Poetry Sunday: The Unknown by E.O. Laughlin

Tomorrow is our Memorial Day, a day to remember those who are no longer with us, especially those who fell in battle. There are, of course, many quite well-known poems that were written for this occasion. This one is perhaps not so well-known but it spoke to me when I chanced to find it in my search for a poem to feature today and so here it is. I hope you find it meaningful.

The Unknown

by E. O. Laughlin

I do not understand...
    They bring so many, many flowers to me–
Rainbows of roses, wreaths from every land;
    And hosts of solemn strangers come to see
My tomb here on these quiet, wooded heights.
    My tomb here seems to be
One of the sights.

The low-voiced men, who speak
    Of me quite fondly, call me "The Unknown":
But now and then at dusk, Madonna-meek,
    Bent, mournful mothers come to me alone
And whisper down–the flowers and grasses through–
    Such names as "Jim" and "John"...
I wish they knew.

And once my sweetheart came.
    She did not–nay, of course she could not–know,
But thought of me and crooned to me the name
    She called me by–how many years ago?
A very precious name. Her eyes were wet,
    Yet glowing, flaming so...
She won't forget.


  1. It is incredibly poignant, Dorothy. It saddens me that every nation has these monuments to unknown soldiers, yet still we go to war and find new and more efficient ways to kill each other. There will never be an end to this as long as humans exist.

  2. What a sad poem. Beautiful...but oh, so sad.

  3. I wish I had brought tissues out to where I am sitting in the back yard. I echo what David above said. I agree this will not end except I think it will end - when we destroy ourselves.

  4. Very poignant. I agree with David, except that I still have hope we will change.


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