Love Dreaming of Death

Charles Harpur

I DREAMT my little boys were dead
    And I was sitting wild and lone;
On closed unmoving knees my head
    Lay rigid as a stone.

And thus I sat without a tear,
    And though I drew life’s painful breath,
All life to me seemed cold and drear,
    And comfortless as death:

Sat on the earth as on a bier,
    Where loss and ruin lived alone,
Without the comfort of a tear—
    Without a passing groan.

And there was stillness everywhere,
    Ensphering one wide sense of woe;
The stillness of a world’s despair,
    Whose tides had ceased to flow.

Yea, so eternal seemed my grief,
    Time moved out, neither slow nor fast,
Nor recked I whether periods brief
    Or centuries had passed.

It was as if to marble cold
    My loss had petrified the air,
And I was shut within its hold,
    Made deathless by despair.

Made deathless in a world of death,
    There ever sitting wild and lone,
With all but one pent painful breath
    Transmutted into stone.

And more the gorgon horror crushed
    With dry petrific pressure in,
Till forth my waking spirit rushed
    With agonizing din!

And oh! What joy it was to wake—
    To cast that haggard dream away,
And from its stony influence break
    Into the living day!

I sought the objects of my care,
    And felt, while I embraced the twain,
How much even from a dream’s despair
    A father’s love may gain.

When this dream-record long ago
    I penned, how little did I deem
That yet a distant coming woe
    Was shadowed in its theme.

For ah! Of that beloved twain,
    The lips of one, then warm with breath,
I since have kissed unkissed again,
    For they were cold in death.

A swift wild death! And when I think
    Of all that I have lost thereby,
My heart hath pangs that seem to drink
    All Mara’s waters dry;

Yea, pangs that would my life destroy,
    Did faith not whisper oft between:
“Peace! Sire of an immortal boy
    Beyond this mortal scene.”

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