Let others bravely plan for death’s to-morrow,
And crave fresh progress toward a higher goal!
Appalled by Earth’s long tragedy of sorrow,
I humbly ask one favor for my soul,
When this life’s sun is set,—
To sleep and to forget.
She sees our faces bright and gay,
Our moving lips, our laughing eyes,
But scarce a word of what we say
Can pass the zone that round her lies;—
A zone of stillness,—strange, profound,
Invisible to mortal eye,
Upon whose verge the waves of sound
In muffled murmurs break and die.
Across that silent void she strains
To catch at least some winged word,
And, though she fails, still smiles and feigns
The poor pretence of having heard.
That smile! Its pathos wrings the heart
Of many a friend, who yet conceals
The tears that from his eyelids start,
The grief and pity that he feels.
And she, aware of our distress,
And sadly conscious of her own,
Still bravely speaks, nor dares confess
That our real meaning is unknown.
What rapture, when the closing door
Shuts out the world and gives release,
And on her quivering nerves once more
Descends the benison of peace!
No longer forced to dimly read
Men’s meanings from their lips and looks,
Her greatest joy, her only need
The sweet companionship of books!
Do we thus ever fully know
The boon of leaving far behind
The world’s dull tales of crime and woe,
The gossip of its vacant mind?
What if her loss be really gain,
That zone of silence a defence,
A compensation for her pain,
A quickening of her psychic sense?
Perhaps when fall at last away
The chains which bind her spirit here,
A voice divine will gently say
In tones which reach alone her ear,—
“While others in that world of sin
Heard evil things, to thee unknown,
Apart from that defiling din
Thy spirit grew, in strength, alone.
“They must through other lives return
To slowly earn thy strength of soul;
Through suffering only couldst thou learn
The virtue that hath made thee whole.”
AT THE VILLA OF THE EMPEROR FREDERICK III AT SAN REMO
San Remo’s palms in beauty stand
Beside the storied sea,
Where azure band and golden sand
Are wedded ceaselessly;
For from the deep, which seems to sleep,
The slow waves, long and low,
Their journeys done, break one by one
In rhythmic ebb and flow.
Before me lies a fair retreat,
Whose every breath brings balm
From plants replete with odors sweet
And many a fronded palm;
Hence at its gate I, spellbound, wait
To feast my gladdened eyes
On buds that wake and flowers that make
A perfumed paradise.