Verse > Anthologies > Andrew Macphail, ed. > The Book of Sorrow
Andrew Macphail, comp.  The Book of Sorrow.  1916.
XXX. Sweet Sorrow
Consolations in Bereavement
By John Henry Newman (1801–1890)
DEATH was full urgent with thee, Sister dear,
    And startling in his speed;—
Brief pain, then languor till thy end came near—
    Such was the path decreed,
            The hurried road        5
To lead thy soul from earth to thine own God’s abode.
Death wrought with thee, sweet maid, impatiently:—
    Yet merciful the haste
That baffles sickness;—dearest, thou didst die,
    Thou wast not made to taste        10
            Death’s bitterness,
Decline’s slow-wasting charm, or fever’s fierce distress.
Death came unheralded:—but it was well;
    For so thy Saviour bore
Kind witness, thou wast meet at once to dwell        15
    On His eternal shore;
            All warning spared,
For none He gives where hearts are for prompt change prepared.
Death wrought in mystery; both complaint and cure
    To human skill unknown:—        20
God put aside all means, to make us sure
    It was His deed alone;
            Lest we should lay
Reproach on our poor selves, that thou wast caught away.
Death urged as scant of time:—lest, Sister dear,        25
    We many a lingering day
Had sicken’d with alternate hope and fear,
    The ague of delay;
            Watching each spark
Of promise quench’d in turn, till all our sky was dark.        30
Death came and went:—that so thy image might
    Our yearning hearts possess,
Associate with all pleasant thoughts and bright,
    With youth and loveliness;
            Sorrow can claim,        35
Mary, nor lot nor part in thy soft soothing name.
Joy of sad hearts, and light of downcast eyes!
    Dearest, thou art enshrined
In all thy fragrance in our memories;
    For we must ever find        40
            Bare thought of thee
Freshen this weary life, while weary life shall be.

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