Revenge & Forgiveness

An Anthology of Poems

Henry Holt
2002 | ISBN
Revenge and Forgiveness

From the Introduction

In these pages you’ll find art made of revenge and forgiveness. We’ve all felt angry and said things we later wish we hadn’t. The revenge we take with our words may be momentarily empowering, until the impact of what we’ve said hits home. Consider the weight of vengeful words spoken against someone you care for. Forgiveness, on the other hand, can give one tremendous relief, make us feel, momentarily, pretty sublime. There’s a rush to being forgiven, but also a way in which it can feel embarrassing. To receive forgiveness means we’re also being called to task, and sometimes, I don’t know about you, but I’d rather my act of meanness just be forgotten or ignored.

You’ll find poems about the anger and resulting revenge we feel and take not only against others, but toward ourselves. I hope these poems will help you deepen your understanding of human nature—our strengths and foibles. When we take revenge against another, we lose some of our innocence, some of our humanity. Poetry leads toward transformation. If you write and read, your compassion and understanding expand. Poetry can accompany us on our journeys. It makes one less alone.

These poems are to read—to grapple with, to question. Bring your complex nature to these poems, the part of you that seeks revenge and the part of you that forgives.


“Inspired by the events of September 11, this excellent anthology illustrates how people deal individually with grief and anger of all types…. [A]ll of the poems speak to the natural human urge to respond to a wrong whether by forgiving or by taking revenge. The range of authors included is vast… The introduction is thoughtful in its discussion of revenge and forgiveness in their various forms. The biographical notes at the end are fascinating and often include quotes from the poets themselves about the works presented in the collection…. Vecchione’s goal for this book, to help readers to see themselves and others more clearly, to guide them past pain to understanding, has been beautifully and intelligently reached.”

“Eschewing the more usual themes of love, death, and basketball, Vecchione here brings together for young adults close to sixty poems on a theme that offers more latitude than one might expect…. Some of the selections bring together hurt and forgiveness in a single revelation…. Good notes on the poems and poets appear at the end of the book.”