At The Grave Of Keats

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To G. W. C.
LONG, long ago, in the sweet Roman spring
Through the bright morning air we slowly strolled,
And in the blue heaven heard the skylarks sing
Above the ruins old —
Beyond the Forum's crumbling grass-grown piles,
Through high-walled lanes o'erhung with blossoms white
That opened on the far Campagna's miles
Of verdure and of light;
Till by the grave of Keats we stood, and found
A rose some loyal hand had planted there.
Making more sacred still that hallowed ground,
And that enchanted air.
A single rose, whose fading petals drooped,
And seemed to wait for us to gather them.
So, kneeling on the humble mound, we stooped
And plucked it from its stem.
One rose, and nothing more. We shared its leaves
Between us, as we shared the thoughts of one
Called from the fields before his unripe sheaves
Could feel the harvest sun.
That rose's fragrance is forever fled
For us, dear friend — but not the poet's lay.
He is the rose — deathless among the dead —
Whose perfume lives to-day.

© Christopher Pearse Cranch