Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, LIFE OR DEATH, by EDMUND BOLTON



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LIFE OR DEATH, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Doth life survive the touch of death?
Last Line: And doubt before the light shall fly.
Subject(s): Death; Life; Dead, The


DOTH Life survive the touch of Death?
Death's hand alone the secret holds,
Which, as to each one he unfolds,
We press to know with bated breath.

A whisper there, a whisper here,
Confirms the hope to which we cling;
But still we grasp at anything,
And sometimes hope and sometimes fear.

Some whisper that the dead we knew
Hover around us while we pray,
Anxious to speak. We cannot say;
We only wish it may be true.

I know a Stoic, who has thought,
As healthy blood flows through his veins,
And joy his present life sustains,
And all this good has come unsought,

For more he cannot rightly pray;
Life may extend, or life may cease, --
He bides the issue, sure of peace,
Sure of the best in God's own way.

Perfection waits the race of man;
If, working out this great design,
God cuts us off, we must resign
To be the refuse of his plan.

But I, for one, feel no such peace;
I dare to think I have in me
That which had better never be,
If lost before it can increase.

And oh! the ruined piles of mind,
Daily discovered everywhere,
Built but to crumble in despair!
I dare not think him so unkind.

The rudest workman would not fling
The fragments of his work away,
If every useless bit of clay
He trod on were a sentient thing.

And does the Wisest Worker take
Quick human hearts, instead of stone,
And hew and carve them, one by one,
Nor heed the pangs with which they break?

And more: if but creation's waste,
Would he have given us sense to yearn
For the perfection none can earn,
And hope the fuller life to taste?

I think, if we must cease to be,
It is a cruelty refined
To make the instincts of our mind
Stretch out toward eternity.

Wherefore I welcome Nature's cry
As earnest of a life again,
Where thought shall never be in vain,
And doubt before the light shall fly.





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