After the Burial

YES, Faith is a goodly anchor;
When skies are sweet as a psalm,
At the bows it lolls so stalwart
In bluff broad-shouldered calm.
And when, over breakers to leeward
The tattered surges are hurled,
It may keep our head to the tempest,
With its grip on the base of the world.
But, after the shipwreck, tell me
What help in its iron thews,
Still true to the broken hawser,
Deep down among sea-weed and ooze ?
In the breaking gulfs of sorrow,
When the helpless feet stretch out,
And find in the deeps of darkness
No footing so solid as doubt,
Then better one spar of memory,
One broken plank of the past,
That our human heart may cling to,
Though hopeless of shore at last !
To the spirit its splendid conjectures,
To the flesh its sweet despair,
Its tears o'er the thin-worn locket
With its beauty of deathless hair !
Immortal ? I feel it and know it ;
Who doubts it of such as she ?
But that is the pang’s very secret, —
Immortal away from me !
There’s a narrow ridge in the graveyard
Would scarce stay a child in his race;
But to me and my thought it is wider
Than the star-sown vague of space.
Your logic, my friend, is perfect,
Your morals most drearily true,
But the earth that stops my darling’s ears
Makes mine insensate too.
Console, if you will; I can bear it ;
’T is a well-meant alms of breath ;
But not all the preaching since Adam
Has made Death other than Death.
Communion in spirit! Forgive me,
But I, who am earthy and weak,
Would give all my incomes from dreamland
For her rose-leaf palm on my cheek !
That little shoe in the corner,
So worn and wrinkled and brown, —
Its motionless hollow confutes you,
And argues your wisdom down.