It was not dying: everybody died.
It was not dying: we had died before
In the routine crashes-- and our fields
Called up the papers, wrote home to our folks,
And the rates rose, all because of us.
We died on the wrong page of the almanac,
Scattered on mountains fifty miles away;
Diving on haystacks, fighting with a friend,
We blazed up on the lines we never saw.
We died like aunts or pets or foreigners.
(When we left high school nothing else had died
For us to figure we had died like.)
In our new planes, with our new crews, we bombed
The ranges by the desert or the shore,
Fired at towed targets, waited for our scores--
And turned into replacements and woke up
One morning, over England, operational.
It wasn't different: but if we died
It was not an accident but a mistake
(But an easy one for anyone to make.)
We read our mail and counted up our missions--
In bombers named for girls, we burned
The cities we had learned about in school--
Till our lives wore out; our bodies lay among
The people we had killed and never seen.
When we lasted long enough they gave us medals;
When we died they said, 'Our casualties were low.'
They said, 'Here are the maps'; we burned the cities.
It was not dying --no, not ever dying;
But the night I died I dreamed that I was dead,
And the cities said to me: 'Why are you dying?
We are satisfied, if you are; but why did I die?'
Randall Jarrell's Other Poems
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Comments about this poem (Losses by Randall Jarrell )
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
(8 February 1911 – 6 October 1979)
Rainer Maria Rilke
(4 December 1875 – 29 December 1926)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
(16 August 1920 – 9 March 1994)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
William Butler Yeats
(13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939)
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
- Invictus, William Ernest Henley
- The Saddest Poem, Pablo Neruda
- The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
- If, Rudyard Kipling
- Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep, Mary Elizabeth Frye
- If You Forget Me, Pablo Neruda
- Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, Robert Frost
- Dreams, Langston Hughes
- Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, Dylan Thomas
- XVII (I do not love you...), Pablo Neruda
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