For the date of composition see Editor's Note. Published with "Alastor", 1816.
There is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.—Ecclesiastes.
The pale, the cold, and the moony smile Which the meteor beam of a starless night Sheds on a lonely and sea-girt isle, Ere the dawning of morn's undoubted light, Is the flame of life so fickle and wan That flits round our steps till their strength is gone.
O man! hold thee on in courage of soul Through the stormy shades of thy worldly way, And the billows of cloud that around thee roll Shall sleep in the light of a wondrous day, Where Hell and Heaven shall leave thee free To the universe of destiny.
This world is the nurse of all we know, This world is the mother of all we feel, And the coming of death is a fearful blow To a brain unencompassed with nerves of steel; When all that we know, or feel, or see, Shall pass like an unreal mystery.
The secret things of the grave are there, Where all but this frame must surely be, Though the fine-wrought eye and the wondrous ear No longer will live to hear or to see All that is great and all that is strange In the boundless realm of unending change.
Who telleth a tale of unspeaking death? Who lifteth the veil of what is to come? Who painteth the shadows that are beneath The wide-winding caves of the peopled tomb? Or uniteth the hopes of what shall be With the fears and the love for that which we see?