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Short poem

William Ernest Henley (1849-1903)


              1The beach was crowded. Pausing now and then,
              2He groped and fiddled doggedly along,
              3His worn face glaring on the thoughtless throng
              4The stony peevishness of sightless men.
              5He seemed scarce older than his clothes. Again,
              6Grotesquing thinly many an old sweet song,
              7So cracked his fiddle, his hand so frail and wrong,
              8You hardly could distinguish one in ten.
              9He stopped at last, and sat him on the sand,
            10And, grasping wearily his bread-winner,
            11Staring dim towards the blue immensity,
            12Then leaned his head upon his poor old hand.
            13He may have slept: he did not speak nor stir:
            14His gesture spoke a vast despondency.

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: William Ernest Henley, Poems (London: Macmillan and Co., 1920): 71. PR 4783 A36 1921 Robarts Library
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 1996-2000.
Recent editing: 4:2002/4/24

Composition date: 1877 - 1888
Form: Sonnet
Rhyme: abbacddcefgefg

Other poems by William Ernest Henley