The Poetry Corner


By Paul Laurence Dunbar

You ask why I am sad to-day, I have no cares, no griefs, you say? Ah, yes, 't is true, I have no grief-- But--is there not the falling leaf? The bare tree there is mourning left With all of autumn's gray bereft; It is not what has happened me, Think of the bare, dismantled tree. The birds go South along the sky, I hear their lingering, long good-bye. Who goes reluctant from my breast? And yet--the lone and wind-swept nest. The mourning, pale-flowered hearse goes by, Why does a tear come to my eye? Is it the March rain blowing wild? I have no dead, I know no child. I am no widow by the bier Of him I held supremely dear. I have not seen the choicest one Sink down as sinks the westering sun. Faith unto faith have I beheld, For me, few solemn notes have swelled; Love bekoned me out to the dawn, And happily I followed on. And yet my heart goes out to them Whose sorrow is their diadem; The falling leaf, the crying bird, The voice to be, all lost, unheard-- Not mine, not mine, and yet too much The thrilling power of human touch, While all the world looks on and scorns I wear another's crown of thorns. Count me a priest who understands The glorious pain of nail-pierced hands; Count me a comrade of the thief Hot driven into late belief. Oh, mother's tear, oh, father's sigh, Oh, mourning sweetheart's last good-bye, I yet have known no mourning save Beside some brother's brother's grave.