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Methought I saw
Life swiftly treading over endless space ;
And, at her foot-print, but a bygone pace,
The ocean-past, which, with increasing wave,
Swallow'd her steps like a pursuing grave.
Sad were my thoughts that anchor'd silently
On the dead waters of that passionless sea,
Unstirr'd by any touch of living breath:
Silence hung over it, and drowsy Death,
Like a gorged sea-bird, slept with folded wings
On crowded carcases sad passive things
That wore the thin grey surface, like a veil
Over the calmness of their features pale.
And there were spring-faced cherubs that did sleep Like water-lilies on that motionless deep,
How beautiful ! with bright unruffled hair
On sleek unfretted brows, and eyes that were
Buried in marble tombs, a pale eclipse !
And smile-bedimpled cheeks, and pleasant lips,
Meekly apart, as if the soul intense
Spake out in dreams of its own innocence :
And so they lay in loveliness, and kept
The birth-night of their peace, that Life e'en wept
With very envy of their happy fronts ;
For there were neighbour brows scarr'd by the brunts
Of strife and sorrowing — where Care had set
His crooked autograph, and marr'd the jet
Of glossy locks, with hollow eyes forlorn,
And lips that curl'd in bitterness and scorn
Wretched, -as they had breathed of this world's pain,
And so bequeath'd it to the world again
Through the beholder's heart in heavy sighs.
So lay they garmented in torpid light,
Under the pall of a transparent night,
Like solemn apparitions lulld sublime
To everlasting rest, — and with them Time
Slept, as he sleeps upon the silent face
Of a dark dial in a sunless place.
She's up and gone, the graceless Girl!
And robb'd my failing years ; My blood before was thin and cold
But now 'tis turn'd to tears ;
My shadow falls upon my grave,
So near the brink I stand,
She might have staid a little yet,
And led me by the hand !
Aye, call her on the barren moor,
And call her on the hill,
'Tis nothing but the heron's cry,
And plovers answer shrill ;
My child is flown on wilder wings,
Than they have ever spread,
And I may even walk a waste
That widen'd when she fled.
Full many a thankless child has been,
But never one like mine ; Her meat was served on plates of gold,
Her drink was rosy wine; But now she'll share the robin's food,
And sup the common rill, Before her feet will turn again
To meet her father's will !
The house where I was born,
The little window where the sun
Came peeping in at morn;
He never came a wink too soon,
Nor brought too long a day,
But now, I often wish the night
Had borne my breath away!
I remember, I remember,
The roses, red and white,
The vi'lets, and the lily-cups,
Those flowers made of light!
The lilacs where the robin built,
And where my brother set
The liburnam on his birth-day, -
The tree is living yet!