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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

Our Dead

By Arlo Bates (1850–1918)

[Sonnets in Shadow. 1887.]

WE must be nobler for our dead, be sure,

Than for the quick. We might their living eyes

Deceive with gloss of seeming; but all lies

Were vain to cheat a prescience spirit-pure.

Our soul’s true worth find aim, however poor,

They see who watch us from some deathless skies

With glance death-quickened. That no sad surprise

Sting them in seeing, be ours to secure.

Living, our loved ones make us what they dream;

Dead, if they see, they know us as we are.

Henceforward we must be, not merely seem.

Bitterer woe than death it were by far

To fail their hopes who love us to redeem;

Loss were thrice loss that thus their faith should mar.