Aesthetic Papers/Meditations of a Widow
THE MEDITATIONS OF A WIDOW.
Springtime,—it surely came,—its roundelays!
Wherefore these full, rich notes and Summer tone?
I only knew it was thy Spring to Life,—
Above the life of seasons and decay,—
True Life, not knowing stint, nor blight, nor check,
One everlasting growth in incorruption!
Now joyous Summer passeth in her wealth.
She filleth clusters; hangeth gold on boughs;
Prepare th the full sheaf, the luscious sweets,
Gorgeous apparel; dresses for lilies,
And for daisies too; soft hues for Even
And for Morn; Music, the livelong day;
And Fountains cool, to freshen all.
I only know that heat and taint and toil
Can never come to thee! Thou'st found thy wealth,
Where thine affections reached, in thy mock-life;
Hast found that River (either side the Tree
Whose leaves—oh thou art rich!—unfolded to thee
Fadeless), for the people, past and coming;
The fount of freshness, overflowing all:
And thou hast learned the rich undying strain,
Trumphant, glorious Alleluia!
Autumn, I know thee well,—thy cool all-hail!
Thou introducest change: Beauty is pale:
Those flashes but proclaim "passing away."
Why art thou stern upon our lingering love?
Why dost deride and blow upon our joys?
Why spend thyself to strew our seeming wealth,
And give our very comforts to the wind?
Thine awful whisperings are of Grandeur come,
And we must hear acclaim of Majesty,
Till, half congealed with awe, we breathe "Amen!
Let Beauty die; our homage is to Thee." All change is God; immutably the same
In form of Beauty and sublime display;
In most dread hours, His glory beameth out
To light up glory in the human soul.
Thou, thou hast passed all change of human life,
And not again to thee shall Beauty die,
Or Greatness in his robe of terror come.
No devastation passeth o'er those fields;
The fruits abide, and who partake abide
Their high communings. Life and Death is not.
Winter, dread Undertaker, thou art come!
And how unique are thy official deeds!
The living and the dead, uncoffined, both
Live in our meanest traversings concealed.
The heralds of thy coming scattered truths;
And, gorgeously arrayed, they looked so gay,
Admiring them, we lost the lesson quite.
Then those Old Priests, with withered arms, stood up
And read a service: requiems were pealed,
And under-tones of death; long deep-drawn sighs
Passed o'er the living at their tasks and plays.
And what a burial! Sexton nor grave
The buried bound about, and palled—all one—
And thou dost bury o'er the safe-interred,
As thou had st power to shut them deeper down
Into the cold dark trophy-room of Death.
As well might boast of hulls and husks and shells,
And other old investments dropped by life,
In passage up to higher, purer life.
Oh! there is Life so pure, commingles nought
To satiate the greedy maw of Death;
All unincumbered, incorrupt, and free!
Those dear remains can feel no adverse power,—
The Life that laid them down is free from stain,
And never shall put off its robe of light!