Felicia Hemans in The New Monthly Magazine Volume 20 1827/The Antique Sepulchre

The New Monthly Magazine, Volume 20, Pages 145-146


        Oh! ever-joyous band
Of revellers amidst the southern vines!
On the pale marble, by some gifted hand,
        Fix'd in undying lines;

        Thou with the sculptured bowl,
And thou, that wearest the immortal wreath,
And thou, from whose young lip and flute the soul
        Of music seems to breathe;

        And ye, luxuriant flowers,
Linking the dancers with your graceful ties,
And cluster'd fruitage, born of sunny hours
        Under Italian skies.

        Ye, that a thousand springs,
And leafy summers, with their odorous breath,
May yet outlast; what do ye there, bright things,
        Mantling the place of Death?

        Of sunlight and soft air,
And Dorian reeds, and myrtles ever green,
Unto the heart a glowing thought ye bear—
        Why thus, where dust hath been?

        Is it to show how slight
The bound that severs festivals and tombs,
Music and silence, roses and the blight,
        Crowns and sepulchral glooms?

        Or, when the father laid
Happy his child's pale ashes here to sleep,
When the friend visited the cypress shade,
        Flowers o'er the dead to heap;

        Say if the mourners sought
In these rich images of summer-mirth,
These wine-cups and gay wreaths, to lose the thought
        Of our last hour on earth?

        Ye have no voice, no sound,
Ye flutes and lyres, to tell me what I seek;
Silent ye are, light forms with vine-leaves crown'd,
        Yet to my soul ye speak.

        Alas! for those that lay
Down in the dust without their hope of old!
Backward they look'd on life's rich banquet-day,
        But all beyond was cold.

        Every sweet wood-note then,
And through the plane-trees every sunbeam's glow,
And each glad murmur from the homes of men,
        Made it more hard to go.

        But we, when life grows dim,
When its last melodies float o'er our way,
Its changeful hues before us faintly swim,
        Its flitting lights decay;

        Ev'n though we bid farewell
Unto the spring's blue skies and budding trees,
Yet may we lift our hearts, in hope to dwell
        Midst brighter things than these.

        And think of deathless flowers,
And of bright streams to glorious valleys given,
And know the while, how little dream of ours
        Can shadow forth of Heaven!
F. H.

  1. * "Les sarcophages même, chez les anciens, ne rappellent que des idées guerrières ou riantes:—On voit des jeux, des danses representés en bas-reliefs sur les tombeaux."—Corinne.