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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). An American Anthology, 1787–1900. 1900.

By Clarence ChathamCook

514 On One Who Died in May

WHY, Death, what dost thou here,

This time o’ year?

Peach-blow and apple-blossom;

Clouds, white as my love’s bosom;

Warm wind o’ the west

Cradling the robin’s nest;

Young meadows hasting their green laps to fill

With golden dandelion and daffodil:

These are fit sights for spring;

But, oh, thou hateful thing,

What dost thou here?

Why, Death, what dost thou here,

This time o’ year?

Fair, at the old oak’s knee.

The young anemone;

Fair, the plash places set

With dog-tooth violet;

The first sloop-sail,

The shad-flower pale;

Sweet are all sights,

Sweet are all sounds of spring;

But thou, thou ugly thing,

What dost thou here?

Dark Death let fall a tear.

Why am I here?

Oh, heart ungrateful! Will man never know

I am his friend, nor ever was his foe?

Whose the sweet season, if it be not mine?

Mine, not the bobolinks, that song divine,

Chasing the shadows o’er the flying wheat!

’T is a dead voice, not his, that sounds so sweet.

Whose passionate heart burns in this flaming rose

But his, whose passionate heart long since lay still?

Whose wan hope pales this snowlike lily tall,

Beside the garden wall,

But his whose radiant eyes and lily grace

Sleep in the grave that crowns yon tufted hill?

All hope, all memory,

Have their deep springs in me;

And love, that else might fade,

By me immortal made,

Spurns at the grave, leaps to the welcoming skies,

And burns a steadfast star to steadfast eyes.