sorrow song

By Lucille Clifton 1936–2010 Lucille Clifton
for the eyes of the children,
the last to melt,
the last to vaporize,
for the lingering
eyes of the children, staring,
the eyes of the children of
buchenwald,
of viet nam and johannesburg,
for the eyes of the children
of nagasaki,
for the eyes of the children
of middle passage,
for cherokee eyes, ethiopian eyes,
russian eyes, american eyes,
for all that remains of the children,
their eyes,
staring at us,   amazed to see
the extraordinary evil in
ordinary men.

Lucille Clifton, "sorrow song" from Next: New Poems. Copyright © 1987 by Lucille Clifton. Reprinted with the permission of BOA Editions, Ltd.

Source: Next: New Poems (BOA Editions Ltd., 1987)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Lucille Clifton 1936–2010

Subjects Race & Ethnicity, Death, Social Commentaries, Sorrow & Grieving, History & Politics, Living, War & Conflict

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Lucille  Clifton

Biography

A prolific and widely respected poet, Lucille Clifton's work emphasizes endurance and strength through adversity, focusing particularly on African-American experience and family life. Awarding the prestigious Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize to Clifton in 2007, the judges remarked that “One always feels the looming humaneness around Lucille Clifton’s poems—it is a moral quality that some poets have and some don’t.” In addition to the . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Race & Ethnicity, Death, Social Commentaries, Sorrow & Grieving, History & Politics, Living, War & Conflict

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.