I wonder where the lost have gone

Dante and Virgil Penetrating the Forest 1824-7 William Blake 1757-1827 (Tate Gallery)

I wonder where the lost have gone
Lost to wonder, lost to touch
When sense is taken, sight is gone
What is found, and what is won.

I wonder if they’re all alone
In the darkness, in the gloom
Or in the sweating ground alone
More is said, and more is done.

Spinning earth no justice takes
For lying tongue or stiff-necked pride;
Warm her microbe-seethed embrace
Of oneness wrought, forgetfulness.

The bodies claimed by coffins lined
Or watery depths or funeral pyres
Souls unearthed new moorings find
As exiled prophets, poets divined.

I wonder where the lost have gone
Apart from mercy, love, and grace
And in their wake what’s left undone
Too late—their choices sealed in stone.


If you hear shades of Dante (pun intended), there’s good cause. My husband and I have begun reading that great poet’s Commedia out loud together and it’s been such an unexpectedly rewarding journey so far for me, both spiritually and poetically, something I didn’t think I needed until it happened. In the background is what I dimly remember of hearing Professor Giuseppe Mazzotta‘s “Dante in Translation” online, which fleshes out the masterpiece for those like me who came at it cold, so to speak.

So the dVerse Poetics prompt, “Choices,” was serendipitous. Guest host and poet Christopher Reilley gives us an entertaining buffet of “choices” defined in various contexts as well as poems dealing with the topic. A great read! Check it out!

Nota Bene 9/10/2022: I’d like to update this post with a link to a sermon by Rev. Rico Tice at All Souls Langham Place, London: “A Heart for the Lost.” (Please click on the title.) Tice wrote Honest Evangelism, a book I highly recommend with practical guidance for those who have “a heart for the lost.”. Among other things, I’ve written about it in “Where All Books Lead.”

25 thoughts on “I wonder where the lost have gone

  1. Praise the Lord for this creative inspiration!!! God has gifted you with the use of words more than you realize! So glad you and your husband are reading this out loud together! While that isn’t something Nathan would ever be interested in, perhaps I will find an audio of it or just read aloud myself! So thankful for you!!!! Lots of love, hugs and blessings!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Rob Kistner

    I enjoyed this Dora — excellent. I find it a pleasure, and inspiring, to read and be mindful, in that moment if reading, works from any of the ecstatic style writers/poets — no matter the era or background. Rumi, Confuscius, Lao Tsu, Whitman, Blake, Dickinson, Tagore all come immediately to mind. I need not align precisely with their gist, but I always find similar threads of wisdom there, often threads I have also arrived at, or wish to include, in tying my life together.

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  3. Indeed, some choices are the permanent kind. What becomes of the broken hearted, the Four Tops once sang, and like the frat boys who pranked Harvey Haddix when he lost his perfect game, maybe the answer is “tough shit, Harv!” but I hope there’s some sort of mercy somewhere for the makers of poor choices. Goodness knows i have needed it.

    As an aside, i can’t think of Dante without remembering his sudden, enduring, and rather bizarre obsession with Beatrice. I mean Dante Alighieri of course, But Dante Rossetti also had his own “Beatrice’ in model Elizabeth Siddal. I had a friend for a short,intense time some years ago whose name was not Beatrice, but I called her Bice (Bee-chay) short for Beatrice, because, reasons. Not all poor choices are all bad, I have found.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Shay! “CoalBlack,” are you? I didn’t know, but your engaging comments have that familiar stamp, so I should have guessed. Did you know that Dante was only nine when he crushed on “Beatrice” — not her real name; he claimed he never knew her real name –and she was his next door neighbor? Like something out of a Taylor Swift video, haha. But the year before he had just lost his mother, and ever afterwards, his poetry reflected that maternal quality of love that he longed for and projected on to her. So no surprise that it was the Virgin Mary as Theotokos who sent word through mediaries to Beatrice in heaven who then engaged Virgil to rescue him in the “dark wood” and to be a guide on his journey in the Divine Comedy.

        Forgive my windily windy longwindedness which I’ll end by saying, I agree with you. Our poor choices don’t doom us. As Dante would say, they are bad only as often as they lead us to despair. (“Though lovers be lost, love shall not/And death shall have no dominion.” — Dylan Thomas) When hope is lost, all is lost.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Dora, dear one. You’re back! So happy to see you here. I’m genuinely happy.
    Lovely poem. Love it all. Splendid rhythm and words. And reading Dante? Wow. Amazing. I’ve never read that.
    Blessing you. See you around. I wish you miracles XoXo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, dear Selma, not least of all for being blessed by you. If you do decide to read Dante, it’s helpful to get a translation with footnotes, esp. for his medieval references. But as a bit of self-examination, it’s “therapy” (in the current lingo), convicting, I’d say.

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