The Language of Pain in Poetry

About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along.
—W.H. Auden, “Musée des Beaux Arts”

Pain—has an Element of Blank—
It cannot recollect
When it begun—or if there were
A time when it was not—.
—Emily Dickinson, “Pain—has an Element of Blank”

“Physical pain however great ends in itself and falls away like dry husks from the mind, whilst moral discords and nervous horrors sear the soul.” —Alice James, diary entry (1892)

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