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Haply it is angels' duty,

During slumber, shade by shade
To fine down this childish beauty

To the thing it must be made,
Ere the world shall bring it praises, or the tomb

shall see it fade


Softly, softly! make no noises!

Now he lieth dead and dumb.
Now he hears the angels' voices

Folding silence in the room.
Now he muses deep the meaning of the Heaven-

words as they come.

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Speak not! he is consecrated.

Breathe no breath across his eyes.
Lifted up and separated

On the hand of God he lies,
In a sweetness beyond touching,-held in cloistral


Could ye bless him-father-mother,

Bless the dimple in his cheek?
Dare ye look at one another,

And the benediction speak?
Would ye not break out in weeping, and confess

yourselves too weak?


He is harmless—ye are sinful.

Ye are troubled-he, at ease.
From his slumber, virtue winful

Floweth outward with increase.
Dare not bless him! but be blessed by his peace-

and go in peace.


WHEN ye stood up in the house

With your little childish feet,
And, in touching Life's first shows,

First the touch of Love did meet,-
Love and Nearness seeming one,

By the heartlight cast before,
And, of all Beloveds, none

Standing farther than the door!
Not a name being dear to thought,

With its owner beyond call;
Nor a face, unless it brought

Its own shadow to the wall ;
When the worst recorded change

Was of apple dropt from bough,
When love's sorrow seemed more strange

Than love's treason can seem now,-
Then, the Loving took you up

Soft, upon their elder knees,

Telling why the statues droop

Underneath the churchyard trees,
And how ye must lie beneath them

Through the winters long and deep,
Till the last trump overbreathe them,

And ye smile out of your sleep ... Oh ye lifted up your head, and it seemed as if they said

A tale of fairy ships

With a swan-wing for a sail!
Oh, ye kissed their loving lips

For the merry, merry tale !-
So carelessly ye thought upon the Dead.


Soon ye read in solemn stories .

Of the men of long ago-
Of the pale bewildering glories

Shining farther than we know.
Of the heroes with the laurel,

Of the poets with the bay,
Of the two worlds' earnest quarrel

For that beauteous Helena.
How Achilles at the portal

Of the tent, heard footsteps nigh,
And his strong heart, half-immortal,

Met the keitai with a cry.
How Ulysses left the sunlight

For the pale eidola race
Blank and passive through the dun light,

Staring blindly in his face.
How that true wife said to Pætus,

With calm smile and wounded heart,

‘Sweet, it hurts not!-how Admetus

Saw his blessed one depart.
How King Arthur proved his mission,

And Sir Roland wound his horn,
And at Sangreal's moony vision

Swords did bristle round like corn. Oh, ye lifted up your head, and it seemed the while ye read,

That this Death, then, must be found
A Valhalla for the crowned,
The heroic who prevail.
None, be sure, can enter in
Far below a paladin

Of a noble, noble tale!-
So awfully ye thought upon the Dead.

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Ay, but soon ye woke up shrieking,

As a child that wakes at night
From a dream of sisters speaking

In a garden's summer-light,-
That wakes, starting up and bounding,

In a lonely, lonely bed,
With a wall of darkness round him,

Stifling black about his head!--
And the full sense of your mortal
· Rushed upon you deep and loud,
And ye heard the thunder hurtle

From the silence of the cloud !
Funeral-torches at your gateway

Threw a dreadful light within.
All things changed! you rose up straightway

And saluted Death and Sin.

Since,—your outward man has rallied,

And your eye and voice grown bold-
Yet the Sphinx of Life stands pallid,

With her saddest secret told,
Happy places have grown holy.

If ye went where once ye went,
Only tears would fall down slowly,

As at solemn sacrament.
Merry books, once read for pastime,

If ye dared to read again,
Only memories of the last time

Would swim darkly up the brain.
Household names, which used to flutter

Through your laughter unawares,-
God's divinest ye could utter

With less trembling in your prayers! Ye have dropt adown your head, and it seems as if ye tread

On your own hearts in the path
Ye are called to in His wrath,
And your prayers go up in wail !
—'Dost Thou see, then, all our loss,
O Thou agonised on cross ?

Art thou reading all its tale ?
So mournfully ye think upon the Dead.


Pray, pray, thou who also weepest,

And the drops will slacken so.
Weep, weep,—and the watch thou keepest,

With a quicker count will go.
Think, -the shadow on the dial

For the nature most undone,

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