Nonfiction > E.C. Stedman & E.M. Hutchinson, eds. > A Library of American Literature > 1861–1889
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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps.  A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes.  1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889
 
When I am Dead
By Ella Dietz Clymer (b. 1856?)
 
WHEN I am dead what man will say
She used to smile in such a way,
Her eyes were dark and strangely bright
As are the solemn stars of night?
What man will say her voice’s tone        5
Was like the far-off winds that moan
Through forest trees? O voice and eyes
That brought me dreams of Paradise!
 
I think no man, when I am dead,
Will say these things that thou hast said        10
Unto my living human face,
And all the bloom and all the grace
Will then be buried out of sight,
Thought of no more, forgotten quite,
As are the flowers of other springs,        15
Upon whose grave the wild bird sings.
 
O flowers and songs of other days!
What sweet new voice will sing your praise?
What choir will celebrate the spring
When love and I went wandering        20
Between the glades, beneath the trees,
Or by the calm blue summer seas,
And thought no thing beneath the skies
So lovely as each other’s eyes?
 
When we are dead, when both are gone,        25
Buried in separate graves alone,
Perchance the restless salt sea wave
Will sing its dirge above my grave,
While you, on some far foreign shore,
May hear the distant ocean roar,        30
And long at last your arms to twine
About this cold dead form of mine.
 
When we are dead, when both are cold,
When love is as a tale that’s told,
Will not our lips so still and mute        35
Still long for love’s untasted fruit?
Though lands and seas hold us apart
Will not my dead heart reach thy heart,
And call to thee from farthest space
Until we both stand face to face?        40
 
When we are dead, yea, God doth know
When that shall be, if it were so
This moment now, if thou and I
Lay dead together ’neath this sky,
Could any future to us bring        45
So sad and desolate a thing
As this sad life? nay, can there be
Such sorrow in eternity?
 
O long sad days! we need in truth
Some recompense for our lost youth:        50
By woes forlorn, and sins forborne,
By joys renounced or from us torn,
By thorns that bore no single rose,
By loving hands that dealt us blows;
We pray that when this life shall cease        55
We then may know eternal peace.
 
When we are dead, when sea and air
Have claimed the forms that once were fair,
Will joys of Heaven compensate
For two lone hearts left desolate        60
On earth so long? Will all these years
Of anxious love and burning tears
Be as the water turned to wine,
The best of all that feast divine?
 
 
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