Madison Julius Cawein



Before The Tomb

by Madison Julius Cawein

The way went under cedared gloom
To moonlight, like a cactus bloom,
Before the entrance of her tomb.

I had an hour of night and thin
Sad starlight; and I set my chin
Against the grating and looked in.

A gleam, like moonlight, through a square
Of opening -- I knew not where --
Shone on her coffin resting there.

And on its oval silver-plate
I read her name and age and date,
And smiled, soft-thinking on my hate.

There was no insect sound to chirr;
No wind to make a little stir.
I stood and looked and thought on her.

The gleam stole downward from her head,
Till at her feet it rested red
On Gothic gold, that sadly said: --

God to her love lent a weak reed
Of strength: and gave no light to lead:
Pray for her soul: for it hath need.

There was no night-bird's twitter near,
No low vague water I might hear
To make a small sound in the ear.

The gleam, that made a burning mark
Of each dim word, died to a spark;
Then left the tomb and coffin dark.

I had a little while to wait;
And prayed with hands against the grate,
And heart that yearned and knew too late.

There was no light below, above,
To point my soul the way thereof, --
The way of hate that led to love.


The Garden Of Dreams
Copyright 1896
John P. Morton & Company, Louisville