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Extract from Thanatopsis

William Cullen Bryant

William Cullen Bryant wrote Thanatopsis, a thesis about Death, at the ripe age of 17. His owm summons did not come until age 84.

So shalt thou rest, - and what if thou withdraw
Unheeded by the living and no friend
Take note of thy departure?  All that breathe
Will share thy destiny.  The gay will laugh
When thou art gone, the solemn brood of care
Plod on, and each one, as before, will chase
His favorite phantom;  yet all these shall leave
Their mirth and their employments, and shall come
And make their bed with thee.  As the long train
Of ages glide away, the sons of men,
The youth in life's green spring, and he who goes
In the full strength of years, matron, and maid,
The speechless babe, and the gray headed man,
Shall one by one be gathered to thy side,
By those who, in their turn, shall follow them.


So live that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan that moves
To that mysterious realm, where each shall take
His chamber in the silient halls of death,
Thou go not like the quarry slave, at night,
Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed
By an unfalthering trust, approach thy grave,
Like one who draws the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.
Here is the link to the complete poem