When I Am Gone - Poem by Alfred Austin
When I am gone, I pray you shed
No tears upon the grassy bed
Where that which you have loved is laid
Under the wind-warped yew-tree's shade.
And let no sombre pomp prepare
My unreturning journey there,
Nor wailing words nor dirges deep
Disturb the quiet of my sleep;
But tender maidens, robed in white,
Who have not yet forgotten quite
The love I sought, the love I gave,
Be the sole mourners round my grave.
And neither then, nor after, raise
The bust of pride, the slab of praise,
To him who, having sinned and striven,
Now only asks to be forgiven,
That he is gone.
When I am gone, you must not deem
That I am severed, as I seem,
From all that still enchains you here,
Throughout the long revolving year.
When, as to Winter's barren shore
The tides of Spring return once more,
And, wakened by their flashing showers,
The woodland foams afresh with flowers,
You sally forth and ramble wide,
I shall walk silent at your side,
Shall watch your mirth, shall catch your smile,
Shall wander with you all the while,
And, as in many a bygone Spring,
Hear cuckoo call and ousel sing.
And, when you homeward wend, along
A land all blithe with bleat and song,
Where lambs that skip and larks that soar
Make this old world seem young once more,
And with the wildwood flowers that fill
Your April laps deck shelf and sill,
I shall be there to guide your hand,
And you will surely understand
I am not gone.
When Summer leans on Autumn's arm,
And warm round grange and red-roofed farm
Is piled the wain and thatched the stack,
And swallows troop and fieldfares pack;
When round rough trunk and knotted root
Lies thick the freshly-fallen fruit,
And 'mong the orchard aisles you muse
On what we gain, on what we lose,
Now vernal cares no more annoy,
And wisdom takes the place of joy,
I shall be there, as in past years,
To share your steps, to dry your tears,
To note how Autumn days have brought
Feelings mature and mellow thought,
The fruitful grief for others' smart,
The ripeness of a human heart.
And, when the winds wax rude and loud,
And Winter weaves the stark year's shroud,
As round the flickering household blaze
You sit and talk of vanished days,
Of parent, friend, no longer nigh,
And loves that in the churchyard lie,
And lips grow weak, and lids grow wet,
Then, then, I shall be with you yet,
Though I seem gone.
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