Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE UNHONORED, by PHOEBE CARY



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THE UNHONORED, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Alas, alas! How many sighs
Last Line: Kept in the long eternities!
Subject(s): Death; Dead, The


ALAS, alas! how many sighs
Are breathed for his sad fate, who dies
With triumph dawning on his eyes.

What thousands for the soldier weep,
From his first battle gone to sleep
That slumber which is long and deep.

But who about his fate can tell,
Who struggled manfully and well;
Yet fainted on the march, and fell?

Or who above his rest makes moan,
Who dies in the sick-tent alone --
"Only a private, name unknown!"

What tears down Pity's cheek have run
For poets singing in the sun,
Stopped suddenly, their song half done.

But for the hosts of souls below,
Who to eternal silence go,
Hiding their great unspoken woe;

Who sees amid their ranks go down,
Heroes, that never won renown,
And martyrs, with no martyr's crown?

Unrecognized, a poet slips
Into death's total, long eclipse,
With breaking heart, and wordless lips;

And never any brother true
Utters the praise that was his due --
"This man was greater than ye knew!"

No maiden by his grave appears,
Crying out in long after years,
"I would have loved him," through her tears.

We weep for her, untimely dead,
Who would have pressed the marriagebed,
Yet to death's chamber went instead.

But who deplores the sadder fate,
Of her who finds no mortal mate,
And lives and dies most desolate?

Alas! 't is sorrowful to know
That she who finds least love below,
Finds least pity for her woe.

Hard is her fate who feels life past,
When loving hands still hold her fast,
And loving eyes watch to the last.

But she, whose lids no kisses prest,
Who crossed her own hands on her breast,
And went to her eternal rest;

She had so sad a lot below,
That her unutterable woe
Only the pitying God can know!

When little hands are dropped away
From the warm bosom where they lay,
And the poor mother holds but clay;

What human lip that does not moan,
What heart that does not inly groan,
And make such suffering its own?

Yet, sitting mute in their despair,
With their unnoticed griefs to bear,
Are childless women everywhere;

Who never knew, nor understood,
That which is woman's greatest good,
The sacredness of motherhood.

But putting down their hopes and fears,
Claiming no pity and no tears,
They live the measure of their years.

They see age stealing on apace,
And put the gray hairs from their face,
No children's fingers shall displace!

Though grief hath many a form and show,
I think that unloved women know
The very bottom of life's woe!

And that the God, who pitying sees,
Hath yet a recompense for these,
Kept in the long eternities!





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