Weltschmertz

You ask why I am sad to-day,
I have no cares, no griefs, you say?
Ah, yes, 't is true, I have no grief--
But--is there not the falling leaf?

The bare tree there is mourning left
With all of autumn's gray bereft;
It is not what has happened me,
Think of the bare, dismantled tree.

The birds go South along the sky,
I hear their lingering, long good-bye.
Who goes reluctant from my breast?
And yet--the lone and wind-swept nest.

The mourning, pale-flowered hearse goes by,
Why does a tear come to my eye?
Is it the March rain blowing wild?
I have no dead, I know no child.

I am no widow by the bier
Of him I held supremely dear.
I have not seen the choicest one
Sink down as sinks the westering sun.

Faith unto faith have I beheld,
For me, few solemn notes have swelled;
Love bekoned me out to the dawn,
And happily I followed on.

And yet my heart goes out to them
Whose sorrow is their diadem;
The falling leaf, the crying bird,
The voice to be, all lost, unheard--

Not mine, not mine, and yet too much
The thrilling power of human touch,
While all the world looks on and scorns
I wear another's crown of thorns.

Count me a priest who understands
The glorious pain of nail-pierced hands;
Count me a comrade of the thief
Hot driven into late belief.

Oh, mother's tear, oh, father's sigh,
Oh, mourning sweetheart's last good-bye,
I yet have known no mourning save
Beside some brother's brother's grave.

by Paul Laurence Dunbar

Comments (3)

Linguistically this is not really interesting. It has rhythm but the rhyme is sometimes far-fetched (bier-dear) . A very different league than Yeats or Shelley!
I am stymied by my search for the word I should use to describe this poem. Beautiful- -no, not exactly, though it has so many lines of such exquisite beauty. Sad- - -no, not exactly, though it mourns for loss- -be it a tree for its leaves, a season for its birds, a mother for her child., yet there is an aspect beyond personal sadness. I think that the word I could use to describe this poem is compassion, involvement in the world, an intense involvement, that reminds me that no man is an island.... so this is a beautiful, sad, compassionate love poem. [love for our fellow man, love for our fellow creatures].
Sad and heartfelt...Love it.....