Our Dead by Adelaide Anne Procter

Nothing is our own: we hold our pleasuresJust a little while, ere they are fled:One by one life robs us of our treasures;Nothing is our own except our Dead.They are ours, …

Nothing is our own: we hold our pleasures
Just a little while, ere they are fled:
One by one life robs us of our treasures;
Nothing is our own except our Dead.

They are ours, and hold in faithful keeping
Safe for ever, all they took away.
Cruel life can never stir that sleeping,
Cruel time can never seize that prey.

Justice pales; truth fades; stars fall from Heaven;
Human are the great whom we revere:
No true crown of honour can be given,
Till we place it on a funeral bier.

How the Children leave us: and no traces
Linger of that smiling angel band;
Gone, for ever gone; and in their places,
Weary men and anxious women stand.

Yet we have some little ones, still ours;
They have kept the baby smile we know,
Which we kissed one day and hid with flowers,
On their dead white faces, long ago.

When our Joy is lost–and life will take it–
Then no memory of the past remains;
Save with some strange, cruel sting, to make it
Bitterness beyond all present pains.

Death, more tender-hearted, leaves to sorrow
Still the radiant shadow, fond regret:
We shall find, in some far, bright to-morrow,
Joy that he has taken, living yet.

Is Love ours, and do we dream we know it,
Bound with all our heart-strings, all our own?
Any cold and cruel dawn may show it,
Shattered, desecrated, overthrown.

Only the dead Hearts forsake us never;
Death’s last kiss has been the mystic sign
Consecrating Love our own for ever,
Crowning it eternal and divine.

So when Fate would fain besiege our city,
Dim our gold, or make our flowers fall,
Death the Angel, comes in love and pity,
And to save our treasures, claims them all.

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