Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
Waste Land
By Madison Cawein
BRIAR and fennel and chincapin,
  And rue and ragweed everywhere;
The field seemed sick as a soul with sin,
  Or dead of an old despair,
  Born of an ancient care.        5
The cricket’s cry and the locust’s whirr,
  And the note of a bird’s distress,
With the rasping sound of the grasshopper,
  Clung to the loneliness
  Like burrs to a trailing dress.        10
So sad the field, so waste the ground,
  So curst with an old despair,
A woodchuck’s burrow, a blind mole’s mound,
  And a chipmunk’s stony lair,
  Seemed more than it could bear.        15
So lonely, too, so more than sad,
  So droning-lone with bees—
I wondered what more could Nature add
  To the sum of its miseries …
  And then—I saw the trees.        20
Skeletons gaunt that gnarled the place,
  Twisted and torn they rose—
The tortured bones of a perished race
  Of monsters no mortal knows,
  They startled the mind’s repose.        25
And a man stood there, as still as moss,
  A lichen form that stared;
With an old blind hound that, at a loss,
  Forever around him fared
  With a snarling fang half bared.        30
I looked at the man; I saw him plain;
  Like a dead weed, gray and wan,
Or a breath of dust. I looked again—
  And man and dog were gone,
  Like wisps of the graying dawn….        35
Were they a part of the grim death there—
  Ragweed, fennel, and rue?
Or forms of the mind, an old despair,
  That there into semblance grew
  Out of the grief I knew?        40

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