Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, TO A SKULL, by JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY

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TO A SKULL, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Turn your face this way
Last Line: You do grin so satisfied!
Alternate Author Name(s): Johnson Of Boone, Benj. F.
Subject(s): Death; Faces; Skulls; Dead, The

TURN your face this way;
I'm not weary of it --
Every hour of every day
More and more I love it --
Grinning in that jolly guise
Of bare bones and empty eyes!

Was this hollow dome,
Where I tap my finger,
Once the spirit's narrow home --
Where you loved to linger,
Hiding, as to-day are we,
From the selfsame destiny?

O'er and o'er again
Have I put the query --
Was existence so in vain
That you look so cheery? --
Death of such a benefit
That you smile, possessing it?

Did your throbbing brow
Tire of all the flutter
Of such fancyings as now
You, at last, may utter
In that grin so grimly bland
Only death can understand?

Has the shallow glee
Of old dreams of pleasure
Left you ever wholly free
To float out, at leisure,
O'er the shoreless, trackless trance
Of unsounded circumstance?

Only this I read
In your changeless features, --
You, at least, have gained a meed
Held from living creatures:
You have naught to ask. -- Beside,
You do grin so satisfied!

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