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The Crying Man

No one knows from where he came
Or the sadness that brought his pathetic fame,
That old man who sat in our park
And cried each day from dawn to dark.

He would walk from the hotel Paradise
With a handkerchief and a bucket of ice
To soothe the swelling on his cheeks,
Sitting on the bench by the willow trees.

At first we nodded with pity and fear,
It seemed he was going blind from tears!
The dogs would howl and lower their heads
Startling the children from their carriage beds.

We passed him on our Sunday strolls
And the coins we tossed did not console.
The elders paused to give him prayers
But he went on weeping unaware.

We called the police! But there is no law
For grieving; he was apologetically ignored.
Besides, the whimpering was soft and only heard
Amongst the whistle of an indifferent bird.

I began to resent his chilling sounds;
There’s sadness enough to go around
In the passing parade of falling stars-
Why spoil our Sunday picnics with his scars?

Some ventured near him with curiosity-
And in his presence felt their darkest memory
As their hearts raced and faces grew pale
With the release of a nightmare tale.

One recalled the suicide by a lover
Another of children murdered by guns.
Fire, lies, betrayal and addiction
All where soothed of their affliction.

Ah, but rising from the ruins was opportunity!
This could bring some cash to the community!
Some reverend declared the man was holy,
The pilgrim saint of the Unknown Misery.

Promising to be healed of life’s distress
Quickly tourists came to confess
And take their family portraits by his side
All weeping uncontrollably with pride.

Crystal vials with his tears were sold
Said to remedy the most tortured soul-
Soon he was known through all the land-
As we renamed our town Crying Man.

One day he was found in the hotel bed
With a smile on his face and peaceably dead!
A smile on his face! Imagine our surprise!
How good it felt then to be alive!

It’s said you can hear faint laughter
Transpiring his grave from the ever after;
But still there were whispers of mystery
Which left me wretched with his memory.

I was haunted, I was possessed, I cried
For all the cruelty I held inside,
For all the agony of wounded dreams
As I sat on the bench by the willow trees.

Last few words: 
I chose to attempt a very traditional form in this allegorical poem. This was no easy task for me, and I'm not sure I succeeded. Most of the rhymes (aabb) are direct, some slanted, but near. I was hoping for an easy read, a narrative easy to follow...but in the end the "meaning" can only be felt.
Editing stage: 


I read this the other day, meant to
spend some time on it and of course,
forgot. I'm old is my only decent excuse.

I think there are places where the music
or flow is lost (to me anyway).
example; I think your third line needs 2
syllables ... add two and see if it improves
to your ear.

There are other places where a simple
adjustment would improve (again, in my
head, which is not necessarily correct) the
natural flow intended.
The ending, not sure I get it ... do you
become ???

I just try to read the poem many times aloud and I think i find, like most poets, a way to read it so it seems to flow. I spent adding time adding the's and ands, rearranging words and playing around with every line so they felt, as a total, to flow to my ear as a total...but that certainly does not mean that every reader would read it the same, and find the same pace of reading, same emphasis on this syllable or that, and in the end I may have failed to find a common flow.
WC Williams once said he did not prefer to write in rhyme because it made the poet have to choose outside the exact word he wanted. For me you have to make giant compromises writing in rhyme. And to keep a flow with it and try to keep it interesting is probably as challenging as asking a typical "great" modern artist and ask him to draw a nude like the masters, most could not. Nonetheless it's an important exercise to write occasionally in rhyme, it is from lullaby to lyric the way most people perceive of what poetry "is". I spent a good week writing this damn poem and I'm exhausted from it!
Yes, the idea is that the speaker assumes the role of the crying man. Like many allegories, I have no idea what it means, only a "feeling" of what it means. The symbolism of each aspect of the whole narrative- A crying man, the towns reaction, the town's exploitation, he dies laughing, and the speaker who assumes his role... like allegories (the Rhyme of the Ancient Warrior, the Book of Job,) there are many inferences and meanings, but in the end you can't explain it, you have to feel it. The intent of the poem was trying to be good enough to get that expression. Ain't easy!
Thanks for taking the time!. Responses like yours do take thought and time.

I'd rather learn from one bird how to sing
than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance
ee cummings

author comment

Hello Mark,
I like the poem very much.
The form you have chosen is extremely difficult and llike classical ballet is unforgiving.
But you have dance it through to the end perfectly.
I do have minor comments if you want to hear though.


to all comments. I am very happy you appreciate, as a partner in the crime of poetry, the challenge to write a poem like this. But the poem must stand on its own, so anything you want to suggest is a gift.
Thanks for reading!

I'd rather learn from one bird how to sing
than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance
ee cummings

author comment

First, I think the choice of form is perfect for the poem allegorical tale.
I was slowed down when you described how the man revived bad memories. I think the lines are needed to be more specific.
Plus I started to feel that some of the word choices are less natural and dictated by rhymes.
I don't know how to make it better, here are some suggestions:

Some, who ventured near, suddenly felt
their darkest memory reappear,
long forgotten stories kept well hidden for years had resurfaced.
In his presence their faces turned pale
and hearts were racing as if in the deepest nightmare tale.

One recalled the suicide of her lover,
Another of his murdered friend, the last breath of the child, the fire, the lies, the betray, the addiction's nightmare revived
Just once I looked him in the eyes
and I swear I shall never again.


did hit the part of the poem I was most concerned with. I used some of your ideas and spent some time this afternoon revising, but right bow the site is not allowing me to post a revision for some reason...hopefully soon.
Much thanks for your input!

I'd rather learn from one bird how to sing
than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance
ee cummings

author comment

I am looking forward to seeing how your skilled pen developed the theme. Best, I.


Hi Eumolpus,

I read. I read again. Processed. Read once more.

From a totally clinical side:- you definitely got the rhythm and rhym down pat in my humble opinion. As I read, the words just flowed through so perfectly for me. So, Well Done!!

Now: the meaning behind this one truly struck me - how you some how assumed the role of the Crying roles can either be assumed or reversed can happen in the blink of an eye and the allegorical meaning behind this is subtle yet loud and clear at the same time. Maybe I have interpreted this incorrectly as I am saying this - I am hoping I haven't - yet, the way you exploit how some people will exploit a person or situation for their own ill gotten gain was so nicely pointed out here that I couldn't help but have the thought - typical arrogance of some humans....."the What's in it for me" aspect of some of humanity was conveyed very well through this piece. Again please forgive me if I have misunderstood that.

All in all, for me personally a beautifully written, flowing piece of poetry - you should try this style again. You knocked it out of the park!!

Take care and thank you for sharing

Your in Script


Let life be your muse in all you do!!!

I think this style works nicely with a story, a narrative that goes from a to b, whereas most poems don't have a destination or story, but dance with themselves (as Valery put it). It is reminiscent of the style of Robert Service, which are tales of the Yukon during the gold rush. Also a bit like Poe in the darkness of the images. I think the idea is to tell a tale, like a fable, with multiple meanings. These are hard to come by! This one started with seeing an old man in a park crying all alone,and the image did stick with me and developed into a tale.
Your comment was very appreciated! I hope to be inspired to try it again...but the inspiration for these type works are rare for me, and I grew up, like most of us, with free verse.

I'd rather learn from one bird how to sing
than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance
ee cummings

author comment

this poem has great vivid imagery and feeling good work!

it is looking good,
however my initial impression was that your protagonist have become the crying man, right after the old crying man died. It was a different direction i will miss.


And taking the time to reread !
By adjusting the last line to incorporate the bench as well as the willow trees I was hoping that would help make that transformation more clear, more immediate...have I failed?

I'd rather learn from one bird how to sing
than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance
ee cummings

author comment

In your original version you took his place, here you sit at the bench so you could be just one of those weeping tourists.


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