Not in this green retreat
However beautiful, while Summer launches
Her odors and soft airs through swaying branches;—
Though wild flowers court our feet,
And though the wild birds capture
The listening sense with their melodious rapture,—
Not here, not here, my friends,
Let us believe the loved one shall repose,
Or that life’s true receptacle descends
To the dark mould, where sods above it close,
And the immortal with the mortal blends!
Let not despair or sensual distrust
Confound this mouldering dust
With the true person—with the inner form,
Which gave the outward all it had of fair;—
Which is no kindred of the worm,
No warrant for despair!
Not here, my soul, not for one moment here,
Sinks the pure life-spring of one generous tear;
Of one heaven-aimed affection,
One tender recollection,
One deed of goodness in seclusion wrought,
One lesson, or one thought!
As water rises to its fountain-head,
However low you lay its transient bed,
So must the spirit, from its earthward course,
Mount to the Deity, which is its source!
We give the infant, who to walk is learning,
His leading-strings;—corks to the doubtful swimmer;
So are these bodies, for our brief sojourning,
Helps to us here, while schooled in being’s primer.
For here, in God’s stupendous seminary,
What various lore the thoughtful eye engages!
Morning and night—the seasons as they vary,—
Spread for our use illuminated pages.
If all were ours unearned, what need of action?
If God no problem set for our unfolding,
Where were the joy, the power, the benefaction
Of toil, and faith, and prayer, our spirits moulding?
Where were the innocence, without temptation?
Where, without freedom, were the self-denial?
Where were the goal, the triumph, the salvation,
Without the doubt, the danger, and the trial?
And though to some the fairer lot be given,
Unstained, because untried, to enter Heaven,
O doubt not there is compensation ever
From Him, the just and unforgetting Giver!
If then the Saviour’s promise and example
Be an assurance ample,
Let us not say, however fair the breast
Of the green hill-side, where the graves are made,—
“Here the beloved ones rest!
“Here in this forest shade!”
Distant,—and yet how near!—
Where kindred spirits kindred joys pursue,
In duties ever dear,
Surprises ever new,
They range from sphere to sphere
Through all the fresh delights of God’s eternal year!
Nor are their human ties forgotten quite;
With the strong will to see friends left behind
Cometh a might
Swifter than light,
And they are here, though viewless as the wind;
With privilege, at times, to interpose
Between us and our woes.
Since it is gain ineffable, to die
Unto the mortal eye,
What doth it matter to the spirit freed
If the decaying husk feed flower or weed?
Then for the living be the grounds out-laid,
The eager soil arrayed!
Remote from cities and from habitations,
Here where the grateful trees and underwood
Convert corruption’s noxious emanations,
Through Nature’s wondrous alchemy, to good.
Not a Necropolis,&mdash:
Rather a garden this!
With sylvan alleys and enamelled banks
And pines in plume-tost ranks.
Here let the roses bloom!
Here let the wild bee come
To find the ground
Heaped with such flowery wealth as bee ne’er found!
But O, high-building Vanity! forbear
To rear upon this spot th’ o’ercostly pile!
Rather let living Want thy bounty share,
And trust thou unto watchful Nature’s smile
To keep the turf above thy ashes bright,
In Spring’s first verdure dight.
Then shall this be a Mount of Hope indeed,
Where not one doubtful title we shall read.
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Based on Keywords: unearned, compensation, underwood, moulding, self-denial, launches, enamelled, corks, schooled, night-, habitations