The Stammerer's Complaint

by Tupper, 1861

Come, I will show thee an affliction
unnumbered among the world's sorrows,
Yet real and wearisome and constant,
embittering the cup of life.
There be who can think within themselves,
and the fires burneth at their heart,
And eloquence waiteth at their lips,
yet they speak not with their tongue:
There be those whom zeal quickeneth,
or slander stirreth to reply,
Or need constrainteth to ask,
or pity sendeth as her messengers,
But nervous dread and sensitive shame freeze
the current of their speech:
The mouth is sealed as with lead,
a cold weight presseth on the heart,
The mocking promise of power is once more
broken in performance,
And they stand impotent of words,
travailing with unborn thoughts,
Courage is cowed at the portal,
wisdom is widowed of utterance:
He that went to comfort is pitied,
he that should rebuke is silent,
And fools who might listen and learn,
stand by to look and laugh:
While friends, with kinder eyes,
wound deeper with compassion:
And thought, finding not a vent,
smouldereth gnawing at the heart,
And the man sinketh in his sphere
for lack of empty sounds.
There may be cares and sorrows thou hast
not yet considered,
And well may thy soul rejoice in the
fair privilege of speech:
For at every turn to want a word -- thou
canst not guess that want:
It is as lack of breath or bread; life hath
no grief more galling.

(note: added August 14, 1996 - a friend sent this historically interesting piece to me. I assume I am not violating copyright by including it. If I am mistaken, please let me know - JAK)