When the wasting embers redden the chimney-breast,
And Life’s bare pathway looms like a desert track to me,
And from hall and parlour the living have gone to their rest,
My perished people who housed them here come back to me.
They come and seat them around in their mouldy places,
Now and then bending towards me a glance of wistfulness,
A strange upbraiding smile upon all their faces,
And in the bearing of each a passive tristfulness.
‘Do you uphold me, lingering and languishing here,
A pale late plant of your once strong stock?’ I say to them;
‘A thinker of crooked thoughts upon Life in the sere,
An on That which consigns men to night after showing the day to them?’
‘ O let be the Wherefore! We fevered our years not thus:
Take of Life what it grants, without question!’ they answer me seemingly.
‘Enjoy, suffer, wait: spread the table here freely like us,
And, satisfied, placid, unfretting, watch Time away beamingly!’