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Poems About Loss

Table of Contents

  1. The Gain of Loss by John Hobart Egbert, D. D.
  2. Each that we lose takes part of us by Emily Dickinson
  3. Except the heaven had come so near by Emily Dickinson
  4. I Had a Guinea Golden by Emily Dickinson
  5. The Lost Jewel by Emily Dickinson
  6. Lost by Emily Dickinson
  7. The Petrified Fern by Mary L. Bolles Branch
  8. Penalty by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
  9. The Saddest Hour by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
  10. The Fisher's Wife by Susan Rhyce Beckwith
  11. Withered Leaves by Peter Burn

  1. The Gain of Loss

    by John Hobart Egbart, D. D.

    If wounded hearts were all unknown on earth,
    How could we know the preciousness of balm?
    If storms ne'er swept across life's placid sea,
    What would we know about the peace of calm?

    If bitter sorrows had no place in life.
    The sense of joy would have to be revised,
    Bare roses on a thornless bush would lack
    Chaste settings of the gems most highly prized.

    Were there no rugged mountain steeps to climb,
    We could not vision valleys fresh and green;
    Were there no "Ups and Downs" for us in life,
    We'd never know what "Resting Places" mean.

    Had we no weaknesses to overcome,
    No enemies of righteousness to fight,
    We'd never know the thrill that comes to him
    Who stands or falls in the defense of Right.

    Were there no broken vows, no want or trust,
    No yearning hearts, no lack of constancy,
    Then Faith and Hope could have no mission here,
    Nor Love lay claim to sweet supermacy.

    There always is some recompense, some good in ill.
    Were cross unmixed with gold in human kind,
    The adamantine strands of friendship's "Threefold Cord"
    From "Common Clay" had never been refined.

  2. Each that we lose takes part of us

    Each that we lose takes part of us;

    - Emily Dickinson
    Each that we lose takes part of us
    by Emily Dickinson

    Each that we lose takes part of us;
    A crescent still abides,
    Which like the moon, some turbid night,
    Is summoned by the tides.

  3. Except the heaven had come so near

    by Emily Dickinson

    Except the heaven had come so near,
    So seemed to choose my door,
    The distance would not haunt me so;
    I had not hoped before.

    But just to hear the grace depart
    I never thought to see,
    Afflicts me with a double loss;
    'T is lost, and lost to me.

  4. I Had a Guinea Golden

    by Emily Dickinson

    I had a guinea golden;
    I lost it in the sand,
    And though the sum was simple,
    And pounds were in the land,
    Still had it such a value
    Unto my frugal eye,
    That when I could not find it
    I sat me down to sigh.

    I had a crimson robin
    Who sang full many a day,
    But when the woods were painted
    He, too, did fly away.
    Time brought me other robins, —
    Their ballads were the same, —
    Still for my missing troubadour
    I kept the 'house at hame.'

    I had a star in heaven;
    One Pleiad was its name,
    And when I was not heeding
    It wandered from the same.
    And though the skies are crowded,
    And all the night ashine,
    I do not care about it,
    Since none of them are mine.

    My story has a moral:
    I have a missing friend, —
    Pleiad its name, and robin,
    And guinea in the sand, —
    And when this mournful ditty,
    Accompanied with tear,
    Shall meet the eye of traitor
    In country far from here,
    Grant that repentance solemn
    May seize upon his mind,
    And he no consolation
    Beneath the sun may find.

  5. The Lost Jewel

    by Emily Dickinson

    I held a jewel in my fingers
    And went to sleep.
    The day was warm, and winds were prosy;
    I said: "'T will keep."

    I woke and chid my honest fingers, —
    The gem was gone;
    And now an amethyst remembrance
    Is all I own.

  6. Lost

    by Emily Dickinson

    I lost a world the other day.
    Has anybody found?
    You'll know it by the row of stars
    Around its forehead bound.

    A rich man might not notice it;
    Yet to my frugal eye
    Of more esteem than ducats.
    Oh, find it, sir, for me!

  7. The Petrified Fern

    by Mary L. Bolles Branch

    In a valley, centuries ago,
    Grew a little fern leaf, green and slender,
    Veining delicate and fibers tender,
    Waving when the wind crept down so low;
    Rushes tall, and moss, and grass grew round it;
    Playful sunbeams darted in and found it;
    Drops of dew stole down by night and crowned it;
    But no foot of man e'er came that way;
    Earth was young and keeping holiday.

    Monster fishes swam the silent main;
    Stately forests waved their giant branches;
    Mountains hurled their snowy avalanches;
    Mammoth creatures stalked across the plain,
    Nature reveled in grand mysteries.
    But the little fern was not like these,
    Did not number with the hills and trees,
    Only grew and waved its sweet, wild way;
    No one came to note it day by day.

    Earth, one time, put on a frolic mood,
    Heaved the rocks and changed the mighty motion
    Of the strong, dread currents of the ocean;
    Moved the hills and shook the haughty wood;
    Crushed the little fern in soft, moist clay,
    Covered it, and hid it safe away.
    Oh, the long, long centuries since that day;
    Oh, the changes! Oh, life's bitter cost,
    Since the little useless fern was lost!

    Useless? Lost? There came a thoughtful man
    Searching Nature's secrets far and deep;
    From a fissure in a rocky steep
    He withdrew a stone, o'er which there ran
    Fairy pencilings, a quaint design,
    Leafage, veining, fibers, clear and fine,
    And the fern's life lay in every line.
    So, I think, God hides some souls away,
    Sweetly to surprise us the Last Day.

  8. Penalty

    by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

    Because of the fullness of what I had
    All that I have seems void and vain.
    If I had not been happy, I were not sad,
    Though my salt is savorless, why complain?

    From the ripe perfection of what was mine,
    All that is mine seems worse than naught.
    Yet I know as I sit in the dark and pine,
    No cup could be drained which had not been fraught.

    From the throb, and thrill, of a day that was,
    The day that now is seems dull with gloom.
    Yet I bear its dullness and darkness because
    'Tis but the reaction of glow and bloom.

    From the royal feasts which of old was spread
    I am starved on the diet which now is mine;
    Yet I could not turn hungry from water and bread,
    If I had not been sated on fruit and wine.

  9. The Saddest Hour

    by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

    The saddest hour of anguish and of loss
    Is not that season of supreme despair
    When we can find no least light anywhere
    To gild the dread, black shadow of the Cross.
    Not in that luxury of sorrow when
    We sup on salt of tears, and drink the gall
    Of memories of days beyond recall—
    Of lost delights that cannot come again.

    But when, with eyes that are no longer wet,
    We look out on the great, wide world of men,
    And, smiling, lean toward a bright tomorrow,
    Then backward shrink, with sudden keen regret,
    To find that we are learning to forget:
    Ah! then we face the saddest hour of sorrow.

  10. The Fisher's Wife

    by Susan Rhyce Beckwith

    Lonely, desponding—the gathering gloom
    Slowly filling the quiet room—
    Sits the fisher's wife, with disheveled hair;—
    What does she see in the darkness there?

    Outside, the breakers, with sullen dash
    Fling high their spray to the window-sash,
    That, by the fitful gleams of the moonlight thrown,
    Seems like prison-bars on her floor of stone.

    On this same night, ten years before,
    While the angry sea lashed the rock-bound shore,
    She, anxiously watching, trimmed her light;—
    And the waves were cold, and the moon was bright.

    "Set the light, my lass, by the cottage door,"
    Said the fisher that morn as he sought the shore;
    "The moon will be up when I come to-night;
    Her wake once crossed, I shall be all right."

    With earnest eye, since the waning day,
    She had followed the moon in her upward way,
    And her quivering wake on the midnight sea,
    If there the looked-for boat might be.

    'Mong the rocks, where shadows so darksomely hide,
    Where the sea-foam that wreathed them was gone with the tide
    With tight'ning hands o'er the sickening heart,
    With blanching cheek, and lips apart—
    Like a statue she stood, so cold and white,
    Searching, but vainly, into the night.

    A tiny form with outstretched hands,
    And pink feet glancing among the sands,
    And a baby voice—"Mamma, mamma!"
    But the merciless sea, shock after shock,
    Assaulting the solid towering rock
    With fearful echoes, re-echoing far,
    Swallows the cry;
    Did'st thou hear it not?


    There's a desolate heart and an empty cot.
    And that little form, uncoffined and white,
    Revealed by the gleams of the pale moonlight,
    As pulseless it lay on the surf-washed shore,
    Shall rest on her memory evermore.

    'Tis this she sees in that quiet room,
    Where all is wrapped in the gathering gloom;
    And alone—God help her! she sits apart,
    With folded hands and a broken heart!

  11. Withered Leaves

    by Peter Burn

    I watch the leaves as they fade and fall
    And form a heap by my garden wall.

    I think of my loss in days "to be,"
    My garden's wealth but a leafless tree.

    I loved those leaves in their day of birth:
    I love them now in the lap of earth.

    Withered leaves! They are beautiful yet,
    Though nipt by the frost, and dash'd by the wet!

    Mine eyes feast not on the world of green,
    Death holds its revels where life has been.

    Snow, sleet, and hail, and a sunless sky!
    These, these are mine, till the by and by.

    I wait the hour. My heart has rest;
    Seasons are faithful to His behest.

    Through leaden sky, and through leafless tree,
    I see the summer that is to be.

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