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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Cecil Frances Alexander (1818–1895)

The Burial of Moses

BY Nebo’s lonely mountain,

On this side Jordan’s wave,

In a vale in the land of Moab,

There lies a lonely grave.

And no man knows that sepulchre,

And no man saw it e’er;

For the angels of God upturned the sod,

And laid the dead man there.

That was the grandest funeral

That ever passed on earth;

But no man heard the trampling,

Or saw the train go forth:

Noiselessly as the daylight

Comes back when the night is done,

And the crimson streak on ocean’s cheek,

Grows into the great sun;—

Noiselessly as the springtime

Her crown of verdure weaves,

And all the trees on all the hills

Open their thousand leaves;—

So without sound of music

Or voice of them that wept,

Silently down from the mountain’s crown

The great procession swept.

Perchance the bald old eagle

On gray Beth-Peor’s height,

Out of his lonely eyrie

Looked on the wondrous sight;

Perchance the lion stalking

Still shuns that hallowed spot:

For beast and bird have seen and heard

That which man knoweth not.

But when the warrior dieth,

His comrades in the war,

With arms reversed and muffled drum,

Follow his funeral car;

They show the banners taken,

They tell his battles won,

And after him lead his masterless steed,

While peals the minute-gun.

Amid the noblest of the land

We lay the sage to rest,

And give the bard an honored place,

With costly marble drest;

In the great minster transept,

Where lights like glories fall,

And the organ rings and the sweet choir sings

Along the emblazoned wall.

This was the truest warrior

That ever buckled sword;

This the most gifted poet

That ever breathed a word;

And never earth’s philosopher

Traced with his golden pen

On the deathless page, truths half so sage

As he wrote down for men.

And had he not high honor?—

The hillside for a pall;

To lie in state while angels wait,

With stars for tapers tall,

And the dark rock-pines like tossing plumes

Over his bier to wave;

And God’s own hand, in that lonely land,

To lay him in the grave;

In that strange grave, without a name,

Whence his uncoffined clay

Shall break again—oh, wondrous thought!—

Before the Judgment Day;

And stand with glory wrapped around

On the hills he never trod,

And speak of the strife that won our life

With th’ Incarnate Son of God.

O lonely grave in Moab’s land!

O dark Beth-Peor’s hill!

Speak to these curious hearts of ours,

And teach them to be still.

God hath his mysteries of grace,—

Ways that we cannot tell;

He hides them deep, like the hidden sleep

Of him he loved so well.