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CCXLVIII

THE DEATH BED.

We watched her breathing through the night,
Her breathing soft and low,
As her breast the wave of life
Kept heaving to and fro.

5

So silently we seemed to speak,
So slowly moved about,
As we had lent her half our powers,
To eke her living out.

IO

Our very hopes belied our fears,
Our fears our hopes belied ;
We thought her dying when she slept,
And sleeping when she died.

For when the morn came dim and sad,
And chill with early showers,
Her quiet eyelids closed-she had
Another morn than ours.

Thomas Hood.

15

CCXLIX

LINES WRITTEN IN RICHMOND CHURCHYARD,

YORKSHIRE.

Methinks it is good to be here ;
If Thou wilt, let us build—but for whom ?

Nor Elias nor Moses appear,
But the shadows of eve that encompass the gloom,
The abode of the dead and the place of the tomb.

5

Shall we build to Ambition ? oh, no! Affrighted, he shrinketh away;

For see! they would pin him below,

IO

In a small narrow cave, and, begirt with cold clay,
To the meanest of reptiles a peer and a prey.

To Beauty ? ah, no !-she forgets
The charms which she wielded before

Nor knows the foul worm that he frets The skin which but yesterday fools could adore, For the smoothness it held, or the tint which wore. 15

Shall we build to the purple of PrideThe trappings which dizen the proud ?

Alas! they are all laid aside;
And here's neither dress nor adornment allowed, 19
But the long winding-sheet and the fringe of the shroud.

To Riches ? alas! 'tis in vain;
Who hid, in their turns have been hid :

The treasures are squandered again;
And here in the grave are all metals forbid,
But the tinsel that shone on the dark coffin-lid.

25 To the pleasures which Mirth can affordThe revel, the laugh, and the jeer ?

Ah! here is a plentiful board !
But the guests are all mute as their pitiful cheer,
And none but the worm is a reveller here.

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35

Shall we build to Affection and Love?
Ah, no! they have withered and died,

Or Aled with the spirit above;
Friends, brothers, and sisters, are laid side by side,
Yet none have saluted, and none have replied.

Unto Sorrow ?—The dead cannot grieve;
Not a sob, not a sigh meets mine ear,

Which compassion itself could relieve !
Ah! sweetly they slumber, nor hope, love, nor fear-
Peace, peace is the watchword, the only one here !

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But, when the days of golden dreams had perished,
And even Despair was powerless to destroy ;
Then did I learn how existence could be cherished,
Strengthened, and fed without the aid of joy.
Then did I check the tears of useless passion,
Weaned my young soul from yearning after thine ;
Sternly denied its burning wish to hasten
Down to that tomb already more than mine.
And even yet I dare not let it languish,
Dare not indulge in memory's rapturous pain;
Once drinking deep of that divinest anguish,
How could I seek the empty world again ?

Emily Brontë.

30

CCLIII

THE LAST MAN.

5

IO

All worldly shapes shall melt in gloom,

The sun himself must die,
Before this mortal shall assume

Its immortality!
I saw a vision in my sleep,
That gave my spirit strength to sweep

Adown the gulf of Time!
I saw the last of human mould,
That shall Creation's death behold,

As Adam saw her prime !
The sun's eye had a sickly glare,

The earth with age was wan,
The skeletons of nations were

Around that lonely man!
Some had expired in fight,—the brands
Still rusted in their bony hands;

In plague and famine some !
Earth's cities had no sound nor tread;
And ships were drifting with the dead

To shores where all was dumb!

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Yet, prophet-like, that lone one stood,

With dauntless words and high,
That shook the sere leaves from the wood,

As if a storm passed by-
Saying, We are twins in death, proud Sun,
Thy face is cold, thy race is run,

'Tis mercy bids thee go;
For thou ten thousand thousand years
Hast seen the tide of human tears,

That shall no longer flow.

30

What though beneath thee man put forth

His pomp, his pride, his skill ;
And arts that made fire, flood, and earth,

The vassals of his will ;-
Yet mourn I not thy parted sway,
Thou dim discrowned king of day;

For all those trophied arts
And triumphs that beneath thee sprang,
Healed not a passion or a pang

Entailed on human hearts.

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Go, let oblivion's curtain fall

Upon the stage of men,
Nor with thy rising beams recall

Life's tragedy again.
Its piteous pageants bring not back,
Nor waken flesh upon the rack

Of pain anew to writhe ;
Stretched in disease's shapes abhorred,
Or mown in battle by the sword,

Like grass beneath the scythe.
Even I am weary in yon skies

To watch thy fading fire ; Test of all 'sumless agonies, Behold not me expire.

Y

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55

My lips that speak thy dirge of death-
Their rounded gasp and gurgling breath

To see thou shalt not boast.
The eclipse of nature spreads my pall, —
The majesty of darkness shall

Receive my parting ghost !

60

This spirit shall return to Him

Who gave its heavenly spark ;
Yet think not, Sun, it shall be dim,

When thou thyself art dark !
No! it shall live again, and shine,
In bliss unknown to beams of thine,

By Him recalled to breath,
Who captive led captivity,
Who robbed the grave of victory,

And took the sting from death !

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70

Go, Sun, while mercy holds me up

On nature's awful waste,
To drink this last and bitter cup

Of grief that man shall taste-
Go, tell the night that hides thy face,

75 Thou saw'st the last of Adam's race,

On earth's sepulchral clod,
The darkening universe defy
To quench his immortality,
Or shake his trust in God !

80 Thomas Campbell.

CCLIV

ROSE AYLMER.

Ah! what avails the sceptred race,
Ah ! what the form divine !
What every virtue, every grace !
Rose Aylmer, all were thine.

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