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Death

When, like a garment flung aside at night,
This body lies, or sculpture of cold rest;
When through its shaded windows comes no light,
And the white hands are folded on its breast;

How will it be with Me, its tenant now?
How shall I feel when first I wander out?
How look on tears from loved eyes falling? How
Look forth upon dim mysteries round about?

Shall I go forth, slow-floating like a mist,
Over the city with its crowded walls?
Over the trees and meadows where I list?
Over the mountains and their ceaseless falls?

Over the red cliffs and fantastic rocks;
Over the sea, far-down, fleeting away;
White sea-birds shining, and the billowy shocks
Heaving unheard their shore-besieging spray?

Or will a veil, o'er all material things
Slow-falling; hide them from the spirit's sight;
Even as the veil which the sun's radiance flings
O'er stars that had been shining all the night?

And will the spirit be entranced, alone,
Like one in an exalted opium-dream--
Time space, and all their varied dwellers gone;
And sunlight vanished, and all things that seem;

Thought only waking; thought that doth not own
The lapse of ages, or the change of place;
Thought, in which only that which is, is known;
The substance here, the form confined to space?

Or as a child that sobs itself to sleep,
Wearied with labour which the grown call play,
Waking in smiles as soon as morn doth peep,
Springs up to labour all the joyous day,

Shall we lie down, weary; and sleep, until
Our souls be cleansed by long and dreamless rest;
Till of repose we drink our thirsting fill,
And wake all peaceful, smiling, pure, and blest?

I know not--only know one needful thing:
God is; I shall be ever in His view;
I only need strength for the travailing,
Will for the work Thou givest me to do.



George MacDonald