Funeral Poems & Readings

Elegy On Thyrza

A funeral poem for comfort during unsettling times


Elegy On Thyrza

And thou art dead, as young and fair
 As aught of mortal birth;
 And forms so soft and charms so rare
 Too soon return’d to Earth!
 Though Earth received them in her bed,
 And o’er the spot the crowd may tread
 In carelessness or mirth,
 There is an eye which could not brook
 A moment on that grave to look.
 I will not ask where thou liest low
 Nor gaze upon the spot;
 There flowers and weeds at will may grow
 So I behold them not:
 It is enough for me to prove
 That what I loved and long must love
 Like common earth can rot;
 To me there needs no stone to tell
 ‘Tis Nothing that I loved so well.
 Yet did I love thee to the last,
 As fervently as thou
 Who didst not change through all the past
 And canst not alter now.
 The love where Death has set his seal
 Nor age can chill, nor rival steal,
 Nor falsehood disavow:
 And, what were worse, thou canst not see
 Or wrong, or change, or fault in me.
 The better days of life were ours;
 The worst can be but mine:
 The sun that cheers, the storm that lours
 Shall never more be thine.
 The silence of that dreamless sleep
 I envy now too much to weep;
 Nor need I to repine
 That all those charms have pass’d away
 I might have watch’d through long decay.
 The flower in ripen’d bloom unmatch’d
 Must fall the earliest prey;
 Though by no hand untimely snatch’d,
 The leaves must drop away.
 And yet it were a greater grief
 To watch it withering, leaf by leaf,
 Than see it pluck’d to-day;
 Since earthly eye but ill can bear
 To trace the change from foul to fair.
 I know not if I could have borne
 To see thy beauties fade;
 The night that follow’d such a morn
 Had worn a deeper shade:
 Thy day without a cloud hath past,
 And thou wert lovely to the last,
 Extinguish’d, not decay’d;
 As stars that shoot along the sky
 Shine brightest as they fall from high.
 As once I wept if I could weep,
 My tears might well be shed
 To think I was not near, to keep
 One vigil o’er thy bed:
 To gaze, how fondly! on thy face,
 To fold thee in a faint embrace,
 Uphold thy drooping head;
 And show that love, however vain,
 Nor thou nor I can feel again.
 Yet how much less it were to gain,
 Though thou hast left me free,
 The loveliest things that still remain
 Than thus remember thee!
 The all of thine that cannot die
 Through dark and dread Eternity
 Returns again to me,
 And more thy buried love endears
 Than aught except its living years.


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