The Suicide’s Grave (From The German)

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The evening shadows fall upon the grave
On which I sit; it is no common heap,—
Below its turf are laid the bones of one,
Who, sick of life and misery, did quench
The vital spark which in his bosom burn’d.

The shadows deepen, and the ruddy tinge
Which lately flooded all the western sky
Has now diminish’d to a single streak,
And here I sit, alone, and listen to
The noise of forests, and the hum of groves.

This is the time to think of nature’s God,
When birds and fountains, streams and woods, unite
Their various-sounding voices in his praise:
Shall man alone refuse to sing it—yes,
For man, alone, has nought to thank him for.

There’s not a joy he gives to us on earth
That is not dash’d with bitterness and gall,
Only when youth is past, and age comes on,
Do we find quiet—quiet is not bliss,
Then tell me, God, what I’ve to thank thee for.

But to recur to him who rests beneath—
He had a heart enthusiastic, warm,
And form’d for love—no prejudice dwelt there;
He roam’d about the world to find a heart
Which felt with his, he sought, and found it not.

Or if he found it, providence stepp’d in,
And tore the cherish’d object from his sight,
Or fill’d its mind with visions weak and vain—
Could he survive all this? ah, no! he died,—
Died by the hand which injur’d none but him.

And did he die unpitied and unwept,—
Most probably, for there are fools who think
‘T is crime in man to take what is his own—
And ‘t was on account they laid him here,
Within this sweet, unconsecrated, spot.

There comes a troop of maidens and of youths
Home from their labour—hark! they cease their song,
And, pointing to the grave, with trembling hands,
They make a circuit, thinking that in me
The ghost of the self-murderer they view—
Which, fame says, wanders here.

© George Borrow