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Dora Sigerson Shorter

(1866-1918 / Ireland)

A Cry In The World

Kine, kine, in the meadows, why do you low so piteously?
High is the grass to your knees and wet with the dew of the morn,
Sweet with the perfume of honey, and breath of the clover blossoms;
But the sad-eyed kine on the hillside see no joy in the day newborn.
'Man, man has bereft us and taken our young ones from us;
Thus we call in the eve, call through night to the break of day,
That they may hear and answer; so we find no peace in the meadows.
Our hearts are sad with hunger for the love man stole away.'
Bird, bird, on the tree-top, my heart doth sigh for thy music;
In the glad air of morn and promise of summer, rejoice!
Thy head droops low on thy breast, half hid in thy ruffled feathers,
The grove is lone for thy singing, O bird of the silver voice!
'Man, man has bereft me, stolen my nestlings from me,
Wrecked the soft home we built 'mid the budding blossoms of spring.
My mate's brown wings grow red in vain beating the bars of her prison;
With heart so full of longing and mourning, how can I sing?'

Seal, in the cliff's shadow, why are thine eyes so mournful?
Come from the gloom and the echo of the sea's sighs in the cave,
Sink down into deeper waters 'mid the hidden flowers of the ocean,
Or seek the splash and sparkle 'neath the snowy break of the wave.
'Man, man has bereft me, robbed me of those my loved ones;
Alone, I find no gladness; alone, where is joy for me
In the silvery flash of the fish or the wonderful gardens of coral?
My eyes grow dim with watching the desolate waste of the sea!'
Woman, king of the world is the babe you hush with sobbing,
King of all that is living in air or sea, or on land,
Therefore why do you kiss with lips that are dumb with sorrow?
Your tear-drops falling cold have chilled the little hand.
This is the soul's proud right, the earth given into his keeping;
And all that lives thereon must come to his feet a slave.
Mother, why do you flee with haggard eyes in the morning,
To answer with white face hid in the grass of a baby's grave?

Submitted: Wednesday, September 29, 2010

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