The Stoic: For Laura Von Courten

By Edgar Bowers 1924–2000 Edgar Bowers
All winter long you listened for the boom
Of distant cannon wheeled into their place.
Sometimes outside beneath a bombers’ moon
You stood alone to watch the searchlights trace

Their careful webs against the boding sky,
While miles away on Munich’s vacant square
The bombs lunged down with an unruly cry
Whose blast you saw yet could but faintly hear.

And might have turned your eyes upon the gleam
Of a thousand years of snow, where near the clouds
The Alps ride massive to their full extreme,
And season after season glacier crowds

The dark, persistent smudge of conifers.
Or seen beyond the hedge and through the trees
The shadowy forms of cattle on the furze,
Their dim coats white with mist against the freeze.

Or thought instead of other times than these,
Of other countries and of other sights:
Eternal Venice sinking by degrees
Into the very water that she lights;

Reflected in canals, the lucid dome
Of Maria della Salute at your feet,
Her triple spires disfigured by the foam.
Remembered in Berlin the parks, the neat

Footpaths and lawns, the clean spring foliage,
Where just short weeks before, a bomb, unaimed,
Released a frightened lion from its cage,
Which in the mottled dark that trees enflamed

Killed one who hurried homeward from the raid.
And by yourself there standing in the chill
You must, with so much known, have been afraid
And chosen such a mind of constant will,

Which, though all time corrode with constant hurt,
Remains, until it occupies no space,
That which it is; and passionless, inert,
Becomes at last no meaning and no place.

Edgar Bowers, “The Stoic: For Laura Von Courten” from Collected Poems (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1997). Copyright © 1997 by Edgar Bowers. Reprinted with the permission of the Estate of Edgar Bowers.

Source: Collected Poems (1997)

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Poet Edgar Bowers 1924–2000

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Subjects War & Conflict, Social Commentaries

 Edgar  Bowers

Biography

Edgar Bowers was born in 1924 in Rome, Georgia and earned his BA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Drafted into the army during World War II, he was active in the de-Nazification of Germany, and was stationed for a year at Berchtesgaden, Hitler’s retreat in the Alps. After the war, he earned his MA and PhD from Stanford, where he studied closely with Yvor Winters. Both his experiences of Europe during the war . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT War & Conflict, Social Commentaries

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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