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BURIAL OF THE DEAD

And when the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. And He came and touched the bier; and they that bare him stood still. And He said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. St. Luke vii. 13, 14.

Who says, the wan autumnal sun

Beams with too faint a smile

To light up nature’s face again,

And, though the year be on this wane,

With thoughts of spring the heart beguile?

Waft him, thou soft September breeze,

And gently lay him down

Within some circling woodland wall,

Where bright leaves, reddening ere they fall,

Wave gaily o’er the waters brown.

And let some graceful arch be there

With wreathed mullions proud,

With burnish’d ivy for its screen,

And moss, that glows as fresh and green

As thought beneath an April cloud. —

Who says the widow’s heart must break,

The childless mother sink? —

A kinder truer voice I hear,

Which e’en beside that mournful bier

Whence parents’ eyes would hopeless shrink,

Bids weep no more — O heart bereft,

How strange, to thee, that sound!

A widow o’er her only son,

Feeling more bitterly alone

For friends that press officious round.

Yet is the voice of comfort heard,

For Christ hath touch’d the bier —

The bearers wait with wondering eye,

The swelling bosom dares not sigh,

But all is still, ’twixt hope and fear.

E’en such an awful soothing calm

We sometimes see alight

On Christian mourners, while they wait

In silence, by some churchyard gate,

Their summons to this holy rite.

And such the tones of love, which break

The stillness of that hour,

Quelling th’ embitter’d spirit’s strife —

“The Resurrection and the Life

Am I: believe, and die no more.”

Unchang’d that voice — and though not yet

The dead sit up and speak,

Answering its call; we gladlier rest

Our darlings on earth’s quiet breast,

And our hearts feel they must not break.

Far better they should sleep awhile

Within the Church’s shade,

Nor wake, until new heaven, new earth,

Meet for their new immortal birth

For their abiding-place be made,

Than wander back to life, and lean

On our frail love once more.

’Tis sweet, as year by year we lose

Friends out of sight, in faith to muse

How grows in Paradise our store.

Then pass, ye mourners, cheerly on,

Through prayer unto the tomb,

Still, as ye watch life’s falling leaf,

Gathering from every loss and grief

Hope of new spring and endless home.

Then cheerly to your work again

With hearts new-brac’d and set

To run, untir’d, love’s blessed race.

As meet for those, who face to face

Over the grave their Lord have met.

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