The Jester

By Margaret Widdemer 1884–1978 Margaret Widdemer
I have known great gold Sorrows:   
Majestic Griefs shall serve me watchfully   
Through the slow-pacing morrows:   
I have knelt hopeless where sea-echoing   
Dim endless voices cried of suffering   
Vibrant and far in broken litany:   
Where white magnolia and tuberose hauntingly   
Pulsed their regretful sweets along the air-—
All things most tragical, most fair,   
Have still encompassed me . . .   

I dance where in the screaming market-place   
The dusty world that watches buys and sells,   
With painted merriment upon my face,   
Whirling my bells,   
Thrusting my sad soul to its mockery.

I have known great gold Sorrows . . .   
Shall they not mock me, these pain-haunted ones,   
If it shall make them merry, and forget   
That grief shall rise and set   
With the unchanging, unforgetting suns   
Of their relentless morrows?

Source: Poetry (November 1912).


This poem originally appeared in the November 1912 issue of Poetry magazine

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November 1912


Poet and novelist Margaret Widdemer was born in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, in 1884 and grew up in Asbury Park, New Jersey. She was educated at the Drexel Institute Library School.
In her poems, Widdemer addresses the social problems of her day—such as child labor—and pays strict attention to traditional poetic forms. Her poetry collections include The Factories With Other Lyrics (1915); The Old Road to Paradise (1918), which . . .

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Poems by Margaret Widdemer

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Sorrow & Grieving

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza, Persona

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