Death Shall Not Part Ye More

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Voltairine de Cleyre

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By Voltairine de Cleyre.

"He that loseth his life shall find it."


Master, my friend is dead. Around the world

I seek, and find no other heart like his;

And all ray life-dreams are as dead leaves whirled,

And all my life-work as the bare sand is.

I would go down into the grave, and kiss

The dust of him who held me in his heart

Living, and dead has left me passionless,

Bloodless, from wounds that still have power to smart,

But which no band heals, since Death tore apart

His life and mine. Master, I fain would rest!

I am unloved, un-understood! All scarred

With bitter stripes of Hate! The Grave is best,—
The Grave, and the dark mould upon his breast.


Thou seek'st thy friend? Unhappy, thou hast sought

With eyes turned inward! And thy search is vain,—

Vain all the purchase that thy tears have bought,—

Thy tears, and all the weary winds of pain

That blow upon thy mouth the bitter rain,

And cast upon thine eyes the stinging sleet;

Aye, vain thy purchase, and all dross thy gain!

Yet I command thee, turn once more thy feet

Into the ways; and seek once more to meet

The undying Heart of Love, that understands,

And soothes, and turns the bitter into sweet,

And fashions life to kindness with kind bands.

Only this key I give: wouldst find thy friend,

Seek not in Man to be known, but to know;

Not to be pitied, but to pity; blend

Self in All-Self,—and thou shall find him. Go!
Yet, take these flowers; from thy friend's grave they blow.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Master, I bring from many wanderings,

The gathered garner of my years to thee;

One precious fruit of many rain-blown springs

And sun-shod summers, ripened over-sea.

Years, years ago Thou gav'st the seed to me,

Wrapped in the bloom of Roses of the Dead;

Behold the shining Heart of Love! and be

Assured the grave-bloom was not vainly shed,

And partly are thy sweet words merited.

Yea, I went hence with wonder in my soul,

With bitter wonder that thy great lips said

My pain was worthless, and my longed-for goal

Was but blind seeking of myself, that stole

The face of Love and wore it as a mask!

Yet knew I {{Small-caps|Truth}. I folded up the scroll,

The useless record of the useless task,

And set my Heart before my Soul to ask:

"What was thy friend ?"—And slow the answer came:

"Love that thought not of self; Pity so vast

It felt all tears, nor measured It, by name,

Those whom it pitied,—felt not any blame

Toward those who injured It; Peace, so profound

That no shock might uncentre, and no shame

Shake from Its sympathy,—no unsightly wound

However cankered, no discordant sound

However rasping, turn aside its face,

This was thy friend. Thou, Self-torn, hast not found,

Because thou hast not sought! The phantom chase

Of Self has driven thee from place to place,

'With eyes turned inward'—so the Master spoke,—

An idle, weary, marsh-set, rock-wrecked race,

A goalless way, with epitaphs of hope.

Turn now and seek thy friend; long mayst thou grope,

But light will break."—Master, the dawn is broke.


Now hast thou found thy friend!—Depart in peace,

Thy prayer is heard; thou shalt go down and rest:

Death shall not part ye more, nor shall ye cease

To dwell together in the world ye blessed,
So—sleep! with these dry flowers upon your breast.

Voltairine de Cleyre, “Death Shall Not Part Ye More,” The Open Court 8, no. 13 (March 29, 1894): 4026-4027.