Honestly, I wasn’t a fan of poetry until I had to teach a unit to my seventh graders. There were a few poems that “spoke” to me and others, like limericks and nonsense poems, that were fun to read aloud, but I never considered it a favorite genre. I certainly never dabbled in writing it. Now, after three years of spending two weeks or more teaching the types of poetry and poetic devices, it has become one of my favorite units. I’ve even begun to write poems.
Although I read more poetry now than ever before, my favorite poet is still Lord Byron. His biography can be found here. The most prevalent theme in his poems is love, returned and unrequited. My absolute favorite poem of his is “The Tear.”
I first discovered this beautiful poem in Judith Pella’s The Russians book series. I don’t remember exactly which book included it. Anna and Sergei, two of the protagonists, share a love of literature, and discuss a collection of Lord Byron’s poems. As their relationship develops from friendship to love, “The Tear” becomes an important poem to them. Here is the poem in its entirety:
When Truth, in a glance, should appear,
The lips may beguile with a dimple or smile,
But the test of affection's a Tear:
Too oft is a smile but the hypocrite's wile,
To mask detestation, or fear;
Give me the soft sigh, whilst the soul-telling eye
Is dimm'd, for a time, with a Tear:
Mild Charity's glow, to us mortals below,
Shows the soul from barbarity clear;
Compassion will melt, where this virtue is felt,
And its dew is diffused in a Tear:
The man, doom'd to sail with the blast of the gale,
Through billows Atlantic to steer,
As he bends o'er the wave which may soon be his grave,
The green sparkles bright with a Tear;
The Soldier braves death for a fanciful wreath
In Glory's romantic career;
But he raises the foe when in battle laid low,
And bathes every wound with a Tear.
If, with high-bounding pride he return to his bride!
Renouncing the gore-crimson'd spear;
All his toils are repaid when, embracing the maid,
From her eyelid he kisses the Tear.
Sweet scene of my youth! seat of Friendship and Truth,
Where Love chas'd each fast-fleeting year
Loth to leave thee, I mourn'd, for a last look I turn'd,
But thy spire was scarce seen through a Tear:
Though my vows I can pour, to my Mary no more,
My Mary, to Love once so dear,
In the shade of her bow'r I remember the hour,
She rewarded those vows with a Tear.
By another possest, may she live ever blest!
Her name still my heart must revere:
With a sigh I resign what I once thought was mine,
And forgive her deceit with a Tear.
Ye friends of my heart, ere from you I depart,
This hope to my breast is most near:
If again we shall meet in this rural retreat,
May we meet, as we part, with a Tear.
When my soul wings her flight to the regions of night,
And my corse shall recline on its bier;
As ye pass by the tomb where my ashes consume,
Oh! moisten their dust with a Tear.
May no marble bestow the splendour of woe
Which the children of vanity rear;
No fiction of fame shall blazon my name.
All I ask – all I wish – is a Tear.
What about you? Do you have a favorite poem and/or poet? Feel free to share in the comments!