John Bowring

(1792-1872 / England)

Evening Thoughts On Death - Poem by John Bowring

The good man dies-it grieves us:
Why should the good man die?
He dies-but, dying, leaves us
A lasting legacy.
And this becomes our comforter;
And sweeter is the thought
Of him who is departed,
Than all that death has left:
No longer, broken-hearted,
Deem that thou art bereft;
For, O! the good man's memory
Is sweeter far than aught.

No sorrows now disturb him,
No disappointment there;
No worldly pride to curb him
In his sublime career:
Heaven's azure arch is over him,
Earth's tranquil breast beneath;
The stars are brightly glowing,
The breezes play around,
The flowers are sweetly blowing,
The dew is on the ground,
And emerald mosses cover him-
How beautiful is death!

His life-a summer's even,
Whose sun of life, tho' set
Amidst the clouds of heaven,
Leaves streams of brightness yet;
And thus he sinks victoriously
Into his ocean throne:
Then darkness gathers round him-
'Tis but a night:-again
He bursts the chains that bound him,
He rises from the main,
And marches heavenward gloriously
In splendours of his own.

Yon gems so sweetly sparkling
On heaven's cerulean deep,
What time the twilight darkling
Brings nature's hours of sleep,
Are perhaps the bright receptacles
Of disembodied souls:
Of souls that, long desiring
Some more than mortal joy,
Burst in their proud aspiring,
And fix themselves on high;
And on this earth look tenderly,
That low beneath them rolls.

Yes! in those orbs of glory
Methinks I see the ray
Which wisdom's sages hoary
Have scatter'd o'er my way,
With brighter wisdom perfected,
All strength-all purity.
In yonder gentle star-light
I see the holy tear,
Glistening in fair tho' far light,
Which once consoled me here-
Till I was left in wretchedness,
And none to weep with me.

Roll on, fair worlds! and over
Earth's vale your torches blend:
In each my thoughts discover
Smiles of some cherish'd friend,
Whose melancholy pilgrimage
Wearies the heart no more.
O yes! I hear their voices,
O yes! their forms I see;
And then my soul rejoices,
And, raptured, seems to be
Their momentary visitant;
But soon the dream is o'er.

I'll build a fane elysian
Among those towers divine,
And there in hallow'd vision,
When gloomy thoughts are mine,
Will soar in glowing ecstasy-
There shall my joys be stored;
And there my soul, reposing
On contemplation's breast,
When earthly scenes are closing,
Shall find a place of rest,
And leave this lowly solitude

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, September 21, 2010

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