Beneath a motionless yew

Beneath a motionless yew, and tower,
Hoary with age, whose clock's one bell
Of Sexton Time had hour by hour
As yet in vain rung out the knell,

A worn old woman, in her black,
Knelt in the green churchyard alone;
And, self-forgotten, crook'd arm, bent back,
Scrubbed at her husband's burial stone.

Here lies J—— H——: Aged 34:
“He giveth his beloved sleep”:
Fainter the letters than of yore—
Where lichens had begun to creep—

Showed 'neath the pale-blue vacant sky,
Under that dust-dry shadowiness;
She stayed to read—with a long sigh,
Less of regret than weariness.

Evening's last gleam now tinged the yew;
The gilded hand jerked on; a bird
Made stony rattle; and anew
She scanned the tombstone's every word.

For forty years she had kept her tryst,
And grief long since had ceased to upbraid
Him whose young love she had sorely missed,
And at whose side she would soon be laid.

Tired out, and old; past hope or thought,
She pined no more to meet some day
Her dead; and yet, still faithfully sought
To wash the stains of Time away.
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