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Title: Each Has His Grief

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: November 20, 1841

Whitman Archive ID: per.00060

Source: The New World 3 (20 November 1841): [1]. Our transcription is based on a digital image of a microfilm copy of an original issue. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the periodical poems, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, April Lambert, and Susan Belasco

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On earth are many sights of wo,
And many sounds of agony,
And many a sorrow-wither'd cheek,
And many a pain-dulled eye.
The wretched weep, the poor complain,
And luckless love pines on unknown;
And faintly from the midnight couch
Sounds out the sick-child's moan.
Each has his grief—old age fears death;
The young man's ills are pride, desire,
And heart-sickness; and in his breast
The heat of passion's fire.
And he who runs the race of fame,
Oft feels within a feverish dread,
Lest others snatch the laurel crown
He bears upon his head.
All, all know care; and, at the close,
All lie earth's spreading arms within—
The poor, the black-soul'd, proud, and low,
Virtue, despair, and sin.
O, foolish, then, with pain to shrink
From the sure doom we each must meet.
Is earth so fair—or heaven so dark—
Or life so passing sweet?
No; dread ye not the fearful hour—
The coffin, and the pall's dark gloom,
For there's a calm to throbbing hearts,
And rest, down in the tomb.
Then our long journey will be o'er,
And throwing off earth's load of woes,
The pallid brow, the fainting heart
Will sink in soft repose.
Nor only this: for wise men say
That when we leave our land of care,
We float to a mysterious shore,
Peaceful, and pure, and fair.
So, welcome death! Whene'er the time
That the dread summons must be met,
I'll yield without one pang of fear,
Or sigh, or vain regret.
But like unto a wearied child,
That over field and wood all day
Has ranged and struggled, and at last,
Worn out with toil and play,
Goes up at evening to his home,
And throws him, sleepy, tired, and sore,
Upon his bed, and rests him there,
His pain and trouble o'er.
W. W.


1. Revised from "We All Shall Rest at Last" in the Long Island Democrat, 14 July 1840. [back]


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