Famous Narrative Poem

Published in "Tote-road and Trail" Ballads of the Lumberjack in·1917, "The Widow-Maker" by Douglas Malloch uses vivid imagery in this narrative poem to captivate the reader. We witness the loose limb of a pine tree, tumbling and zigzagging, while the red stain upon the snow reveals a tragic fate. The poem engages us with its use of repetition, as the words echo in our minds, reflecting the characters' conversations and their gradual forgetting. As time passes, the poem shifts its focus to the widow, capturing her palpable emotions through the beat of her heart and the jolt of each step upon the stair. The poem masterfully blends rhyme and rhythm, taking us on an emotional journey where themes of love, regret, and forgiveness come alive.

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Famous Poem

The Widow-Maker

By more Douglas Malloch

A loose limb hangs upon a pine three log-lengths from the ground,
A norway tumbles with a whine and shakes the woods around.
The loose limb plunges from its place and zigzags down below;
And Jack is lying on his face—there's red upon the snow.

They'll dress him in a cotton shirt, they'll cross his horny hands;
They'll dig a hollow in the dirt within the forest lands;
They'll put him in a wooden box; they'll wonder whence he came,
And build a monument of rocks without a date or name.

"He got a letter, that I know." "I wonder where it is."
"I heard him speak not long ago about a wife of his."
"Employment agent shipped him up he didn't have a cent."
"He was a most peculiar pup." "He was a gloomy gent."

And so they'll talk around the fire a little longer yet;
But even idle tongues will tire, and even men forget.
A season passes, and a year. "Why, yes, now thinkin' back,
A widow-maker hit him here. We used to call him Jack."

And far away, 'mid city streets Jack staggers down no more,
A heart, a woman's, madly beats, each knock upon the door.
She's back with mother in the flat. She thought she wouldn't care.
Why does she always jump like that, each step upon the stair?

"For anger burns so quick a flame the year that you are wed.
I said some things just as they came I never should have said.
It takes a little time, I guess, the married life to live—
To want your way a little less, to suffer and forgive."

They'll dress him in a cotton shirt, they'll cross his horny hands;
They'll dig a hollow in the dirt within the forest lands;
They'll put him in a wooden box; they'll wonder whence he came,
And build a monument of rocks without a date or name.

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