Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)
“Hope… is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without the words, and never stops at all.”
ODE TO AN ATHLETE DYING YOUNG
by Alfred Edward Housman (1859–1936)
The time you won your town the race
We chaired you through the market-place;
Man and boy stood cheering by,
And home we brought you shoulder-high.
To-day, the road all runners come,
Shoulder-high we bring you home,
And set you at your threshold down,
Townsman of a stiller town.
Smart lad, to slip betimes away
From fields where glory does not stay,
And early though the laurel grows
It withers quicker than the rose.
Eyes the shady night has shut
Cannot see the record cut,
And silence sounds no worse than cheers
After earth has stopped the ears:
Now you will not swell the rout
Of lads that wore their honours out,
Runners whom renown outran
And the name died before the man.
So set, before the echoes fade,
The fleet foot on the sill of shade,
And hold to the low lintel up
The still-defended challenge-cup.
And round that early-laurelled head
Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,
And find unwithered on its curls
The garland briefer than a girl's.
Jerusalem (English Hymn)
(Music and Movie Titles Taken from 12th Line)
And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen?
And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among those dark Satanic mills?
Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariots of Fire!
I will not cease from metal fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land.
Now I lay me down to sleep.
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.
But if I should live for another day,
I pray the Lord to guide my way.
Notes: Talking about death to our children is almost like talking about sex to our children. I have found many variations of the above childhood poem on the Internet that avoid the mention of death. Some parents offer the explanation for their avoidancee that they don't want their children to think about death just before going to sleep. I don't recall anyone growing up without an understanding of death. Almost everyone is confronted with the death of a dog, cat, bird, fish, pet or relative at sometime or another before reaching adulthood.