Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. IX. Tragedy: Humor
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume IX. Tragedy: Humor.  1904.
 
Poems of Tragedy: XII. England
Revelry of the Dying
Bartholomew Dowling (1823–1863)
 
   [Supposed to be written in India, while the plague was raging, and playing havoc among the British residents and troops stationed there.]

WE meet ’neath the sounding rafter,
  And the walls around are bare;
As they shout to our peals of laughter,
  It seems that the dead are there.
But stand to your glasses, steady!        5
  We drink to our comrades’ eyes;
Quaff a cup to the dead already—
  And hurrah for the next that dies!
 
Not here are the goblets glowing,
  Not here is the vintage sweet;        10
’T is cold, as our hearts are growing,
  And dark as the doom we meet.
But stand to your glasses, steady!
  And soon shall our pulses rise;
A cup to the dead already—        15
  Hurrah for the next that dies!
 
Not a sigh for the lot that darkles,
  Not a tear for the friends that sink;
We ’ll fall, midst the wine-cup’s sparkles,
  As mute as the wine we drink.        20
So stand to your glasses, steady!
  ’T is this that the respite buys;
One cup to the dead already—
  Hurrah for the next that dies!
 
Time was when we frowned at others;        25
  We thought we were wiser then;
Ha! ha! let those think of their mothers,
  Who hope to see them again.
No! stand to your glasses, steady!
  The thoughtless are here the wise;        30
A cup to the dead already—
  Hurrah for the next that dies!
 
There ’s many a hand that ’s shaking,
  There ’s many a cheek that ’s sunk;
But soon, though our hearts are breaking,        35
  They ’ll burn with the wine we ’ve drunk.
So stand to your glasses, steady!
  ’T is here the revival lies;
A cup to the dead already—
  Hurrah for the next that dies!        40
 
There ’s a mist on the glass congealing,
  ’T is the hurricane’s fiery breath;
And thus does the warmth of feeling
  Turn ice in the grasp of Death.
Ho! stand to your glasses, steady!        45
  For a moment the vapor flies;
A cup to the dead already—
  Hurrah for the next that dies!
 
Who dreads to the dust returning?
  Who shrinks from the sable shore,        50
Where the high and haughty yearning
  Of the soul shall sting no more!
Ho! stand to your glasses, steady!
  The world is a world of lies;
A cup to the dead already—        55
  Hurrah for the next that dies!
 
Cut off from the land that bore us,
  Betrayed by the land we find,
Where the brightest have gone before us,
  And the dullest remain behind—        60
Stand, stand to your glasses, steady!
  ’T is all we have left to prize;
A cup to the dead already—
  And hurrah for the next that dies!
 
 
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