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The Collected Poems of Dora Sigerson Shorter/I Would Have Wept


I would have wept with the beast,
The bird, the blossoming flower,
The hundred years of the oak,
Or the insect born for an hour,

Saying with my soul's right:
Ah, woe for your body's pain!
Therein you must die, and pass
Into dust, without hope of gain.

From the weary feet's toiling to spring
To oblivion, and never to know
That the horrible pains of the flesh
You have left in the body below;

That He leaves you an heirdom of pain,
And forgets you when dropped from His hand
That had mercy for us; you would die
In your grief, could you understand.

But the oxen looked up as I spoke,
For a moment in mild surprise.
Then bent again to the yoke,
With peace in their dreaming eyes.

And a small brown bird on her nest
Hid her speckled eggs with care.
Lest one should chill while her mate
Sang high in the golden air.

Still the flower and tree 'neath the son
Unfolded their buds to bloom;
And the fly, clad in sombre grey,
Danced over the faint perfume.

And the sun coming forth from a cloud
Shone fair on a smiling land.
I said: Hush, questioning heart;
'Tis you cannot understand.