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III.

Amid the company
Of frozen ones on earth,
There walked a living heart, and he,
Dying beneath the dreary dearth
Of world, where no high thought had birth,
No loving word was said,
Went down to seek society
Among the dead.

Weary of living homes
Empty of living life,
Their barren joy, their noisy strife,
He shunned, and lingered by the quiet tombs;
Reading the records that fond memory
Had traced upon the stones,
And hearing in their silent tones
Voices from the far-off Eternity.




  ― 211 ―
He fled from the world's calumny,
Like deer that seeks the shade and dew,
When angry deep-mouthed hounds pursue;
And sought that peaceful home and last,
The covert where the shade is cast
By nearing immortality.

A man in this world's wisdom wise,
With sneering lip and scoffing eyes,
Drew near, and raised his drooping head,
And asked him wherefore thus he fled
From life's rich glee,
And with the dead
Dwelt drearily.

He answered: “Nature's noblest sons
Are in their graves;
Over our mother's purest ones
The long grass waves.
The dead! The dead are still on earth,
With hearts where no high thought hath birth,
Hearts which love for aye hath fled.
“Why should I live among the dead?”
E'en thou thyself but now hast said.
Life dieth, face to face with death;
The frozen freeze that nobler breath,
The spirit's life;
I leave the spectres to their strife:
Earth's joy! I render them the whole,
And come and dwell among the just,
Not dead—though buried in the dust,—
Alive in soul.
My heart was dead ere I came here;
For every ‘How?’ and every “Why?’
Could rack my breast with doubt and fear;
But here I ceased to die.

This solemn hush hath lulled to rest the sounds of earthly strife,
And that dead dust hath proved the soil of everlasting life!

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