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UNTIL DEATH

Make me no vows of constancy, dear friend,
To love me, though I die, thy whole life long,
And love no other till thy days shall end -
Nay, it were rash and wrong.
If thou canst love another, be it so;
I would not reach out of my quiet grave
To bind thy heart, if it should choose to go -
Love should not be a slave.
My placid ghost, I trust, will walk serene
In clearer light than gilds those earthly morns,
Above the jealousies and envies keen,
Which sow this life with thorns.
Thou wouldst not feel my shadowy caress;
If, after death, my soul should linger here;
Men's hearts crave tangible, close tenderness,
Love's presence, warm and near.
It would not make me sleep more peacefully
That thou wert wasting all thy life in woe
For my poor sake; what love thou hast for me,
Bestow it ere I go.
Carve not upon a stone when I am dead
The praises which remorseful mourners give
To women's graves - a tardy recompense -
But speak them while I live.
Heap not the heavy marble o'er my head
To shut away the sunshine and the dew;
Let small blooms grow there, and let grasses wave,
And raindrops filter through.
Thou wilt meet many fairer and more gay
Than I; but, trust me, thou canst never find
One who will love and serve thee night and day
With a more single mind.
Forget me when I die!  The violets
Above my breast will blossom just as blue,
Nor miss thy tears; e'en nature's self forgets;
But while I live, be true.
Elizabeth Akers Allen [1832-1911]