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"The Departed" by James Russell Lowell

The following is the complete text of James Russell Lowell's "The Departed." The various books, short stories and poems we offer are presented free of charge with absolutely no advertising as a public service from Internet Accuracy Project.

Visit these other works by James Russell Lowell
"The Bobolink"
The Chief Mate
"The Courtin'"
"A Dirge"
"A Glance Behind the Curtain"
"An Incident of the Fire at Hamburg"

"New Year's Eve, 1844"
"On the Death of a Friend's Child"
"The Pious Editor's Creed"
"The Present Crisis"
Lowell's Short Poems and Sonnets
"The Sirens"
"To The Future"

To see all available titles by other authors, drop by our index of free books alphabetized by author or arranged alphabetically by title.

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* Teachers trying to locate a free online copy of a short story or poem for use in the classroom.

NOTE: We try to present these classic literary works as they originally appeared in print. As such, they sometimes contain adult themes, offensive language, typographical errors, and often utilize unconventional, older, obsolete or intentionally incorrect spelling and/or punctuation conventions.

"The Departed" by James Russell Lowell


by James Russell Lowell

Not they alone are the departed,
Who have laid them down to sleep
In the grave narrow and lonely,
Not for them only do I vigils keep,
Not for them only am I heavy-hearted,
Not for them only!

Many, many, there are many
Who no more are with me here,
As cherished, as beloved as any
Whom I have seen upon the bier.
I weep to think of those old faces,
To see them in their grief or mirth;
I weep--for there are empty places
Around my heart's once crowded hearth;
The cold ground doth not cover them,
The grass hath not grown over them,
Yet are they gone from me on earth;--
O! how more bitter is this weeping,
Than for those lost ones who are sleeping
Where sun will shine and flowers blow,
Where gentle winds will whisper low,
And the stars have them in their keeping!
Wherefore from me who loved you so,
O! wherefore did ye go?
I have shed full many a tear,
I have wrestled oft in prayer--
But ye do not come again;
How could anything so dear,
How could anything so fair,
Vanish like the summer rain?
No, no, it cannot be,
But ye are still with me!

And yet, O! where art thou,
Childhood, with sunny brow
And floating hair?
Where art thou hiding now?
I have sought thee everywhere,
All among the shrubs and flowers
Of those garden-walks of ours--
Thou art not there!
When the shadow of Night's wings
Hath darkened all the Earth,
I listen for thy gambolings
Beside the cheerful hearth--
Thou art not there!
I listen to the far-off bell,
I murmur o'er the little songs
Which thou didst love so well,
Pleasant memories come in throngs
And mine eyes are blurred with tears,
But no glimpse of thee appears:
Lonely am I in the Winter, lonely in the Spring,
Summer and Harvest bring no trace of thee--
Oh! whither, whither art thou wandering,
Thou who didst once so cleave to me?

And Love is gone;--
I have seen him come,
I have seen him, too, depart,
Leaving desolate his home,
His bright home in my heart.
I am alone!
Cold, cold is his hearth-stone,
Wide open stands the door;
The frolic and the gentle one
Shall I see no more, no more?
At the fount the bowl is broken,
I shall drink it not again,
All my longing prayers are spoken,
And felt, ah, woe is me, in vain!
Oh, childish hopes and childish fancies,
Whither have ye fled away?
I long for you in mournful trances,
I long for you by night and day;
Beautiful thoughts that once were mine,
Might I but win you back once more,
Might ye about my being twine
And cluster as ye did of yore!
O! do not let me pray in vain--
How good and happy I should be,
How free from every shade of pain,
If ye would come again to me!
O, come again! come, come again!
Hath the sun forgot its brightness,
Have the stars forgot to shine,
That they bring not their wonted lightness
To this weary heart of mine?
'Tis not the sun that shone on thee,
Happy childhood, long ago--
Not the same stars silently
Looking on the same bright snow--
Not the same that Love and I
Together watched in days gone by!
No, not the same, alas for me!

Would God that those who early went
To the house dark and low,
For whom our mourning heads were bent,
For whom our steps were slow;
O, would that these alone had left us,
That Fate of these alone had reft us,
Would God indeed that it were so!
Many leaves too soon must wither,
Many flowers too soon must die,
Many bright ones wandering hither,
We know not whence, we know not why,
Like the leaves and like the flowers,
Vanish, ere the summer hours,
That brought them to us, have gone by.

O for the hopes and for the feelings,
Childhood, that I shared with thee--
The high resolves, the bright revealings
Of the soul's might, which thou gav'st me,
Gentle Love, woe worth the day,
Woe worth the hour when thou wert born,
Woe worth the day thou fled'st away--
A shade across the wind-waved corn--
A dewdrop falling from the leaves
Chance-shaken in a summer's morn!
Woe, woe is me! my sick heart grieves,
Companionless and anguish-worn!
I know it well, our manly years
Must be baptized in bitter tears;
Full many fountains must run dry
That youth has dreamed for long hours by,
Choked by convention's siroc blast
Or drifting sands of many cares;
Slowly they leave us all at last,
And cease their flowing unawares.

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