Bayard Taylor image

Bayard Taylor

Jan. 11, 1825 - Dec 19, 1878



by Bayard Taylor

O, Tongues of the Past, be still!
Are the days not over and gone?
The joys have perished that were so sweet,
But the sorrow still lives on.

I have sealed the graves of my hopes;
I have carried the pall of love:
Let the pains and pangs be buried as deep,
And the grass be as green above!

But the ghosts of the dead arise:
They come when the board is spread:
They poison the wine of the banquet cups
With the mould their lips have shed.

The pulse of the bacchant blood
May throb in the ivy wreath,
But the berries are plucked from the nightshade bough
That grows in the gardens of Death.

I sleep with joy at my heart,
Warm as a new-made bride;
But a vampyre comes to suck her blood,
And I wake with a corpse at my side.

Shall I open your fatal graves?
Shall I drive a stake through the clay,
Till ye cease to drain from my bankrupt veins
The life ye have made your prey?

O ghosts, I have given to you
The bliss of the faded years;
The sweat of my brow, the blood of my heart,
And manhood's terrible tears!

Take them, and be content:
I have nothing more to give:
My soul is chilled in the house of Death,
And 't is time that I should live.

Take them, and let me be:
Lie still in the churchyard mould,
Nor chase from my heart each new delight
With the phantom of the old!


The Poet's Journal
Copyright 1863
Ticknor and Fields, Boston