William Cullen Bryant

(November 3, 1794 – June 12, 1878 / Boston)

The Living Lost


Matron! the children of whose love,
Each to his grave, in youth have passed,
And now the mould is heaped above
The dearest and the last!
Bride! who dost wear the widow's veil
Before the wedding flowers are pale!
Ye deem the human heart endures
No deeper, bitterer grief than yours.

Yet there are pangs of keener wo,
Of which the sufferers never speak,
Nor to the world's cold pity show
The tears that scald the cheek,
Wrung from their eyelids by the shame
And guilt of those they shrink to name,
Whom once they loved, with cheerful will,
And love, though fallen and branded, still.

Weep, ye who sorrow for the dead,
Thus breaking hearts their pain relieve;
And graceful are the tears ye shed,
And honoured ye who grieve.

The praise of those who sleep in earth,
The pleasant memory of their worth,
The hope to meet when life is past,
Shall heal the tortured mind at last.

But ye, who for the living lost
That agony in secret bear,
Who shall with soothing words accost
The strength of your despair?
Grief for your sake is scorn for them
Whom ye lament and all condemn;
And o'er the world of spirits lies
A gloom from which ye turn your eyes.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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