Requiescat in pace




A new-made grave, for the damp earth stood
Yellow and miry there at the lips
Of the pit, where one in her widowhood
Waited to witness the coffin's eclipse
Under the clods, that tumbled and rolled ,
Rattled and thundered o'er clay as cold.

The mother facing the wife—they wept
As never I yet saw women weep.
Standing behind them, the watch I kept
Was a watch that never did mortal keep,
For the thing below that had ceased to be,
With human utterance spoke to me.

There is knocking at my door, there!—Aspirations long since fled,
High endeavours of my springtime that have lived and perishèd.
Why disquiet me, 0 phantoms? Wherefore strive to stir the dead?

Striking on dumb chords, 0 passion!
Music comes not. Here below,
I am of another fashion
Than the "I" six days ago.

There is knocking at my door, there!—-Hopes that fired younger blood:
Lust of power, lust of knowledge, fierce desire for the good,
For some truth that might uphold me 'gainst the clamour of Doubt's brood.

Mark ye my closèd mouth well;
Lines where the strong speech would sit
Shadowed ere words;—now all Hell
Stirs not these wrinkles one whit.

There is knocking at my door, there!—as of one that would not wait,
As of one that wished to tear me from my quiet, kingly state.
''T'is some Love that might have saved me, come, alas! too late, too late.

Six days since, around my bed,
People spake in accents low;
As a dream half vanished
Were their words six days ago—
Spake of something that might save,
Some great power from above,
Power to open up my grave,
And I think they called it Love.
Canst thou lift the heavy weight?
Canst thou help me from the gloom?
Human love is less than Fate,
Failing ere it reach the tomb.

There is knocking at my door, there!—Pity calling friends to mind,
Telling loud of those that mourned me, certain ones I left behind .
Surely they may break their shacklings, snap the fleshly chains that bind .

Seest thou this hand that would close
Warm o'er the clasp of a friend?
Tell me the tale of his woes—
It shall lie still to the end.

There is silence, and I slumber in the narrow, narrow room,
Waiting, waiting, ever waiting, for the judgment and the doom.
Sweet to wearied limbs this resting, sweet to strainèd eyes this gloom.

Cool, and no life to arouse
Passions that slay and destroy.
Love, and its numberless vows,
Life, and its manifold joy-
I have quitted them all and for ever:
Sweep as the tempests at will,
Sure, 'tis an idle endeavour
Seeking to waken the still.
Beat at my door, 0 sad mother!
Wife! rain thy tears on my breast.
I, that was thine, am made other,
Alien in all; and I rest.'