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The Drunkard's Grave

Rob Morris

I stood beside the grave,
The last and dreamless bed
One whom I knew in other days
Lay there amidst the dead
His head toward the setting sun
For O, his life and pilgrimage were done.

'Twas evening's pensive hour,
The rich and painted West
Had called earth's laborers, — weary ones, —
To home delights and rest
Bird songs and voices of the day
Had melted all in evening's hush away.

Then came upon my soul
A rush of memories
I seemed to see beside that grave
My friend of other days
His beaming eye, — his generous hand, —
The largest, brightest, readiest of our band.

I seemed to hear once more
His voice so full and free,
My hand, — my heart, — my purse, — my life,
I give from me to thee!
The scalding tears my grief confest
While night and darkness settled o'er the West.

For oh, I thought me then
Of all his sad decline
He fell from honor's topmost height,
The victim of one sin!
Yes, he, the generous and the brave,
Lay there dishonored in a Drunkard's Grave!

Long years and hard he strove
Against the Siren cup
Wife, Children, Brotherhood combined
To bear him kindly up,
And cheer him midst that mighty woe
With which the unhappy drunkard has to do.

We plead by this and this
We urged his plighted word
We told him what a shameful tale
His story would afford
We gathered 'round him all our band
And warned and threatened with stern command.

In vain too strong his chain —
Our cable tow too weak!
That cursed thirst had burned his soul,
He would no warning take
He broke the heart that leaned on his,
And brought himself, at last, at last, to this.

His sun went down at noon—
His life expired in spring
His work undone, his column broke, —
A ruined, loathsome thing!
Expelled from Masonry, his Grave
No emblems of the ancient Art can have.

I turned away in tears—
The night had settled round
I heard in cypress branches nigh,
The owl's complaining sound,
Then homeward fled, amidst the gloom,
And left my Brother in the Drunkard's tomb!
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