“To the Dead” by John G. C. Brainard

by theliterarymaiden

To the Dead
John G. C. Brainard
From the Poets and Poetry of America, 1854, pg. 210

How many now are dead to me
That live to others yet!
How many are alive to me
Who crumble in their graves, nor see
That sickening, sinking look, which we
Till dead can ne’er forget.

Beyond the blue seas, far away,
Most wretchedly alone,
One died in prison, far away,
Where stone on stone shut out the day,
And never hope or comfort’s ray
In his lone dungeon shone.

Dead to the world, alive to me,
Though months and years have pass’d;
In a lone hour the hum of some wild bee,
And then his form and face I see,
As when I saw him last.

And one with a bright lip, and cheek,
And eye, is dead to me.
How pale the bloom of his smooth cheek!
His lip was cold—it would not speak:
His heart was dead, for it did not break:
And his eye, for it did not see.

Then for the living be the tomb,
And for the dead the smile;
Engrave oblivion on the tomb
Of pulseless life and deadly bloom,—
Dim is such glare: but bright the gloom
Around the funeral pile.