The Loss is not So Great: A Poem by Edgar A. Guest


I had a tough day today at work and was feeling glum. A project I had worked on for several weeks and completed a few days ago, needs updating already! My team and I knew this would happen, but still!

Then I came home and opened my email hoping for a cheery word from a friend or acquaintance. Instead I found an email that informed me that I did not get a job for which I had applied.

My glumness quickly morphed into second-guessing myself and wondering if I’d find my way to the soul-prospering life I have been trying to create.

When I feel like this, I try to take some small action–it doesn’t have to be the next step toward my soul-prospering life, although it’s great if I can do this. Instead, I take simple actions that will help me process my distress. Some of the things I may do:   cleaning or straightening up; distracting myself with a few chapters in a book or listening to music I love; talking to a friend or loved one; making an origami item.

Today, I chose to read through poems I’ve collected over the years and I came across one that I’m sharing with you in this post. Although my “defeats” today weren’t as bad as what the author of the poem seems to have experienced, the poem pointed out to me that if I can keep my head up, look people in the eye, and rest easy at night, then I am in good shape, regardless what the world might say.

The Loss Is Not So Great

It is better as it is: I have failed but I can sleep;
Though the pit I now am in is very dark and deep
I can walk to-morrow’s streets and can meet to-morrow’s men
Unashamed to face their gaze as I go to work again.

I have lost the hope I had; in the dust are all my dreams,
But my loss is not so great or so dreadful as it seems;
I made my fight and though I failed I need not slink away
For I do not have to fear what another man may say.

They may call me over-bold, they may say that I was frail;
They may tell I dared too much and was doomed at last to fail;
They may talk my battle o’er and discuss it as they choose,
But I did no brother wrong—I’m the only one to lose.

It is better as it is: I have kept my self-respect.
I can walk to-morrow’s streets meeting all men head erect.
No man can charge his loss to a pledge I did not keep;
I have no shame to regret: I have failed, but I can sleep.

~Edgar A. Guest


I hope this poem helps you the way it’s helped me. Let me know in the comments below. Thanks!

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