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James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

November 1

When I beneath the Cold, Red Earth Am Sleeping

By William Motherwell (1797–1835)

  • William Motherwell, a Scottish poet and antiquary, who died Nov. 1, 1835.

  • WHEN I beneath the cold, red earth am sleeping,

    Life’s fever o’er,

    Will there for me be any bright eye weeping

    That I’m no more?

    Will there be any heart still memory keeping

    Of heretofore?

    When the great winds, through leafless forests rushing,

    Like full hearts break—

    When the swoll’n streams, o’er crag and gully gushing,

    Sad music make—

    Will there be one, whose heart Despair is crushing,

    Morn for my sake?

    When the bright sun upon that spot is shining

    With purest ray,

    And the small flowers, their buds and blossoms twining,

    Burst through that clay—

    Will there be one still on that spot repining

    Lost hopes all day?

    When the Night shadows, with the ample sweeping

    Of her dark pall,

    The world and all its manifold creation sleeping—

    The great and small—

    Will there be one, even at that dread hour, weeping,

    For me—for all?

    When no star twinkles with its eye of glory

    On that low mound,

    And wintry storms have with their ruins hoary

    Its loneness crowned,

    Will there be then one versed in Misery’s story

    Pacing it round?

    It may be so—but this is selfish sorrow

    To ask such meed—

    A weakness and a wickedness, to borrow

    From hearts that bleed

    The wailings of to-day, for what to-morrow

    Shall never need.

    Lay me then gently in my narrow dwelling,

    Thou gentle heart!

    And, though thy bosom should with grief be swelling,

    Let no tear start;

    It were in vain—for Time hath long been knelling—

    Sad one, depart!