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If anybody's friend be dead,
It 's sharpest of the theme
The thinking how they walked alive,
At such and such a time.
Their costume, of a Sunday,
Some manner of the hair, --
A prank nobody knew but them,
Lost, in the sepulchre.
How warm they were on such a day:
You almost feel the date,
So short way off it seems; and now,
They 're centuries from that.

And then, to go to sleep;
And then, if it should be
The will of its Inquisitor,
The liberty to die.
A precious, mouldering pleasure 't is
To meet an antique book,
In just the dress his century wore;
A privilege, I think,
His venerable hand to take,
And warming in our own,
A passage back, or two, to make
To times when he was young.

The smallest housewife in the grass,
Yet take her from the lawn,
And somebody has lost the face
That made existence home!
Death is a dialogue between
The spirit and the dust.
"Dissolve," says Death. The Spirit, "Sir,
I have another trust."

Past bows and invitations,
Past interview, and vow,
Past what ourselves can estimate, --
That makes the quick of woe!
Our journey had advanced;
Our feet were almost come
To that odd fork in Being's road,
Eternity by term.

How excellent the heaven,
When earth cannot be had;
How hospitable, then, the face
Of our old neighbor, God!
When I was small, a woman died.
To-day her only boy
Went up from the Potomac,
His face all victory,

That others could exist
While she must finish quite,
A jealousy for her arose
So nearly infinite.
We waited while she passed;
It was a narrow time,
Too jostled were our souls to speak,
At length the notice came.

And what a privilege to be
But the remotest star!
For certainly her way might pass
Beside your twinkling door.
Her bonnet is the firmament,
The universe her shoe,
The stars the trinkets at her belt,
Her dimities of blue.

What fortitude the soul contains,
That it can so endure
The accent of a coming foot,
The opening of a door!
Doubt me, my dim companion!
Why, God would be content
With but a fraction of the love
Poured thee without a stint.
The whole of me, forever,
What more the woman can, --
Say quick, that I may dower thee
With last delight I own!

I willed my keepsakes, signed away
What portion of me I
Could make assignable, -- and then
There interposed a fly,
With blue, uncertain, stumbling buzz,
Between the light and me;
And then the windows failed, and then
I could not see to see.

If anybody's friend be dead,
It 's sharpest of the theme
The thinking how they walked alive,
At such and such a time.
Their costume, of a Sunday,
Some manner of the hair, --
A prank nobody knew but them,
Lost, in the sepulchre.
How warm they were on such a day:
You almost feel the date,
So short way off it seems; and now,
They 're centuries from that.

Futile the winds
To a heart in port, --
Done with the compass,
Done with the chart.
Rowing in Eden!
Ah! the sea!
Might I but moor
To-night in thee!

Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.
We slowly drove, he knew no haste,
And I had put away
My labor, and my leisure too,
For his civility.
We passed the school where children played,
Their lessons scarcely done;
We passed the fields of gazing grain,
We passed the setting sun.

'T is vegetation's juggler,
The germ of alibi;
Doth like a bubble antedate,
And like a bubble hie.
I feel as if the grass were pleased
To have it intermit;
The surreptitious scion
Of summer's circumspect.

His labor is a chant,
His idleness a tune;
Oh, for a bee's experience
Of clovers and of noon!
Presentiment is that long shadow on the lawn
Indicative that suns go down;
The notice to the startled grass
That darkness is about to pass.

Prayer is the little implement
Through which men reach
Where presence is denied them.
They fling their speech
By means of it in God's ear;
If then He hear,
This sums the apparatus
Comprised in prayer.
I know that he exists
Somewhere, in silence.
He has hid his rare life
From our gross eyes.
'T is an instant's play,
'T is a fond ambush,
Just to make bliss
Earn her own surprise!

So safer, guess, with just my soul
Upon the window-pane
Where other creatures put their eyes,
Incautious of the sun.
Talk with prudence to a beggar
Of 'Potosi' and the mines!
Reverently to the hungry
Of your viands and your wines!
Cautious, hint to any captive
You have passed enfranchised feet!
Anecdotes of air in dungeons
Have sometimes proved deadly sweet!

We never know we go, -- when we are going
We jest and shut the door;
Fate following behind us bolts it,
And we accost no more.
It struck me every day
The lightning was as new
As if the cloud that instant slit
And let the fire through.
It burned me in the night,
It blistered in my dream;
It sickened fresh upon my sight
With every morning's beam.

The pillow of this daring head
Is pungent evergreens;
His larder -- terse and militant --
Unknown, refreshing things;
His character a tonic,
His future a dispute;
Unfair an immortality
That leaves this neighbor out.

The grass divides as with a comb,
A spotted shaft is seen;
And then it closes at your feet
And opens further on.
He likes a boggy acre,
A floor too cool for corn.
Yet when a child, and barefoot,
I more than once, at morn,

I'll fetch thee brooks
From spotted nooks, --
Say, sea,
Take me!

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