The Garden Sepulchre

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The Garden Sepulchre  (1853) 
by Sarah Helen Whitman

written for the consecration of the cemetery

at swan point.

In the faith of Him who saw
   The eternal morning rise,
Through the open gates of pearl,
   On the hills of Paradise;

Looking to the promised land,
   Saw the verdant palms, that wave
In the calm and lustrous air,
   Through the shadows of the grave;

In His name, whose deathless love
   With a glory all divine,
Filled the garden-sepulchre,
   Far away in Palestine;

We would consecrate a place
   Where our loved ones may repose,
When the storms of life are past,
   And the weary eyelids close;—

Fairer than a festal hall
   Wreath the chambers of their rest;—
Sacred to the tears that fall
   O'er the slumbers of the blest:—

Sacred to the hopes that rise
   Heavenward from this vale of tears,
Soaring, with unwearied wing,
   Through the illimitable years.

Each sweet nursling of the spring
   Here shall weep its fresh'ning dews,
Here its fragile censer swing,
   And all its fragrant soul diffuse.

The lily, in her white symar,
   Fondly o'er the turf shall wave,
Asphodels and violets star
   All the green-sward of the grave.

Here the pale anemone
   In the April breeze shall nod,
And the may-flower weave her blooms,
   Through and through the velvet sod.

Bending by the storied urn,
   Purple eglantine shall blow,
Till the pallid marble takes,
   From her cheek, a tender glow.

Where the folding branches close
   In a verdant coronal,
Through their dim and dreaming boughs,
   Faintly shall the sun-beams fall.

Memories, mournful, yet how sweet!
   Here shall weave their mystic spell;
Angels tread, with silent feet,
   Paths where love and sorrow dwell.

No rude sound of earth shall break
   The dim quiet, evermore;
But the winds and waves shall chaunt
   A requiem on the lonely shore.

Flitting through the laurel's gloom,
   The humming-bird shall wander by,
Winnowing the floral bloom,
   From cups of wreathèd ivory.

The bee shall wind his fairy horn,
   Faintly murmuring on the ear;
Sounds that seem of silence born,
   Soothe the soul of sadness here;

Many a low and mystic word,
   From the realm of shadows sent,
In the busy throng unheard,
   Make the silence eloquent:

Words of sweet promise, spoken
   Only where the dirge is sung;
Where the golden bowl is broken,
   And the silver chord unstrung.

Faith shall, with uplifted eye,
   All the solitude illume;
Hope and Memory shall sit,
   Shining seraphs, by the tomb.