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E have watched him to the last;

We have seen the dreaded king

Smile pacific as he past By that couch of suffering: Wrinkles of aggressive years, Channels of unwitnessed tears, Furrows on the anxious brow, All are smooth as childhood's now Death, as seen by men in dreams, Something stern and cruel seems— But his face is not the same When he comes into the room, Takes the hand and names the name, Seals the eyes with tender gloom,

REQUIESCAT IN PACE.

57

Saying: “Blessed are the laws
To which all God's creatures bend :
Mortal! fear me not, because
Thine inevitable friend !”

So, when all the limbs were still,
Moved no more by sense or will,
Reverent hands the body laid
In the church's pitying shade,
With the pious rites that fall
Like the rain-drops upon all.
What could man refuse or grant
The spiritual inhabitant,
Who so long had ruled within
With
power

to sin or not to sin ?
Nothing. Hope, and hope alone,
Mates with death. Upon a stone
Let the simple name be writ,
Traced

the infant's front Years ago : and under it, As with Christian folk is wont, “Requiescat," or may be Symbol letters, R. I. P.

upon

58

REQUIESCAT IN PACE.

Rest is happy, rest is right,
Rest is precious in God's sight.
But if he who lies below,
Out of an abundant heart
Drawing remedies for woe,
Never wearied to impart
Blessings to his fellow-men;
If he never rested then,
But each harvest gathered seed
For the future word and deed,
And the darkness of his kind
Filled him with such endless ruth,
That the very light of truth
Pain'd him walking 'mid the blind,-
How, when some transcendent change
Gives his being boundless range,
When he knows not time or space,
In the nearness of God's face,
In the world of spirits how
Shall that soul be resting now?
While one creature is unblest,
How can such as he have rest ?
“ Rest in peace,” the legend runs ;
Rest is sweet to Adam's sons.

REQUIESCAT IN PACE.

59

But can he, whose busy brain
Worked within this hollow skull,
Now his zeal for truth restrain,
Now his subtle fancy dull,
When he wanders spirit-free,
Young in his immortality ?
While on earth he only bore
Life as it was linked with loro,
And the infinite increase
of knowledge was his only peace :
Till that knowledge he possest,
How can such a mind have rest ?

feet;

Rest is happy, rest is meet
For well-worn and weary
Surely not for him, on whom
Ponderous stands the pompous tomb,
Prompt to blind the future's eyes
With gilt deceit and blazoned lies :
Him who never used his powers
To speed for good the waiting hours,-
Made none wiser for his seeing,
Made none better for his being-

60

REQUIESCAT IN PACE.

Closed his eyes. lest others' woes
Should disturb his base repose-
Catching at each selfish zest;
How can he have right to rest ?
Rather we would deem him driven
Anywhere in search of heaven,
Failing ever in the quest,
Till he learns it is not given
That man should by himself be blest.

*

*

*

Here we struggle with the light,-
And, when comes that fated night,
Into Nature's lap we fall,
Like tired children, one and all.
Day and Labour, Night and Rest,
Come together in our mind,
And we image forth the Blest
To eternal calm resigned :
Yet it may be that the abyss
Of the lost is only this-
That for them all things to come
Are inanimate and dumb,
And immortal life they steep
In dishonourable sleep:

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