God rest you all that linger here,
Though you be strange you still are dear.
Peace to your hearts, if you abide,
Reflect, and give your souls to cheer.
Oh thou, the youngest of this race
Sojourning now in their old place,
Think thou kind thoughts and dream fair dreams,
For such as this thy line beseems.
If underneath the quiet eaves
You hear the pushing of vague leaves—
'T is these old beams, remembering
How sweet the forests were in spring.
I reach abroad my wistful palms,
As beggars cry, "An alms, an alms."
Leave thou some kindliness in me
That these old rooms may better be.
THE BEST ROOM
All they that spent their days in grace
Have left a blessing on this place.
Then gentle be that speech that falls,
Lest ye offend these placid walls.
She was so young, so light, so fair!
I loved her footfall on the stair,
Her voice fell bright through this dim air.
I would have kept my dear, but she
Like thou —like thou— must pass from me.
How intimate and yet how strange!
How calm I am that never change.
All day I think, as I abide,
How many folk have in me died.
To sleep, to dream, to smile, to lie
And still dream on as night goes by,
It may be when thy time shall come
It shall not seem more sad to die.
Amid the clinging world I guess
Their subtle bands contrive to bless.
And from this ancient dust I see
Ancestral eyes peer forth at me.
The thorn that by the wayside grows
Comforts the pilgrim with a rose.
Do thou, like him, to charm thy gloom
Perceive the sweetness of this room.
If thou perchance shouldst see a face
Smile at thee from an empty space,
Or feel some presence, do not fear,
Those ghosts are kind that loiter here.
I met a stranger in this room,
He moved about and seemed at home.
"Good sir," said I, "what dost thou here?"
He turned a pleasant face and said,
"A hundred years have I been dead."
Ye who have come to such an age
Ye dream of that Great Pilgrimage,
Think not to bid this roof farewell.
Lo! our old smiles shall give you rest
In those new mansions of the blest.
THE PLASTER ON THE CHIMNEY
These words in time shall pass away
And moulder with the mouldering clay.
Learn thou that only passing things
May know the blessedness of wings.