Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Poem.

Enjoy this? Share it!

The Village Wife’s Lament
by [?]



O what is this you’ve done to me,
Or what have I done,
That bare should be our fair roof-tree,
And I all alone?
‘Tis worse than widow I become
More than desolate,
To face a worse than empty home
Without child or mate.

‘Twas not my strife askt him his life
When it was but begun,
Nor mine, I was a new-made wife
And now I am none;
Nor mine that many a sapless ghost
Wails in sorrow-fare–
But this does cost my pride the most,
That bloodshedding to share.

Image of streaming eyes, tear-gleaming,
Of women foiled and defeat,
I am like Christ shockt out of dreaming,
Showing His hands and feet;
Showing His feet and hands to God,
Saying, “Are these in vain?
For men I have trod the sorrowful road,
And by them I am slain.”

Seeing I have a breast in common,
I must share in that shame,
Since from the womb of some poor woman
Each evil one came–
Every hot and blundering thought,
Every hag-rid will,
And every haut king pride-distraught
That drove men out to kill.

A woman’s womb did fashion him,
Her bosom was his nurse,
And many women’s eyes are dim
To see their sons a curse.
Had I the wit some women have
To one such I would say,
“Think you this love the good Lord gave
Is yours to take away?”

O Hand divine that for a sign
Didst bend the rose-red bow,
Betokening wrath was no more Thine
With man’s Cain-branded brow–
What now, O Lord, shouldst Thou accord
To such a shameful brood?
A bow as crimson as the sword
Which men have soakt in blood.


I cannot see the grass
Or feel the wind blowing,
But I think of brother and brother
And hot blood flowing.

The whole world akin,
And I, an alien,
Walk branded with the sin
And the blood-guilt of men.

And often I cry
In my sharp distress,
It were better to die
Than know such bitterness.


The Lord of Life He did ordain
How this world should run,
That Love should call thro’ joy and pain
Two natures to be one;
Now jags across the high God’s plan
Division like a scar,
For this is true, that He made man,
But man made war.

Had men the dower of teeth and claws
And not a grace beside them?
Were they given wit to know the laws
And hard hearts to outride them?
What drove them turn the sweet green earth
Into a puddle of blood?
What drove them drown our simple mirth
In salt tear-flood?

Has man been lifted up erect,
A lord of life and death,
His world’s elect, and his brow deckt
With murder for a wreath?
What shall be done with such an one,
And whither he be hurl’d?
The Lord let crucify His Son–
Who gibbetted His world?


Be it Pole Star or Southern Cross
That shelters me or you,
The same things are gain and loss,
And the same things true:
The home-love, the mother-love,
The old, old things;
The lad’s love of maiden’s love
That gives a man wings,

And makes a maid stand still, afraid
Lest it were all a dream
That he do think himself apaid
If she be all to him.
The arching earth has no more worth
Than this, to love, to wed,
To serve the hearth, to bring to birth,
To win your children’s bread.