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William Watson

(1858-1935 / England)

The Great Misgiving


'NOT ours,' say some, 'the thought of death to dread;
   Asking no heaven, we fear no fabled hell:
Life is a feast, and we have banqueted--
   Shall not the worms as well?

'The after-silence, when the feast is o'er,
   And void the places where the minstrels stood,
Differs in nought from what hath been before,
   And is nor ill nor good.'

Ah, but the Apparition--the dumb sign--
   The beckoning finger bidding me forgo
The fellowship, the converse, and the wine,
   The songs, the festal glow!

And ah, to know not, while with friends I sit,
   And while the purple joy is pass'd about,
Whether 'tis ampler day divinelier lit
   Or homeless night without;

And whether, stepping forth, my soul shall see
   New prospects, or fall sheer--a blinded thing!
There is, O grave, thy hourly victory,
   And there, O death, thy sting.

Submitted: Saturday, January 04, 2003

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