Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, TO A FRIEND DYING, by ROBERT BRIDGES (1858-1941)

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

TO A FRIEND DYING, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: They tell you that death's at the turn of the road
Last Line: "yes, I hear your faint voice: ""this is rest, and like sleeping!"
Alternate Author Name(s): Droch
Variant Title(s): The Unillumined Verge
Subject(s): Death; Friendship; Dead, The

THEY tell you that Death's at the turn of the road,
That under the shade of a cypress you'll find him,
And, struggling on wearily, lashed by the goad
Of pain, you will enter the black mist behind him.

I can walk with you up to the ridge of the hill,
And we'll talk of the way we have come through the valley;
Down below there a bird breaks into a trill,
And a groaning slave bends to the oar of his galley.

You are up on the heights now, you pity the slave --
"Poor soul, how fate lashes him on at his rowing!
Yet it's joyful to live, and it's hard to be brave
When you watch the sun sink and the daylight is going."

We are almost there -- our last walk on this height --
I must bid you good-by at that cross on the mountain.
See the sun glowing red, and the pulsating light
Fill the valley, and rise like the flood in a fountain!

And it shines in your face and illumines your soul;
We are comrades as ever, right here at your going;
You may rest if you will within sight of the goal,
While I must return to my oar and the rowing.

We must part now? Well, here is the hand of a friend;
I will keep you in sight till the road makes its turning
Just over the ridge within reach of the end
Of your arduous toil, -- the beginning of learning.

You will call to me once from the mist, on the verge,
"Au revoir!" and "Good night!" while the twilight is creeping
Up luminous peaks, and the pale stars emerge?
Yes, I hear your faint voice: "This is rest, and like sleeping!"

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