The Death of David

King David sleepeth in his fathers' grave —
O for one echo of that deep dirge-strain,
Mourning so well the beautiful and brave,
That rang erewhile o'er Gilboa's royal slain!

O for a murmur as of his own Psalms,
Touching all hearts, like a great wind at play,
That sports with Nature in long ocean calms,
And green earth valleys, all a summer's day.

From his calm face the shadows sharp and strong
Of olden days have pass'd, and left it still;
From his closed lip the last low lingering song,
Like the last echo flung back from a hill,

Has died away; and never, never more,
So bold a hand shall sweep the silver lyre,
So true a tone shall teach to kneel and soar,
So sweet a voice shall lead the saintly choir.

Warrior, and king, and minstrel more renown'd
Than ever touch'd fair fancy's noblest chord,
Saint with a wondrous weight of glory crown'd,
At once the type and prophet of his Lord.

He hath gone down into the shadowy vale —
What though his face with many tears was wet,
Though sin's remorseful cry, though sorrow's wail
Swell'd from that harp to heavenly music set;

Still in that grief we read a deeper sorrow,
The awful mystery of a suffering God,
Still from that sharp, sin-laden cry we borrow
A voice that mourns where our own feet have trod.

What though his warrior-eye might ne'er behold
On green Moriah's side the white stone flower,
For which his red right hand had piled the gold,
Planning God's temple in his happier hour;

Still like a dream before his eye it slept,
Its chambers flooded with a golden glow,
A strange bright place where faintest odours crept
From cedar-flowers eternally in blow.

And he had heard a grander music thrilling
Where needs no temple's marble wall to rise,
Had seen his glorious ritual's fulfilling,
Had known the One sufficient Sacrifice.

And as a mountain on a stormy eve,
After a stormy day, stands dimly shown,
— How many times we saw the grey mist weave
A murky mantle for his crest of stone! —

Now a brief sunset splendour wraps his brow,
A crimson glory on a field of gold,
Yet the wild tide is breaking dark below,
Nor from its shaggy side the cloud has roll'd —

So dim, so beautiful we see thy form,
Conqueror and saint, man sinning and forgiven,
Around thee wrapt earth's shadows and its storm,
With here and there a glimpse of purest heaven.

But the morn breaks, a morning without clouds,
A clear calm shining when the rain is o'er,
He lieth where no mist of earth enshrouds,
In God's own sunlight wrapp'd for evermore.

Psalmist of Israel! sure thou hearest now,
If sweeter strains than thine can ever be,
A sweeter music where the elders bow,
Striking their harps upon the crystal sea.
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