Against Forgetting: Twentieth-Century Poetry of Witness, Edited by Carolyn Forche

This is one of the most important anthologies of poetry compiled.  The book is hefty (over 750 pages), covering poetry from the early 1900s (starting with the Armenian Genocide) and going through both World Wars, the Cold War, . . . up to the 1990's, when the book was published.  The poems were all written by poets effected by wars and/or repression.  It's a beautiful and heartbreaking collection that shows the importance and power of poetry.  Buy here.

From "Excerpt from From a German War Primer" by Bertolt Brecht

General, man is very useful. / He can fly and he can kill. / But he has one defect: / He can think.


Picture Postcard 2 by Miklos Radnoti

Nine kilometers from here the haystacks and / houses are burning; / sitting on the field’s edges, some scared and speechless / poor folk are smoking. / Here a little shepherdess, stepping onto the lake still / ruffles the water; / the ruffled sheep flock at the water drinks from / clouds, bending over.


From "Dedication" by Czeslaw Milosz 

You whom I could not save / Listen to me. / Try to understand this simple speech as I would be ashamed of another. . . // They used to pour millet on graves or poppy seeds / To feed the dead who would come disguised as birds. / I put this book here for you, who once lived / So that you should visit us no more.