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The Stone - Poem by Wilfrid Wilson Gibson

"And will you cut a stone for him,
To set above his head?
And will you cut a stone for him--
A stone for him?" she said.

Three days before, a splintered rock
Had struck her lover dead--
Had struck him in the quarry dead,
Where, careless of a warning call,
He loitered, while the shot was fired--
A lively stripling, brave and tall,
And sure of all his heart desired . . .
A flash, a shock,
A rumbling fall . . .
And, broken 'neath the broken rock,
A lifeless heap, with face of clay,
And still as any stone he lay,
With eyes that saw the end of all.

I went to break the news to her:
And I could hear my own heart beat
With dread of what my lips might say;
But some poor fool had sped before;
And, flinging wide her father's door,
Had blurted out the news to her,
Had struck her lover dead for her,
Had struck the girl's heart dead in her,
Had struck life, lifeless, at a word,
And dropped it at her feet:
Then hurried on his witless way,
Scarce knowing she had heard.

And when I came, she stood alone--
A woman, turned to stone:
And, though no word at all she said,
I knew that all was known.

Because her heart was dead,
She did not sigh nor moan.
His mother wept:
She could not weep.
Her lover slept:
She could not sleep.
Three days, three nights,
She did not stir:
Three days, three nights,
Were one to her,
Who never closed her eyes
From sunset to sunrise,
From dawn to evenfall--
Her tearless, staring eyes,
That, seeing naught, saw all.

The fourth night when I came from work,
I found her at my door.
"And will you cut a stone for him?"
She said: and spoke no more:
But followed me, as I went in,
And sank upon a chair;
And fixed her grey eyes on my face,
With still, unseeing stare.
And, as she waited patiently,
I could not bear to feel
Those still, grey eyes that followed me,
Those eyes that plucked the heart from me,
Those eyes that sucked the breath from me
And curdled the warm blood in me,
Those eyes that cut me to the bone,
And cut my marrow like cold steel.

And so I rose and sought a stone;
And cut it smooth and square:
And, as I worked, she sat and watched,
Beside me, in her chair.
Night after night, by candlelight,
I cut her lover's name:
Night after night, so still and white,
And like a ghost she came;
And sat beside me, in her chair,
And watched with eyes aflame.

She eyed each stroke,
And hardly stirred:
she never spoke
A single word:
And not a sound or murmur broke
The quiet, save the mallet stroke.

With still eyes ever on my hands,
With eyes that seemed to burn my hands,
My wincing, overwearied hands,
She watched, with bloodless lips apart,
And silent, indrawn breath:
And every stroke my chisel cut,
Death cut still deeper in her heart:
The two of us were chiselling,
Together, I and Death.

And when at length my job was done,
And I had laid the mallet by,
As if, at last, her peace were won,
She breathed his name, and, with a sigh,
Passed slowly through the open door:
And never crossed my threshold more.

Next night I laboured late, alone,
To cut her name upon the stone.


Comments about The Stone by Wilfrid Wilson Gibson

  • Rookie Poiette Bromell (12/11/2011 11:18:00 PM)

    'The Stone' reminds me to treasure the precious gift of love and to acknowledge the fragility of life. Oh, how I pray my generation would appreciate the power of a well written poem to transform an atomsphere; to break open a callous heart. I am so moved by the comments submitted about this poem. I too had a wonderful 8th grade English teacher, the late Mrs. Tiny Campbell, of Marion, SC. A 4'11' firey red- head who drove a canary yellow Mustang and loved to clog with her darling husband, Paul. This little woman is (present tense) a perpetual source of inspiration for her students simply because she forced us to do what we most feared - reach our highest potential. I have been most blessed to have many teachers who pushed me in like manner; however, Tiny Cambell forcing me to recite Rudyard Kipling's, 'If' and Chaucer's prologue to The Canterbury Tales (in Old English) set me on a trajectory to expect more of myself, my children and my own English students. We must succeed because Tiny Campbells everywhere demand our excellence. (Report) Reply

    9 person liked.
    4 person did not like.
  • Rookie William Howard (1/24/2010 7:17:00 PM)

    This poem was read in the Virginia State poetry reading contest in 1950 by Anne Darden Acey, a senior at the Woodrow Wilson High School in Portsmouth, VA. The competition was held at the University of Virginia. She won the State competition that year. Anne died April 23,2008 at Westminster-Canterbury in Lynchburg, VA. I was in the competition, too, and won the Prose Reading competition by reading my story. Our mentor at the high school was Mrs. MaryJo Brady who was one of the most inspiring teachers we ever had. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Linda Plott (8/25/2009 10:25:00 PM)

    My mom died 10 years ago this year and I so remember her quoting this poem all the time. She could not remember all of it and one time I researched to try to find it and never could. I was so shocked the other night when I thought about this poem and tried to look it up on the computer and found it. I just wish my mom was here to get to re-read it. It must have been a very popular poem at that time. Linda Plott (Report) Reply

Read all 7 comments »

Poems About Cut

  1. 1. The Stone , Wilfrid Wilson Gibson
  2. 2. Bleeding , May Swenson
  3. 3. The Iliad (Bk I) , Homer
  4. 4. Scissors (Children) , C.J. Heck
  5. 5. The Iliad: Book 23 , Homer
  6. 6. A Tale Of The Sea , William Topaz McGonagall
  7. 7. Alone , anees akbar
  8. 8. Thurso’s Landing , Robinson Jeffers
  9. 9. Epigrams , George Gordon Byron
  10. 10. A Bright Red Scream , Amy Kerswell
  11. 11. 'I Was' , Linda Winchell
  12. 12. The Grass Lady , Courtney Kane
  13. 13. Hear The Crys , danyelle tedrow
  14. 14. Alone , Doris Johnson
  15. 15. Cut , anthony robledo
  16. 16. The Odyssey , Homer
  17. 17. (lyric) Budget Cut Blues... , Connetta Jean
  18. 18. A Cut To Deep , Kev Elmer
  19. 19. We Go No More To The Forest , Mary Colborne-Veel
  20. 20. 'My Pain Is Like Suicide' , Miizz. Beautiiful
  21. 21. (lyric) Cut All To Hell , Connetta Jean
  22. 22. Song: The Cold-Hearted Children , David SmithWhite
  23. 23. Why-(Cutting) , Scarlet .....
  24. 24. Rip, Tear , Amber Zitzloff
  25. 25. Cut Me Up , sandy nobody
  26. 26. From 'Omeros' , Derek Walcott
  27. 27. As I Cut. , silent for ever more
  28. 28. Wood Cutter , Gangadharan nair Pulingat..
  29. 29. I Saw, I Cried , David Darbyshire
  30. 30. Blade , Kev Elmer
  31. 31. ! Suck My Blood! , marie cochran
  32. 32. To Cut , Sayeed Abubakar
  33. 33. Tender Buttons [a Plate] , Gertrude Stein
  34. 34. Emo Understandment , this girll
  35. 35. Razor-Kissed Wrists , Saray Brunette
  36. 36. -broken- , Fernando Alvarez
  37. 37. Thirst , Gautama Buddha
  38. 38. Tailor Made Love , David Beckham
  39. 39. Cut Away , Silence Dogood
  40. 40. O Mighty Banyan! I Cry For You , Dr. Yogesh Sharma
  41. 41. Cut , Crimson Love
  42. 42. Nature Is Full Of Cuts , Is It Poetry
  43. 43. Cut Me Into , ESPN CHICK
  44. 44. I Thought I Controled It, But It Control.. , Silence Dogood
  45. 45. The Pain Of My Heart , Siawash Rustami
  46. 46. All I See Is A Red Stain........... , Beautiful Lie
  47. 47. Spring Sestina , Jane L. Carman
  48. 48. Cut , Jess
  49. 49. Am I? , Morgan Ederer
  50. 50. The Ironing Of One's Thoughts , MOHAMMAD SKATI
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