|[The Valley of the Shadow]|
[Edwin Arlington Robinson]
There were [faces] to [remember] in the [Psalm 23|Valley of the Shadow],
There were faces unregarded, there were faces to forget;
There were fires of [grief] and fear that are a few forgotten [ash|ashes],
There were [spark|sparks] of [recognition] that are not [forgotten] yet.
For at first, with an amazed and [overwhelming] [indignation]
At a measureless [malfeasance] that [obscure|obscurely] [will|willed] it [thus],
They were [lost] and [unacquainted] -- till they found themselves in others,
Who had [grope|groped] as they were groping where dim ways were [perilous].
There were lives that were as dark as are the fears and [intuition|intuitions]
Of a child who knows himself and is alone with what he knows;
There were [pensioner|pensioners] of dreams and there were [debtor|debtors] of [illusion|illusions],
All to fail before the triumph of a weed that only grows.
There were thirsting [heir|heirs] of golden [sieve|sieves] that held not [wine] or [water],
And had no names in [traffic] or more value there than [toy|toys]:
There were [blighted] sons of wonder in the [Valley] of the [Shadow],
Where they suffered and still wondered why their [wonder] [made] no [noise].
There were slaves who dragged the [shackle|shackles] of a [precedent] unbroken,
Demonstrating the [fulfilment] of [unalterable] [scheme|schemes],
Which had been, before the [cradle], [Time|Time's] [inexorable] [tenant|tenants]
Of what were now the dusty ruins of their father's dreams.
There were these, and there were many who had stumbled up to [manhood],
Where they saw too late the road they should have taken long ago:
There were [thwarted] [clerk|clerks] and [fiddler|fiddlers] in the Valley of the Shadow,
The [commemorative] [wreckage] of what others did not know.
And there were [daughter|daughters] older than the mothers who had [borne] them,
Being older in their [wisdom], which is older than the [earth];
And they were going forward only farther into [darkness],
Unrelieved as were the blasting obligations of their [birth];
And among them, giving always what was not for their [possession],
There were [maiden|maidens], very [quiet], with no quiet in their eyes:
There were daughters of the [silence] in the Valley of the Shadow,
Each an [isolated] item in the [family] [sacrifice].
There were [creeper|creepers] among [catacomb|catacombs] where dull regrets were [torch|torches],
Giving light enough to show them what was there upon the shelves --
Where there was more for them to see than [pleasure] would remember
Of something that had been [alive] and once had been themselves.
There were some who [stirred] the [ruin|ruins] with a solid [imprecation],
While as many fled [repentance] for the [promise] of [despair]:
There were [drinker|drinkers] of wrong waters in the Valley of the Shadow,
And all the [sparkling] ways were dust that once had led them there.
There were some who knew the steps of [Age] incredibly beside them,
And his fingers upon shoulders that had never felt the [wheel];
And their last of empty [trophy|trophies] was a [gilded] [cup] of nothing,
Which a contemplating [vagabond] would not have come to [steal].
Long and often had they figured for a larger [valuation],
But the size of their addition was the balance of a doubt:
There were [gentlemen] of leisure in the Valley of the Shadow,
Not [allure|allured] by retrospection, [disenchanted], and [played out].
And among the [dark] [endurance|endurances] of [unavowed] [reprisal|reprisals]
There were silent eyes of [envy] that saw little but saw well;
And over [beauty|beauty's] [aftermath] of [hazardous] [ambition|ambitions]
There were tears for what had vanished as they vanished where they fell.
Not assured of what was theirs, and always [hungry] for the [nameless],
There were some whose only [passion] was for [Time] who made them cold:
There were [numerous] [fair] [women] in the Valley of the Shadow,
Dreaming rather less of [heaven] than of [hell] when they were old.
[Now and then], as if to [scorn] the [common] [touch] of [common] [sorrow],
There were some who gave a few the distant [pity] of a [smile];
And another [cloaked] a [soul] as with an [ash] of [human] [ember|embers],
Having covered thus a [treasure] that would last him for a while.
There were many by the [presence] of the many disaffected,
Whose [exemption] was included in the [weight] that others bore:
There were [seeker|seekers] after [darkness] in the Valley of the Shadow,
And they alone were there to find what they were looking for.
So they were, and so they are; and as they came are coming others,
And among them are the [fearless] and the [meek] and the [unborn];
And a question that has held us [heretofore] without an answer
May [abide] without an [answer] until all have [ceased] to [mourn].
For the [children of the dark] are more to name than are the [wretched],
Or the [broken], or the weary, or the [baffle|baffled], or the [shame|shamed]:
There are builders of new mansions in the [Psalm 23|Valley of the Shadow],
And among them are the [dying] and the [blind|blinded] and the [maim|maimed].