Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

(27 February 1807 – 24 March 1882 / Portland, Maine)

The Soul's Complaint Against The Body. (From The Anglo-Saxon)


Much it behoveth
Each one of mortals,
That he his soul's journey
In himself ponder,
How deep it may be.
When Death cometh,
The bonds he breaketh
By which were united
The soul and the body.

Long it is thenceforth
Ere the soul taketh
From God himself
Its woe or its weal;
As in the world erst,
Even in its earth-vessel,
It wrought before.

The soul shall come
Wailing with loud voice,
After a sennight,
The soul, to find
The body
That it erst dwelt in;--
Three hundred winters,
Unless ere that worketh
The Eternal Lord,
The Almighty God,
The end of the world.

Crieth then, so care-worn,
With cold utterance,
And speaketh grimly,
The ghost to the dust:
'Dry dust! thou dreary one!
How little didst thou labor for me!
In the foulness of earth
Thou all wearest away
Like to the loam!
Little didst thou think
How thy soul's journey
Would be thereafter,
When from the body
It should be led forth.'

Submitted: Tuesday, March 30, 2010

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