Verse > Anthologies > Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. > Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry
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Ralph Waldo Emerson, comp. (1803–1882).  Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry.  1880.
 
Thanatopsis
By William Cullen Bryant (1794–1878)
 
(See full text.)

  … YET a few days, and thee
The all-beholding sun shall see no more
In all his course; nor yet in the cold ground,
Where thy pale form was laid, with many tears,
Nor in the embrace of ocean, shall exist        5
Thy image. Earth, that nourished thee, shall claim
Thy growth, to be resolved to earth again;
And lost each human trace, surrendering up
Thine individual being, shalt thou go
To mix forever with the elements,        10
To be a brother to the insensible rock,
And to the sluggish clod, which the rude swain
Turns with his share, and treads upon. The oak
Shall send his roots abroad, and pierce thy mould.
Yet not to thy eternal resting-place        15
Shalt thou retire alone—nor couldst thou wish
Couch more magnificent. Thou shalt lie down
With patriarchs of the infant world,—with kings,
The powerful of the earth,—the wise, the good,
Fair forms, and hoary seers of ages past,        20
All in one mighty sepulchre. The hills
Rock-ribbed and ancient as the sun,—the vales
Stretching in pensive quietness between;
The venerable woods,—rivers that move
In majesty, and the complaining brooks        25
That make the meadows green; and poured round all,
Old ocean’s gray and melancholy waste,—
Are but the solemn decorations all
Of the great tomb of man. The golden sun,
The planets, all the infinite host of heaven,        30
Are shining on the sad abodes of death,
Through the still lapse of ages. All that tread
The globe are but a handful to the tribes
That slumber in its bosom….
 
So live, that when thy summons comes to join        35
The innumerable caravan, that moves
To that mysterious realm, where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death.
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
Scourged to his dungeon, but sustained and soothed        40
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave,
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.
 
 
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