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

Wilfrid Scawen Blunt 1840–1922

Laughter and Death


THERE is no laughter in the natural world

Of beast or fish or bird, though no sad doubt

Of their futurity to them unfurled

Has dared to check the mirth-compelling shout.

The lion roars his solemn thunder out

To the sleeping woods. The eagle screams her cry.

Even the lark must strain a serious throat

To hurl his blest defiance at the sky.

Fear, anger, jealousy, have found a voice.

Love’s pain or rapture the brute bosoms swell.

Nature has symbols for her nobler joys,

Her nobler sorrows. Who had dared foretell

That only man, by some sad mockery,

Should learn to laugh who learns that he must die?