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Why Hawthorne Was Melancholy

Fall 2015 - Vol. 57, No. 4


This poem appears in the Fall 2015 issue of Modern Age. To subscribe now, go here.

A life could be renewed:
The land went on and on,
Clearing and planting called:
My own kind would have thought,
Sometimes, Freshness is all.

But wilderness. The stone
No foot had ever warmed;
Everyone on his own:
No roots to lead the heart
To its society—

The cobblestones of love
And mind, cloisters and knights
Of mercy’s justice. Here,
My kin read one stone book
Against the wilderness;

And tracked the witches born
Of that. We need the words
The heart can draw from roots;
Across this sea they live
And write that high romance.


Robert Beum taught history at a variety of Canadian colleges and universities for several decades. His essays have appeared in numerous scholarly journals.