Charles Dickens (7 February 1812 – 9 June 1870 / Landport, Portsea)
Little Nell's Funeral
And now the bell, - the bell
She had so often heard by night and day
And listened to with solemn pleasure,
E'en as a living voice, -
Rung its remorseless toll for her,
So young, so beautiful, so good.
Decrepit age, and vigorous life,
And blooming youth, and helpless infancy,
Poured forth, - on crutches, in the pride of strength
And health, in the full blush
Of promise, the mere dawn of life, -
To gather round her tomb. Old men were there,
Whose eyes were dim
And senses failing, -
Grandames, who might have died ten years ago,
And still been old, - the deaf, the blind, the lame,
The living dead in many shapes and forms,
To see the closing of this early grave.
What was the death it would shut in,
To that which still could crawl and keep above it!
Along the crowded path they bore her now;
Pure as the new fallen snow
That covered it; whose day on earth
Had been as fleeting.
Under that porch, where she had sat when Heaven
In mercy brought her to that peaceful spot,
She passed again, and the old church
Received her in its quiet shade.
They carried her to one old nook,
Where she had many and many a time sat musing,
And laid their burden softly on the pavement.
The light streamed on it through
The colored window, - a window where the boughs
Of trees were ever rustling
In the summer, and where the birds
Sang sweetly all day long.
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