12 Beautiful Sorry Poems That Will Touche the Heart

12 beautiful sorry poems written by famous poets. Can feeling genuinely sorry enable an important healing experience? Can relieving the weight of guilt restore a general sense of self-worth? Can an individual’s dawning awareness give birth to feelings of remorse; perhaps even to acts of repentance?

We tend to view apologies as a sign of weak character. But in fact, they require great strength. And we better learn how to get them right, because it’s increasingly hard to live in the global village without them.

A genuine apology offered and accepted is one of the most profound interactions of civilized people. It has the power to restore damaged relationships, be they on a small scale, between two people, such as intimates, or on a grand scale, between groups of people, even nations. If done correctly, an apology can heal humiliation and generate forgiveness. Go Ahead, Say You’re Sorry.

Let be inspired by these best poetic apologies to say I am sorry.

Here the list of sorry and apology poems from famous poets found on this page:

  • The Apology Emerson, Ralph Waldo
  • Sorry by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
  • Snow by Robert Frost
  • November by William Cullen Bryant
  • A Minor Poet by Amy Levy
  • The Haiku’s Sorry by Sukasah Syahdan
  • SORRY I MISSED YOU by Barry Tebb
  • Please Forgive Me
  • To a Mouse by Robert Burns
  • Regret by Charlotte Bronte
  • I’m Sorry for the Dead – Today by Emily Dickinson
  • This Is Just to Say by William Carlos Williams

Sorry and Apology Poems

The Apology by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sorry Poems That Will Touche the Heart

Think me not unkind and rude,
That I walk alone in grove and glen;
I go to the god of the wood
To fetch his word to men.
Tax not my sloth that I
Fold my arms beside the brook;
Each cloud that floated in the sky
Writes a letter in my book.
Chide me not, laborious band,
For the idle flowers I brought;
Every aster in my hand
Goes home loaded with a thought.
There was never mystery,
But ’tis figured in the flowers,
Was never secret history,
But birds tell it in the bowers.
One harvest from thy field
Homeward brought the oxen strong;
A second crop thine acres yield,
Which I gather in a song.

Sorry by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

There is much in life that makes me sorry as I journey
down life’s way.
And I seem to see more pathos in poor human
Lives each day.
I’m sorry for the strong brave men, who shield
the weak from harm,
But who, in their own troubled hours find no
Protecting arm.

I’m sorry for the victors who have reached
success, to stand
As targets for the arrows shot by envious failure’s
I’m sorry for the generous hearts who freely
shared their wine,
But drink alone the gall of tears in fortune’s
drear decline.

I’m sorry for the souls who build their own fame’s
funeral pyre,
Derided by the scornful throng like ice deriding
I’m sorry for the conquering ones tho know not
sin’s defeat,
But daily tread down fierce desire ‘neath scorched
and bleeding feet.

I’m sorry for the anguished hearts that break with
passions strain,
But I’m sorrier for the poor starved souls that
Never knew love’s pain.
Who hunger on through barren years not tasting
joys they crave,
For sadder far is such a lot than weeping o’er a

I’m sorry for the souls that come unwelcomed
into birth,
I’m sorry for the unloved old who cumber up the
I’m sorry for the suffering poor in life’s great
maelstrom hurled,
In truth I’m sorry for them all who make this
aching world.

But underneath whate’er seems sad and is not
I know there lies hid from our sight a mighty
germ of good.
And this belief stands firm by me, my sermon,
motto, text –
The sorriest things in this life will seem grandest
in the next.

Here the inspirational poems you can read.

Snow by Robert Frost

Apology Poems That Will Touche the Heart

The three stood listening to a fresh access
Of wind that caught against the house a moment,
Gulped snow, and then blew free again—the Coles
Dressed, but dishevelled from some hours of sleep,
Meserve belittled in the great skin coat he wore.
Meserve was first to speak.
He pointed backward
Over his shoulder with his pipe-stem, saying,
“You can just see it glancing off the roof
Making a great scroll upward toward the sky,
Long enough for recording all our names on.

I think I’ll just call up my wife and tell her
I’m here—so far—and starting on again.

I’ll call her softly so that if she’s wise
And gone to sleep, she needn’t wake to answer.

Three times he barely stirred the bell, then listened.

“Why, Lett, still up? Lett, I’m at Cole’s.
I’m late.

I called you up to say Good-night from here
Before I went to say Good-morning there.

I thought I would.
— I know, but, Lett—I know—
I could, but what’s the sense? The rest won’t be
So bad.
— Give me an hour for it.
— Ho, ho,
Three hours to here! But that was all up hill;
The rest is down.
— Why no, no, not a wallow:
They kept their heads and took their time to it
Like darlings, both of them.
They’re in the barn.

My dear, I’m coming just the same.
I didn’t
Call you to ask you to invite me home.
He lingered for some word she wouldn’t say,
Said it at last himself, “Good-night,” and then,
Getting no answer, closed the telephone.

The three stood in the lamplight round the table
With lowered eyes a moment till he said,
“I’ll just see how the horses are.

“Yes, do,”
Both the Coles said together.
Added: “You can judge better after seeing.

I want you here with me, Fred.
Leave him here,
Brother Meserve.
You know to find your way
Out through the shed.

“I guess I know my way,
I guess I know where I can find my name
Carved in the shed to tell me who I am
If it don’t tell me where I am.
I used
To play—”

“You tend your horses and come back.

Fred Cole, you’re going to let him!”

“Well, aren’t you?
How can you help yourself?”

“I called him Brother.

Why did I call him that?”

“It’s right enough.

That’s all you ever heard him called round here.

He seems to have lost off his Christian name.

“Christian enough I should call that myself.

He took no notice, did he? Well, at least
I didn’t use it out of love of him,
The dear knows.
I detest the thought of him
With his ten children under ten years old.

I hate his wretched little Racker Sect,
All’s ever I heard of it, which isn’t much.

But that’s not saying—Look, Fred Cole, it’s twelve,
Isn’t it, now? He’s been here half an hour.

He says he left the village store at nine.

Three hours to do four miles—a mile an hour
Or not much better.
Why, it doesn’t seem
As if a man could move that slow and move.

Try to think what he did with all that time.

And three miles more to go!”
“Don’t let him go.

Stick to him, Helen.
Make him answer you.

That sort of man talks straight on all his life
From the last thing he said himself, stone deaf
To anything anyone else may say.

I should have thought, though, you could make him hear you.

“What is he doing out a night like this?
Why can’t he stay at home?”

“He had to preach.

“It’s no night to be out.

“He may be small,
He may be good, but one thing’s sure, he’s tough.

“And strong of stale tobacco.

“He’ll pull through.

“You only say so.
Not another house
Or shelter to put into from this place
To theirs.
I’m going to call his wife again.

“Wait and he may.
Let’s see what he will do.

Let’s see if he will think of her again.

But then I doubt he’s thinking of himself
He doesn’t look on it as anything.

“He shan’t go—there!”

“It is a night, my dear.

“One thing: he didn’t drag God into it.

“He don’t consider it a case for God.

“You think so, do you? You don’t know the kind.

He’s getting up a miracle this minute.

Privately—to himself, right now, he’s thinking
He’ll make a case of it if he succeeds,
But keep still if he fails.

“Keep still all over.

He’ll be dead—dead and buried.

“Such a trouble!
Not but I’ve every reason not to care
What happens to him if it only takes
Some of the sanctimonious conceit
Out of one of those pious scalawags.

“Nonsense to that! You want to see him safe.

“You like the runt.

“Don’t you a little?”

I don’t like what he’s doing, which is what
You like, and like him for.

“Oh, yes you do.

You like your fun as well as anyone;
Only you women have to put these airs on
To impress men.
You’ve got us so ashamed
Of being men we can’t look at a good fight
Between two boys and not feel bound to stop it.

Let the man freeze an ear or two, I say.

He’s here.
I leave him all to you.
Go in
And save his life.
— All right, come in, Meserve.

Sit down, sit down.
How did you find the horses?”

“Fine, fine.

“And ready for some more? My wife here
Says it won’t do.
You’ve got to give it up.

“Won’t you to please me? Please! If I say please?
Meserve, I’ll leave it to your wife.

What did your wife say on the telephone?”

Meserve seemed to heed nothing but the lamp
Or something not far from it on the table.

By straightening out and lifting a forefinger,
He pointed with his hand from where it lay
Like a white crumpled spider on his knee:
“That leaf there in your open book! It moved
Just then, I thought.
It’s stood erect like that,
There on the table, ever since I came,
Trying to turn itself backward or forward,
I’ve had my eye on it to make out which;
If forward, then it’s with a friend’s impatience—
You see I know—to get you on to things
It wants to see how you will take, if backward
It’s from regret for something you have passed
And failed to see the good of.
Never mind,
Things must expect to come in front of us
A many times—I don’t say just how many—
That varies with the things—before we see them.

One of the lies would make it out that nothing
Ever presents itself before us twice.

Where would we be at last if that were so?
Our very life depends on everything’s
Recurring till we answer from within.

The thousandth time may prove the charm.
— That leaf!
It can’t turn either way.
It needs the wind’s help.

But the wind didn’t move it if it moved.

It moved itself.
The wind’s at naught in here.

It couldn’t stir so sensitively poised
A thing as that.
It couldn’t reach the lamp
To get a puff of black smoke from the flame,
Or blow a rumple in the collie’s coat.

You make a little foursquare block of air,
Quiet and light and warm, in spite of all
The illimitable dark and cold and storm,
And by so doing give these three, lamp, dog,
And book-leaf, that keep near you, their repose;
Though for all anyone can tell, repose
May be the thing you haven’t, yet you give it.

So false it is that what we haven’t we can’t give;
So false, that what we always say is true.

I’ll have to turn the leaf if no one else will.

It won’t lie down.
Then let it stand.
Who cares?”

“I shouldn’t want to hurry you, Meserve,
But if you’re going— Say you’ll stay, you know?
But let me raise this curtain on a scene,
And show you how it’s piling up against you.

You see the snow-white through the white of frost?
Ask Helen how far up the sash it’s climbed
Since last we read the gage.

“It looks as if
Some pallid thing had squashed its features flat
And its eyes shut with overeagerness
To see what people found so interesting
In one another, and had gone to sleep
Of its own stupid lack of understanding,
Or broken its white neck of mushroom stuff
Short off, and died against the window-pane.

“Brother Meserve, take care, you’ll scare yourself
More than you will us with such nightmare talk.

It’s you it matters to, because it’s you
Who have to go out into it alone.

“Let him talk, Helen, and perhaps he’ll stay.

“Before you drop the curtain—I’m reminded:
You recollect the boy who came out here
To breathe the air one winter—had a room
Down at the Averys’? Well, one sunny morning
After a downy storm, he passed our place
And found me banking up the house with snow.

And I was burrowing in deep for warmth,
Piling it well above the window-sills.

The snow against the window caught his eye.

‘Hey, that’s a pretty thought’—those were his words.

‘So you can think it’s six feet deep outside,
While you sit warm and read up balanced rations.

You can’t get too much winter in the winter.

Those were his words.
And he went home and all
But banked the daylight out of Avery’s windows.

Now you and I would go to no such length.

At the same time you can’t deny it makes
It not a mite worse, sitting here, we three,
Playing our fancy, to have the snowline run
So high across the pane outside.
There where
There is a sort of tunnel in the frost
More like a tunnel than a hole—way down
At the far end of it you see a stir
And quiver like the frayed edge of the drift
Blown in the wind.
I like that—I like that.

Well, now I leave you, people.

“Come, Meserve,
We thought you were deciding not to go—
The ways you found to say the praise of comfort
And being where you are.
You want to stay.

“I’ll own it’s cold for such a fall of snow.

This house is frozen brittle, all except
This room you sit in.
If you think the wind
Sounds further off, it’s not because it’s dying;
You’re further under in the snow—that’s all—
And feel it less.
Hear the soft bombs of dust
It bursts against us at the chimney mouth,
And at the eaves.
I like it from inside
More than I shall out in it.
But the horses
Are rested and it’s time to say good-night,
And let you get to bed again.
Sorry I had to break in on your sleep.

“Lucky for you you did.
Lucky for you
You had us for a half-way station
To stop at.
If you were the kind of man
Paid heed to women, you’d take my advice
And for your family’s sake stay where you are.

But what good is my saying it over and over?
You’ve done more than you had a right to think
You could do—now.
You know the risk you take
In going on.

“Our snow-storms as a rule
Aren’t looked on as man-killers, and although
I’d rather be the beast that sleeps the sleep
Under it all, his door sealed up and lost,
Than the man fighting it to keep above it,
Yet think of the small birds at roost and not
In nests.
Shall I be counted less than they are?
Their bulk in water would be frozen rock
In no time out to-night.
And yet to-morrow
They will come budding boughs from tree to tree
Flirting their wings and saying Chickadee,
As if not knowing what you meant by the word storm.

“But why when no one wants you to go on?
Your wife—she doesn’t want you to.
We don’t,
And you yourself don’t want to.
Who else is there?”

“Save us from being cornered by a woman.

Well, there’s”—She told Fred afterward that in
The pause right there, she thought the dreaded word
Was coming, “God.
” But no, he only said
“Well, there’s—the storm.
That says I must go on.

That wants me as a war might if it came.

Ask any man.

He threw her that as something
To last her till he got outside the door.

He had Cole with him to the barn to see him off.

When Cole returned he found his wife still standing
Beside the table near the open book,
Not reading it.
“Well, what kind of a man
Do you call that?” she said.
“He had the gift
Of words, or is it tongues, I ought to say?”

“Was ever such a man for seeing likeness?”

“Or disregarding people’s civil questions—
What? We’ve found out in one hour more about him
Than we had seeing him pass by in the road
A thousand times.
If that’s the way he preaches!
You didn’t think you’d keep him after all.

Oh, I’m not blaming you.
He didn’t leave you
Much say in the matter, and I’m just as glad
We’re not in for a night of him.
No sleep
If he had stayed.
The least thing set him going.

It’s quiet as an empty church without him.

“But how much better off are we as it is?
We’ll have to sit here till we know he’s safe.

“Yes, I suppose you’ll want to, but I shouldn’t.

He knows what he can do, or he wouldn’t try.

Get into bed I say, and get some rest.

He won’t come back, and if he telephones,
It won’t be for an hour or two.

“Well then——

We can’t be any help by sitting here
And living his fight through with him, I suppose.

November by William Cullen Bryant

The landscape sleeps in mist from morn till noon;
And, if the sun looks through, ’tis with a face
Beamless and pale and round, as if the moon,
When done the journey of her nightly race,
Had found him sleeping, and supplied his place.

For days the shepherds in the fields may be,
Nor mark a patch of sky— blindfold they trace,
The plains, that seem without a bush or tree,
Whistling aloud by guess, to flocks they cannot see.
The timid hare seems half its fears to lose,
Crouching and sleeping ‘neath its grassy lair,
And scarcely startles, tho’ the shepherd goes
Close by its home, and dogs are barking there;
The wild colt only turns around to stare
At passer by, then knaps his hide again;
And moody crows beside the road forbear
To fly, tho’ pelted by the passing swain;
Thus day seems turn’d to night, and tries to wake in vain.
The owlet leaves her hiding-place at noon,
And flaps her grey wings in the doubling light;
The hoarse jay screams to see her out so soon,
And small birds chirp and startle with affright;
Much doth it scare the superstitious wight,
Who dreams of sorry luck, and sore dismay;
While cow-boys think the day a dream of night,
And oft grow fearful on their lonely way,
Fancying that ghosts may wake, and leave their graves by day.
Yet but awhile the slumbering weather flings
Its murky prison round— then winds wake loud;
With sudden stir the startled forest sings
Winter’s returning song— cloud races cloud,
And the horizon throws away its shroud,
Sweeping a stretching circle from the eye;
Storms upon storms in quick succession crowd,
And o’er the sameness of the purple sky
Heaven paints, with hurried hand, wild hues of every dye.
At length it comes along the forest oaks,
With sobbing ebbs, and uproar gathering high;
The scared, hoarse raven on its cradle croaks,
And stockdove-flocks in hurried terrors fly,
While the blue hawk hangs o’er them in the sky.

The hedger hastens from the storm begun,
To seek a shelter that may keep him dry;
And foresters low bent, the wind to shun,
Scarce hear amid the strife the poacher’s muttering gun.
The ploughman hears its humming rage begin,
And hies for shelter from his naked toil;
Buttoning his doublet closer to his chin,
He bends and scampers o’er the elting soil,
While clouds above him in wild fury boil,
And winds drive heavily the beating rain;
He turns his back to catch his breath awhile,
Then ekes his speed and faces it again,
To seek the shepherd’s hut beside the rushy plain.
The boy, that scareth from the spiry wheat
The melancholy crow—in hurry weaves,
Beneath an ivied tree, his sheltering seat,
Of rushy flags and sedges tied in sheaves,
Or from the field a shock of stubble thieves.

There he doth dithering sit, and entertain
His eyes with marking the storm-driven leaves;
Oft spying nests where he spring eggs had ta’en,
And wishing in his heart ’twas summer-time again.
Thus wears the month along, in checker’d moods,
Sunshine and shadows, tempests loud, and calms;
One hour dies silent o’er the sleepy woods,
The next wakes loud with unexpected storms;
A dreary nakedness the field deforms—
Yet many a rural sound, and rural sight,
Lives in the village still about the farms,
Where toil’s rude uproar hums from morn till night
Noises, in which the ears of Industry delight.
At length the stir of rural labour’s still,
And Industry her care awhile forgoes;
When Winter comes in earnest to fulfil
His yearly task, at bleak November’s close,
And stops the plough, and hides the field in snows;
When frost locks up the stream in chill delay,
And mellows on the hedge the jetty sloes,
For little birds—then Toil hath time for play,
And nought but threshers’ flails awake the dreary day.

The Haiku’s Sorry by Sukasah Syahdan

the haiku’s sorry
life’s not rosy
as the master’s fairy story

Take a look beautifully touching missing you poems too.

A Minor Poet by Amy Levy

“What should such fellows as I do,
Crawling between earth and heaven?”

Here is the phial; here I turn the key
Sharp in the lock.
Click!–there’s no doubt it turned.

This is the third time; there is luck in threes–
Queen Luck, that rules the world, befriend me now
And freely I’ll forgive you many wrongs!
Just as the draught began to work, first time,
Tom Leigh, my friend (as friends go in the world),
Burst in, and drew the phial from my hand,
(Ah, Tom! ah, Tom! that was a sorry turn!)
And lectured me a lecture, all compact
Of neatest, newest phrases, freshly culled
From works of newest culture: “common good ;”
“The world’s great harmonies;””must be content
With knowing God works all things for the best,
And Nature never stumbles.
” Then again,
“The common good,” and still, “the common, good;”
And what a small thing was our joy or grief
When weigh’d with that of thousands.
Gentle Tom,
But you might wag your philosophic tongue
From morn till eve, and still the thing’s the same:
I am myself, as each man is himself–
Feels his own pain, joys his own joy, and loves
With his own love, no other’s.
Friend, the world
Is but one man; one man is but the world.

And I am I, and you are Tom, that bleeds
When needles prick your flesh (mark, yours, not mine).

I must confess it; I can feel the pulse
A-beating at my heart, yet never knew
The throb of cosmic pulses.
I lament
The death of youth’s ideal in my heart;
And, to be honest, never yet rejoiced
In the world’s progress–scarce, indeed, discerned;
(For still it seems that God’s a Sisyphus
With the world for stone).

You shake your head.
I’m base,
Ignoble? Who is noble–you or I?
I was not once thus? Ah, my friend, we are
As the Fates make us.

This time is the third;
The second time the flask fell from my hand,
Its drowsy juices spilt upon the board;
And there my face fell flat, and all the life
Crept from my limbs, and hand and foot were bound
With mighty chains, subtle, intangible;
While still the mind held to its wonted use,
Or rather grew intense and keen with dread,
An awful dread–I thought I was in Hell.

In Hell, in Hell ! Was ever Hell conceived
By mortal brain, by brain Divine devised,
Darker, more fraught with torment, than the world
For such as I? A creature maimed and marr’d
From very birth.
A blot, a blur, a note
All out of tune in this world’s instrument.

A base thing, yet not knowing to fulfil
Base functions.
A high thing, yet all unmeet
For work that’s high.
A dweller on the earth,
Yet not content to dig with other men
Because of certain sudden sights and sounds
(Bars of broke music; furtive, fleeting glimpse
Of angel faces ‘thwart the grating seen)
Perceived in Heaven.
Yet when I approach
To catch the sound’s completeness, to absorb
The faces’ full perfection, Heaven’s gate,
Which then had stood ajar, sudden falls to,
And I, a-shiver in the dark and cold,
Scarce hear afar the mocking tones of men:
“He would not dig, forsooth ; but he must strive
For higher fruits than what our tillage yields;
Behold what comes, my brothers, of vain pride!”
Why play with figures? trifle prettily
With this my grief which very simply’s said,
“There is no place for me in all the world”?
The world’s a rock, and I will beat no more
A breast of flesh and blood against a rock.

A stride across the planks for old time’s sake.

Ah, bare, small room that I have sorrowed in;
Ay, and on sunny days, haply, rejoiced;
We know some things together, you and I!
Hold there, you rangèd row of books ! In vain
You beckon from your shelf.
You’ve stood my friends
Where all things else were foes; yet now I’ll turn
My back upon you, even as the world
Turns it on me.
And yet–farewell, farewell!
You, lofty Shakespere, with the tattered leaves
And fathomless great heart, your binding’s bruised
Yet did I love you less? Goethe, farewell;
Farewell, triumphant smile and tragic eyes,
And pitiless world-wisdom!

For all men
These two.
And ’tis farewell with you, my friends,
More dear because more near: Theokritus;
Heine that stings and smiles; Prometheus’ bard;
(I’ve grown too coarse for Shelley latterly:)
And one wild singer of to-day, whose song
Is all aflame with passionate bard’s blood
Lash’d into foam by pain and the world’s wrong.

At least, he has a voice to cry his pain;
For him, no silent writhing in the dark,
No muttering of mute lips, no straining out
Of a weak throat a-choke with pent-up sound,
A-throb with pent-up passion.

Ah, my sun!
That’s you, then, at the window, looking in
To beam farewell on one who’s loved you long
And very truly.
Up, you creaking thing,
You squinting, cobwebbed casement!
So, at last,
I can drink in the sunlight.
How it falls.

Across that endless sea of London roofs,
Weaving such golden wonders on the grey,
That almost, for the moment, we forget
The world of woe beneath them.

For all the sunset glory, Pain is king.
Yet, the sun’s there, and very sweet withal;
And I’ll not grumble that it’s only sun,
But open wide my lips–thus–drink it in;
Turn up my face to the sweet evening sky
(What royal wealth of scarlet on the blue
So tender toned, you’d almost think it green)
And stretch my hands out–so–to grasp it tight.

Ha, ha! ’tis sweet awhile to cheat the Fates,
And be as happy as another man.

The sun works in my veins like wine, like wine!
‘Tis a fair world: if dark, indeed, with woe,
Yet having hope and hint of such a joy,
That a man, winning, well might turn aside,
Careless of Heaven .

O enough; I turn
From the sun’s light, or haply I shall hope.

I have hoped enough; I would not hope again:
‘Tis hope that is most cruel.

Tom, my friend,
You very sorry philosophic fool;
‘Tis you, I think, that bid me be resign’d,
Trust, and be thankful.

Out on you! Resign’d?
I’m not resign’d, not patient, not school’d in
To take my starveling’s portion and pretend
I’m grateful for it.
I want all, all, all;
I’ve appetite for all.
I want the best:
Love, beauty, sunlight, nameless joy of life.

There’s too much patience in the world, I think.

We have grown base with crooking of the knee.

Mankind–say–God has bidden to a feast;
The board is spread, and groans with cates and drinks;
In troop the guests; each man with appetite
Keen-whetted with expectance.

In they troop,
Struggle for seats, jostle and push and seize.

What’s this? what’s this? There are not seats for all!
Some men must stand without the gates; and some
Must linger by the table, ill-supplied
With broken meats.
One man gets meat for two,
The while another hungers.
If I stand
Without the portals, seeing others eat
Where I had thought to satiate the pangs
Of mine own hunger; shall I then come forth
When all is done, and drink my Lord’s good health
In my Lord’s water? Shall I not rather turn
And curse him, curse him for a niggard host?
O, I have hungered, hungered, through the years,
Till appetite grows craving, then disease;
I am starved, wither’d, shrivelled.

Peace, O peace!
This rage is idle; what avails to curse
The nameless forces, the vast silences
That work in all things.

This time is the third,
I wrought before in heat, stung mad with pain,
Blind, scarcely understanding; now I know
What thing I do.

There was a woman once;
Deep eyes she had, white hands, a subtle smile,
Soft speaking tones: she did not break my heart,
Yet haply had her heart been otherwise
Mine had not now been broken.
Yet, who knows?
My life was jarring discord from the first:
Tho’ here and there brief hints of melody,
Of melody unutterable, clove the air.

From this bleak world, into the heart of night,
The dim, deep bosom of the universe,
I cast myself.
I only crave for rest;
Too heavy is the load.
I fling it down.

We knocked and knocked; at last, burst in the door,
And found him as you know–the outstretched arms
Propping the hidden face.
The sun had set,
And all the place was dim with lurking shade.

There was no written word to say farewell,
Or make more clear the deed.

I search’d and search’d;
The room held little: just a row of books
Much scrawl’d and noted; sketches on the wall,
Done rough in charcoal; the old instrument
(A violin, no Stradivarius)
He played so ill on; in the table drawer
Large schemes of undone work.
Poems half-writ;
Wild drafts of symphonies; big plans of fugues;
Some scraps of writing in a woman’s hand:
No more–the scattered pages of a tale,
A sorry tale that no man cared to read.

Alas, my friend, I lov’d him well, tho’ he
Held me a cold and stagnant-blooded fool,
Because I am content to watch, and wait
With a calm mind the issue of all things.

Certain it is my blood’s no turbid stream;
Yet, for all that, haply I understood
More than he ever deem’d; nor held so light
The poet in him.
Nay, I sometimes doubt
If they have not, indeed, the better part–
These poets, who get drunk with sun, and weep
Because the night or a woman’s face is fair.

Meantime there is much talk about my friend.

The women say, of course, he died for love;
The men, for lack of gold, or cavilling
Of carping critics.
I, Tom Leigh, his friend
I have no word at all to say of this.

Nay, I had deem’d him more philosopher;
For did he think by this one paltry deed
To cut the knot of circumstance, and snap
The chain which binds all being?


What was it Janice Simmons said to me as James lay dying in Ireland?

“Phone Peter Pegnall in Leeds, an ex-pupil of Jimmy’s. He’s organising

A benefit reading, he’d love to hear from you and have your help.”

‘Like hell he would’ I thought but I phoned him all the same

At his converted farmhouse at Barswill, a Lecturer in Creative Writing

At the uni. But what’s he written, I wondered, apart from his CV?

“Well I am organising a reading but only for the big people, you understand,

Hardman, Harrison, Doughty, Duhig, Basher O’Brien, you know the kind,

The ones that count, the ones I owe my job to.”

We nattered on and on until by way of adieu I read the final couplet

Of my Goodbye poem, the lines about ‘One Leeds Jimmy who could fix the world’s.

Duhigs once and for all/Write them into the ground and still have a hundred

Lyrics in his quiver.’

Pete Stifled a cough which dipped into a gurgle and sank into a mire

Of strangulated affect which almost became a convulsion until finally

He shrieked, “I have to go, the cat’s under the Christmas tree, ripping

Open all the presents, the central heating boiler’s on the blink,

The house is on fucking fire!”

So I was left with the offer of being raffle-ticket tout as a special favour,

Some recompense for giving over two entire newsletters to Jimmy’s work:

The words of the letter before his stroke still burned. “I don’t know why

They omitted me, Armitage and Harrison were my best mates once. You and I

Must meet.”

A whole year’s silence until the card with its cryptic message

‘Jimmy’s recovering slowly but better than expected’.

I never heard from Pegnall about the reading, the pamphlets he asked for

Went unacknowledged. Whalebone, the fellow-tutor he commended, also stayed silent.

Had the event been cancelled? Happening to be in Huddersfield on Good Friday

I staggered up three flights of stone steps in the Byram Arcade to the Poetry Business

Where, next to the ‘closed’ sign an out-of-date poster announced the reading in Leeds

At a date long gone.

I peered through the slats at empty desks, at brimming racks of books,

At overflowing bin-bags and the yellowing poster. Desperately I tried to remember

What Janice had said. “We were sat up in bed, planning to take the children

For a walk when Jimmy stopped looking at me, the pupils of his eyes rolled sideways,

His head lolled and he keeled over.”

The title of the reading was from Jimmy’s best collection

‘With Energy To Burn’

with energy to burn.

Please Forgive Me

You are the one who is hurt
But I am the one crying
You are the one who is scarred
But I am the one dying
You are the one with blisters
But I am the one bleeding
You are the one with wounds
But I am still not recuperating
I hope you can see how
I hurt when you are sad
I apologize for my mistakes

To a Mouse by Robert Burns

On Turning Her Up in Her Nest with the Plough,
November, 1785

Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim’rous beastie,
O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi’ bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an’ chase thee,
Wi’ murdering pattle!

I’m truly sorry Man’s dominion
Has broken Nature’s social union,
An’ justifies that ill opinion
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion
An’ fellow-mortal!

I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen-icker in a thrave
‘S a sma’ requet;
I’ll get a blessin wi’ the lave,
An’ never miss’t!

Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin!
Its silly wa’s the win’s are strewin!
An’ naething, now, to big a new ane,
O’ foggage green!
An’ bleak December’s win’s ensuing,
Baith snell an’ keen!

Thou saw the fields laid bare an’ waste,
An’ weary Winter comin fast,
An’ cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro’ thy cell.

That wee bit heap o’ leaves and stibble,
Has cost thee monie a weary nibble!
Now thou’s turned out, for a’ thy trouble,
But house or hald,
To thole the Winter’s sleety dribble,
An’ cranreuch cauld!

But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best-laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

Still thou are blest, compared wi’ me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But Och! I backward cast my e’e,
On prospects drear!
An’ forward, tho’ I cannot see,
I guess an’ fear!

Regret by Charlotte Bronte

Long ago I wished to leave
” The house where I was born; “
Long ago I used to grieve,
My home seemed so forlorn.
In other years, its silent rooms
Were filled with haunting fears;
Now, their very memory comes
O’ercharged with tender tears.

Life and marriage I have known,
Things once deemed so bright;
Now, how utterly is flown
Every ray of light !
‘Mid the unknown sea of life
I no blest isle have found;
At last, through all its wild wave’s strife,
My bark is homeward bound.

Farewell, dark and rolling deep !
Farewell, foreign shore !
Open, in unclouded sweep,
Thou glorious realm before !
Yet, though I had safely pass’d
That weary, vexed main,
One loved voice, through surge and blast,
Could call me back again.

Though the soul’s bright morning rose
O’er Paradise for me,
William ! even from Heaven’s repose
I’d turn, invoked by thee !
Storm nor surge should e’er arrest
My soul, exulting then:
All my heaven was once thy breast,
Would it were mine again !

I’m Sorry for the Dead – Today by Emily Dickinson

I’m sorry for the Dead—Today—
It’s such congenial times
Old Neighbors have at fences—
It’s time o’ year for Hay.

And Broad—Sunburned Acquaintance
Discourse between the Toil—
And laugh, a homely species
That makes the Fences smile—

It seems so straight to lie away
From all of the noise of Fields—
The Busy Carts—the fragrant Cocks—
The Mower’s Metre—Steals—

A Trouble lest they’re homesick—
Those Farmers—and their Wives—
Set separate from the Farming—
And all the Neighbors’ lives—

A Wonder if the Sepulchre
Don’t feel a lonesome way—
When Men—and Boys—and Carts—and June,
Go down the Fields to ‘Hay’—

This Is Just to Say by William Carlos Williams

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold