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The Limit of Lands

Between the circling ocean sea
And the poplars of Persephone
There lies a strip of barren sand,
Flecked with the sea's last spray, and strown
With waste leaves of the poplars, blown
From gardens of the shadow land.

With altars of old sacrifice
The shore is set, in mournful wise
The mists upon the ocean brood;
Between the water and the air
The clouds are born that float and fare
Between the water and the wood.

Upon the grey sea never sail
Of mortals passed within our hail,
Where the last weak waves faint and flow;
We heard within the poplar pale
The murmur of a doubtful wail
Of voices loved so long ago.

We scarce had care to die or live,
We had no honey cake to give,
No wine of sacrifice to shed;
There lies no new path over sea,
And now we know how faint they be,
The feasts and voices of the dead.

Ah, flowers and dance! ah, sun and snow!
Glad life, sad life we did forego
To dream of quietness and rest;
Ah, would the fleet sweet roses here
Poured light and perfume through the drear
Pale year, and wan land of the west.

Sad youth, that let the spring go by
Because the spring is swift to fly,
Sad youth, that feared to mourn or love,
Behold how sadder far is this,
To know that rest is nowise bliss,
And darkness is the end thereof.


Andrew Lang