On the earth one is ill; below the earth one is well. --Petrus Borel
The young skeleton spoke aloud
Long ere the sky took on dawn's violet tone,
Arms crossed and standing in his shroud,
In the wide graveyard where I walked alone:
Child of solitude, now hear!
If Misfortune, henchman cruel,
Should always in your path appear
To offer you a coward's duel;
If, cast ahead, your sickly though
Discovers in your future naught
But a horizon draped in gray:
If your blood should vainly grope
For soporific drafts of hopeAs darkling love wears it away,
If your brothers do not know
Your secret and ferocious pain,
If their smiling faces show,
When you see true, naught but disdain;
And if the jailer Destiny,
To furnish you sweet dittany
To palliate your spirit's seething,
Has not, as you tire and tire,
Finally thrown you genius's lyre
Which great, sad hearts all use for teething--*
Then let death be your redoubt!
Follow the Redeemer's path.
Dare at once to carry out,
To suffer and to name the wrath.
If fanatics bar your mortal
Shell before some holy portal,
What if it does not go thence?
A thousand lies and ill renown -
What matter if false sages crown
Your name with vulgar eloquence?
Below the silent tomb, how calm is sleep!
Reposing in that refuge, one can creep
One's hand free of the ceremental fold
And find a neighbor's powdery hand to hold.**
It's sweet to feel rosettes stitched onto bone
By lively, knotting rootwork overgrown;
To hear the war cry of the storms that sunder
And warp the handsome bushes one sleeps under.
It's rapturous to feel the friendly dew
Bejewel the sleeping hillside and seep through
The tender, velvet lawn that cloaks the hill
Until it reaches you with damp and chill.
There, endless far niente; total silence.
The heart is stagnant, dismal: no more violence.
Between remorse's teeth no longer ground,
In Death's estate, what happiness is found!***
*This is all in there, I swear.
...creep/ One's hand free of the tangled winding sheet
Until your fingers and your neighbor's meet.
***The last couplet can also be rendered
Remorse's teeth no longer masticate.
Ah, truly, one is glad in death's estate!
Which greatly improves the last line at the expense of some silliness. I think it might be worth the trade-off.