Verse > Anthologies > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of English Verse
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Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. 1919. The Oxford Book of English Verse: 1250–1900.
  
John Keble. 1792–1866
  
620. Burial of the Dead
  
I THOUGHT to meet no more, so dreary seem'd 
Death's interposing veil, and thou so pure, 
        Thy place in Paradise 
        Beyond where I could soar; 
 
Friend of this worthless heart! but happier thoughts         5
Spring like unbidden violets from the sod, 
        Where patiently thou tak'st 
        Thy sweet and sure repose. 
 
The shadows fall more soothing: the soft air 
Is full of cheering whispers like thine own;  10
        While Memory, by thy grave, 
        Lives o'er thy funeral day; 
 
The deep knell dying down, the mourners' pause, 
Waiting their Saviour's welcome at the gate.— 
        Sure with the words of Heaven  15
        Thy spirit met us there, 
 
And sought with us along th' accustom'd way 
The hallow'd porch, and entering in, beheld 
        The pageant of sad joy 
        So dear to Faith and Hope.  20
 
O! hadst thou brought a strain from Paradise 
To cheer us, happy soul, thou hadst not touch'd 
        The sacred springs of grief 
        More tenderly and true, 
 
Than those deep-warbled anthems, high and low,  25
Low as the grave, high as th' Eternal Throne, 
        Guiding through light and gloom 
        Our mourning fancies wild, 
 
Till gently, like soft golden clouds at eve 
Around the western twilight, all subside  30
        Into a placid faith, 
        That even with beaming eye 
 
Counts thy sad honours, coffin, bier, and pall; 
So many relics of a frail love lost, 
        So many tokens dear  35
        Of endless love begun. 
 
Listen! it is no dream: th' Apostles' trump 
Gives earnest of th' Archangel's;—calmly now, 
        Our hearts yet beating high 
        To that victorious lay  40
 
(Most like a warrior's, to the martial dirge 
Of a true comrade), in the grave we trust 
        Our treasure for awhile: 
        And if a tear steal down, 
 
If human anguish o'er the shaded brow  45
Pass shuddering, when the handful of pure earth 
        Touches the coffin-lid; 
        If at our brother's name, 
 
Once and again the thought, 'for ever gone,' 
Come o'er us like a cloud; yet, gentle spright,  50
        Thou turnest not away, 
        Thou know'st us calm at heart. 
 
One look, and we have seen our last of thee, 
Till we too sleep and our long sleep be o'er. 
        O cleanse us, ere we view  55
        That countenance pure again, 
 
Thou, who canst change the heart, and raise the dead! 
As Thou art by to soothe our parting hour, 
        Be ready when we meet, 
        With Thy dear pardoning words.  60
 
 
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