11 January 2010

To William

"And when I could not keep the tear from gathering in my eye,
Thy little hand press'd gently mine, in token of reply,
To ask one more exchange of love, thy look was upward cast,
And in that long and burning kiss thy happy spirit pass'd.

I never trusted to have lived to bid farewell to thee,
And almost said, in agony, it ought not so to be;
I hoped that thou within the grave my weary head shouldst lay,
And live, beloved, when I was gone, for many a happy day.

With trembling hand I vainly tried thy dying eyes to close,
And almost envied, in that hour, thy calm and deep repose;
For I was left in loneliness, with pain and grief oppress'd,
And thou wast with the sainted, where the weary are at rest.

Yes, I am sad and weary now; but let me not repine,
Because a spirit, loved so well, is earlier bless'd than mine;
My faith may darken as it will, I shall not much deplore,
Since thou are where the ills of life can never reach thee more."

The last four lines of the beautiful poem above, written by J. Peabody, were used as an epitaph on the stone placed for Stephen F. Marshall (25 Jan 1839 - 5 Mar 1862) in Waverly Hall Cemetery at Harris County, Georgia.

This is a good example of why I like learning, if possible, what epitaphs mean or where they come from. After reading the entire poem, I knew beyond a doubt the love Stephen's family had for him and how much he was missed.

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