John Boyle O'Reilly

(28 June 1844 - 10 August 1890 / Dowth Castle, County Meath)

Silence, Not Death - Poem by John Boyle O'Reilly

I START! I have slept for a moment;
I have dreamt, sitting here by her chair—
Oh, how lonely! What was it that touched me?
What presence, what heaven-sent air?

It was nothing, you say. But I tremble!
I heard her, I knew she was near—
Felt her breath, felt her cheek on my forehead—
Awake or asleep, she was here!

It was nothing—a dream? Strike that harp-string;
Again—still again—till it cries
In its uttermost treble—still strike it—
Ha? vibrant but silent! It dies—

It dies, just as she died. Go, listen—
That highest vibration is dumb.
Your sense, friend, too soon finds a limit
And answer, when mysteries come.

Truth speaks in the senseless, the spirit;
But here in this palpable part
We sound the low notes, but are silent
To music sublimed in the heart.

Too few and too gross our dull senses,
And clogged with the mire of the road,
Till we loathe their coarse bondage; as seabirds
Encaged on a cliff, look abroad

On the ocean and limitless heaven,
Alight with the beautiful stars,
And hear what they say, not the creakings
That rise from our sensual bars.

O life, let me dream, let her presence
Be near me, her fragrance, her breath;
Let me sleep, if in slumber the seeking;
Sleep on, if the finding be death.

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Poem Submitted: Monday, May 21, 2012

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