To Sorrow

written by Madison Julius Cawein

To Sorrow

— Madison Julius 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.

About the poet

Madison Julius Cawein

Madison Cawein (23 March 1865 – 8 December 1914) was a poet from Louisville, Kentucky, whose poem "Waste Land" has been linked with T. S. Eliot's later The Waste Land. Cawein's father made patent medicines from herbs. Cawein thus became acquainted with and developed a love for local nature as a child. He worked in a Cincinnati pool hall as an assistant cashier for six years, saving his pay so he could return home to write. His output was thirty-six books and 1,500 poems. He was known as the "Keats of Kentucky." In 1912 Cawein was forced to sell his Old Louisville home, St James Court (a two-and-a-half story brick house built in 1901, which he had purchased in 1907), as well as some of his library, after losing...

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