He knocked, but faintly—for his trembling hand
Refused to aid his heavy heart's demand.
The portal opens—'tis a well known face—
But not the form he panted to embrace.
Its lips are silent—twice his own essayed,
And failed to frame the question they delayed;
He snatched the lamp—its light will answer all—
It quits his grasp, expiring in the fall. 1760
He would not wait for that reviving ray—
As soon could he have lingered there for day;
But, glimmering through the dusky corridor,
Another chequers o'er the shadowed floor;
His steps the chamber gain—his eyes behold
All that his heart believed not—yet foretold!
He turned not—spoke not—sunk not—fixed his look,
And set the anxious frame that lately shook:
He gazed—how long we gaze despite of pain,
And know, but dare not own, we gaze in vain! 1770
In life itself she was so still and fair.
That Death with gentler aspect withered there;
And the cold flowers her colder hand contained,
In that last grasp as tenderly were strained
As if she scarcely felt, but feigned a sleep—
And made it almost mockery yet to weep:
The long dark lashes fringed her lids of snow,
And veiled—Thought shrinks from all that lurked below—
- In the Levant it is the custom to strew flowers on the bodies of the dead, and in the hands of young persons to place a nosegay.
"There shut it inside the sweet cold hand."
Evelyn Hope, by Robert Browning.]