Phoebe Carey

Sept 4, 1824 - 1871



by Phoebe Carey

In the same beaten channel still have run
The blessed streams of human sympathy;
And though I know this ever hath been done,
The why and wherefore I could never see:
Why some such sorrow for their griefs have won,
And some, unpitied, bear their misery,
Are mysteries, which thinking o'er and o'er
Has left me nothing wiser than before.

What bitter tears of agony have flowed
O'er the sad pages of some old romance!
How Beauty's cheek beneath those drops has glowed,
That dimmed the sparkling lustre of her glance,
And on some love-sick maiden is bestowed,
Or some rejected, hapless knight, per-chance,
All her deep sympathies, until her moans
Stifle the nearer sound of living groans!

Oh, the deep sorrow for their suffering felt,
Where is found something better days to prove!
What heart above their downfall will not melt,
Who in a higher circle once could move!
For such, mankind have ever freely dealt
Out the full measure of their pitying love,
Because they witnessed, in their wretchedness,
Their friends grow fewer and their fortunes less.

But for some humble peasant girl's distress,
Some real being left to stem the tide,
Who saw her young heart's wealth of tenderness
Betrayed, and trampled on, and flung aside --
Who seeks her out, to make her sorrows less?
What noble lady, o'er her tale hath cried?
None! for the records of such humble grief
Obtain not human pity -- scarce belief.

And as for their distress, who from the first
Have had no fortune and no friends to fail --
Those who in poverty were born and nursed --
For such, by men, are placed without the pale
Of sympathy -- since they are deemed the worst
Who are the humblest, and if Want assail
And bring them harder toil, 'tis only said,
They have been used to labor for their bread!

Oh, the unknown, unpitied thousands found
Huddled together, hid from human sight
By fell disease or gnawing famine, bound
To some dim, crowded garret, day and night,
Or in unwholesome cellars underground, With scarce a breath of air, or ray of light!
Hunger, and rags, and labor ill repaid --
These are the things that ask our tears and aid.

And these ought not to be; it is not well
Here in this land of Christian liberty,
That honest worth in hopeless want should dwell,
Unaided by our care and sympathy;
And is it inot a burning shame to tell
We have no means to check such misery,
When wealth from out our treasury freely flows,
To wage a deadly warfare with our foes!

It is all wrong; yet men begin to deem
The days of darkest gloom are nearly done;
A something, like the first bright golden beam
That heralds in the coming of the dawn,
Breaks on the sight. Oh, if it be no dream,
How shall we haste that blessed era on!
For there is need that on men's hearts should fall
A spirit that shall sympathize with all.


The Poems Of Phoebe Carey
Copyright 187_?
New York: Hurst And Company