Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, WHAT THEY SAID, by JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY



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WHAT THEY SAID, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Whispering to themselves
Last Line: "she will follow soon!"" they said."
Alternate Author Name(s): Johnson Of Boone, Benj. F.
Subject(s): Death; Grief; Dead, The; Sorrow; Sadness


WHISPERING to themselves apart,
They who knew her said of her,
"Dying of a broken heart --
Death her only comforter --
For the man she loved is dead --
She will follow soon!" they said.

Beautiful? Ah! brush the dust
From Raphael's fairest face,
And restore it, as it must
First have smiled back from its place
On his easel as he leant
Wrapt in awe and wonderment!

Why, to kiss the very hem
Of the mourning-weeds she wore,
Like the winds that rustled them,
I had gone the round world o'er;
And to touch her hand I swear
All things dareless I would dare!

But unto themselves apart,
Whispering, they said of her,
"Dying of a broken heart --
Death her only comforter --
For the man she loved is dead --
She will follow soon!" they said.

So I mutely turned away,
Turned with sorrow and despair,
Yearning still from day to day
For that woman dying there,
Till at last, by longing led,
I returned to find her -- dead?

"Dead?" -- I know that word would tell
Rhyming there -- but in this case
"Wed" rhymes equally as well
In the very selfsame place --
And, in fact, the latter word
Is the one she had preferred.

Yet unto themselves apart,
Whisp'ring they had said of her --
"Dying of a broken heart --
Death her only comforter --
For the man she loved is dead --
"She will follow soon!" they said.





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