MARK you not yon sad procession;
‘Mid the ruin’d abbey’s gloom,
Hastening to the worm’s possession,
To the dark and silent tomb!
See the velvet pall hangs over
Poor mortality’s remains;
We should shudder to discover
What that coffin’s space contains.
Death itself is lovely—wearing
But the colder shape of sleep;
Or the solemn statue bearing
Beauty that forbids to weep.
But decay—the pulses tremble
When its livid signs appear;
When the once-loved lips resemble
All we loathe, and all we fear.
Is it not a ghastly ending
For the body’s godlike form,
Thus to the damp earth descending,
Food and triumph to the worm?
Better far the red pile blazing
With the spicy Indian wood,
Incense unto heaven raising
From the sandal oil’s sweet flood.
In the bright pyre’s kindling flashes,
Let my yielded soul ascend;
Fling to the wild winds my ashes
‘Till with mother-earth they blend.
Not so,—let the pale urn keep them;
Touch’d with spices, oil, and wine;
Let there be some one to weep them;
Wilt thou keep that urn? Love mine!