Sunday, November 05, 2017

The Sunday Poet: Evaleen Stein

Evaleen Stein

This poem was sent to us by Wendell Smith who says:

The mystery brought this poem to my attention through Dr. Michael Sperber, an 86 year old practicing psychiatrist who has a poetry salon on Thursday evenings in Beverly. It was anonymously deposited in a shoe outside his apartment door. Evaleen  Stein was a 19th and early 20th century poet best known for her children’s writings. But, while the poet is not contemporary and its diction archaic, the poem’s empathy for the plight of exiles is a contemporary need, given the way we are treating emigrants, refugees, DACA children, and the homeless. What are the homeless but exiles in their homeland? Where is the Department of Homeland Security that will look to their need? The poem is taken from One Way To the Woods, published by Copeland & Day, Boston in 1897”.

The Exiles

Bare blackened boughs
That seem to press
Low skies, storm-swept and pitiless,
Must be the only roofs to house
Or shelter their distress.

They tread by night
Beneath the trees ;
Before them desert distances,
Whereon the endless snows are white,
And endless tempests freeze.

Their eyes are bound.
And iron bands
Are heavy on their helpless hands
Ordained to delve the barren ground
Of bleak, unlovely lands.

Week after week.
Across the snow
And weary wastes, they wander so;
No human heart wherein to seek
Surcease of any woe.

Their footsteps wend
Afar from hearth, and home, and friend;
Nor know they what grief hath in store
Before the bitter end.

Whate’er their deeds.
It matters not;
Their very names shall be forgot;
Their agony, their heartsick needs,
And their forsaken lot.

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