My Lattice and Other Poems

by Frederick George Scott


 

A CYPRESS WREATH


 

I

 

DEATH met a little child beside the sea;
    The child was ruddy and his face was fair,
    His heart was gladdened with the keen, salt air,
Full of the young waves’ laughter and their glee.
Then Death stooped down and kissed him, saying: “Thee,
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    My child, will I give summers rare and bright,
    And flowers, and morns with never noon or night,
Or clouds to darken, if thou’lt come with me.”
Then the child gladly gave his little hand,
And walked the Death along the shining sand,
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    And prattled gaily, full of hope, and smiled
As a white mist curled round him on the shore
And hid the land and sea for evermore—
    Death hath no terrors for a little child.

 

II

 

 
There lived two souls who only lived for love;
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    The one a maiden, full of joy and youth,
    The other her young lord, a man of truth
And very valiant. Them did God above
Knit with those holy bands none may remove
    Save He that formed them. But next year there came
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    God's angel, with his face and wings of flame,
And bore the young wife’s soul off like a dove.
Then did her lord, disconsolate many years,
    Cry bitterly to God to make them one,
        And take his life, and silence the sweet past.
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So Death came tenderly and stilled his tears,
    Clad as a priest, and ’neath the winter’s sun
        In a white grave re-wedded them at last.

 

III

 

Quoth Death to Life: “Behold what strength is mine,
    All others perish, yet I do not fail,
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    Where life aboundeth most, I most prevail,
I mete out all things with my measuring line.”
Then answered Life: “O boastful Death, not thine
    The final triumph, what thy hands undo
    My busy anvil forgeth out anew,
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For one lamp darkened, I bring two to shine.”
Then answered Death: “Thy handiwork is fair,
    But a slight breath will crumble it to dust.”
“Nay, Death,” said Life, “for in the vernal air
    A sweeter blossom breaks the winter’s crust.”
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Then God called down and stopped the foolish strife;
His servants both, for God made Death and Life.