Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE LIVE CONSCIENCE, by HARRY HIBBARD KEMP

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THE LIVE CONSCIENCE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: The dead man lay beneath the mold
Last Line: And god folds up the sky!
Subject(s): Corpses; Death; Ghosts; Immortality; Supernatural; Cadavers; Dead, The

THE dead man lay beneath the mold,
But still his spirit knew
The soft stir of each blade of grass
As toward the sun it grew;

He heard the far-flung church bells ring,
He heard the joyous sound
Of children's voices, as they played
Above, on April ground;—
And he felt the little, red-tipped worm
Go nosing round and round.

He felt the winter rain drip down;
It ached against his bones—
And his was not a plight where one
Might ease oneself with groans,

For he had to lie forever dumb
There in the dreadful tomb
Till all the graves gaped open wide
At the crashing Trump of Doom,

Till interminable time had flown
And the universe grew gray,
Ere the finger of Eternity
Would touch his eyes with day.

He could not move, he could not weep,
Nor might one finger strive
To lift itself; he could not sleep,
For his conscience kept alive;

His dreadful conscience kept alive,
(Oblivion held no term)
And it preyed upon his spirit worse
Than midnight or the worm:

O, if this be what men call "death,"
I do not wish to die
Till the sun goes out like an unfilled lamp,
And God folds up the sky!

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