Robert Kirkland Kernighan

(25 April 1854 – 3 November 1926 / Ontario)

When Your Heart Is Breaking - Poem by Robert Kirkland Kernighan

When troubles are piled about your feet,
When shadows are falling across your way,
When your face is lashed by rain and sleet,
It 's hard to look joyous and bright and gay;
It 's hard to laugh when your soul is sad,

It 's hard to jest when your brain is aching;
When they 're sick at home and the times are bad

It 's hard to smile when your heart is breaking.

But many and many and many a man,

As he goes with a jaunty step to his labor;
Tho' his brain be sick and his soul be wan,

He greets with a genial smile his neighbor!
The wolves go galloping thro' the town,

And ruin wakes with a rude awaking;
But he must laugh tho' they hunt him down,

And smile a smile tho' his heart is breaking.

His wife has a hollow and troubled eye,

His half fed table is bare and scanty,
He sleeps like a man who is doomed to die,

And dreams of a peace that shelters a shanty.
What will the terrible morning bring?

He wakes! his hand and his lips are shaking;
But he goes down town with a daring swing,

And smiles and smiles tho' his heart is breaking.

We see no sacrifice, hiss or burn,

We hear no cry at the dark to-morrows,


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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Poem Edited: Wednesday, May 9, 2012


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