Inhibited

By Louis Untermeyer 1885–1977 Louis Untermeyer
I could not pity your pain but I pitied the branches
   Losing what little the frost had left them to hold.
I could not warm you with sorrow; I turned to the sparrows,
   Clustered like heavy brown blossoms puffed out by the cold.

They could not help me. I looked at my hands; they were helpless;
   Strange and detached, less related to me than the birds.
Baffled, I called on the mind: it carried me, floundering,
   Lost among meaningless phrases, tossed in a welter of words.

Too great for my blundering comfort, your anguish confused me.
   From a great distance, I saw you standing alone.
Frozen and stark, in a black iron circle of silence,
   I could not pity your pain; I could scarcely pity my own.

Louis Untermeyer, “Inhibited” from Roast Leviathan (New York: Harcourt, 1923). Permission is granted by arrangement with the Estate of Louis Untermeyer, Norma Anchin Untermeyer c/o Professional Publishing Services. The reprint is granted with the expressed permission by Laurence S. Untermeyer.

Source: Roast Leviathan (1923)

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Poet Louis Untermeyer 1885–1977

SCHOOL / PERIOD Modern

Subjects Living, Sorrow & Grieving

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

 Louis  Untermeyer

Biography

Louis Untermeyer was the author, editor or compiler, and translator of more than one hundred books for readers of all ages. He will be best remembered as the prolific anthologist whose collections have introduced students to contemporary American poetry since 1919. The son of an established New York jeweler, Untermeyer's interest in poetry led to friendships with poets from three generations, including many of the century's . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Sorrow & Grieving

SCHOOL / PERIOD Modern

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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