On a Monument in Lichfield Cathedral

This cannot be the sleep of death,
Or sure it must be sweet to die;
So calm, this holy roof beneath,
On such a quiet couch to lie.

Each gently pressing, gently prest,
To slumber in each other's arms;
This shrinking to her sister's breast,
For shelter from all earth's alarms,

With such entire and perfect trust,
That e'en in sleep she seems to say,
“I shall lie safe, I know I must,
My Ellen holds me night and day.”

The other with maturer grace,
In dawn of thoughtful womanhood,
Half upward turns her fair, meek face,
As if an angel o'er her stood.

As calm her brow, as sure her faith,
But more than infants use, she knew
(If right I guess,) of Life, and Death,
Of Death, and Resurrection too.

Already now her ear began
The depths of solemn sound to trace;
The thrilling joys that round her ran
When music fill'd this holy place.

Yon dark-arch'd galleries, high aloof,
The glory and the mystery
Of long-drawn aisle and fretted roof,
Already caught her wondering eye.

And she would gaze, when morning's glow
Through yonder gorgeous panes was streaming,
As if in every niche below
Saints in their glory-robes were gleaming.

To thee, dear maid, each kindly wile
Was known that elder sisters know,
To check the unseasonable smile
With warning hand, and serious brow.

From dream to dream with her to rove,
Like fairy nurse with hermit child:
Teach her to think, to pray, to love,
Make grief less bitter, joy less wild;

These were thy tasks: and who can say,
What visions high, what solemn talk,
What flashes of unearthly day,
Might bless them in their evening walk?

Oft as with arms and hearts entwined
They mused aloud, this twilight hour,
What awful truths high God hath shrined
In every star, and cloud, and flower!

But one day, when the glorious theme
Seem'd but to mock their feeble sight;
As they look'd up from earth's dark dream
To worlds where all is pure and bright,

Strong in the strength of infancy,
In little children's wisdom wise,
They heard a Voice, “Come home to Me
Yours is the kingdom of the skies.”

Their home is won, their simple faith
Is crown'd: in peace behold they lie.
This cannot be the sleep of death,
Or sure it must be sweet to die.

But thou, fond man, whose earth-bound eye,
By sorrow dimm'd, but more by sin,
Thus vainly strains itself to spy
The purer world that liv'd their innocent hearts within;

Back, soldier! to thy daily strife!
The virgin whiteness of thy shield
Is sullied; nor till setting life
Can their enjoyments be to thee reveal'd.

Only this secret take with thee,
And let it calm each murmuring thought,
The blissful rest thou here dost see,
By vigils of deep agony was bought.

And He, whose Blood the purchase made,
Yet guards it. Make His arms thine home.
As soft a veil thine eyes shall shade,
To soothe thy wearied soul as glorious visions come.
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