Now Glory to God the Father Most High,
And the Star, the Spirit, He leads us by.
And to God’s dear Son, the Babe who was born
And laid in the manger on Christmas morn!
If we must part, this parting is the best:
How would you bear to lay
Your head on some warm pillow far away—
Your head, so used to lying on my breast?
But now your pillow is cold;
Your hands have flowers, and not my hands, to hold;
Upon our bed the worn bride-linen lies.
I have put the death-money upon your eyes,
So that you should not wake up in the night.
I have bound your face with white;
I have washed you, yes, with water and not with tears,—
Those arms wherein I have slept so many years,
Those feet that hastened when they came to me,
And all your body that belonged to me.
I have smoothed your dear dull hair,
And there is nothing left to say for you
And nothing left to fear or pray for you;
And I have got the rest of life to bear:
Thank God it is you, not I, who are lying there.
If I had died
And you had stood beside
This still white bed
Where the white, scented, horrible flowers are spread,—
I know the thing it is,
And I thank God that He has spared you this.
If one must bear it, thank God it was I
Who had to live and bear to see you die,
Who have to live, and bear to see you dead.
You will have nothing of it all to bear:
You will not even know that in your bed
You lie alone. You will not miss my head
Beside you on the pillow: you will rest
So soft in the grave you will not miss my breast.
But I—but I—Your pillow and your place—
And only the darkness laid against my face,
And only my anguish pressed against my side—
Thank God, thank God, that it was you who died!
Night wind sighing through the poplar leaves,
Trembling of the aspen, shivering of the willow,
Every leafy voice of all the night-time grieves,
Mourning, weeping over Chloe’s pillow.
Chloe, fresher than the breeze of dawn,
Fairer than the larches in their young spring glory,
Brighter than the glow-worms on the dewy lawn,
Hear the dirge the green trees sing to end your story:—
“Chloe lived and Chloe loved: she brought
Hope and life and all things good to all who met her;
Only, dying, wept to know the lifelong sadness
Willed, against her will, to those who can’t forget her.”
Come to-night in a dream to-night,
Come as you used to do,
Come in the gown, in the gown of white,
Come in the ribbon of blue;
Come in the virgin’s colours you wear,
Come through the dark and the dew,
Come with the scent of the night in your hair,
Come as you used to do.