Koheleth

By Louis Untermeyer 1885–1977 Louis Untermeyer
I waited and worked
    To win myself leisure,
Till loneliness irked
    And I turned to raw pleasure.

I drank and I gamed,
    I feasted and wasted,
Till, sick and ashamed,
    The food stood untasted.

I searched in the Book
    For rooted convictions,
Till the badgered brain shook
    With its own contradictions.

Then, done with the speech,
    Of the foolishly lettered,
I started to teach
    Life cannot be bettered:

That the warrior fails
    Whatever his weapon,
And nothing avails
    While time and chance happen.

That fools who assure men
    With lies are respected,
While the vision of pure men
    Is scorned and rejected.

That a wise man goes grieving
    Even in Zion,
While any dog living
    Outroars a dead lion.

Louis Untermeyer, “Koheleth” from Burning Bush (New York: Harcourt, 1928). 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: Burning Bush (1928)

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Poet Louis Untermeyer 1885–1977

SCHOOL / PERIOD Modern

Subjects Religion

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 Religion

SCHOOL / PERIOD Modern

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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