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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Arthur William Edgar O’Shaughnessy (1844–1881)

The Fountain of Tears

IF you go over desert and mountain,

Far into the country of sorrow,

To-day and to-night and to-morrow,

And maybe for months and for years,

You shall come, with a heart that is bursting

For trouble and toiling and thirsting—

You shall certainly come to the fountain

At length—to the Fountain of Tears.

Very peaceful the place is, and solely

For piteous lamenting and sighing,

And those who come living or dying

Alike from their hopes and their fears;

Full of cypress-like shadows the place is,

And statues that cover their faces:

But out of the gloom springs the holy

And beautiful Fountain of Tears.

And it flows and it flows with a motion

So gentle and lovely and listless,

And murmurs a tune so resistless

To him who hath suffered and hears—

You shall surely, without a word spoken,

Kneel down there and know your heart broken,

And yield to the long-curbed emotion

That day by the Fountain of Tears.

For it grows, and it grows, as though leaping

Up higher the more one is thinking;

And ever its tunes go on sinking

More poignantly into the ears:

Yea, so blessed and good seems that fountain,

Reached after dry desert and mountain,

You shall fall down at length in your weeping

And bathe your sad face in the tears.

Then, alas! while you lie there a season,

And sob between living and dying,

And give up the land you were trying

To find ’mid your hopes and your fears,—

Oh, the world shall come up and pass o’er you,

Strong men shall not stay to care for you,

Nor wonder indeed for what reason

Your way should seem harder than theirs.

But perhaps, while you lie, never lifting

Your cheek from the wet leaves it presses,

Nor caring to raise your wet tresses

And look how the cold world appears,—

Oh, perhaps the mere silences round you—

All things in that place grief hath found you—

Yea, e’en to the clouds o’er you drifting,

May soothe you somewhat through your tears.

You may feel, when a falling leaf brushes

Your face, as though some one had kissed you,

Or think at least some one who missed you

Hath sent you a thought,—if that cheers;

Or a bird’s little song, faint and broken,

May pass for a tender word spoken:

Enough, while around you there rushes

That life-drowning torrent of tears.

And the tears shall flow faster and faster,

Brim over, and baffle resistance,

And roll down bleared roads to each distance

Of past desolation and years;

Till they cover the place of each sorrow,

And leave you no past and no morrow:

For what man is able to master

And stem the great Fountain of Tears?

But the floods of the tears meet and gather;

The sound of them all grows like thunder:

Oh, into what bosom, I wonder,

Is poured the whole sorrow of years?

For Eternity only seems keeping

Account of the great human weeping:

May God, then, the Maker and Father—

May He find a place for the tears!