Abram Joseph Ryan

Lines - 1875

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Go down where the wavelets are kissing the shore,
And ask of them why do they sigh?
The poets have asked them a thousand times o'er,
But they're kissing the shore as they kissed it before,
And they're sighing to-day, and they'll sigh evermore.
Ask them what ails them: they will not reply;
But they'll sigh on forever and never tell why!
Why does your poetry sound like a sigh?
The waves will not answer you; neither shall I.

Go stand on the beach of the blue boundless deep,
When the night stars are gleaming on high,
And hear how the billows are moaning in sleep,
On the low lying strand by the surge-beaten steep.
They're moaning forever wherever they sweep.
Ask them what ails them: they never reply;
They moan, and so sadly, but will not tell why!
Why does your poetry sound like a sigh?
The waves will not answer you; neither shall I.

Go list to the breeze at the waning of day,
When it passes and murmurs "Good-bye."
The dear little breeze — how it wishes to stay
Where the flowers are in bloom, where the singing birds play;
How it sighs when it flies on its wearisome way.
Ask it what ails it: it will not reply;
Its voice is a sad one, it never told why.
Why does your poetry sound like a sigh?
The breeze will not answer you; neither shall I.

Go watch the wild blasts as they spring from their lair,
When the shout of the storm rends the sky;
They rush o'er the earth and they ride thro' the air
And they blight with their breath all the lovely and fair,
And they groan like the ghosts in the "land of despair."
Ask them what ails them: they never reply;
Their voices are mournful, they will not tell why.
Why does your poetry sound like a sigh?
The blasts will not answer you; neither shall I.

Go stand on the rivulet's lily-fringed side,
Or list where the rivers rush by;
The streamlets which forest trees shadow and hide,
And the rivers that roll in their oceanward tide,
Are moaning forever wherever they glide;

Ask them what ails them: they will not reply.
On — sad voiced — they flow, but they never tell why.
Why does your poetry sound like a sigh?
Earth's streams will not answer you; neither shall I.

Go list to the voices of air, earth and sea,
And the voices that sound in the sky;
Their songs may be joyful to some, but to me
There's a sigh in each chord and a sigh in each key,
And thousands of sighs swell their grand melody.
Ask them what ails them: they will not reply.
They sigh — sigh forever — but never tell why.
Why does your poetry sound like a sigh?
Their lips will not answer you; neither will I.

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Abram Joseph Ryan