Classic and Contemporary Poetry
THE REST, by JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY Poet's Biography
First Line: He rests at last, as on the motherbreast
Last Line: We'll not believe that till he tells us so.
Alternate Author Name(s): Johnson Of Boone, Benj. F.
Subject(s): Children; Death; Life; Mothers; Youth; Childhood; Dead, The
HE rests at last, as on the mother-breast
The playworn child at evening lies at rest, --
For he, a buoyant child, in veriest truth,
Has looked on life with eyes of changeless youth: --
Has loved our green old earth here from the hour
Of his first memory of bud and flower --
Of morning's grassy lawns and dewy trees
And orchard-blossoms, singing birds and bees:
When all the world about him was a land
Elysian, with the mother near at hand:
With steadfast gaze of wonder and delight
He marked the miracles of day and night: --
Beheld the kingly sun, in dazzling reign
By day; and, with her glittering, glimmering train
Of stars, he saw the queenly moon possess
Her throne in midmost midnight's mightiness.
All living least of things he ever knew
Of mother Earth's he was a brother to:
The lone rose by the brook -- or, under, where
The swaying water-lilies anchored there;
His love dipped even to the glossy things
That walked the waters and forgot their wings
In sheer insanity of some delight
Known but to that ecstatic parasite.
It was enough, thus childishly to sense
All works -- since worthy of Omnipotence --
As worshipful: Therefor, as any child,
He knelt in tenderness of tears, or smiled
His gratefulness, as to a playmate glad
To share His pleasures with a poorer lad.
And so he lived: And so he died? -- Ah, no,
We'll not believe that till he tells us so.
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