Emma Lazarus

(22 July 1849 – 19 November 1887 / New York City / United States)

Don Rafael


'I would not have,' he said,
'Tears, nor the black pall, nor the wormy grave,
Grief's hideous panoply I would not have
Round me when I am dead.

'Music and flowers and light,
And choric dances to guitar and flute,
Be these around me when my lips are mute,
Mine eyes are sealed from sight.

'So let me lie one day,
One long, eternal day, in sunshine bathed,
In cerements of silken tissue swathed,
Smothered 'neath flowers of May.

'One perfect day of peace,
Or ere clean flame consume my fleshly veil,
My life-a gilded vapor-shall exhale,
Brief as a sigh-and cease.

'But ere the torch be laid
To my unshrinking limbs by some true hand,
Athwart the orange-fragrant laughing land,
Bring many a dark-eyed maid

'From the bright, sea-kissed town;
My beautiful, beloved enemies,
Gemmed as the dew, voluptuous as the breeze,
Each in her festal gown.

'All those through whom I learned
The sweet of folly and the pains of love,
My Rose, my Star, my Comforter, my Dove,
For whom, poor moth, I burned.

'Loves of a day, and hour,
Or passions (vowed eternal) of a year,
Though each be strange to each, to me all dear
As to the bee the flower.

'Around me they shall move
In languid contra dances, and shall shed
Their smiling eyebeams as I were not dead,
But quick to flash back love.

'Something not alien quite
To tender ruth, perchance their breast shall fill,
Seeing him that was so mobile grown so still,
The fiery-veined so white.

'And when the dance is o'er,
The pinched guitar, the smitten tambourine,
Have ceased their rhythmic beat,-oh, friends of mine,
On my rich bier, then pour

'The garlands that ye wear,
The happy rose that on your bosom breathes,
The fresh-culled clusters and the dewy wreaths
That crown your fragrant hair.

'Though blind, I still shall see,
Though dead, shall feel your presence and shall know,
I who was beauty's life-long slave, shall so
Win her in death to me.

'Thanks, sisters, and farewell!
Back to your joys. My brother shall make room
For my tried sword upon the high-piled bloom,
And fire the pinnacle.

'My soul, pure flame, shall leap
To meet its parent essence once again
My body dust and ashes shall remain,
Tired heart and brain shall sleep.

'Life has one gate alone,
Obscure, beset with peril and fierce pain.
Large death has many portals to his fane,
Why choose we to make moan?

'Why dwell with worms and clay
When we may soar through air on wings of flame,
Dissolve to small, white dust our perfect frame,
And never know decay?

'A brother's pious hand
The pure, fire-winnowed ashes shall inurn,
And lay them in the orange grove where burn
Globed suns that scent the land.

'The leaf shall be more green,
Even for my dust-more snowy-soft the flower,
More juicy-sweet the fruit's live pulp-the bower
Richer that I have been.

'For I would not,' he said,
'Tears and the black pall and the wormy grave,
Grief's hideous panoply I would not have
Round me when I am dead.'

Submitted: Friday, April 16, 2010

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