Treasure Island

Randall Jarrell

(May 6, 1914 – October 14, 1965 / Nashville)

Previous Month September 2014 Next Month
Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 1 2 3 4 5
Modern Poem of The Day
Select a day from the calendar.
Would you like to see the poem of the day in your e-mail box every morning?
Your email address:
  Subscribe FREE
  Unsubscribe

Losses


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?'

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003
Edited: Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Do you like this poem?
0 person liked.
0 person did not like.

Read poems about / on: school, rose, friend, people, home, night, city, dream, girl

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Comments about this poem (Losses by Randall Jarrell )

Enter the verification code :

  • Susan Webster (7/25/2006 10:22:00 AM)

    One of the great poems about the alienation of war, expressing particularly well the narrator's lack of life experience. He has nothing but high school to compare to the huge, all-encompassing experiences of war. His lack of any life beyond high school before he is sacrificed in the war increases his loss - he has lost all the potential of his life - and he doesn't really understand why he is making this sacrifice. Jarrell is, to me, the great poet of WWII, and a better poet at conveying the existentialism of the warrior than any of the great English WWI poets. (Report) Reply

Read all 2 comments »

Top Poems

  1. Phenomenal Woman
    Maya Angelou
  2. The Road Not Taken
    Robert Frost
  3. If You Forget Me
    Pablo Neruda
  4. Still I Rise
    Maya Angelou
  5. Dreams
    Langston Hughes
  6. Annabel Lee
    Edgar Allan Poe
  7. If
    Rudyard Kipling
  8. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
    Maya Angelou
  9. Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
    Robert Frost
  10. Invictus
    William Ernest Henley

PoemHunter.com Updates

Poem of the Day

poet Henry Lawson


The old year went, and the new returned, in the withering weeks of drought,
The cheque was spent that the shearer earned,
and the sheds were all cut out;
...... Read complete »

   

Member Poem

[Hata Bildir]