W.K.C.--3rd MARCH, 1879.
'A free man thinks of nothing so little as of death; and his wisdom is a meditation, not of death, but of life.' --Spinoza.
'DRAW back the curtain, wife,' he said;
And, dying, raised his feeble head,
As all his gathered soul leaped sheer
Into his waning eyes, and yearned
After the journeying sun which turned
Towards that other hemisphere.
Then, as its incandescent bulk
Sank slowly, like the foundering hulk
Of some lone burning ship at sea,
His life set with it--bright as brief--
In that invincible belief
Of Man's august supremacy.
Truth's vanward hero! Calmly brave
Fronting the dumb unfathomed grave
With unintimidated eyes;
Though not for him, beyond its night,
Resuscitated Hope alight
Prescient, on peaks of Paradise.
And like some solemn parting word
From one belovèd friend on board
Bound for some undiscovered shore,
To one who stands with straining gaze
To catch the last look of a face
Which he may see, ah never more--
So, ere he drifted to the deep
Unknowable, the utter sleep,
Out, out beyond life's harbour bar,
He whispered, 'Perfect! no one knows
How perfect!' and his eyes did close
Even like a sun-extinguished star.
His eyes did close: I held his hand:
I loved, so came to understand
The inmost working of his mind;
Yea, in that clasp, I know not how,
Did not his life of life then flow
Through mine, while mine was left behind?
I know not how, and yet it seems
As in some prank of shifting dreams,
That it was I who died, not he:
And then again, I know not how,
I feel new powers upheave and glow,
And all his life that stirs in me.
I am no longer what I was;
My nature is the pictured glass,
Where he who lived lives on and on;
All ye who loved him, ye may see
His spirits still investing me,
As moonlight but reflects the sun.
For ever deepening grows his sway:
A voice cries in me night and day:
'He'll never die to me, his wife;
In our strong love death hath no part;
I hold and fold him in my heart--
There he shall live while I have life.'
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