I haven't posted a poem in a little while. Before I start, I will make the disclaimer that I'm in a very happy and contented (albeit very tired,) place these days. So unlike most of the poems I post, this poem doesn't pertain to my life circumstances right now. But I have felt the emotions expressed in this poem before, and I will feel them again. That is just life.
Tears in Sleep
by Louise Bogan
All night the cocks crew, under a moon like day,
And I, in the cage of sleep, on a stranger's breast,
Shed tears, like a task not to be put away---
In the false light, false grief in my happy bed,
A labor of tears, set against joy's undoing.
I would not wake at your word, I had tears to say.
I clung to the bars of the dream and they were said,
And pain's derisive hand had given me rest
From the night giving off flames, and the dark renewing.
Isn’t this beautiful? Haven’t we all “Shed tears, like a task not to be put away---” on days where we just need a good cry? I like the little dash tears at the end of the line, the poem is crying too, and I’m a sucker for non-traditional visual imagery like that. I also appreciate how the speaker acknowledges the “false grief in my happy bed.”
Sometimes everything can be fine, but we cling to our sadness because it is easier to be sad than to go through the refining fire that leads to renewal. Renewal is over-rated when you just want to be sad, or just want an excuse to eat your feelings.
Funnily (or not very funnily, really,) enough this poem reminds me of when I read Elna Baker’s The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance. I was about half-way through, and in true Stephanie fashion I skipped to the end to see how Baker resolved her life with her faith. I desperately wanted the book to have a neat and happy ending, with no more conflict for the protagonist. When it didn’t turn out that way, I cried. I cried hard. Like the poem, I had tears to say.
But my grief was a false grief. I realized later that I wasn’t crying for Elna Baker, I was crying for me. I wanted my faith crisis to be over, I wanted to go back to being a believer. If Elna could work it out, could still believe, I could work it out too.
We all know how that turned out.
But like all nights spent in the cage of sleep, eventually you wake up, your tears have been said, and the next night you go to sleep in your happy bed, renewed.