We meet our griefs again when work is through
and do with words what little words can do.
A stranger weeps beside us through the night.
Beneath our pleasant sun, we never knew
the dark that hates the sky for being bright.
We thought to build a garden without rue,
to climb and, all-beloved, to reach the height.
Our sins were trifling, the false called true,
a petty disbelief in wrong and right.
For every sin we pay, but no sin drew
these hates. It is our virtue they requite.
Along the shore, the squabbling seabirds mew
at passing ships and wheel away in fright.
We meet our griefs again when work is through.
We do with words what little words can do.
J. Bottum is Books & Arts editor of The Weekly Standard. His volume of poetry, "The Fall & Other Poems," has just been issued by St. Augustine's Press.