A hymn floats on the still cool air
across the churchyard, soft and clear.
and as its fragrant tones alight
upon my ear I see the bright
new Sun creep o’er the old sheep wall
and hang there in a fiery ball,
then quickly climbing, change its hue
to golden and the sky to blue.
The yews beside the old lych gate
o’erhang the stones that mark the late
beholders of this very scene -
the old stone church, the little green -
some in ages long ago
and others just a year or so:
they’d laugh and stroll along the lane
until they died in peace - or pain.
The ramparts of the aged tower
look down in wisdom in this hour
as they have done for countless years:
their peals of laughter blessed the ears
of those who now can hear no more,
their epitaphs without the door
’neath bells that once did laugh their names,
called by the death-knell of the same.
The dewy beads on every blade
and leaf are glist’ning now the shade
of night is banished once again,
and day’s bright warrior seems to reign
forever o’er the cloudless skies
until he once more slowly dies
a death that now seems so remote;
but surely those beneath death smote?
Yes, those now dead who in their youths
did tread the earth beneath the roofs
of leafy lattice overlaid
that silent hang around the glade.
I wonder if they roam there still,
those phantoms who these graves do fill,
forgotten now by all but me
beneath a festered, age old tree.
Yes, all who die are doomed to this:
oh, how I miss your burning kiss
my love! Why did you have to die so soon,
and leave me hear beneath the Moon?
The Moon? - for day has crept
upon me here whilst I have wept.
Upon your grave I kneel, I cry -
and here I truly wish to die.
But wait! what is that sound I here?
The church’s creaking door! I fear
the cold grey fingers of the morn’
will laughable my plight forlorn
to those who know not what I feel
(to whom time only will reveal
the agonies of sad despair)
descry: and yet why should they care?
I therefore must my wits collect
and no more stay to recollect
the ironies of life anon,
for I will from this place be gone
and all my sorrow but a dream
(as childhood fantasies) will seem.
The old lych gate - the winding lane -
away! And ne’er return again.