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Arthur Quiller-Couch, comp.  The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse.  1922.
 
The Fountain of Tears
By Arthur William Edgar O’Shaughnessy (1844–1881)
 
IF you go over desert and mountain,
  Far into the country of Sorrow,
  To-day and to-night and to-morrow,
And maybe for months and for years;
  You shall come with a heart that is bursting        5
  For trouble and toiling and thirsting,
You shall certainly come to the fountain
At length,—to the Fountain of Tears.
 
Very peaceful the place is, and solely
  For piteous lamenting and sighing,        10
  And those who come living or dying
Alike from their hopes and their fears;
  Full of cypress-like shadows the place is
  And statues that cover their faces:
But out of the gloom springs the holy        15
And beautiful Fountain of Tears.
 
And it flows and it flows with a motion
  So gentle and lovely and listless,
  And murmurs a tune so resistless
To him who hath suffer’d and hears—        20
  You shall surely—without a word spoken,
  Kneel down there and know your heart broken,
And yield to the long-curb’d emotion
That day by the Fountain of Tears.
 
For it grows and it grows, as though leaping        25
  Up higher the more one is thinking;
  And ever its tunes go on sinking
More poignantly into the ears:
  Yea, so blessèd and good seems that fountain,
  Reach’d after dry desert and mountain,        30
You shall fall down at length in your weeping
And bathe your sad face in the tears.
 
Then alas! while you lie there a season
  And sob between living and dying,
  And give up the land you were trying        35
To find ’mid your hopes and your fears;
  —O the world shall come up and pass o’er you,
  Strong men shall not stay to care for you,
Nor wonder indeed for what reason
Your way should seem harder than theirs.        40
 
But perhaps, while you lie, never lifting
  Your cheek from the wet leaves it presses,
  Nor caring to raise your wet tresses
And look how the cold world appears—
  O perhaps the mere silences round you—        45
  All things in that place Grief hath found you—
Yea, e’en to the clouds o’er you drifting,
May soothe you somewhat through your tears.
 
You may feel, when a falling leaf brushes
  Your face, as though some one had kiss’d you;        50
  Or think at least some one who miss’d you
Had sent you a thought,—if that cheers;
  Or a bird’s little song, faint and broken,
  May pass for a tender word spoken:
—Enough, while around you there rushes        55
That life-drowning torrent of tears.
 
And the tears shall flow faster and faster,
  Brim over and baffle resistance,
  And roll down blear’d roads to each distance
Of past desolation and years;        60
  Till they cover the place of each sorrow,
  And leave you no past and no morrow:
For what man is able to master
And stem the great Fountain of Tears?
 
But the floods and the tears meet and gather;        65
  The sound of them all grows like thunder:
  —O into what bosom, I wonder,
Is pour’d the whole sorrow of years?
  For Eternity only seems keeping
  Account of the great human weeping:        70
May God, then, the Maker and Father—
May He find a place for the tears!
 
 
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