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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

William Sidney Walker 1795–1846

Death’s Alchemy

THEY say that thou wert lovely on thy bier,

More lovely than in life; that when the thrall

Of earth was loos’d, it seem’d as though a pall

Of years were lifted, and thou didst appear

Such as of old amidst thy home’s calm sphere

Thou sat’st, a kindly Presence felt by all

In joy or grief, from morn to evening-fall,

The peaceful Genius of that mansion dear.

Was it the craft of all-persuading Love

That wrought this marvel? or is Death in-deed

A mighty master, gifted from above

With alchemy benign, to wounded hearts

Minist’ring thus, by quaint and subtle arts,

Strange comfort, whereon after-thought may feed?