Howard Nemerov

(29 February 1920 – 5 July 1991 / New York City, New York)

The War In The Air - Poem by Howard Nemerov

For a saving grace, we didn't see our dead,
Who rarely bothered coming home to die
But simply stayed away out there
In the clean war, the war in the air.

Seldom the ghosts come back bearing their tales
Of hitting the earth, the incompressible sea,
But stayed up there in the relative wind,
Shades fading in the mind,

Who had no graves but only epitaphs
Where never so many spoke for never so few:
Per ardua, said the partisans of Mars,
Per aspera, to the stars.

That was the good war, the war we won
As if there was no death, for goodness's sake.
With the help of the losers we left out there
In the air, in the empty air.

Comments about The War In The Air by Howard Nemerov

  • Susan Williams (7/4/2016 3:53:00 PM)

    How have I managed not to hear of this poet before? This is the stuff literature is made of- a giant walking among us and seeing that which we haven't and thus enriching our lives. (Report) Reply

    2 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • John Mccullagh (7/4/2016 2:24:00 PM)

    Very well done.
    good poem of this genre
    (Report) Reply

  • Barry Middleton (7/4/2016 7:17:00 AM)

    A really good poem about the air war of WWII. Underrated as are many of the poems from the past. (Report) Reply

  • Edward Kofi Louis (7/4/2016 6:50:00 AM)

    War! ! We didn't see our dead. Thanks for sharing this poem with us. (Report) Reply

Read all 4 comments »

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, April 15, 2010

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