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Poems About Pain

Table of Contents

  1. Pain by Anonymous
  2. My Friend by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
  3. Pain by John B. Tabb
  4. Pain by Sara Teasdale
  5. Pain by Ruby Archer
  6. "Like Barley Bending" by Sara Teasdale
  7. The Light of Stars by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  8. Cares by Charles Swain
  9. Real by Emily Dickinson
  10. Delight becomes pictorial by Emily Dickinson
  11. I shall know why, when time is over by Emily Dickinson
  12. The Mystery of Pain by Emily Dickinson
  13. The Mystery by Anonymous
  14. Nameless Pain by Thomas Bailey Aldrich
  15. Song by Rupert Brooke
  16. The Wandering Pole by Hannah Flagg Gould
  17. Unrest by Jessie Belle Rittenhouse
  18. Hours of Pain by Ellen P. Allerton
  19. The Hourly Cross by Ruby Archer

  1. Pain

    I am a Mystery that walks the earth
    Since man began to be.
    Sorrow and sin stood sponsors at my birth,
    And terror christened me.

    - Anonymous
    Pain
    by Anonymous

    I am a Mystery that walks the earth
    Since man began to be.
    Sorrow and sin stood sponsors at my birth,
    And terror christened me.

    More pitiless than Death, who gathereth
    His victims day by day,
    I doom man daily to desire Death,
    And still forbear to slay.

    More merciless than Time, I leave man youth,
    And suck life's sweetness out.
    More cruel than despair, I show man truth,
    And leave him strength to doubt.

    I bind the freest in my subtle band.
    I blanch the boldest cheek.
    I hold the hearts of poets in my hand,
    And wring them ere they speak.

    I walk in darkness over souls that bleed.
    I shape each as I go
    To something different. I sow the seed
    Whence grapes or thistles grow.

    No two that dream me dream the self-same face.
    No two name me alike.
    A horror without form I fill all space.
    Across all time I strike.

    Look how man cringes to mine unseen rod!
    Kings own my sovereignty.
    Though seers but prove me as they prove a God,
    Yet none denieth me.

    I come! I come! Life's monster Mystery,
    I come to bless or damn.
    Kneel, kneel, vain soul! Helpless, acknowledge me!
    Thou feelest that I am!

  2. My Friend

    by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

    When first I looked upon the face of Pain
    I shrank repelled, as one shrinks from a foe
    Who stands with dagger poised, as for a blow.
    I was in search of Pleasure and of Gain;
    I turned aside to let him pass: in vain;
    He looked straight in my eyes and would not go.
    "Shake hands," he said, "our paths are one, and so
    We must be comrades on the way, 'tis plain."

    I felt the firm clasp of his hand on mine;
    Through all my veins it sent a strengthening glow.
    I straightway linked my arm in his, and lo!
    He led me forth to joys almost divine;
    With God's great truths enriched me in the end,
    And now I hold him as my dearest friend.

  3. Pain

    by John B. Tabb

    I am a gardener to weed
    And dig about the heart:
    To plant therein the pregnant seed,
    And watch, with many a smart,
    The stem and leaf and blossom rise.
    Alternate to supply
    The victims for the sacrifice,
    And, for the fruit, to die.

  4. Pain

    by Sara Teasdale

    Waves are the sea's white daughters,
    And raindrops the children of rain,
    But why for my shimmering body
    Have I a mother like Pain?

    Night is the mother of stars,
    And wind the mother of foam—
    The world is brimming with beauty,
    But I must stay at home.

  5. Pain

    by Ruby Archer

    The mount of joy is dizzy height.
    Uncertain we attain,
    In radiance fear the fading light,—
    Not so in depths of pain.

    In shade of sorrow will I hide,—
    No pleasure there to gain;
    And unlamenting will I bide
    In quiet vale of pain.

    No tenure weak, no loss to fear,
    In absolute of pain.
    Tho' Resurrection be not clear,
    Gethsemane is plain.

  6. "Like Barley Bending"

    Like barley bending
    And rising again,
    So would I, unbroken,
    Rise from pain;

    - Sara Teasdale
    "Like Barley Bending"
    by Sara Teasdale

    Like barley bending
    In low fields by the sea,
    Singing in hard wind
    Ceaselessly;

    Like barley bending
    And rising again,
    So would I, unbroken,
    Rise from pain;

    So would I softly,
    Day long, night long,
    Change my sorrow
    Into song.

  7. The Light of Stars

    Oh, fear not in a world like this,
    And thou shalt know ere long,
    Know how sublime a thing it is
    To suffer and be strong.

    - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
    The Light of Stars
    by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

    The night is come, but not too soon;
    And sinking silently,
    All silently, the little moon
    Drops down behind the sky.

    There is no light in earth or heaven
    But the cold light of stars;
    And the first watch of night is given
    To the red planet Mars.

    Is it the tender star of love?
    The star of love and dreams?
    Oh no! from that blue tent above,
    A hero's armour gleams.

    And earnest thoughts within me rise,
    When I behold afar,
    Suspended in the evening skies,
    The shield of that red star.

    Oh star of strength! I see thee stand
    And smile upon my pain;
    Thou beckonest with thy mailed hand,
    And I am strong again.

    Within my breast there is no light
    But the cold light of stars:
    I give the first watch of the night
    To the red planet Mars.

    The star of the unconquer'd will,
    He rises in my breast,
    Serene, and resolute, and still,
    And calm, and self-possess'd.

    And thou, too, whosoe'er thou art,
    That readest this brief psalm,
    As one by one thy hopes depart,
    Be resolute and calm.

    Oh, fear not in a world like this,
    And thou shalt know ere long,
    Know how sublime a thing it is
    To suffer and be strong.

  8. Cares

    by Charles Swain

    Cares, Cares,—who is without them?
    Troubles are plenty wherever we stray—
    Pass round the glass and think nothing about them,
    The more you make of them the longer they stay.

    Tears, Tears,—who has not met them?
    Sorrow's the dew of life's morning and night;
    Pass round the goblet and try to forget them,
    Speak of the bloom, but ne'er mention the blight.

    Life—life,—who would desire it?
    Who for its pleasures would suffer its pains?
    Pass round the glass, for our spirits require it;
    Hide with life's roses the weight of life's chains.

  9. Real

    by Emily Dickinson

    I like a look of agony,
    Because I know it 's true;
    Men do not sham convulsion,
    Nor simulate a throe.

    The eyes glaze once, and that is death.
    Impossible to feign
    The beads upon the forehead
    By homely anguish strung.

  10. Delight becomes pictorial

    Delight becomes pictorial
    When viewed through pain, —
    More fair, because impossible
    That any gain.

    - Emily Dickinson
    Delight becomes pictorial
    by Emily Dickinson

    Delight becomes pictorial
    When viewed through pain, —
    More fair, because impossible
    That any gain.

    The mountain at a given distance
    In amber lies;
    Approached, the amber flits a little, —
    And that 's the skies!

  11. I shall know why, when time is over

    by Emily Dickinson

    I shall know why, when time is over,
    And I have ceased to wonder why;
    Christ will explain each separate anguish
    In the fair schoolroom of the sky.

    He will tell me what Peter promised,
    And I, for wonder at his woe,
    I shall forget the drop of anguish
    That scalds me now, that scalds me now.

  12. The Mystery of Pain

    by Emily Dickinson

    Pain has an element of blank;
    It cannot recollect
    When it began, or if there were
    A day when it was not.

    It has no future but itself,
    Its infinite realms contain
    Its past, enlightened to perceive
    New periods of pain.

  13. The Mystery

    by Anonymous

    One mystery there is, and one alone,
    Baffles the human spirit with despair,
    Filches the very sunlight from the air.
    And wrenches every breath into a groan.
    Oh, it is when our loved, our very own,
    The good,—so good! the fair,—so dearly fair!
    Are doomed some awful agony to bear.
    And all their sweet, pure life becomes a moan.
    Send us, O God! amid our aching tears
    The memory of Thine accepted fate,—
    Thy Son, Thy best beloved, torn with spears
    Of all our mortal woes disconsolate;
    So that our mystery of pain appears
    A mystery of love and not of hate.

  14. Nameless Pain

    by Thomas Bailey Aldrich

    In my nostrils the summer wind
    Blows the exquisite scent of the rose:
    O for the golden, golden wind,
    Breaking the buds as it goes!
    Breaking the buds and bending the grass,
    And spilling the scent of the rose.

    O wind of the summer morn,
    Tearing the petals in twain,
    Wafting the fragrant soul
    Of the rose through valley and plain,
    I would you could tear my heart to-day
    And scatter its nameless pain!

  15. Song

    by Rupert Brooke

    All suddenly the wind comes soft,
    And Spring is here again;
    And the hawthorn quickens with buds of green,
    And my heart with buds of pain.

    My heart all Winter lay so numb,
    The earth so dead and frore,
    That I never thought the Spring would come,
    Or my heart wake any more.

    But Winter's broken and earth has woken,
    And the small birds cry again;
    And the hawthorn hedge puts forth its buds,
    And my heart puts forth its pain.

  16. Solitude

    by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

    Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
    Weep, and you weep alone,
    For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth,
    But has trouble enough of its own.
    Sing, and the hills will answer;
    Sigh, it is lost on the air,
    The echoes bound to a joyful sound,
    But shrink from voicing care.

    Rejoice, and men will seek you;
    Grieve, and they turn and go.
    They want full measure of all your pleasure,
    But they do not need your woe.
    Be glad, and your friends are many;
    Be sad, and you lose them all,—
    There are none to decline your nectar'd wine,
    But alone you must drink life's gall.

    Feast, and your halls are crowded
    Fast, and the world goes by.
    Succeed and give, and it helps you live,
    But no man can help you die.
    There is room in the halls of pleasure
    For a large and lordly train,
    But one by one we must all file on
    Through the narrow aisles of pain.

  17. The Wandering Pole

    by Hannah Flagg Gould

    A wanderer over a stranger land,
    With a houseless head and an empty hand,
    A brow of care and a heart of grief,
    He came to my door and asked relief,
    While, few and foreign his accents fell
    From a faltering tongue his wants to tell.

    The vesture that mantled his wasted form,
    Was little to shield it from cold or storm,
    As slowly 't was borne by the halting limb
    The arm of the Russian had given to him
    When, deep in his forehead the scar was sunk,
    That showed where the lance at his veins had drunk.

    And, traced in his visage, I clearly viewed
    The marks of a mind by woe subdued—
    A wounded spirit compelled to bear
    A weary burden of pain and care;
    Though man in his might had striven, and failed
    To conquer the soul that his power assailed.

    I'd learnt the story of POLAND'S wrongs,
    From writer, and speaker, and minstrel songs;
    When every breeze that had swelled a sail
    Had seemed to waft me the piteous tale,
    The mortal groan, or the parting breath
    Of those it had left on her fields of death.

    I'd heard of her matrons, who nobly sold
    Their fine-wrought vessels of silver and gold;
    Of her beautiful maidens, who robbed their hair
    Of the costly gems that were glittering there
    For brother, or lover, or son, to buy
    The arms they had borne to the fight, to die.

    Her fearless struggle, her hopeless fall,
    Her exiled sons; I had heard of all;
    But never had seen her fate before,
    As pictured in him, who had reached my door;
    His looks, like an orphan's, so sadly said
    Of his own dear country, 'My mother is dead!'

    And could AMERICA'S child behold
    A sight like this, with a heart so cold
    It would not melt, and a balsam flow
    In word and deed, till the stranger's woe
    Was softened, if pity and human skill
    May reach the spirit's deep-seated ill?

    But still did I feel how poor and vain
    Was human effort to lull the pain
    Of him, whom the sleep of the grave alone
    Could make to forget the joys he'd known
    And lost for ever; on time's bleak shore
    To find home, kindred, and friends no more.

    I knew, if backward his eye was cast,
    What fearful visions before it passed.
    If onward, how lonely, rude and drear
    The path to the end of his journey here,
    While Hope had nought to his breast to bring,
    And Memory only applied her sting.

    I almost prayed, as be turned away,
    The FRIEND of the friendless to speed the day,
    When he should be laid in his final rest;
    To give, in his mansions, among the blest,
    A home to the great and suffering soul,
    That spoke from the eye of the WANDERING POLE.

  18. Unrest

    by Jessie Belle Rittenhouse

    Now I shall know unrest again,
    And all my heart that was so still
    Will beat in me like troubled tides
    And urge me to its will.

    Now joy, like an ecstatic flame,
    Will light the dark about my bed—
    But with the morning I shall know
    That it was pain instead.

  19. Hours of Pain

    by Ellen P. Allerton

    With the hot blood rushing, swelling,
    Surging through my throbbing brain,
    Worn and weary, past the telling,
    Nerveless in the grasp of pain,

    Lean on my thorny pillow,
    Strewn with torments o'er and o'er;
    Every poise a bursting billow,
    Breaking on a tortured shore.

    But there come, in soft caressing,
    Gentle touches, loving hands;
    As the soft rain drops its blessing
    On the scorched and thirsty lands.

    Tender voices, softly falling,
    Drop their pity in my ear,
    Sweet as tinkling waters, calling
    O'er a desert parched and sere.

    Bless your music, sweet young voices—
    Dear young hands, your soft caress!
    Pain is fierce, but love rejoices
    In its conquering tenderness.

  20. The Hourly Cross

    by Ruby Archer

    Oh, sorrow of restraining
    An impulse grown alert,
    Of bearing uncomplaining
    The daily want and hurt!

There is room in the halls of pleasure
For a large and lordly train,
But one by one we must all file on
Through the narrow aisle of pain.

– Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Solitude