Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, DEBORAH LEE, by WILLIAM HENRY BURLEIGH



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DEBORAH LEE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Tis a dozen or so of years ago
Last Line: Before they wanted me.
Subject(s): Poe, Edgar Allan (1809-1849)


'T IS a dozen or so of years ago,
Somewhere in the West countree,
That a nice girl lived, as ye Hoosiers know
By the name of Deborah Lee;
Her sister was loved by Edgar Poe,
But Deborah by me.

Now I was green, had she was green,
As a summer's squash might be;
And we loved as warmly as other folks, --
I and my Deborah Lee, --
With a love that the lasses of Hoosierdom
Coveted her and me.

But somehow it happened a long time ago,
In the aguish West countree,
That chill March morning gave the shakes
To my beautiful Deborah Lee;
And the grim steam-doctor (drat him!) came,
And bore her away from me, --
The doctor and death, old partners they, --
In the aguish West countree.

The angels wanted her in heaven
(But they never asked for me),
And that is the reason, I rather guess,
In the aguish West countree,
That the cold March wind, and the doctor, and
death,
Took off my Deborah Lee --
My beautiful Deborah Lee --
From the warm sunshine and the opening flowers,
And bore her away from me.

Our love was as strong as a six-horse team,
Or the love of folks older than we,
Or possibly wiser than we;
But death, with the aid of doctor and steam,
Was rather too many for me:
He closed the peepers and silenced the breath
Of my sweetheart Deborah Lee,
And her form lies cold in the prairie mold,
Silent and cold, -- ah me!

The foot of the hunter shall press her grave,
And the prairie's sweet wild flowers
In their odorous beauty around it wave
Through all the sunny hours, --
The still, bright summer hours;
And the birds shall sing in the tufted grass
And the nectar-laden bee,
With his dreamy hum, on his gauze wings passe --
She wakes no more to me;
Ah, nevermore to me!
Though the wild birds sing and the wild flowers
spring,
She wakes no more to me.

Yet oft in the hush of the dim, still night,
A vision of beauty I see
Gliding soft to my bedside, -- a phantom of light,
Dear, beautiful Deborah Lee, --
My bride that was to be;
And I wake to mourn that the doctor, and death,
And the cold March wind, should stop the breath
Of my darling Deborah Lee, --
Adorable Deborah Lee, --
That angels should want her up in heaven
Before they wanted me.




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