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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

If Death be Final

By Christopher Pearse Cranch (1813–1892)

[From Ariel and Caliban, with other Poems. 1887.]

IF death be final, what is life, with all

Its lavish promises, its thwarted aims,

Its lost ideals, its dishonored claims,

Its uncompleted growth? A prison wall,

Whose heartless stones but echo back our call;

An epitaph recording but our names;

A puppet-stage where joys and griefs and shames

Furnish a demon jester’s carnival;

A plan without a purpose or a form;

A roofless temple; an unfinished tale.

And men like madrepores through calm and storm

Toil, die to build a branch of fossil frail,

And add from all their dreams, thoughts, acts, belief,

A few more inches to a coral-reef.