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Bayard Taylor: A Funeral Thought

 

A Funeral Thought

I
When the stern Genius, to whose hollow tramp
Echo the startled chambers of the soul.
Waves his inverted torch o’er that pale camp
Where the archangel’s final trumpets roll,
I would not meet him in the chamber dim,
Hushed, and pervaded with a name-less fear,
When the breath flutters and the senses swim,
And the dread hour is near.

II
Though Love’s dear arms might clasp me fondly then
As if to keep the Summoner at bay,
And woman’s woe and the calm grief of men
Hallow at last the chill, unbreathing clay —
These are Earth’s fetters, and the soul would shrink,
Thus bound, from Darkness and the dread Unknown,
Stretching its arms from Death’s eternal brink,
Which it must dare alone.

III
But in the awful silence of the sky,
Upon some mountain summit, yet untrod,
Through the blue ether would I climb, to die
Afar from mortals and alone with God!
To the pure keeping of the stainless air
Would I resign my faint and fluttering breath,
And with the rapture of an answered prayer
Receive the kiss of Death.

IV
Then to the elements my frame would turn;
No worms should riot on my coffined clay,
But the cold limbs, from that sepulchral urn,
In the slow storms of ages waste away.
Loud winds and thunder’s diapason high
Should be my requiem through the coming time,
And the white summit, fading in the sky,
My monument sublime.

Bayard Taylor
(1825 – 1878)
A Funeral Thought

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