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

Ellen Frances Terry Johnson


The Old Burying-Place of Savannah

THE BROAD white road flows by this place of tombs,

Set in the inlet’s curving lines of blue.

Through the low arch, wide spreading tender glooms,

Stand the gray trees, light-veiled by those strange looms

That weave their palest thread of air and dew.

Gray moss, it seems the mist of tears once shed;

Dim ghost of prayers, whose longing once it spoke:

For still its fairy floating flags, o’erhead,

By every wind of morning visited,

Sigh in a silence that were else unbroke.

Silence, how deep! The Southern day half done

Is pierced by sudden thrills of autumn chill;

From the tall pine-trees black against the sun

The great brown cones, slow-dropping, one by one,

Fall on dead leaves, and all again is still!

So still, you hear the rush of hurrying wings

Beyond the river, where tall grasses grow.

Far off, the blackbird eddying dips and sings,

Or on the heavy-headed rice-stalk swings,

Slow-swaying with the light weight, to and fro.

This is the temple of most deep repose—

Guardian of sleep, keeper of perfect rest!

Silently in the sun the fair stream flows;

Upon its unstirred breast a white sail goes

From the blue east into the bluer west.

Nature herself, with magic spell of power,

Stands in these aisles and says to all things “Peace!”

Nothing she hears more harsh than growth of flower

Or climbing feet of mosses that each hour

Their delicate store of softest green increase,

Or flying footsteps of the hurrying rain.

No need have we to pray the dead may sleep,

That in such depths of perfect calm can pain

No entrance find; nor shall they fear again

To turn and sigh, to wake again or weep.