James Russell Lowell

(22 February 1819 – 12 August 1891 / Cambridge, Massachusetts)

A Requiem - Poem by James Russell Lowell

Ay, pale and silent maiden,
Cold as thou liest there,
Thine was the sunniest nature
That ever drew the air;
The wildest and most wayward,
And yet so gently kind,
Thou seemedst but to body
A breath of summer wind.

Into the eternal shadow
That girds our life around,
Into the infinite silence
Wherewith Death's shore is bound,
Thou hast gone forth, beloved!
And I were mean to weep,
That thou hast left Life's shallows
And dost possess the Deep.

Thou liest low and silent,
Thy heart is cold and still.
Thine eyes are shut forever,
And Death hath had his will;
He loved and would have taken;
I loved and would have kept.
We strove,-and he was stronger,
And I have never wept.

Let him possess thy body,
Thy soul is still with me,
More sunny and more gladsome
Than it was wont to be:
Thy body was a fetter
That bound me to the flesh,
Thank God that it is broken,
And now I live afresh!

Now I can see thee clearly;
The dusky cloud of clay,
That hid thy starry spirit,
Is rent and blown away:
To earth I give thy body,
Thy spirit to the sky,
I saw its bright wings growing,
And knew that thou must fly.

Now I can love thee truly,
For nothing comes between
The senses and the spirit,
The seen and the unseen;
Lifts the eternal shadow,
The silence bursts apart,
And the soul's boundless future
Is present in my heart.

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, May 10, 2012

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