Rose Terry Cooke



All Saints' Eve

by Rose Terry Cooke

To-night, if true the legend tells,
All parted souls return:
When softly toll the midnight bells
And red the hearth-fires burn,
The wistful sprites come back again
From grassy grave and urn.

O legend sweet, come true to-night,
If never true before!
Bring back to me the eyes of light,
The lips that smiled of yore;
Bring back the fair and pallid face
I thought to see no more!

Thou liest in thy lonely grave
Among the silent hills;
The long gray grass thy woeful weed,
Thy requiem dropping rills.
My heart alone in all the earth
Thy tender memory thrills.

Without one parting look or word,
Not even by death distressed,
With tears unshed and cries unheard,
I saw thee seek thy rest;
Careless of all the love and grief
That round thy pillow pressed.

Behold! I light my sparkling fire,
The feast with flowers is spread;
Come, yield my heart its one desire.
Too long its depths have bled.
Come back for one forgiving kiss, --
Come back, my precious dead!

Still, still and sad the dark shuts down,
No fierce winds rock the tree;
Yet welcome night, and wind, and storm,
So I thy face might see.
What spell of power in earth or air
Shall bring it back to me?

By all the strength of kindred blood,
By vanished peace and pain,
By all we shared of ill or good,
I call thee back again!
Alas! thy sleep is still and deep,
My agony is vain.

In vain I watch, in vain I wait.
O God! what mortal spells
Can open that relentless gate
Where death's dread silence dwells?
Go out, my fire; be still, my heart;
Toll on, ye midnight bells!


Copyright 1888
William S. Gottsberger
11 Murray Street
New York