Poetry of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


To M. Duperrier, Gentleman of Aix in Provence, on the
Death of his Daughter.


Will then, Duperrier, thy sorrow be eternal?
    And shall the sad discourse
Whispered within thy heart, by tenderness paternal,
    Only augment its force?

Thy daughter's mournful fate, into the tomb descending
    By death's frequented ways,
Has it become to thee a labyrinth never ending,
    Where thy lost reason strays?

I know the charms that made her youth a benediction:
    Nor should I be content,
As a censorious friend, to solace thine affliction
    By her disparagement.

But she was of the world, which fairest things exposes
    To fates the most forlorn;
A rose, she too hath lived as long as live the roses,
    The space of one brief morn.

              *    *    *    *    *

Death has his rigorous laws, unparalleled, unfeeling;
    All prayers to him are vain;
Cruel, he stops his ears, and, deaf to our appealing,
    He leaves us to complain.

The poor man in his hut, with only thatch for cover,
    Unto these laws must bend;
The sentinel that guards the barriers of the Louvre
    Cannot our kings defend.

To murmur against death, in petulant defiance,
    Is never for the best;
To will what God doth will, that is the only science
    That gives us any rest.