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CCCIX

Why do I sigh to find

Life's evening shadows gathering round my way?

The keen eye dimming, and the buoyant mind

Unhinging day by day?

Is it the natural dread

Of that stern lot, which all who live must see?

The worm, the clay, the dark and narrow bed,--

Have these such awe for me?

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As nears my soul the verge

Of this dim continent of woe and crime,

Shrinks she to hear Eternity's long surge

Break on the shores of Time?

I want not vulgar fame--

I seek not to survive in brass or stone;

Hearts may not kindle when they hear my name,

Nor tears my value own--

But might I leave behind

Some blessing for my fellows, some fair trust

To guide, to cheer, to elevate my kind,

When I was in the dust;--

Within my narrow bed

Might I not wholly mute or useless be;

But hope that they, who trampled o'er my head,

Drew still some good from me;--

Might verse of mine inspire

One virtuous aim, one high resolve impart;

Light in one drooping soul a hallow'd fire,

Or bind one broken heart;--

Death would be sweeter then,

More calm my slumber 'neath the silent sod,--

Might I thus live to bless my fellow-men,

Or glorify my God!

--Why do we ever lose

As judgment ripens, our diviner powers?

Why do we only learn our gifts to use

When they no more are ours?

O Thou! whose touch can lend

Life to the dead, Thy quickening grace supply,

And grant me, swanlike, my last breath to spend

In song that may not die193193See Note!


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