At a Dog's Grave

A poem by Algernon Charles Swinburne

I
Good night, we say, when comes the time to win
The daily death divine that shuts up sight,
Sleep, that assures for all who dwell therein
Good night.
The shadow shed round those we love shines bright
As love's own face, when death, sleep's gentler twin,
From them divides us even as night from light.
Shall friends born lower in life, though pure of sin,
Though clothed with love and faith to usward plight,
Perish and pass unbidden of us, their kin,
Good night?

II
To die a dog's death once was held for shame.
Not all men so beloved and mourned shall lie
As many of these, whose time untimely came
To die.
His years were full: his years were joyous: why
Must love be sorrow, when his gracious name
Recalls his lovely life of limb and eye?
If aught of blameless life on earth may claim
Life higher than death, though death's dark wave rise high,
Such life as this among us never came
To die.

III
White violets, there by hands more sweet than they
Planted, shall sweeten April's flowerful air
About a grave that shows to night and day
White violets there.
A child's light hands, whose touch makes flowers more fair,
Keep fair as these for many a March and May
The light of days that are because they were.
It shall not like a blossom pass away;
It broods and brightens with the days that bear
Fresh fruits of love, but leave, as love might pray,
White violets there.

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