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Poem by Bessie Rayner Parkes


Death the Encircler


TIME rolls, and month by month
The upwelling blood of Nature fills her veins,
And the bright wooing sun
From the dear earth hath won
A tender blush of flowers that gladden all her plains.
The waves come leaping in,
And I lie clasp'd within
The kind warm arms of Nature. I could die
In such a mood as this; my limbs, dissolv'd,
Should be to some new herb of loveliest shape resolv'd,
And I would pour my soul,
A cup of spirit-wine, from out its breathing bowl,
To help the vital force
Which wings the stars on their unchanging course,
Or sprouts among the leaves, and I could be
So lost in Nature as to compensate for me.

Thus dreams the poet, thinking,
Thus dreams the artist, drinking
Fresh draughts of beauty every fresh created day,
Till o'er his half-escaped spirit sweep
Those human memories ever folded deep
Within his heart: then rather would he say,
O friends! dear friends and true!
Had I, forgetting you,
Surrender'd up my spirit before the throne

Of great Queen Nature, did you but require
My love, my service, from the quivering fire,
From rock, and wave, and flower, I know would start
The outward forms and strengths of my unwavering heart,
And my life spring obedient when you claim'd your own.

I fear not life, mine eyes are bold for seeing;
I fear not death nor any change of being;
Meek for the present, strong for the coming day,
I tell my soul to be, as be it may;
Only I fear that I, who walk along
In your dear love so happy and so strong,
Be cut from such communion, and the roll
Of death's impenetrable waters surge above my soul.

Oh Grave! hast thou the victory over Love?
Love with the fearless eyes? I do not think
That our frail brotherhood, if moving towards that brink
Beneath whose unseen depths lies black oblivion,
Could wear the high and beautiful aspect it girdeth on
When it goes forth to conquer ill, and give
Each loving heart the assurance--"Thou shalt live."

Oh Grave! hast thou the victory over Love?
Black shadow, creep not over sunny life,
Which, striving to put forth
Some flowers of heavenly worth,
Shrinks from thine image in unequal strife.
Oh thou, who gatherest youth,
Genius, and beauty to thy dark embrace,
Let one dear smile of pity gleam upon thy face,--
Seeds which we sow in God expand to flowers above.
Leave us, who lose so much, eternity and love.



Bessie Rayner Parkes


Bessie Rayner Parkes's other poems:
  1. The Old Chateau
  2. Rome
  3. On a Group of Justice and Charity
  4. A Midsummer NightТs Dream
  5. The Mersey and the Irwell


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