Verse > Anthologies > Andrew Macphail, ed. > The Book of Sorrow
Andrew Macphail, comp.  The Book of Sorrow.  1916.
IX. The Sadness of It
‘When I beneath the cold red earth am sleeping’
By William Motherwell (1797–1835)
WHEN I beneath the cold red earth am sleeping,
          Life’s fever o’er,
Will there for me be any bright eye weeping
          That I’m no more?
Will there be any heart still memory keeping        5
          Of heretofore?
When the great winds, through leafless forests rushing,
          Like full hearts break,
When the swollen streams, o’er crag and gully gushing,
          Sad music make;        10
Will there be one, whose heart despair is crushing,
          Mourn for my sake?
When the bright sun upon that spot is shining
          With purest ray,
And the small flowers, their buds and blossoms twining,        15
          Burst through that clay;
Will there be one still on that spot repining
          Lost hopes all day?
When the night shadows, with the ample sweeping
          Of her dark pall,        20
The world and all its manifold creation sleeping,
          The great and small—
Will there be one, even at that dread hour, weeping
          For me—for all?
When no star twinkles with its eye of glory,        25
          On that low mound;
And wintry storms have with their ruins hoary
          Its loneness crowned;
Will there be then one versed in misery’s story
          Pacing it round?        30
It may be so,—but this is selfish sorrow
          To ask such meed,—
A weakness and a wickedness to borrow,
          From hearts that bleed,
The wailings of to-day, for what to-morrow        35
          Shall never need.
Lay me then gently in my narrow dwelling,
          Thou gentle heart;
And though thy bosom should with grief be swelling,
          Let no tear start;        40
It were in vain—for Time hath long been knelling—
          Sad one, depart!

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