CHORUS OF THE DEAD
And all returns to Thee, alone eternal,
And all Thee returning.
Oh Death, in Thy vast shadow,
Simple and bare we languish,
Not happy, but from the anguish
Of life at last set free. The night profoundly
Falls on the shaken spirit,
And dark in dark confuses;
The withered soul sourage and hope refuses;
Spent and uncaring,
Free now from sorrow and from fear for ever,
We lie here undespairing
Through void eternity.
We lived... And as a phantom from a dream of terror
Wanders into the day,
And draws across the speechless souls of children
A memory and a fear,
We, as we linger here,
Are haunted still by life: but fears of children
Haunt us not now. What were we?
What was that bitter point in time
That bore the name of life?
Lost in our thought that hidden country lies:
As in our day of life there lay
The secret land of death. And as from dying
Our living souls drew back, so now they draw
Back from the flame of life,
Simple and bare to languish,
Not happy, but not in anguish;
For happiness we know
Fate upon life or death will not bestow.
From the Italian of Giacomo Leopardi by HENRY REED