Poetry of Kansas

The Pity of It.

It seems so strange to watch the crowd
    That gathers on some festal day,
To mark the lowly and the proud,
    Aglow with mirth, and think that they
    Are but a throng of masquers gay.
'Tis true that some show signs of grief;
    Yon sad-eyed widow wears her weeds;
Yon mother mourns her fallen leaf,
    And tells you how her bosom bleeds.
Yon soldier, battered in the wars,
    Moving with painful step, and slow,
Limps proudly, proudly wears his scars;___
    Such hurts as these all men may know.
But deeper sorrow, keener throes,
    Are hidden by a careless smile,
    And laughter on the lips the while
The heart is torn and no one knows.
The pity of this earthly life
    Is, that the deepest heartaches lie
    Beyond the reach of sympathy;
The sorest wounds are got in strife
    Waged in the dark, where none may see,
Oft hiding still the rankling knife
    That tortures with slow misery,
I see my neighbor come and go
    With airy speech and smiling lip;
I call him gay___I little know
    What unseen hand, with deadly grip
Clutches his heart, what tortures slow
    Wears out his life, while borne alone,
    As ceaseless dropping wears a stone.
If floods destroy, if tires consume,
    Full hands reach out in charity;
Across misfortune's darkest gloom
    Shine kindly rays of sympathy;
If a friend dies a tolling bell
May to the world the story tell.
But deeper griefs than these there be___
The death's head in the closet hid
    Is ghastlier than the still white face,
    Or the cold hands, in waxen grace
Lying beneath the coffin lid.
A living woe from mortal eyes
    Is curtained close; the d! rest strife
Is in the breast___And herein lies
    The pity of this earthly life.

__Ellen P. Allerton.

Walls of Corn and Other Poems
Ellen P. Allerton
(Hiawatha, KS: Harrington Printing Company. 1894)
Pages 163-164

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November 26, 2002 / John & Susan Howell / Wichita, Kansas / howell@kotn.org

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