Adelaide Crapsey


To The Dead In The Grave-Yard Under My Window - Poem by Adelaide Crapsey

How can you lie so still? All day I watch

And never a blade of all the green sod moves

To show where restlessly you toss and turn,

And fling a desperate arm or draw up knees

Stiffened and aching from their long disuse;

I watch all night and not one ghost comes forth

To take its freedom of the midnight hour.

Oh, have you no rebellion in your bones?

The very worms must scorn you where you lie,

A pallid mouldering acquiescent folk,

Meek inhabitants of unresented graves.

Why are you there in your straight row on row

Where I must ever see you from my bed

That in your mere dumb presence iterate

The text so weary in my ears: 'Lie still

And rest; be patient and lie still and rest.'

I'll not be patient! I will not lie still!

There is a brown road runs between the pines,

And further on the purple woodlands lie,

And still beyond blue mountains lift and loom;

And I would walk the road and I would be

Deep in the wooded shade and I would reach

The windy mountain tops that touch the clouds.

My eyes follow but my feet are held.

Recumbent as you others must I too

Submit? Be mimic of your movelessness

With pillow and counterpane for stone and sod?

And if the many sayings of the wise

Teach of submission I will not submit

But with a spirit all unreconciled

Flash an unquenched defiance to the stars.

Better it is to walk, to run, to dance,

Better it is to laugh and leap and sing,

To know the open skies of dawn and night,

To move untrammel'd down the flaming noon,

And I will clamour it through weary days

Keeping the edge of deprivation sharp,

Nor with the pliant speaking on my lips

Of resignation, sister to defeat.

I'll not be patient. I will not lie still.

And in ironic quietude who is

The despot of our days and lord of dust

Needs but, scarce heeding, wait to drop

Grim casual comment on rebellion's end;

Yes;yes. . . Wilful and petulant but now

As dead and quiet as the others are.'

And this each body and ghost of you hath heard

That in your graves do therefore lie so still.


Saranac Lake, -

November - 1913


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Poem Submitted: Monday, April 19, 2010



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