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(1872-1906 / Ohio / United States)

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Life's Tragedy

It may be misery not to sing at all,
And to go silent through the brimming day;
It may be misery never to be loved,
But deeper griefs than these beset the way.

To sing the perfect song,
And by a half-tone lost the key,
There the potent sorrow, there the grief,
The pale, sad staring of Life's Tragedy.

To have come near to the perfect love,
Not the hot passion of untempered youth,
But that which lies aside its vanity,
And gives, for thy trusting worship, truth.

This, this indeed is to be accursed,
For if we mortals love, or if we sing,
We count our joys not by what we have,
But by what kept us from that perfect thing.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003


Read poems about / on: grief, passion, sorrow, sad, truth, song, lost, life, love, joy, trust

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Comments about this poem (A Drowsy Day by Paul Laurence Dunbar )

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  • Kevin Patrick (4/16/2014 11:06:00 PM)

    To have come near to the perfect love,
    Not the hot passion of untempered youth,
    But that which lies aside its vanity,
    And gives, for thy trusting worship, truth.

    Im glad that this was the poem of the day, it was a great gift to find

    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Michelle Claus (4/16/2014 6:22:00 PM)

    Nice formal poem. The tragedy of which Mr. Dunbar speaks in this poem is half the story. The other half of the story is that we hope and strive to reach perfection, which gives our journey meaning and purpose. I wrote a poem about this titled An Attitude of Ending, which appears here on PoemHunter.

  • Ambitious Blessing (4/16/2014 8:12:00 AM)

    This is a master piece

  • Ambitious Blessing (4/16/2014 8:12:00 AM)

    This is a master piece

  • Kathleen Reguindin (4/16/2013 6:56:00 PM)

    Beautiful poem, so touching and so true!

  • Licio Marfisi (4/16/2013 3:25:00 PM)

    Excellent work...great balance.

  • Eric Lein (4/16/2013 1:58:00 AM)

    I'm actually having trouble comprehending how outstanding this poem is! !

  • Meshack Bankole (4/16/2013 12:52:00 AM)

    Though sullen but poetic

  • Tshifhiwa Given Mukwevho (4/16/2012 3:04:00 AM)

    master piece of the month, for me and to me!

  • Tshifhiwa Given Mukwevho (4/16/2012 3:03:00 AM)

    Let the poet take my pleasure and praise; his notes are high and logical. This poem, especially the first stanza, is a masterpiece of the month for me! ! !

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