Caroline Elizabeth Sarah Norton

Here you will find the Poem The Careless Word of poet Caroline Elizabeth Sarah Norton

The Careless Word

A WORD is ringing thro' my brain, 
It was not meant to give me pain; 
It had no tone to bid it stay, 
When other things had past away; 
It had no meaning more than all 
Which in an idle hour fall: 
It was when first the sound I heard 
A lightly uttered, careless word. 

That word--oh! it doth haunt me now, 
In scenes of joy, in scenes of woe; 
By night, by day, in sun or shade, 
With the half smile that gently played 
Reproachfully, and gave the sound 
Eternal power thro' life to wound. 
There is no voice I ever heard, 
So deeply fix'd as that one word. 

When in the laughing crowd some tone, 
Like those whose joyous sound is gone, 
Strikes on my ear, I shrink--for then 
The careless word comes back again. 
When all alone I sit and gaze 
Upon the cheerful home-fire blaze, 
Lo! freshly as when first 'twas heard, 
Returns that lightly uttered word. 

When dreams bring back the days of old; 
With all that wishes could not hold; 
And from my feverish couch I start 
To press a shadow to my heart-- 
Amid its beating echoes, clear 
That little word I seem to hear: 
In vain I say, while it is heard, 
Why weep?--'twas but a foolish word. 

It comes--and with it come the tears, 
The hopes, the joys of former years; 
Forgotten smiles, forgotten looks, 
Thick as dead leaves on autumn brooks, 
And all as joyless, though they were 
The brightest things life's spring could share. 
Oh! would to God I ne'er had heard 
That lightly uttered, careless word! 

It was the first, the only one 
Of those which lips for ever gone 
Breathed in their love--which had for me 
Rebuke of harshness at my glee: 
And if those lips were here to say, 
'Beloved, let it pass away,' 
Ah! then, perchance--but I have heard 
The last dear tone--the careless word! 

Oh! ye who, meeting, sigh to part, 
Whose words are treasures to some heart, 
Deal gently, ere the dark days come, 
When earth hath but for one a home; 
Lest, musing o'er the past, like me, 
They feel their hearts wrung bitterly, 
And, heeding not what else they heard, 
Dwell weeping on a careless word.