Of life, of death

The Solitary Reaper

Highland woman
BEHOLD her, single in the field,
Yon solitary Highland Lass!
Reaping and singing by herself;
Stop here, or gently pass!
Alone she cuts and binds the grain,
And sings a melancholy strain;
O listen! for the Vale profound
Is overflowing with the sound.
No Nightingale did ever chaunt
More welcome notes to weary bands
Of travellers in some shady haunt,
Among Arabian sands:
A voice so thrilling ne’er was heard
In spring-time from the Cuckoo-bird,
Breaking the silence of the seas
Among the farthest Hebrides.

Will no one tell me what she sings?–
Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
For old, unhappy, far-off things,
And battles long ago:
Or is it some more humble lay,
Familiar matter of to-day?
Some natural sorrow, loss, or pain,
That has been, and may be again?

Whate’er the theme, the Maiden sang
As if her song could have no ending;
I saw her singing at her work,
And o’er the sickle bending,
I listened, motionless and still;
And, as I mounted up the hill
The music in my heart I bore,
Long after it was heard no more.

William Wordsworth. 1770–1850

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To Death

I must travel throgh feebleness on the same
road as my fathers – the weary tedious hours
draw near me, and the long night.

When a man is past forty, though he flourishes
like the trees in leaf, the sound of a vault being
opened makes his face change.

Death comes unannounced, abruptly he may
thwart you; no one knows his features, nor the
sound of his tread approaching.

Oh, my heart has no peace from my endless
yearning; Lord God, at my death grant that we
may lied in one grave!

I shall not go to bed tonight, my love is not in
it: I shall lie on the gravestone – break if you
must, my poor heart.

There is nothing between him and me tonight
but earth and coffin and shroud; I have been
further many times, but never with a heavier
heart.

I walked in the churchyard where a hundred
bodies lie; I set my foot on my sweetheart’s
grave, I felt my poor heart leap.

I’m helpless now, and if they call me home I
cannot answer; for the black cold bare dank
earth of Trawsfynnyd covers my face.

The sorrows and sins of life I did not see; do
not weep for me. I am cured of all sickness,
and in my grave – happy am I!

Into his grave and he is gone, no more talk
about him; earth’s crop, which generation by
generation slips away into oblivion.

Englyn and harp and harp-string and the lordly
feasts, all these have passed away; and where
the nobility of Gwynedd used to be the birds of
night now reign.

There are no poets there, nor bards, nor
cheerful banquet tables, nor gold among its
walls; nor largesse from the generous lord: the
pathways where once song was heard are now
the haunts of the owl.

For all their glory, short is the fame of lords,
both their grandeur and their ramparts pass
away; it is a strange place for pride to make its
home – in the dust!

-Welsh Poem author unknown

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