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The Dying Request
The veteran sinks to rest —
Lay it upon my breast,
And let it crumble with my heart to dust
Its leaves a lesson tell —
Their verdure teacheth well
The everlasting greenness of my trust.
Through three score years and ten
With failing, dying men
I've wept the uncertainties of life and time!
The symbols, loved of yore,
Have changed, have lost their power,
All save this emblem of a faith sublime.
Things are not as they were
The Level and the Square,
Those time-worn implements of love, in truth, —
The incense flowing o'er
The lambskin, chastely pure,
Bear not th' interpretation as in youth.
Their moral lore they lose
They 'mind me but of those
Now in death's chambers who their teachings knew,
I see them — but they breathe
The charnel airs of death
I cannot bear their saddening forms to view.
But this, O symbol bright!
Surviving age's blight,
This speaks in honey tones, unchanged, unchanged!
In it I read my youth,
In it my manhood's truth,
In it bright forms of glory long estranged.
Green leaves of summer skies,
Blest type of Paradise!
Tokens that there's a world I soon shall see,
Of these take good supply
And, Brothers, when I die,
Lay them upon my breast to die with me?
'Twas done. They're crumbled now,
He lies in ashes, too
Yet was that confidence inspired in vain?
Ah, no, his noble heart,
When death's dark shades depart,
With them in glory shall spring forth again.
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