Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE MOURNER A LA MODE, by JOHN GODFREY SAXE



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THE MOURNER A LA MODE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: I saw her last night at a party
Last Line: That works in a similar way!
Subject(s): Mourning; Bereavement


I SAW her last night at a party
(The elegant party at Mead's),
And looking remarkably hearty
For a widow so young in her weeds;
Yet I know she was suffering sorrow
Too deep for the tongue to express,--
Or why had she chosen to borrow
So much from the language of dress?

Her shawl was as sable as night;
And her gloves were as dark as her shawl;
And her jewels--that fiashed in the light--
Were black as a funeral pall;
Her robe had the hue of the rest
(How nicely it fitted her shape!),
And the grief that was heaving her breast
Boiled over in billows of crape!

What tears of vicarious woe,
That else might have sullied her face,
Were kindly permitted to flow
In ripples of ebony lace!
While even her fan, in its play,
Had quite a lugubrious scope,
And seemed to be waving away
The ghost of the angel of Hope!

Yet rich as the robes of a queen
Was the sombre apparel she wore;
I'm certain I never had seen
Such a sumptuous sorrow before;
And I couldn't help thinking the beauty
In mourning the loved and the lost,
Was doing her conjugal duty
Altogether regardless of cost!

One surely would say a devotion
Performed at so vast an expense
Betrayed an excess of emotion
That was really something immense;
And yet as I viewed, at my leisure,
Those tokens of tender regard,
I thought:--It is scarce without measure--
The sorrow that goes by the yard!

Ah! grief is a curious passion;
And yours--I am surely afraid
The very next phase of the fashion
Will find it beginning to fade;
Though dark are the shadows of grief,
The morning will follow the night,
Half-tints will betoken relief,
Till joy shall be symboled in white!

Ah well! it were idle to quarrel
With Fashion, or aught she may do;
And so I conclude with a moral
And metaphor--warranted new:--
When measles come handsomely out,
The patient is safest, they say;
And the Sorrow is mildest, no doubt,
That works in a similar way!





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