How gracious we are to grant to the dead
Those wide, vague lands in the foreign sky,
Reserving the world for ourselves instead;
For we must live, though others must die!
And what is the world that we keep, I pray t
True, it has glimpses of dews and flowers;
Then youth and love are here and away,
Like mated birds, — but nothing is ours.
Ah, nothing indeed, but we cling to it all. It is nothing to hear one’s own heart beat,
It is nothing to see one’s own tears fall;
Yet surely the breath of our life is sweet.
Yes, the breath of our life is so sweet, I fear
We were loath to give it for all we know
Of that charmed country we hold so dear,
Far into whose beauty the breathless go.
Yet certain we are, when we see them fade
Out of the pleasant light of the sun,
Of the sands of gold in the palm-leaf’s shade,
And the strange, high jewels all these have won.
You dare not doubt it, O soul of mine!
And yet, if these vacant eyes could see
One, only one, from that voyage divine,
With something, anything, sure for me!
Ah, blow me the scent of one lily, to tell
That it grew outside of the world, at most;
Ah, show me a plume to touch, or a shell
That whispers of some unearthly coast!

Mrs. S. M. B. Piatt.