Obsequial Ode

A poem by David Herbert Lawrence

Surely you've trodden straight
To the very door!
Surely you took your fate
Faultlessly. Now it's too late
To say more.

It is evident you were right,
That man has a course to go
A voyage to sail beyond the charted seas.
You have passed from out of sight
And my questions blow
Back from the straight horizon that ends all one sees.

Now like a vessel in port
You unlade your riches unto death,
And glad are the eager dead to receive you there.
Let the dead sort
Your cargo out, breath from breath
Let them disencumber your bounty, let them all share.

I imagine dead hands are brighter,
Their fingers in sunset shine
With jewels of passion once broken through you as a prism
Breaks light into jewels; and dead breasts whiter
For your wrath; and yes, I opine
They anoint their brows with your blood, as a perfect chrism.

On your body, the beaten anvil,
Was hammered out
That moon-like sword the ascendant dead unsheathe
Against us; sword that no man will
Put to rout;
Sword that severs the question from us who breathe.

Surely you've trodden straight
To the very door.
You have surely achieved your fate;
And the perfect dead are elate
To have won once more.

Now to the dead you are giving
Your last allegiance.
But what of us who are living
And fearful yet of believing
In your pitiless legions.

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