I lay me down straight, with closed eyes,
And pale hands folded across my breast,
Thinking, unpained, of the sad surprise
Of those who shall find me thus fall'n to rest;
And the grief in their looks when they learn no endeavor,
Can disturb my repose—for my sleep is forever.
I know that a smile will lie hid in my eyes,
Even a soft throb of joy stir the pulse in my breast,
When they sit down to mourning, with tears and with sighs,
And shudder at death, which to me is but rest.
So sweet to be parted at once from our pain;
To put off our care as a robe that is worn;
To drop like a link broken out of a chain,
And be lost in the sands by Time's tide overborne:
And to know at my loss all the wildest regretting,
Will be as a foot-print, washed out in forgetting.
To be certain of this—that my faults perish first;
That when they behold me so calmly asleep,
They can but forgive me my errors at worst,
And speak of my praises alone as they weep.
"Whom the gods love die young," they will say;
Though they should think it, they will not say so:
"Whom the world pierces with thorns pass away,
Grieving, yet asking and longing to go!"
No, when they see how divine my repose is,
They'll forget that my-life-path is not over roses;
And they'll whisper together, with hands full of flowers,
How always I loved them to wear on my breast;
And strewing them over my bosom in showers,
With hands shaken by sobs, leave me softly to rest.
There is one who will come when the rest are away;
One bud of a rose will he bring for my hair;
He knows how I liked it, worn always that way,
And his fingers will tremble while placing it there.
Yes, he'll remember those soft June-day closes,
When the sky was as flushed as our own crimson roses;
He'll remember the flush on the sky and the flowers,
And the red on my cheek where his lips had been prest;
But the throes of his heart in the long, silent hours,
Will disturb not my dreams, so profoundly I'll rest.
So, all will forget, what to think of mere pain,
That the heart now asleep in this solemn repose,
Had contended with tempests of sorrow in vain,
And gone down in the strife at the feet of its foes:
They will choose to be mute when a deed I have done,
Or a word I have spoke I can no more atone;
They'll remember I loved them, was faithful and true;
They'll not say what a wild will abode in my breast;
But repeat to each other, as if they were new,
Old stories of what did the loved one at rest.
Ah! while I lie soothing my soul with this dream,
The terror of waking comes back to my heart;
Why is it not as I thus make it seem?
Must I come back to the world, ere we part?
Deep was the swoon of my spirit—why break it?
Why bring me back to the struggles that shake it?
Alas, there is room on my feet for fresh bruises—
The flowers are not dead on my brow or my breast—
When shall I learn "sweet adversity's uses,"
And my tantalized spirit be truly at rest!