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A Paean

1. A Paean

How shall the burial rite be read? 

The solemn song be sung? 

The requiem for the loveliest dead, 

That ever died so young?  


Her friends are gazing on her, 

And on her gaudy bier, 

And weep! — oh! to dishonor 

Her beauty with a tear! 


They loved her for her wealth — 

And they hated her for her pride — 

But she grew in feeble health, 

And they love her — that she died. 


They tell me (while they speak 

Of her “costly broider’d pall”) 

That my voice is growing weak — 

That I should not sing at all — 


Or that my tone should be 

Tun’d to such solemn song 

So mournfully — so mournfully, 

That the dead may feel no wrong. 


But she is gone above, 

With young Hope at her side, 

And I am drunk with love 

Of the dead, who is my bride. 


Of the dead — dead — who lies 

All motionless, 

With the death upon her eyes, 

And the life upon each tress. 


In June she died — in June 

Of life — beloved, and fair; 

But she did not die too soon, 

Nor with too calm an air. 


From more than fiends on earth, 

Helen, thy soul is riven, 

To join the all-hallowed mirth 

Of more than thrones in heaven — 


Therefore, to thee this night 

I will no requiem raise, 

But waft thee on thy flight, 

With a Pæan of old days. 


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