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1818

THE BURIAL-PLACE

A FRAGMENT

by William Cullen Bryant

THE BURIAL-PLACE

A FRAGMENT -

Erewhileon England's pleasant shoresour sires

Left not their churchyards unadorned with shades

Or blossomsbut indulgent to the strong

And natural dread of man's last homethe grave

Its frost and silence- they disposed around

To soothe the melancholy spirit that dwelt

Too sadly on life's closethe forms and hues

Of vegetable beauty. There the yew

Green ever amid the snows of wintertold

Of immortalityand gracefully

The willowa perpetual mournerdrooped;

And there the gadding woodbine crept about

And there the ancient ivy. From the spot

Where the sweet maidenin her blossoming years

Cut offwas laid with streaming eyesand hands

That trembled as they placed her therethe rose

Sprung modeston bowed stalkand better spoke

Her gracesthan the proudest monument.

There children set about their playmate's grave

The pansy. On the infant's little bed

Wet at its planting with maternal tears

Emblem of early sweetnessearly death

Nestled the lowly primrose. Childless dames

And maids that would not raise the reddened eye-

Orphansfrom whose young lids the light of joy

Fled early- silent loverswho had given

All that they lived for to the arms of earth

Came ofteno'er the recent graves to strew

Their offeringsrueand rosemaryand flowers. -

The pilgrim bands who passed the sea to keep

Their Sabbaths in the eye of God alone

In his wide temple of the wilderness

Brought not these simple customs of the heart

With them. It might bewhile they laid their dead

By the vast solemn skirts of the old groves

And the fresh virgin soil poured forth strange flowers

About their graves; and the familiar shades

Of their own native isleand wonted blooms

And herbs were wantingwhich the pious hand

Might plant or scatter therethese gentle rites

Passed out of use. Now they are scarcely known

And rarely in our borders may you meet

The tall larchsighing in the burial-place

Or willowtraining low its boughs to hide

The gleaming marble. Naked rows of graves

And melancholy ranks of monuments

Are seen insteadwhere the coarse grassbetween

Shoots up its dull green spikesand in the wind

Hissesand the neglected bramble nigh

Offers its berries to the schoolboy's hand

In vain- they grow too near the dead. Yet here

Naturerebuking the neglect of man

Plants Oftenby the ancient mossy stone

The brier-roseand upon the broken turf

That clothes the fresher gravethe strawberry plant

Sprinkles its swell with blossomsand lays forth

Her ruddypouting fruit.... - -

THE END




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