Verse > Anthologies > Higginson and Bigelow, eds. > American Sonnets
Higginson and Bigelow, comps.  American Sonnets.  1891.
On an Etruscan Tomb
By William Gibson (1826–1887)
ON thy rough sides, O cinerary urn!
  Two thousand years and more these warriors fight;
  One lifts the shield and one the sword to smite;
The end it is not given us to discern,
Nor yet the purport of that strife to learn.        5
  Scorn not my reading, terrible if trite.
  All life is such a battle, until the night
Falls, and ephemeral heats to ashes burn.
Lo! on the lid, wrapt closely to the chin
  In the long sheet, arms limp upon the breast,        10
  Head drooped and turned, a form of perfect rest;
Strewn to the wind the dust that lay herein;
  Yet on this sepulchre the Etruscan faith
  Carved unmistakably a Sleep—not Death.

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