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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
America: Vols. XXV–XXIX. 1876–79.

Middle States: Philadelphia, Pa.

The Burial-Place at Laurel Hill

By Willis Gaylord Clark (1808–1841)

HERE the lamented dead in dust shall lie,

Life’s lingering languors o’er, its labors done,

Where waving boughs, betwixt the earth and sky,

Admit the farewell radiance of the sun.

Here the long concourse from the murmuring town,

With funeral pace and slow, shall enter in,

To lay the loved in tranquil silence down,

No more to suffer, and no more to sin.

And in this hallowed spot, where Nature showers

Her summer smiles from fair and stainless skies,

Affection’s hand may strew her dewy flowers,

Whose fragrant incense from the grave shall rise.

And here the impressive stone, engraved with words

Which grief sententious gives to marble pale,

Shall teach the heart; while waters, leaves, and birds

Make cheerful music in the passing gale.

Say, wherefore should we weep, and wherefore pour

On scented airs the unavailing sigh—

While sun-bright waves are quivering to the shore,

And landscapes blooming—that the loved must die?

There is an emblem in this peaceful scene;

Soon rainbow colors on the woods will fall,

And autumn gusts bereave the hills of green,

As sinks the year to meet its cloudy pall.

Then, cold and pale, in distant vistas round,

Disrobed and tuneless, all the woods will stand,

While the chained streams are silent as the ground,

As Death had numbed them with his icy hand.

Yet, when the warm, soft winds shall rise in spring,

Like struggling daybeams o’er a blasted heath,

The bird returned shall poise her golden wing,

And liberal Nature break the spell of Death.

So, when the tomb’s dull silence finds an end,

The blessed dead to endless youth shall rise,

And hear the archangel’s thrilling summons blend

Its tone with anthems from the upper skies.

There shall the good of earth be found at last,

Where dazzling streams and vernal fields expand;

Where Love her crown attains,—her trials past,—

And, filled with rapture, hails the “better land”!