Sunday, May 11, 2014

"Lines Suggested by Reading the Report of the Committee for the New Cemetery" (1842)




Tis a beautiful thought that we bury the dead,

Where the forest tree waves its green boughs overhead;

Where the lengthening dell, and the shadowy grove,

Seem made for pure spirits to mingle in love.

Where the summer-bird's song, and the murmuring rill

Are the [?] that rise over valley and hill;

Where [?] are sighing in evergreen bowers,

And hill-side and valley are fragrant with flowers.

Where the dew-drops are pure as the tears that are shed,

By the angels that weep o'er the penitent's head;

And the water that mirrors the blue arch above,

Is an emblem of Heaven's unchangeable love.

Who would that afar on some desolate spot,

A loved one should moulder alone and forgot?

Where the grass by the footprint of love is unstirred,

And the voices of kindred may never be heard.

Who would that the form which had been to his eye,

As the well in the desert, the bow in the sky,

Should sleep where the wild beast had made him his lair,

Or the night raven flaps his broad wing on the air?

The grace is the portal to regions of day,

Where the spirit may cast off its cumbering clay;

And soar all unfettered, and free as the wind;

And leave this dark world and its sorrows behind.

Then why should we shroud it in sadness and gloom?

Why plant the lone cypress, where roses should bloom?

Why must anguish and misery shadow it round;

And fear, with wild fancy and darkness, be found?

Oh no! let it bloom like the valley of rest,

That in Hebron's far land was by Abraham blest:

Where apart from the noise and the tumult of earth,

He buried the form that had gladdened his hearth.

Like the garden of Eden, so lovely it stood,

With hill-side and valley, with fountain and wood;

Where Art strove with Nature in beauty to vie,

And Earth borrowed the hues that were meant for the Sky.

Here slept the good Abraham, and oft on the sight

Of Jacob it came like a vision of light,

When an exile in Egypt be yielded to death

And sighed one fond wish with his faltering breath:

"Oh! bury me only with those dear on earth,

Who living have shared in my sorrow and mirth,

For the clods of the valley more gently shall rest,

If the hand that I love place them light on my breast."

Whence come those warm wishes that cling round the soul,

That reason, proud reason, could never controul?

From our Maker they came, and will only depart,

When the life-blood shall circle no more round the heart.

        Albany Female Academy, April 6, 1842.

Albany Argus. April 22, 1842: 1 col 7.

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