The Great Misgiving

" NOT ours, " say some, " the thought of death to dread;
Asking no heaven, we fear no fabled hell:
Life is a feast, and we have banqueted —
Shall not the worms as well?

" The after-silence, when the feast is o'er,
And void the places where the minstrels stood,
Differs in nought from what hath been before,
And is nor ill nor good. "

Ah, but the Apparition — the dumb sign —
The beckoning finger bidding me forgo
The fellowship, the converse, and the wine,
The songs, the festal glow!

And ah, to know not, while with friends I sit,
And while the purple joy is passed about,
Whether 'tis ampler day divinelier lit
Or homeless night without;

And whether, stepping forth, my soul shall see
New prospects, or fall sheer — a blinded thing!
There is, O grave, thy hourly victory,
And there, O death, thy sting.
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