Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. IV. The Higher Life
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume IV. The Higher Life.  1904.
 
VII. Death: Immortality: Heaven
The Lost Pleiad
William Gilmore Simms (1806–1870)
 
NOT in the sky,
Where it was seen,
Nor on the white tops of the glistening wave,
Nor in the mansions of the hidden deep,—
Though green,        5
And beautiful, its caves of mystery;—
Shall the bright watcher have
A place, and as of old high station keep.
 
Gone, gone!
Oh, never more to cheer        10
The mariner who holds his course alone
On the Atlantic, through the weary night,
When the stars turn to watchers, and do sleep,
Shall it appear,
With the sweet fixedness of certain light,        15
Down-shining on the shut eyes of the deep.
 
Vain, vain!
Hopeless most idly then, shall he look forth,
That mariner from his bark.
Howe’er the north        20
Does raise his certain lamp, when tempests lower—
He sees no more that perished light again!
And gloomier grows the hour
Which may not, through the thick and crowding dark,
Restore that lost and loved one to her tower.        25
 
He looks,—the shepherd of Chaldea’s hills
Tending his flocks,—
And wonders the rich beacon does not blaze,
Gladdening his gaze;—
And from his dreary watch along the rocks,        30
Guiding him safely home through perilous ways!
Still wondering as the drowsy silence fills
The sorrowful scene, and every hour distils
Its leaden dews.—How chafes he at the night,
Still slow to bring the expected and sweet light,        35
So natural to his sight!
 
And lone,
Where its first splendors shone,
Shall be that pleasant company of stars:
How should they know that death        40
Such perfect beauty mars?
And like the earth, its crimson bloom and breath;
Fallen from on high,
Their lights grow blasted by its touch, and die!—
All their concerted springs of harmony        45
Snapped rudely, and the generous music gone.
 
A strain—a mellow strain—
A wailing sweetness filled the sky;
The stars, lamenting in unborrowed pain,
That one of their selectest ones must die!        50
Must vanish, when most lovely, from the rest!
Alas! ’t is evermore our destiny,
The hope, heart-cherished, is the soonest lost;
The flower first budden, soonest feels the frost:
Are not the shortest-lived still loveliest?        55
And, like the pale star shooting down the sky,
Look they not ever brightest when they fly
The desolate home they blessed?
 
 
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