Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, MEED OF SORROW, by GEORGE H. SOULE JR.



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MEED OF SORROW, by            
First Line: Upon the nearer bank of that dark shore
Last Line: She smiled a smile of utter tenderness.
Subject(s): Grief; Yale University; Sorrow; Sadness


UPON the nearer bank of that dark shore,
Where, still and full, Lethean waters pour
Like greatening darkness and a deepening sleep
That makes a sobbing child forget to weep,
And lulls its beating eyelids, and compels
Erasure of the sorrow, and foretells
A sweet awakening by a morning breeze
That scatters flickering sunshine through the trees,
I saw a woman wander, all alone.
Her long, straight robe with dullest whiteness shone
Like to the blank, sad blindness of a wall
Between us and our freedom; the light fall
Of her brown hair, baffled in loveliness,
Yearned for an evermore denied caress;
And her smooth, twilight-pale, grief-sickened brow
Shamed with its blessed breadth the fire that now
And now anew glowed dully in her eyes;
Consuming all the hopes of glad surprise
Or Unsought joy. She would not now impart
In one clear glance for her deep-moving heart
Any half satisfaction in a love
That gives itself to what it cannot move,
But rather, shaken and bruised by blow on blow,
Too frightened to be calm, too weak to know,
She waited for an ending of her soul --
Never to come. Toward her Lethean goal
Over that shadowy, old rough-heathered waste
She stumbled with slow steps too tired to haste.
Her pituful white fingers at her breast
Clutched at her sorrows, as if yet her quest
For something fine and beautiful and still
Moved her in vain to grapple and to kill
The longings torturing her. She hardly breathed,
Else had her tense-held woe to weeping seethed,
And smitten with sudden tears had found relief --
A thing that could not be. In pure, whole grief
She reached that silent stream, and, bending low,
She saw its blackness and desired it so
That sorely trembling, she leaned o'er the brink
And lifted one sweet handful. Ere the drink
Had touched her patient lips, a strange regret
Grew in her eyes, as if a moment yet
She held some lonely, sweet pain to her heart
Close as a child, afraid lest it depart.
Then trembled joy o'er pain, as when the moon
Swells wondrously above some distant dune,
Creeps spirit-like across uncertain seas,
And blazes splendor on the fantasies
Of midnight tenor. Slowly she let fall
The potion black that would have hidden all,
And, in whole knowledge of her deep distress,
She smiled a smile of utter tenderness.





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