Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE FIRST GRAVE, by LETITIA ELIZABETH LANDON

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THE FIRST GRAVE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: A single grave! - the only one
Last Line: Which sanctify the grave!
Alternate Author Name(s): L. E. L.; Maclean, Letitia
Subject(s): Graves; Tombs; Tombstones

A single grave! -- the only one
In this unbroken ground,
Where yet the garden leaf and flower
Are lingering around.
A single grave! -- my heart has felt
How utterly alone
In crowded halls, where breathed for me
Not one familiar tone;

The shade where forest trees shut out
All but the distant sky; --
I've felt the loneliness of night
When the dark winds pass'd by;
My pulse was quicken'd with its awe,
My lip has gasp'd for breath;
But what were they to such as this --
The solitude of death!

A single grave! -- we half forget
How sunder human ties,
When round the silent place of rest
A gather'd kindred lies.
We stand beneath the haunted yew,
And watch each quiet tomb;
And in the ancient churchyard feel
Solemnity, not gloom.

The place is purified with hope,
The hope that is of prayer;
And human love, and heavenward thought,
And pious faith are there.
The wild flowers spring amid the grass;
And many a stone appears,
Carved by affection's memory,
Wet with affection's tears.

The golden chord which binds us all
Is loosed, not rent in twain;
And love, and hope, and fear, unite
To bring the past again.
But this grave is so desolate,
With no remembering stone,
No fellow-graves for sympathy --
'Tis utterly alone.

I do not know who sleeps beneath,
His history or name --
Whether if, lonely in his life,
He is in death the same:
Whether he died unloved, unmourn'd,
The last leaf on the bough;
Or, if some desolated hearth
Is weeping for him now.

Perhaps this is too fanciful: --
Though single be his sod,
Yet not the less it has around
The presence of his God.
It may be weakness of the heart,
But yet its kindliest, best:
Better if in our selfish world
It could be less represt.

Those gentler charities which draw
Man closer with his kind --
Those sweet humanities which make
The music which they find.
How many a bitter word 'twould hush --
How many a pang 'twould save,
If life more precious held those ties
Which sanctify the grave!

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