When men go down to the sea in ships,
‘Tis not to the sea they go;
Some isle or pole the mariners’ goal,
And thither they sail through calm and gale,
When down to the sea they go.
When souls go down to the sea by ship,
And the dark ship’s name is Death,
Why mourn and wail at the vanishing sail?
Though outward bound, God’s world is round,
And only a ship is Death.
When I go down to the sea by ship,
And Death unfurls her sail,
Weep not for me, for there will be
A living host on another coast
To beckon and cry, “All hail!”
Do not fear
And do not grieve for me,
I shall not die:
I am like the forest oak
That summer suns have seasoned;
My body will be a little heap of ash
Upon the hearth,
But I shall rise in flame,
In flame that leaps and soars
And seeks the stars.
Do not fear
And do not weep, my dear,
When Death stoops down to light the fire.
~Jean Grigsby Paxton~
Each, in himself, his hour to be and cease
Endures alone, but who of men shall dare,
Sole with himself, his single burden bear,
All the long day until the night’s release?
Yet ere night falls, and the last shadows close,
This labour of himself is each man’s lot;
All he has gained on earth shall be forgot,
Himself he leaves behind him when he goes.
If he has any valiancy within,
If he has made his life his very own,
If he has loved or laboured, and has known
A strenuous virtue, or a strenuous sin;
Then, being dead, his life was not all vain,
For he has saved what most desire to lose,
And he has chosen what the few must choose,
Since life, once lived, shall not return again.
For of our time we lose so large a part
In serious trifles, and so oft let slip
The wine of every moment, at the lip
Its moment, and the moment of the heart.
We are awake so little on the earth,
And we shall sleep so long, and rise so late,
If there is any knocking at that gate
Which is the gate of death, the gate of birth.
Leaf after leaf drops off, flower after flower,
Some in the chill, some in the warmer hour:
Alike they flourish and alike they fall,
And Earth who nourisht them receives them all.
Should we, her wiser sons, be less content
To sink into her lap when life is spent?
~ Walter Savage Landor~
I shall go out when the light comes in—
There lie my cast-off form and face;
I shall pass Dawn on her way to earth,
As I seek for a path through space.
I shall go out when the light comes in;
Would I might take one ray with me!
It is blackest night between the worlds,
And how is a soul to see?
~Anne Reeve Aldrich~
If this is all – one little ball
Of transitory Earth,
And we must fall, at Death’s last call,
Like apples—no more worth;
Why do the stars make pathways for my eyes,
The moon with melody fill all the skies,
Creation’s anthem peal for each sunrise –
If our Earth ball is all?
If Life is meat and only meat,
For one swift day—then Night,
And I must eat my morsel sweet,
E’er fades its fitful light;
What means this surge within like mystic leaven,
Why do my hungers reach from hell to heaven,
My soul range universes seven times seven,
If Life is only meat?
Various the roads of life; in one
All terminate, one lonely way.
We go; and “Is he gone?”
Is all our best friends say.
~Walter Savage Landor~
In after days when grasses high
O’ertop the stone where I shall lie,
Though ill or well the world adjust
My slender claim to honored dust,
I shall not question nor reply.
I shall not see the morning sky;
I shall not hear the night-wind sigh;
I shall be mute, as all men must
In after days!
But yet, now living, fain were I
That some one then should testify,
Saying – “He held his pen in trust
To Art, not serving shame or lust.”
Will none? – Then let my memory die
In after days!
Seems I missed World Poetry Day on March 21st…
I am Yesterday.
I am gone from you forever.
I am the last of a long procession of days, streaming behind you, away from you, pouring into mist and obscurity, and at last into the ocean of oblivion.
I depart from you, yet am I ever with you.
Once I was called Tomorrow and was virgin pure; then I became your spouse and was named Today; now I am Yesterday and carry upon me the eternal stain of your embrace.
I am one of the leaves of a growing book. There are many pages before me.
Someday you shall turn us all over and read us and know what you are.
I am rich, for I have wisdom.
I bore you a child and left him with you. His name is Experience.
I am Yesterday; yet I am the same as Today and Forever for I AM YOU; and you cannot escape from yourself.
In ancient times the hungry gods,
Imaged in wood or stone,
Enjoyed a living sacrifice
Of human flesh or bone.
Today the gods, more subtle, lurk
Where wheels and motors roar,
Though still the living sacrifice
Is offered as before.
~Stanton A. Coblents~