It's a somewhat sorrowful beginning, so I apologize I couldn't start the year with a more sprightly piece. There is, however, beauty in the sadness, so much in fact, that the speaker asks the question directly, "How much beauty / can a person bear?"
You'll hear that word a lot here. Speaker. It might seem like the writer and the speaker are interchangeable, but I assure you they are not. It's one of the first lessons I learned in my graduate school workshops. The person sitting across from you may have written the poem, but you can't make assumptions. In some cases, of course, they are the same person, but to maintain some consistency for the sake of discussion, the speaker will be speaking and the writer will be writing.