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John Keble

(25 April 1792 – 29 March 1866 / Fairford, Gloucestershire)

Burial of the Dead


I thought to meet no more, so dreary seem'd
Death's interposing veil, and thou so pure,
Thy place in Paradise
Beyond where I could soar;

Friend of this worthless heart! but happier thoughts
Spring like unbidden violets from the sod,
Where patiently thou tak'st
Thy sweet and sure repose.

The shadows fall more soothing: the soft air
Is full of cheering whispers like thine own;
While Memory, by thy grave,
Lives o'er thy funeral day;

The deep knell dying down, the mourners' pause,
Waiting their Saviour's welcome at the gate.—
Sure with the words of Heaven
Thy spirit met us there,

And sought with us along th' accustom'd way
The hallow'd porch, and entering in, beheld
The pageant of sad joy
So dear to Faith and Hope.

O! hadst thou brought a strain from Paradise
To cheer us, happy soul, thou hadst not touch'd
The sacred springs of grief
More tenderly and true,

Than those deep-warbled anthems, high and low,
Low as the grave, high as th' Eternal Throne,
Guiding through light and gloom
Our mourning fancies wild,

Till gently, like soft golden clouds at eve
Around the western twilight, all subside
Into a placid faith,
That even with beaming eye

Counts thy sad honours, coffin, bier, and pall;
So many relics of a frail love lost,
So many tokens dear
Of endless love begun.

Listen! it is no dream: th' Apostles' trump
Gives earnest of th' Archangel's;—calmly now,
Our hearts yet beating high
To that victorious lay

(Most like a warrior's, to the martial dirge
Of a true comrade), in the grave we trust
Our treasure for awhile:
And if a tear steal down,

If human anguish o'er the shaded brow
Pass shuddering, when the handful of pure earth
Touches the coffin-lid;
If at our brother's name,

Once and again the thought, 'for ever gone,'
Come o'er us like a cloud; yet, gentle spright,
Thou turnest not away,
Thou know'st us calm at heart.

One look, and we have seen our last of thee,
Till we too sleep and our long sleep be o'er.
O cleanse us, ere we view
That countenance pure again,

Thou, who canst change the heart, and raise the dead!
As Thou art by to soothe our parting hour,
Be ready when we meet,
With Thy dear pardoning words.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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