White lies the winter on the weary land,
Winter of many a loss and many a grief;
Yet must this burial day be counted chief
Of sorrows and most sore to understand;
For God hath laid the lightning of His hand
On His own signal tower, for all too brief
A date outsoaring mists of unbelief
To drink the living blue, a beacon grand.
But whilst the desolate throng without the portal
Of solemn Trinity in silence waits,
As listening for the beat of passing wing,
To view that clay which harbored an immortal,
Down the bleak air a tender breath of spring
Steals like a waft from Heaven's glad-opening gates.
Within the beauteous walls again too strait
For the wistful flocks who mourn their shepherd gone,--
Since here all creeds one shining garment don,
One seamless robe,--our heavy spirits wait
On the old Hebraic anthem passionate
And fall of hallowed words that bear upon
Their cadences strange consolation won
From centuries of faith reverberate.
But oh, the empty pulpit eloquent
Of death, the sable pulpit over all!
Yet even here is soul with flesh at strife;
For wise and tender was the hand that lent
A glowing wreath to that funereal pall,--
Against the gloom the exultant flush of life.
'For all the saints who from their labors rest'--
White gleam the lilies on the lifted bier,
As reverently the youthful bearers rear
Their sad, belovéd burden, pacing west,
Whilst all that host, as from a single breast,
One voice of praise outringing sweet and clear,
Peals the triumphal chant he loved to hear:
'Thy name, O Jesu, be forever blest.'
Ah, turn and watch the pageantry of woe
Out through the darkened door. The glory-hymn
Wavers a space, but swells again, for lo!
The dismal pomp of death, the mourners slow,
The shrouded casket on the vision dim,
That gleam of Easter lilies dazzles so.
The train wends outward, where new thousands wait
Beneath an ampler temple-arch of sky,
To speed with murmurous prayer and paean high
The royal progress of that sombre state;
On through the streets to sorrow consecrate;
On where thy sons, hushed Harvard, gather nigh,
To glean a blessing from the passing by;
And so to Auburn's unrestoring gate.
Is this thy victory, Death? Not thine, not thine,
Howe'er to grief we grant her natural throes.
He prophesied of life;we asked a sign,
So little mortals know for what they pray,
And by his open grave amid the snows
A chastened city keeps her Easter day.