After The Burial



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YES, faith is a goodly anchor;  
  When skies are sweet as a psalm,  
At the bows it lolls so stalwart,  
  In its bluff, broad-shouldered calm.  
And when over breakers to leeward  
  The tattered surges are hurled,  
It may keep our head to the tempest,  
  With its grip on the base of the world.  
But, after the shipwreck, tell me  
  What help in its iron thews,  
Still true to the broken hawser,  
  Deep down among sea-weed and ooze?  
In the breaking gulfs of sorrow,  
  When the helpless feet stretch out  
And find in the deeps of darkness  
  No footing so solid as doubt,  
Then better one spar of Memory,  
  One broken plank of the Past,  
That our human heart may cling to,  
  Though hopeless of shore at last!  
To the spirit its splendid conjectures,  
  To the flesh its sweet despair,  
Its tears o’er the thin-worn locket  
  With its anguish of deathless hair!  
Immortal? I feel it and know it,  
  Who doubts it of such as she?  
But that is the pang’s very secret,—  
  Immortal away from me.  
There ’s a narrow ridge in the graveyard  
  Would scarce stay a child in his race,    
But to me and my thought it is wider  
  Than the star-sown vague of Space.  
Your logic, my friend, is perfect,  
  Your moral most drearily true;  
But, since the earth clashed on her coffin,  
  I keep hearing that, and not you.  
Console if you will, I can bear it;  
  ’T is a well-meant alms of breath;  
But not all the preaching since Adam  
  Has made Death other than Death.  
It is pagan; but wait till you feel it,—  
  That jar of our earth, that dull shock  
When the ploughshare of deeper passion  
  Tears down to our primitive rock.  
Communion in spirit! Forgive me,  
  But I, who am earthly and weak,  
Would give all my incomes from dream-land  
  For a touch of her hand on my cheek.  
That little shoe in the corner,  
  So worn and wrinkled and brown,         
With its emptiness confutes you,  
  And argues your wisdom down.


~ James Russell Lowell

Author: mmartel

"If he's honest, he'll steal; if he's human, he'll murder; if he's faithful, he'll deceive. Being at a loss to resolve these questions, I am resolved to leave them without any resolution." I have so much to say to you that I am afraid I shall tell you nothing."

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