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Poems About Sadness

Table of Contents

  1. The Rainy Day by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  2. Triumphalis by Bliss Carman
  3. The Lesson by Laurence Dunbar
  4. We Wear the Mask by Laurence Dunbar
  5. Away, Sad Voices by Sir Charles George Douglas Roberts
  6. I'm Saddest When I Sing by William Henry Dawson
  7. Solitude by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
  8. The Saddest Hour by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
  9. Break, Break, Break by Alfred Tennyson

  1. The Rainy Day

    by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

    The day is cold, and dark, and dreary;
    It rains, and the wind is never weary;
    The vine still clings to the moldering wall,
    But at every gust the dead leaves fall.
    And the day is dark and dreary.

    My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;
    It rains, and the wind is never weary;
    My thoughts still cling to the moldering Past,
    But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast,
    And the days are dark and dreary.

    Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
    Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
    Thy fate is the common fate of all,
    Into each life some rain must fall,
    Some days must be dark and dreary.

  2. Triumphalis

    by Bliss Carman

    Soul, art thou sad again
    With the old sadness?
    Thou shalt be glad again
    With a new gladness,
    When April sun and rain
    Mount to the teeming brain
    With the earth madness.

    When from the mould again,
    Spurning disaster,
    Spring shoots unfold again,
    Follow thou faster
    Out of the drear domain
    Of dark, defeat, and pain,
    Praising the Master.

    Hope for thy guide again,
    Ample and splendid;
    Love at thy side again,
    All doubting ended;
    (Ah, by the dragon slain,
    For nothing small or vain
    Michael contended!)

    Thou shalt take heart again,
    No more despairing;
    Play thy great part again,
    Loving and caring.
    Hark, how the gold refrain
    Runs through the iron strain,
    Splendidly daring!

    Thou shalt grow strong again,
    Confident, tender,—
    Battle with wrong again,
    Be truth's defender,—
    Of the immortal train,
    Born to attempt, attain,
    Never surrender!

  3. The Lesson

    But at his smile I smiled in turn,
    And into my soul there came a ray:
    In trying to soothe another's woes
    Mine own had passed away.

    – Paul Laurence Dunbar
    The Lesson
    by Paul Laurence Dunbar

    My cot was down by a cypress grove,
    And I sat by my window the whole night long,
    And heard well up from the deep dark wood
    A mocking-bird's passionate song.

    And I thought of myself so sad and lone,
    And my life's cold winter that knew no spring;
    Of my mind so weary and sick and wild,
    Of my heart too sad to sing.

    But e'en as I listened the mock-bird's song,
    A thought stole into my saddened heart,
    And I said, "I can cheer some other soul
    By a carol's simple art."

    For oft from the darkness of hearts and lives
    Come songs that brim with joy and light,
    As out of the gloom of the cypress grove
    The mocking-bird sings at night.

    So I sang a lay for a brother's ear
    In a strain to soothe his bleeding heart,
    And he smiled at the sound of my voice and lyre,
    Though mine was a feeble art.

    But at his smile I smiled in turn,
    And into my soul there came a ray:
    In trying to soothe another's woes
    Mine own had passed away.

  4. We Wear the Mask

    by Paul Laurence Dunbar

    We wear the mask that grins and lies,
    It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—
    This debt we pay to human guile;
    With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
    And mouth with myriad subtleties.

    Why should the world be over-wise,
    In counting all our tears and sighs?
    Nay, let them only see us, while
    We wear the mask.

    We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
    To thee from tortured souls arise.
    We sing, but oh the clay is vile
    Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
    But let the world dream otherwise,
    We wear the mask!

  5. Away, Sad Voices

    by Sir Charles George Douglas Roberts

    Away, sad voices, telling
    Of old, forgotten pain!
    My heart, at grief rebelling,
    To joy returns again.
    My life, at tears protesting,
    To long delight returns,
    Where, close of all my questing,
    Her dear eyes love discerns.

    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.

    – Ella Wheeler Wilcox
    Solitude
  6. The Day is Done

    by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

    The day is done, and the darkness
    Falls from the wings of Night,
    As a feather is wafted downward
    From an eagle in his flight.

    I see the lights of the village
    Gleam through the rain and the mist,
    And a feeling of sadness comes o'er me
    That my soul cannot resist:

    A feeling of sadness and longing,
    That is not akin to pain,
    And resembles sorrow only
    As the mist resembles the rain.

    Come, read to me some poem,
    Some simple and heartfelt lay,
    That shall soothe this restless feeling,
    And banish the thoughts of day.

    Not from the grand old masters,
    Not from the bards sublime,
    Whose distant footsteps echo
    Through the corridors of Time.

    For, like strains of martial music,
    Their mighty thoughts suggest
    Life's endless toil and endeavor;
    And to-night I long for rest.

    Read from some humbler poet,
    Whose songs gushed from his heart,
    As showers from the clouds of summer,
    Or tears from the eyelids start;

    Who, through long days of labor,
    And nights devoid of ease,
    Still heard in his soul the music
    Of wonderful melodies.

    Such songs have power to quiet
    The restless pulse of care,
    And come like the benediction
    That follows after prayer.

    Then read from the treasured volume
    The poem of thy choice,
    And lend to the rhyme of the poet
    The beauty of thy voice.

    And the night shall be filled with music,
    And the cares, that infest the day,
    Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs,
    And as silently steal away.

  7. I'm Saddest When I Sing

    by William Henry Dawson

    It's not because my soul is filled
    With love, or joy, or praise,
    Or, that with sentiment 'tis thrilled,
    That tuneful song I raise:
    It's not that Fortune's hand has dealt
    To me more than my share:
    It does not mean that I've not felt
    The blight of want and care;
    It simply means, I do not want
    My friends to share the sting
    That in my heart is buried,
    So I try to smile and sing.
    I trip about from room to room
    Light as a bird on wing,
    And sing and shout and laugh—but still
    I'm saddest when I sing.

  8. 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.

  9. The Saddest Hour

    by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

    The saddest hour of anguish and of loss
    Is not that season of supreme despair
    When we can find no least light anywhere
    To gild the dread, black shadow of the Cross.
    Not in that luxury of sorrow when
    We sup on salt of tears, and drink the gall
    Of memories of days beyond recall—
    Of lost delights that cannot come again.

    But when, with eyes that are no longer wet,
    We look out on the great, wide world of men,
    And, smiling, lean toward a bright tomorrow,
    Then backward shrink, with sudden keen regret,
    To find that we are learning to forget:
    Ah! then we face the saddest hour of sorrow.

  10. Break, Break, Break

    Break, break, break,
    At the foot of thy crags, O sea!
    But the tender grace of a day that is dead
    Will never come back to me.

    - Alfred Tennyson
    Break, Break, Break
    by Alfred Tennyson

    Break, break, break,
    On thy cold gray stones, O sea!
    And I would that my tongue could utter
    The thoughts that arise in me.

    Oh, well for the fisherman's boy,
    That he shouts with his sister at play!
    Oh, well for the sailor lad,
    That he sings in his boat on the bay!

    And the stately ships go on
    To their haven under the hill;
    But oh for the touch of a vanished hand,
    And the sound of a voice that is still!

    Break, break, break,
    At the foot of thy crags, O sea!
    But the tender grace of a day that is dead
    Will never come back to me.