At Alfred De Musset's Grave: November 2, 1882. Le Jour Des Morts

POET of youth! when first I hither came
To this cold, silent garden of the dead,
Above an ebbing sea of blood and flame
Thy humbled country scarce could raise her head.
Pale-visaged, sable forms, in order long,
Among thy leafless paths moved to and fro,
As wan and voiceless as the phantom throng
That haunt the hopeless nether shores of woe.
Their footsteps sounded far away and still,
They hushed their sobs above the trodden clay
Where, healed of every mortal wound and ill,
Their best beloved in endless furlough lay.
Yet freshest wreaths thy mausoleum crowned,
The marble gleaming pallid through the bloom,
So thickly strewn the stranger hardly found
To add his offering a span of room.
Supreme fidelity! With tears undried
From new-made graves of sons in battle slain,
Thy sorrow-stricken country turned aside
To scatter flowers where thou so long hadst lain.
Ten years have gone. Again thy resting-place
I seek from distant shores with pilgrim tread,
And bring the buds of vanished spring to grace
The sweet commemoration of the dead.
Alas! thy sepulchre is almost bare;
Naught but a bunch of crimson roses, wet
With tear-drops of the sad November air, —
The gift, perhaps, of some poor Bernerette.
Can all be dead to-day who loved thee then,
Are none to cherish thee hereafter born ?
Has sorrow fled the barren homes of men,
Has even grief forgotten how to mourn ?
Has France the voice forgotten that so long
Rang vibrant through her moods with changeful tone ?
Dear chosen child of passion, wit, and song,
Say, does the Muse herself forget her own ?
Should yet another decade see me pass,
Were mine the only worship to return,
The only footprints on the rimy grass,
The only token laid upon thine urn ?
Not so ! While fire shall slumber in the flint,
While living wells from earth unbidden spring,
While nights of May shall blossom without stint,
And nightingales untaught their cadence sing;
Till human bosoms shall have ceased to thrill,
Till human pulses shall no longer throb,
The hand of Spring will crown thy marble still,
The heart of youth must still repeat thy sob.