thomas McGrath
Thomas McGrath
I don’t belong in this century—who does?
In my time, summer came someplace in June—
The cutbanks blazing with roses, the birds brazen, and the astonished
Pastures frisking with young calves . . .
That was in the country—
I don’t mean another country, I mean in the country:
And the country is lost. I don’t mean just lost to me,
Nor in the way of metaphorical loss—it’s lost that way too—
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Hard-time blues by William Waring Cuney
William Waring Cuney
Went down home ’bout a year ago
things so bad, Lord, my heart was sore.
Folks had nothing was a sin and shame
every-body said hard time was the blame.
Great-God-a-mighty folks feeling bad
lost every thing they ever had.

Sun was shining fourteen days and no rain
hoeing and planting was all in vain.
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Anthology of Rapture by James Scully
James Scully
What are they looking for
running to the summit of lost time?

Hundreds of people vaporized
are walking mid-air

We didn’t die
we skipped over death in a flash we became spirits

Give us a real a human death
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Glad by Coleman Barks
Coleman Barks
In the glory of the gloaming-green soccer
field her team, the Gladiators, is losing

ten to zip. She never loses interest in
the roughhouse one-on-one that comes

every half a minute. She sticks her leg
in danger and comes out the other side running.

Later a clump of opponents on the street is chant-
ing, WE WON, WE WON, WE . . . She stands up
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Lines by John Ciardi
John Ciardi
I did not have exactly a way of life
but the bee amazed me and the wind’s plenty
was almost believable. Hearing a magpie laugh

through a ghost town in Wyoming, saying Hello
in Cambridge, eating cheese by the frothy Rhine,
leaning from plexiglass over Tokyo,
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from Lyrics of the Street by Julia Ward Howe
Julia Ward Howe
Outside the Party Thick throng the snow-flakes, the evening is dreary,
Glad rings the music in yonder gay hall;
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The Rights of Women by Anna Lætitia Barbauld
Anna Lætitia Barbauld
Yes, injured Woman! rise, assert thy right!
Woman! too long degraded, scorned, opprest;
O born to rule in partial Law's despite,
Resume thy native empire o'er the breast!

Go forth arrayed in panoply divine;
That angel pureness which admits no stain;
Go, bid proud Man his boasted rule resign,
And kiss the golden sceptre of thy reign.
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Eurydice by H.D.

So you have swept me back,
I who could have walked with the live souls
above the earth,
I who could have slept among the live flowers
at last;

so for your arrogance
and your ruthlessness
I am swept back
where dead lichens drip
dead cinders upon moss of ash;

so for your arrogance
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Come slowly – Eden! (205) by Emily Dickinson
Emily Dickinson
Come slowly – Eden!
Lips unused to Thee –
Bashful – sip thy Jessamines –
As the fainting Bee –

Reaching late his flower,
Round her chamber hums –
Counts his nectars –
Enters – and is lost in Balms.
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Evening by H.D.
The light passes
from ridge to ridge,
from flower to flower—
the hepaticas, wide-spread
under the light
grow faint—
the petals reach inward,
the blue tips bend
toward the bluer heart
and the flowers are lost.

The cornel-buds are still white,
but shadows dart
from the cornel-roots—
black creeps from root to root,
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He Lived—Childhood Summers by Lorine Niedecker
Lorine Niedecker
He lived—childhood summers
thru bare feet
then years of money’s lack
and heat

beside the river—out of flood
came his wood, dog,
woman, lost her, daughter—
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"I stand alone at the foot " by William Kloefkorn
William Kloefkorn
I stand alone at the foot
Of my father’s grave,
Trembling to tell:
The door to the granary is open,
And someone lost the bucket
To the well.
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Scrim by David Ferry
David Ferry
I sit here in a shelter behind the words
Of what I’m writing, looking out as if
Through a dim curtain of rain, that keeps me in here.

The words are like a scrim upon a page,
Obscuring what might be there beyond the scrim.
I can dimly see there’s something or someone there.

But I can’t tell if it’s God, or one of his angels,
Or the past, or future, or who it is I love,
My mother or father lost, or my lost sister,

Or my wife lost when I was too late to get there,
I only know that there’s something, or somebody, there.
Tell me your name. How was it that I knew you?
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Angellica’s Lament by Aphra Behn
Aphra Behn
Had I remained in innocent security,
I should have thought all men were born my slaves,
And worn my power like lightning in my eyes,
To have destroyed at pleasure when offended.
—But when love held the mirror, the undeceiving glass
Reflected all the weakness of my soul, and made me know
My richest treasure being lost, my honour,
All the remaining spoil could not be worth
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Coda by Basil Bunting
Basil Bunting
A strong song tows
us, long earsick.
Blind, we follow
rain slant, spray flick
to fields we do not know.

Night, float us.
Offshore wind, shout,
ask the sea
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Divine Epigrams: Samson to his Delilah by Richard Crashaw
Richard Crashaw
Could not once blinding me, cruel, suffice?
When first I look’d on thee, I lost mine eyes.
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The Evening Darkens Over by Robert Bridges
Robert Bridges
The evening darkens over
After a day so bright
The windcapt waves discover
That wild will be the night.
There’s sound of distant thunder.

The latest sea-birds hover
Along the cliff’s sheer height;
As in the memory wander
Last flutterings of delight,
White wings lost on the white.

There’s not a ship in sight;
And as the sun goes under
Thick clouds conspire to cover
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For Efessos by Odysseus Elytis
Odysseus Elytis
Freely beside me the vineyards are running and unbridled
Remains the sky. Wildfires trade pinecones and one
Donkey bolts uphill
for a little cloud
St. Heracleitos’s day and something’s up
That even noses can’t diagnose:
Tricks of a shoeless wind snagging the hem
Of Fate’s nightgown and leaving
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The Hills in Half Light by Patricia Goedicke
Patricia Goedicke
Or will we be lost forever?

In the silence of the last breath
Not taken

The blue sweep of your arm like a dancer
Clowning, in wrinkled pajamas,

Across the sky the abrupt
Brief zigzag of a jay...

All night the whiteness
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The Hook by Theodore Weiss
Theodore Weiss

The students, lost in raucousness,
caught as by the elder Breughel’s eye,
we sit in the college store
over sandwiches and coffee, wondering.
She answers eagerly: the place was fine;
sometimes the winds grew very cold,
the snows so deep and wide she lost
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Ichabod by John Greenleaf Whittier
John Greenleaf Whittier
So fallen! so lost! the light withdrawn
Which once he wore!
The glory from his gray hairs gone

Revile him not, the Tempter hath
A snare for all;
And pitying tears, not scorn and wrath,
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Kneeling by R. S. Thomas
R. S. Thomas
Moments of great calm,
Kneeling before an altar
Of wood in a stone church
In summer, waiting for the God
To speak; the air a staircase
For silence; the sun’s light
Ringing me, as though I acted
A great rôle. And the audiences
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Lost Desire by Meleager
Love brought by night a vision to my bed,
One that still wore the vesture of a child
But eighteen years of age – who sweetly smiled
Till of the lovely form false hopes were bred
And keen embraces wild.
Ah! for the lost desire that haunts me yet,
Till mine eyes fail in sleep that finds no more
That fleeting ghost! Oh, lovelorn heart, give o’er –
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Mourning Poem for the Queen of Sunday by Robert Hayden
Robert Hayden
Lord’s lost Him His mockingbird,
His fancy warbler;
Satan sweet-talked her,
four bullets hushed her.
Who would have thought
she’d end that way?

Four bullets hushed her. And the world a-clang with evil.
Who’s going to make old hardened sinner men tremble now
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Myth of the Blaze by George Oppen
George Oppen
night – skybird’sworld
to knowto knowin my life to know

what I have said to myself

the dark to escape in brilliant highways
of the night sky, finally
why had they not

killed me why did they fire that warning
wounding cannon only the one round I hold a
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Napoleon by Miroslav Holub
Miroslav Holub
Children, when was
Napoleon Bonaparte born,
asks teacher.

A thousand years ago, the children say.
A hundred years ago, the children say.
Last year, the children say.
No one knows.

Children, what did
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New Stanzas for Amazing Grace by Allen Ginsberg
Allen Ginsberg
I dreamed I dwelled in a homeless place
Where I was lost alone
Folk looked right through me into space
And passed with eyes of stone

O homeless hand on many a street
Accept this change from me
A friendly smile or word is sweet
As fearless charity
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One Art by Elizabeth Bishop
Elizabeth Bishop
The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
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The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster by Richard Brautigan
Richard Brautigan
When you take your pill
it’s like a mine disaster.
I think of all the people
lost inside of you.
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Self-Employed by David Ignatow
David Ignatow
For Harvey Shapiro I stand and listen, head bowed,
to my inner complaint.
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Song from a Country Fair by Léonie Adams
Léonie Adams
When tunes jigged nimbler than the blood
And quick and high the bows would prance
And every fiddle string would burst
To catch what’s lost beyond the string,
While half afraid their children stood,
I saw the old come out to dance.
The heart is not so light at first,
But heavy like a bough in spring.
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Songs from The Beggar’s Opera: Air X-“Thomas, I Cannot" by John Gay
John Gay
Act I, Scene viii, Air X—“Thomas, I Cannot,” Polly. I like a ship in storms was tossed,
Yet afraid to put into land,
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Synopsis for a German Novella by John Fuller
John Fuller
The Doctor is glimpsed among his mulberry trees.
The dark fruits disfigure the sward like contusions.
He is at once aloof, timid, intolerant
Of all banalities of village life,
And yet is stupefied by loneliness.

Continually he dreams of the company he craves for,
But he challenges it and bores it to tears whenever
It swims uncertainly into his narrow orbit.
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To His Mistress by John Wilmot Earl of Rochester
John Wilmot Earl of Rochester
Why dost thou shade thy lovely face? O why
Does that eclipsing hand of thine deny
The sunshine of the Sun’s enlivening eye?

Without thy light what light remains in me?
Thou art my life; my way, my light’s in thee;
I live, I move, and by thy beams I see.
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To Rosa by Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
You are young, and I am older;
You are hopeful, I am not—
Enjoy life, ere it grow colder—
Pluck the roses ere they rot.

Teach your beau to heed the lay—
That sunshine soon is lost in shade—
That now’s as good as any day—
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A World to Do by Theodore Weiss
Theodore Weiss
“I busy too,” the little boy
said, lost in his book
about a little boy, lost
in his book, with nothing

but a purple crayon
and his wits to get him out.
“Nobody can sit with me,
I have no room.
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x-pug by Charles Bukowski
Charles Bukowski
he hooked to the body hard
took it well
and loved to fight
had seven in a row and a small fleck
over one eye,
and then he met a kid from Camden
with arms thin as wires—
it was a good one,
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In the Fog by Giovanni Pascoli
Giovanni Pascoli
I stared into the valley: it was gone—
wholly submerged! A vast flat sea remained,
gray, with no waves, no beaches; all was one.

And here and there I noticed, when I strained,
the alien clamoring of small, wild voices:
birds that had lost their way in that vain land.

And high above, the skeletons of beeches,
as if suspended, and the reveries
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A Burnt Ship by John Donne
John Donne
Out of a fired ship, which by no way
But drowning could be rescued from the flame,
Some men leap'd forth, and ever as they came
Near the foes' ships, did by their shot decay;
So all were lost, which in the ship were found,
They in the sea being burnt, they in the burnt ship drown'd.

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The Collar by George Herbert
George Herbert
I struck the board, and cried, "No more;
I will abroad!
What? shall I ever sigh and pine?
My lines and life are free, free as the road,
Loose as the wind, as large as store.
Shall I be still in suit?
Have I no harvest but a thorn
To let me blood, and not restore
What I have lost with cordial fruit?
Sure there was wine
Before my sighs did dry it; there was corn
Before my tears did drown it.
Is the year only lost to me?
Have I no bays to crown it,
No flowers, no garlands gay? All blasted?
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Dedication for a Plot of Ground by William Carlos Williams
William Carlos Williams
This plot of ground
facing the waters of this inlet
is dedicated to the living presence of
Emily Dickinson Wellcome
who was born in England; married;
lost her husband and with
her five year old son
sailed for New York in a two-master;
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Defeated by Sophie Jewett
Sophie Jewett
When the last fight is lost, the last sword broken;
The last call sounded, the last order spoken;
When from the field where braver hearts lie sleeping,
Faint, and athirst, and blinded, I come creeping,
With not one waving shred of palm to bring you,
With not one splendid battle-song to sing you,
O Love, in my dishonor and defeat,
Your measureless compassion will be sweet.
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End of the Comedy by Louis Untermeyer
Louis Untermeyer
Eleven o’clock, and the curtain falls.
The cold wind tears the strands of illusion;
The delicate music is lost
In the blare of home-going crowds
And a midnight paper.

The night has grown martial;
It meets us with blows and disaster.
Even the stars have turned shrapnel,
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I Dreamed That I Was Old by Stanley Kunitz
Stanley Kunitz
I dreamed that I was old: in stale declension
Fallen from my prime, when company
Was mine, cat-nimbleness, and green invention,
Before time took my leafy hours away.

My wisdom, ripe with body’s ruin, found
Itself tart recompense for what was lost
In false exchange: since wisdom in the ground
Has no apocalypse or pentecost.
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If You Catch a Firefly by Lilian Moore
Lilian Moore
If you catch a firefly
and keep it in a jar
You may find that
you have lost
A tiny star.

If you let it go then,
back into the night,
You may see it
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The Look by Sara Teasdale
Sara Teasdale
Strephon kissed me in the spring,
Robin in the fall,
But Colin only looked at me
And never kissed at all.

Strephon's kiss was lost in jest,
Robin's lost in play,
But the kiss in Colin's eyes
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The Lost Leader by Robert Browning
Robert Browning
Just for a handful of silver he left us,
Just for a riband to stick in his coat—
Found the one gift of which fortune bereft us,
Lost all the others she lets us devote;
They, with the gold to give, doled him out silver,
So much was theirs who so little allowed:
How all our copper had gone for his service!
Rags—were they purple, his heart had been proud!
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Portrait by Louise Bogan
Louise Bogan
She has no need to fear the fall
Of harvest from the laddered reach
Of orchards, nor the tide gone ebbing
From the steep beach.

Nor hold to pain's effrontery
Her body's bulwark, stern and savage,
Nor be a glass, where to forsee
Another's ravage.

What she has gathered, and what lost,
She will not find to lose again.
She is possessed by time, who once
Was loved by men.

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from The Princess: As thro' the Land by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Alfred, Lord Tennyson

As thro' the land at eve we went,
And pluck'd the ripen'd ears,
We fell out, my wife and I,
O we fell out I know not why,
And kiss'd again with tears.
And blessings on the falling out
That all the more endears,
When we fall out with those we love
And kiss again with tears!
For when we came where lies the child
We lost in other years,
There above the little grave,
O there above the little grave,
We kiss'd again with tears.
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To Emily Dickinson by Yvor Winters
Yvor Winters
Dear Emily, my tears would burn your page,
But for the fire-dry line that makes them burn—
Burning my eyes, my fingers, while I turn
Singly the words that crease my heart with age.
If I could make some tortured pilgrimage
Through words or Time or the blank pain of Doom
And kneel before you as you found your tomb,
Then I might rise to face my heritage.
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To Quilca, a Country House not in Good Repair by Jonathan Swift
Jonathan Swift
Let me thy Properties explain,
A rotten Cabin, dropping Rain;
Chimnies with Scorn rejecting Smoak;
Stools, Tables, Chairs, and Bed-steds broke:
Here Elements have lost their Vses,
Air ripens not, nor Earth produces:
In vain we make poor Sheelah toil,
Fire will not roast, nor Water boil.
Thro' all the Vallies, Hills, and Plains,
The Goddess Want in Triumph reigns;
And her chief Officers of State,
Sloth, Dirt, and Theft around her wait.

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Upon the Loss of his Mistresses by Robert Herrick
Robert Herrick
I have lost, and lately, these
Many dainty mistresses:
Stately Julia, prime of all;
Sappho next, a principal;
Smooth Anthea, for a skin
White, and heaven-like crystalline;
Sweet Electra, and the choice
Myrrha, for the lute, and voice;
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Lost by Carl Sandburg
Carl Sandburg
Desolate and lone
All night long on the lake
Where fog trails and mist creeps,
The whistle of a boat
Calls and cries unendingly,
Like some lost child
In tears and trouble
Hunting the harbor's breast
And the harbor's eyes.

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