Beatrice Redpath

(-1937 / Quebec)

To One Lying Dead - Poem by Beatrice Redpath

Strange that thou liest so, void of all will
For loving; so content with thy long sleep
That neither word nor sound may stir the still
Calm quiet of the dream that thou dost keep.

Pale now the cherished contour of thy face,
Thy lids lie heavy 'gainst the ache of light,
And hold in their wan stillness ne'er a trace
Of waking from the shadow of thy night.

Languid thy tender feet unsandalled rest,
Wearied of passage o'er the furrowed earth;
They say thou art gone forth upon thy quest
Seeking a greater fullness of rebirth.

Yet all that I have ever known of thee
Lies here. What has gone out from thee this hour
That leaveth thee, unstirred by word from me,
Low lying, like a fallen scentless flower?

Hadst thou a soul which through the drifting years
My earth-bound vision was too dull to see?
And didst thou know the weight of unshed tears?
Hadst thou a spirit straining to be free?

A heart that knew regret and all desire,
And envy and that malice men call hate,
And saw with fear the slow consuming fire
Of life, and learned to be compassionate?

Then all of this was what I knew not of,
Thou wert but loveliness made manifest,
And wore the garment fashioned of my love
So fittingly that I ignored the rest.

Shall all of thee that I have ever known
Become as dust the sun shines not upon?
I did not know thy soul so strangely flown,
So may not find thee where thou now art gone.

Then let me kneel thus worshipping and see–
Thee whom I love, still lying as thou art,
That I may ever keep long dreams of thee
And hold thine image close within my heart.

So shall I look upon thy face so fair,
And thy sealed lids which sleep doth seem to please,
Thy mouth's pale blossom and thy fallen hair,
Where heavy shadows lie at pleasant ease.

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, May 10, 2012

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