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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882). Complete Poetical Works. 1893.


From the Anglo-Saxon. The Soul’s Complaint against the Body

MUCH it behoveth

Each one of mortals,

That he his soul’s journey

In himself ponder,

How deep it may be.

When Death cometh,

The bonds he breaketh

By which were united

The soul and the body.

Long it is thenceforth

Ere the soul taketh

From God himself

Its woe or its weal;

As in the world erst,

Even in its earth-vessel,

It wrought before.

The soul shall come

Wailing with loud voice,

After a sennight,

The soul, to find

The body

That it erst dwelt in;—

Three hundred winters,

Unless ere that worketh

The Eternal Lord,

The Almighty God,

The end of the world.

Crieth then, so care-worn,

With cold utterance,

And speaketh grimly,

The ghost to the dust:

“Dry dust! thou dreary one!

How little didst thou labor for me!

In the foulness of earth

Thou all wearest away

Like to the loam!

Little didst thou think

How thy soul’s journey

Would be thereafter,

When from the body

It should be led forth.”