Life and Death

Look where he lies, a clod of earth at best,
Yet colder than a clod, for where there shone
Life at its noonday now is empty West,
The sun that was his life has come and gone.

Life that so long pursued him like a hawk,
Chivvied and chased him down the windy skies,
Followed his every twisting, turn and balk,
Now baffled, circles up with angry cries.

For him, to live was only not to die,
Like some bewildered beast, that from its lair
Warned out by flames and smoke, yet makes no cry,
Speeds dumbly on, wild eyes and burning hair.

Lost in a world he knew not, nor could know,
Who knew the stars and breathed their finer air,
Who in a sunset only saw the glow,
Blind to Night’s hand behind it. He lies there.

An hour ago he was a living man;
Walked, breathed, and had his being like the rest;
Now he has ceased so utterly. How can
The pulse beat on so smooth in Nature’s breast?

Who was, is not, has ceased; and yet the wheels
Turn on unheeding as an hour ago;
From yonder boughs the joyous thrush still peals,
And never blazed the Spring’s first wild-flowers so.

I said, “What creature is there will befriend
In this wide world things hunted or oppressed?
Death is a midnight slumber without end,
Death and oblivion is the only rest.

Nature a kindly mother? Rather say
A heartless harpy, fickle, and that sings
The while her children suffer.” Bitter grey
My heart was at the sadness of these things.

I dreamed I found a door, and passing through,
Came to a garden cool with walks and trees,
And in a corner heard a voice I knew,
Turned, and saw God, and fell upon my knees.

And there, about his robe’s edge, round his feet,
Sported and gambolled, freely, unafraid,
All the wild timid creatures that here beat
Their frightened wings and, hunted, cry for aid.

Great helpless beasts, and tiny bright-eyed birds,
Things that the world gave nothing but despair,
Found there a haven filled with friendly words,
Joy of the morning, and peace-breathing air.

And sometimes as they sported round His feet,
He laughed, and reached a playful hand to send
Them rolling joyous in the grasses sweet.
And in the midst I sought and found my friend.

School poems

Poems of the Spirit