Before The Tomb

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The way went under cedared gloom
  To moonlight, like a cactus bloom,
  Before the entrance of her tomb.

  I had an hour of night and thin
  Sad starlight; and I set my chin
  Against the grating and looked in.

  A gleam, like moonlight, through a square
  Of opening--I knew not where--
  Shone on her coffin resting there.

  And on its oval silver-plate
  I read her name and age and date,
  And smiled, soft-thinking on my hate.

  There was no insect sound to chirr;
  No wind to make a little stir.
  I stood and looked and thought on her.

  The gleam stole downward from her head,
  Till at her feet it rested red
  On Gothic gold, that sadly said:--

  "God to her love lent a weak reed
  Of strength: and gave no light to lead:
  Pray for her soul; for it hath need."

  There was no night-bird's twitter near,
  No low vague water I might hear
  To make a small sound in the ear.

  The gleam, that made a burning mark
  Of each dim word, died to a spark;
  Then left the tomb and coffin dark.

  I had a little while to wait;
  And prayed with hands against the grate,
  And heart that yearned and knew too late.

  There was no light below, above,
  To point my soul the way thereof,--
  The way of hate that led to love.

© Madison Julius Cawein