The Raven Days

The Raven Days  (1868) 
by Sidney Lanier

Along with “Our Hills” and “Laughter in the Senate”, this poem is Sidney Lanier’s lament for the devastated land and people of the American South in those desperate years following the American Civil War. The poem was signed and dated Prattville, Alabama, 1868.

Our hearths are gone out, and our hearts are broken,
     And but the ghosts of homes to us remain,
And ghostly eyes and hollow sighs give token
     From friend to friend of an unspoken pain.
 
O, Raven Days, dark Raven Days of sorrow,
     Bring to us, in your whetted ivory beaks,
Some sign out of the far land of To-morrow,
     Some strip of sea-green dawn, some orange streaks.
 
Ye float in dusky files, forever croaking—
     Ye chill our manhood with your dreary shade.
Pale, in the dark, not even God invoking,
     We lie in chains, too weak to be afraid.
 
O Raven Days, dark Raven Days of sorrow,
     Will ever any warm light come again?
Will ever the lit mountains of To-morrow
     Begin to gleam across the mournful plain?