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Helen Hunt Jackson 1830 (Amherst, Massachusetts) – 1885 (San Francisco)

Of all the songs which poets sing
The ones which are most sweet
Are those which at close intervals
A low refrain repeat;
Some tender word, some syllable,
Over and over, ever and ever,
While the song lasts,
Altering never,
Music if sung, music if said,
Subtle like some golden thread
A shuttle casts,
In and out on a fabric red,
Till it glows all through
With the golden hue.
Oh! of all the songs sung,
No songs are so sweet
As the songs with refrains,
Which repeat and repeat.

Of all the lives lived,
No life is so sweet,
As the life where one thought,
In refrain doth repeat,
Over and over, ever and ever,
Till the life ends,
Altering never,
Joy which is felt, but is not said,
Subtler than any golden thread
Which the shuttle sends
In and out in a fabric red,
Till it glows all through
With a golden hue.
Oh! of all the lives lived,
Can be no life so sweet,
As the life where one thought
In refrain doth repeat,

"Now name for me a thought
To make life so sweet,
A thought of such joy
Its refrain to repeat."
Oh! foolish to ask me. Ever, ever
Who loveth believes,
But telleth never.
It might be a name, just a name not said,
But in every thought; like a golden thread
Which the shuttle weaves
In and out on a fabric red,
Till it glows all through
With a golden hue.
Oh! of all sweet lives,
Who can tell how sweet
Is the life which one name
In refrain doth repeat?

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

1:21 min read

Helen Hunt Jackson

Helen Maria Hunt Jackson, born Helen Fiske, was an American poet and writer who became an activist on behalf of improved treatment of Native Americans by the United States government. more…

All Helen Hunt Jackson poems | Helen Hunt Jackson Books

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    "Refrain" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 5 Dec. 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/17078/refrain>.

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