Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
 
39. Immortality
 
By Richard Henry Dana
 
 
AND do our loves all perish with our frames?
Do those that took their root and put forth buds,
And their soft leaves unfolded in the warmth
Of mutual hearts, grow up and live in beauty,
Then fade and fall, like fair, unconscious flowers?        5
Are thoughts and passions that to the tongue give speech,
And make it send forth winning harmonies,—
That to the cheek do give its living glow,
And vision in the eye the soul intense
With that for which there is no utterance—        10
Are these the body’s accidents?—no more?—
To live in it, and when that dies, go out
Like the burnt taper’s flame?
 
                O, listen, man!
A voice within us speaks the startling word,        15
“Man, thou shalt never die!” Celestial voices
Hymn it around our souls: according harps,
By angel fingers touched when the mild stars
Of morning sang together, sound forth still
The song of our great immortality:        20
Thick clustering orbs, and this our fair domain,
The tall, dark mountains, and the deep-toned seas,
Join in this solemn, universal song.
 
  O, listen ye, our spirits; drink it in
From all the air! ’T is in the gentle moonlight;        25
’T is floating in day’s setting glories; Night,
Wrapt in her sable robe, with silent step
Comes to our bed and breathes it in our ears:
Night, and the dawn, bright day, and thoughtful eve,
All time, all bounds, the limitless expanse,        30
As one vast mystic instrument, are touched
By an unseen, living Hand; the conscious chords
Quiver with joy in this great jubilee;
The dying hear it, and as sounds of earth
Grow dull and distant, wake their passing souls        35
To mingle in this heavenly harmony.
 

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