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Sorrow Poems

Table of Contents

  1. Joy and Sorrow by James G. Brooks
  2. Transformation by Anonymous
  3. To Sorrow by Eliza and Sarah Wolcott
  4. The Loose Feather by Hannah Flagg Gould
  5. Song Making by Sara Teasdale
  6. XXVIII. Past Sorrows by Christopher Pearse Cranch
  7. To Sorrow by Madison Cawein
  8. The Cure of Melancholy by Carlos Wilcox
  9. Drouth by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
  10. The Saddest Hour by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

  1. Joy and Sorrow

    Pale Sorrow wakes while Joy doth sleep;
    And, guided by the evening star,
    She wanders forth to muse and weep.

    – James G. Brooks
    Joy and Sorrow
    by James G. Brooks

    Joy kneels, at morning's rosy prime,
    In worship to the rising sun;
    But Sorrow loves the calmer time,
    When the day-god his course hath run:
    When Night is in her shadowy car,
    Pale Sorrow wakes while Joy doth sleep;
    And, guided by the evening star,
    She wanders forth to muse and weep.

    Joy loves to cull the summer flower,
    And wreath it round his happy brow;
    But when the dark autumnal hour
    Hath laid the leaf and blossom low;
    When the frail bud hath lost its worth,
    And Joy hath dash'd it from his crest,
    Then Sorrow takes it from the earth,
    To wither on her wither'd breast.

    A gentle shower of sorrow,
    Best cultivates the muse;
    For hope, lights up the morrow,
    And sheds her joys profuse.

    – Eliza Wolcott
    Grief And Hope, Compared To The Rainbow After A Shower
  2. Transformation

    by Amos Russel Wells

    There's a garden far in Fancy
    Where the sweetest flowers grow
    Where a subtle necromancy
    Weaves again all ancient woe,—

    Tears it up and weaves it over
    Into blossoms of delight,
    Daisies, violet, and clover,
    Royal roses, lilies white.

    There the ugly shape of sorrow
    Softly curves and brightly gleams,
    In the garden of to-morrow,
    In the certainty of dreams.

  3. To Sorrow

    by Eliza and Sarah Wolcott

    What a thrill, when woes assailing,
    Stealing all our joys away;
    Constant billows are prevailing,—
    Dashing o'er us, day by day.

    When the heart's with anguish riven,
    Hope 's our anchor,—faith's our guide,
    Which directs our souls to heaven,
    Where we from the storm may hide.

    Sinner, hasten to this covert,
    See, the storm is pending nigh;
    Saint, rejoice; for once, too, thou wert
    Near the gulf where dangers lie.

    Soon our bark will land, where sorrow
    Never rolls along the side;
    Faith and hope light's up the morrow—
    Where with God we shall abide.

  4. The Loose Feather

    And what shall again, the wounded heart
    And its vanished peace e'er bring together?
    Ah! sundered once, they must sink apart,
    Like the stricken bird and her falling feather!

    – Hannah Flagg Gould
    The Loose Feather
    by Hannah Flagg Gould

    'T is wandering down through pathless air,
    A lonely thing in a boundless space,
    That has lost its way, and knows not where
    To find a home, or a resting place.

    The fearless breast, where late't was worn,
    Has met the arrow the foeman hurled;
    The venturous wing, by which't was borne
    Through clouds, must soon in death be furled.

    Poor timorous thing! when it felt the dart,
    Where it peaceful lay, how it fluttered and fled;
    Nor staid till the blood of the eagle's heart,
    To sully and moisten its down, was shed!

    And now, as in careless sport, 't is tossed
    Above the stream by the whiffling wind!
    In the next swift wave 't will be curled and lost,
    Nor leave one trace of itself behind.

    So fly the joys that warm the breast,
    Where they in their downy lightness grew,
    When their only home and their native rest
    The shaft of sorrow is passing through.

    And what shall again, the wounded heart
    And its vanished peace e'er bring together?
    Ah! sundered once, they must sink apart,
    Like the stricken bird and her falling feather!

  5. Song Making

    by Sara Teasdale

    My heart cried like a beaten child
    Ceaselessly all night long;
    I had to take my own cries
    And thread them into a song.

    One was a cry at black midnight
    And one when the first cock crow—
    My heart was like a beaten child,
    But no one ever knew.

    Life, you have put me in your debt
    And I must serve you long—
    But oh, the debt is terrible
    That must be paid in song.

  6. XXVIII. Past Sorrows

    Life, with its rest by night, its work by day,
    Forgets the old griefs, and heals their deepest scars.

    – Christopher Pearse Cranch
    XXVIII. Past Sorrows
    by Christopher Pearse Cranch

    As tangled driftwood barring up a stream
    Against our struggling oars when hope is high
    To reach some fair green island we descry
    Lying beyond us in the morning's gleam,
    And shimmering like a landscape in a dream —
    Yet waiting patiently the logs float by,
    And all our course lies open to the eye —
    So sorrows come and go. What though they seem
    A blight whose touch might turn a young head gray,
    Joy dawns again. Hope beckons us before.
    The tide that pressed against us breaks our bars;
    The visionary islands smile once more.
    Life, with its rest by night, its work by day,
    Forgets the old griefs, and heals their deepest scars.

  7. To Sorrow

    by Madison Cawein

    O dark-eyed goddess of the marble brow,
    Whose look is silence and whose touch is night,
    Who walkest lonely through the world, O thou,
    Who sittest lonely with Life's blown-out light;
    Who in the hollow hours of night's noon
    Criest like some lost child;
    Whose anguish-fevered eyeballs seek the moon
    To cool their pulses wild.
    Thou who dost bend to kiss Joy's sister cheek,
    Turning its rose to alabaster; yea,
    Thou who art terrible and mad and meek,
    Why in my heart art thou enshrined to-day?
    O Sorrow say, O say!

    Now Spring is here and all the world is white,
    I will go forth, and where the forest robes
    Itself in green, and every hill and height
    Crowns its fair head with blossoms,—spirit globes
    Of hyacinth and crocus dashed with dew,—
    I will forget my grief,
    And thee, O Sorrow, gazing on the blue,
    Beneath a last year's leaf,
    Of some brief violet the south wind woos,
    Or bluet, whence the west wind raked the snow;
    The baby eyes of love, the darling hues
    Of happiness, that thou canst never know,
    O child of pain and woe.

    On some hoar upland, sweet with clustered thorns,
    Hard by a river's windy white of waves,
    I shall sit down with Spring,—whose eyes are morns
    Of light; whose cheeks the rose of health enslaves, —
    And so forget thee braiding in her hair
    The snowdrop, tipped with green,
    The cool-eyed primrose and the trillium fair,
    And moony celandine.
    Contented so to lie within her arms,
    Forgetting all the sear and sad and wan,
    Remembering love alone, who o'er earth's storms,
    High on the mountains of perpetual dawn,
    Leads the glad hours on.

    Or in the peace that follows storm, when Even,
    Within the west, stands dreaming lone and far,
    Clad on with green and silver, and the Heaven
    Is brightly brooched with one gold-glittering star.
    I will lie down beside some mountain lake,
    'Round which the tall pines sigh,
    And breathing musk of rain from boughs that shake
    Storm balsam from on high,
    Make friends of Dream and Contemplation high
    And Music, listening to the mocking-bird,—
    Who through the hush sends its melodious cry,—
    And so forget a while that other word,
    That all loved things must die.

  8. The Cure of Melancholy

    by Carlos Wilcox

    And thou to whom long worshipp'd nature lends
    No strength to fly from grief or bear its weight,
    Stop not to rail at foes or fickle friends,
    Nor set the world at naught, nor spurn at fate;
    None seek thy misery, none thy being hate;
    Break from thy former self, thy life begin;
    Do thou the good thy thoughts oft meditate,
    And thou shalt feel the good man's peace within,
    And at thy dying day his wreath of glory win.

    With deeds of virtue to embalm his name,
    He dies in triumph or serene delight;
    Weaker and weaker grows his mortal frame
    At every breath, but in immortal might
    His spirit grows, preparing for its flight:
    The world recedes and fades like clouds of even,
    But heaven comes nearer fast, and grows more bright,
    All intervening mists far off are driven;
    The world will vanish soon, and all will soon be heaven.

    Wouldst thou from sorrow find a sweet relief?
    Or is thy heart oppress'd with woes untold?
    Balm wouldst thou gather for corroding grief?
    Pour blessings round thee like a shower of gold:
    'Tis when the rose is wrapp'd in many a fold
    Close to its heart, the worm is wasting there
    Its life and beauty; not, when all unrolled,
    Leaf after leaf its bosom rich and fair
    Breathes freely its perfumes throughout the ambient air.

    Wake thou that sleepest in enchanted bowers,
    Lest these lost years should haunt thee on the night
    When death is waiting for thy number'd hours
    To take their swift and everlasting flight;
    Wake ere the earthborn charm unnerve thee quite,
    And be thy thoughts to work divine address'd;
    Do something—do it soon—with all thy might;
    An angel's wing would droop if long at rest,
    And God himself inactive were no longer bless'd.

    Some high or humble enterprise of good
    Contemplate till it shall possess thy mind,
    Become thy study, pastime, rest, and food,
    And kindle in thy heart a flame refined;
    Pray Heaven for firmness thy whole soul to bind
    To this thy purpose—to begin, pursue,
    With thoughts all fix'd and feelings purely kind,
    Strength to complete, and with delight review,
    And grace to give the praise where all is ever due.

  9. Response

    by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

    Why do we pity those who weep? The pain
    That finds a ready outlet in the flow
    Of salt and bitter tears is blessed woe,
    And does not need our sympathies. The rain
    But fits the shorn field for new yield of grain;
    While the red brazen skies, the sun's fierce glow,
    The dry, hot winds that from the tropics blow
    Do parch and wither the unsheltered plain.
    The anguish that through long, remorseless years
    Looks out upon the world with no relief,
    Of sudden tempests or slow-dripping tears,—
    The still, unuttered, silent, wordless grief
    That evermore doth ache, and ache, and ache,—
    This is the sorrow wherewith hearts do break.

  10. 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.