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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
America: Vols. XXV–XXIX. 1876–79.

New England: Hingham, Mass.

Pain in Autumn

By Richard Henry Stoddard (1825–1903)

A DROWSY pain, a dull, dead pain,

Preys on my heart, and clouds my brain;

And shadows brood above my dreams,

Like spectral mists o’er haunted streams.

There is no fire within the grate;

The room is cold and desolate,

And dampness on the window-panes

Foretells the equinoctial rains.

The stony road runs past the door,

Dry and dusty evermore;

Up and down the people go,

Shadowy figures, sad and slow:

And the strange houses lie below.

Across the road the dark elms wait,

Ranged in a row before the gate,

Giving their voices to the wind,

And their sorrows to my mind.

Behind the house the river flows,

Half unrest and half repose;

Ships lie below with mildewed sails,

Tattered in forgotten gales;

Along each hulk a whitish line,

The dashing of the ancient brine:

Beyond, the spaces of the sea,

Which old Ocean’s portals be:

The land runs out its horns of sand,

And the sea comes in to meet the land.

Sky sinks to sea, sea swells to sky,

Till they meet, and mock the eye;

And where they meet the sand hills lie;

No cattle in their pastures seen,

For the yellow grass was never green:

With a calm and solemn stare

They look to heaven in blank despair;

And heaven, with pity dumb the while,

Looks down again with a sickly smile.

The sky is gray, half dark, half bright,

Swimming in dim, uncertain light,

Something between the day and night.

And the winds blow, but soft and low,

Unheard, unheeded in their woe;

Like some sick heart, too near o’erthrown

To vent its grief by sigh or moan,

Some heart that breaks, like mine, alone!

And here I dwell, condemned to see,

And be what all these phantoms be,

Within this realm of penal pain,

Beside the melancholy main;

The waste which lies, as legend saith,

Between the worlds of Life and Death;

A soul from Life to Death betrayed,

A Shadow in the World of Shade!