[Discussion] What is the quintessential poem about suffering?

I'll leave you with English translations of two poems by a Romanian author I love (some of the expression of pain is lost in translation but still a very well translated)

First one is about a old man's suffering at the loss of his sons in the Romanian-Turkish war.

Three, mighty God, all three! by George Cosbuc

He had three sons and they, all three, When called, for the encampment left; So the poor father was bereft Of rest and peace, for war, thought he. Is hard - one has no time to feel That one has ceased to be.

And many months went in and out, And rife with tidings was the world: No more were Turkish flags unfurled, The Moslems had been put to rout, For the unscarred Romanian lads Full well had fought throughout.

The papers wrote that all the men That had been called the spring before Were due to quit the site of war; So to the village came again Now one, and now another yet Of those who had left then.

But they were long in coming, they. He wept - he thought how they would meet, So at the gate or in the street He scrutinized the roads all day, And they came not. And fear was born And lengthened the delay.

His ardent hope waned more and more And ever bleaker grew his fear; And though he questioned far and near, All shrugged their shoulders as before; At last, then, he went to the barracks To learn what was in store.

The corporal met him. "Sir, my son. My Radu, well - how does he fare ?" He did for all his children care, But Radu was the dearest one. "He's dead. In the first ranks, at Plevna He fell. And well he's done !"

Poor man... That Radu was in dust He had long felt, and felt past cure; But now, when he did know for sure, He stood bewildered and nonplussed. Dead Radu ? What ? The news exceeded All human sense and trust.

Be curst, o, fiendish arm and man ! "And how is George ?" "Sir, I'm afraid Under a cross he has been laid, Breast-smitten by a yataghan." "And my poor Mircea ?" "Mircea, too, Died somewhere near Smirdan."

He said no word - dumb with the doom, With forehead bent, like, on the cross, A Christ, he looked, all at a loss At the mute flooring of the room. He seemed he saw in front of him Three corpses in a tomb.

With feeble gait and dizzy eyes He walks into the open air; While groaning, stumbling on the stair, He calls his boys by name and cries And fumbling for some wall around To stand upright he tries.

The blow he hardly can withstand; He does not know if he is dead Or still alive; he rests his head Upon a bank of burning sand; His long, emaciated face He buries in his hand.

And so the man sat woe-begone. It was midsummer and mid-day; Yet soon the sun faded away And lastly it was set and gone; The human wreck would never budge; He just stood on and on.

Past him, men, women walked care-free, Cabs on the highroad rumbled by, Past marched the soldiers with steps high, And then, the moment he could see, He pressed his temples with his fists: "Three, mighty God, all three !";

Second one is about the suffering of a people that has had enough of having been enslaved time and time again, by invading nations.

We want land by George Cosbuc

I'm hungry, naked, homeless, through, Because of loads I had to carry; You've spat on me, and hit me - marry, A dog I've been to you ! Vile lord, whom winds brought to this land, If hell itself gives you free hand To tread us down and make us bleed, We will endure both load and need, The plough and harness yet take heed, We ask for land!

Whene'er you see a crust of bread, Though brown and stale, we see's no more; You drag our sons to ruthless war, Our daughters to your bed. You curse what we hold dear and grand, Faith and compassion you have banned; Our children starve with want and chill And we go mad with pity, still We'd bear the grinding of your mill, Had we but land !

You've turned into a field of corn The village graveyard, and we plough And dig out bones and weep and mourn Oh, had we ne'er been born ! For those are bones of our own bone, But you don't care, o hearts of stone ! Out of our house you drive us now, And dig our dead out of their grave; A silent corner of their own The land we crave !

Besides, we want to know for sure That we, too, shall together lie, That on the day on which we die, You will not mock the poor. The orphans, those to us so dear, Who o'er a grave would shed a tear, Won't know the ditches where we rot; We've been denied a burial plot Though we are Christians, are we not ? We ask for land, d'you hear ?

Nor have we time to say a prayer, For time is in your power too; A soul is all we have, and you Much you do care ! You've sworn to rob us of the right To tell our grievances outright; You give us torture when we shout, Unheard-of torture, chain and clout And lead when, dead tired, we cry out: For land we'll fight !

What is it you've here buried ? say ! Corn ? maize ? We have forbears and mothers, We, fathers, sisters dear and brothers ! Unwished - for guests, away ! Our land is holy, rich and brave, It is our cradle and our grave; We have defended it with sweat And blood, and bitter tears have wet Each palm of it - so, don't forget: 'Tis land we crave !

We can no more endure the goads, No more the hunger, the disasters That follow on the heels of masters Picked from the roads ! God grant that we shall not demand Your hated blood instead of land ! When hunger will untie our ties And poverty will make us rise. E'en in your grave we will chastise You and your band!

/r/Poetry Thread