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On seeing an ancient picture of a beautiful lady.

How loudly rang her ready praise
In her ancestral hall,
How beauteous at the levee, once,
How graceful at the ball:
It matters not--that fair one now,
The idol of the brave,
The pageant of a former hour,
Is Beauty in the Grave.


How much admired for sparkling wit
And prized for virtues true;
How by the multitude esteemed,
Beloved by the few,
It matters not--alike the same
To him, as is the slave,
The sordid worm holds banqueting
On Beauty in the Grave.


The well-proportioned shape, the grace
Of woman's queenly tread,
The speaking eye, the budding lip,
Of nature's dewy red;
The thousand witcheries that still
Our warmest homage crave,
What are they in Death's arms, and what
Is Beauty in the Grave?


Go ye to whom are faultless forms
And lovely features given,
To manifest that still below
Is something left of heaven;
Go! in humility forget
The charms ye cannot save;
Look hence a little hour and see
Your Beauty in the Grave.


And look upon the laughing earth,
Where spring in careless play
Puts forth its fairest blossoms, but
To deck them with decay.
And look upon the face of all
That's beautiful and brave,
On every blessing lent to man
Are traces of the Grave.


Yet gaze on one from whom that trace
May never pass away,
Though he corruption never saw
Nor in its realm could stay:
And see in the immortal scars
That may the sinner save,
The victory of him who came
In beauty from the Grave.