Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
 
514. On One Who Died in May
 
By Clarence Chatham Cook
 
 
WHY, Death, what dost thou here,
        This time o’ year?
Peach-blow and apple-blossom;
Clouds, white as my love’s bosom;
  Warm wind o’ the west        5
  Cradling the robin’s nest;
Young meadows hasting their green laps to fill
With golden dandelion and daffodil:
  These are fit sights for spring;
  But, oh, thou hateful thing,        10
        What dost thou here?
 
Why, Death, what dost thou here,
        This time o’ year?
Fair, at the old oak’s knee.
The young anemone;        15
Fair, the plash places set
With dog-tooth violet;
        The first sloop-sail,
        The shad-flower pale;
Sweet are all sights,        20
Sweet are all sounds of spring;
But thou, thou ugly thing,
        What dost thou here?
 
Dark Death let fall a tear.
        Why am I here?        25
Oh, heart ungrateful! Will man never know
I am his friend, nor ever was his foe?
Whose the sweet season, if it be not mine?
Mine, not the bobolinks, that song divine,
Chasing the shadows o’er the flying wheat!        30
’T is a dead voice, not his, that sounds so sweet.
Whose passionate heart burns in this flaming rose
But his, whose passionate heart long since lay still?
Whose wan hope pales this snowlike lily tall,
        Beside the garden wall,        35
But his whose radiant eyes and lily grace
Sleep in the grave that crowns yon tufted hill?
 
        All hope, all memory,
Have their deep springs in me;
  And love, that else might fade,        40
  By me immortal made,
Spurns at the grave, leaps to the welcoming skies,
And burns a steadfast star to steadfast eyes.
 

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