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Poems of Emile Verhaeren
written by "Strettell, Alma"
...r hours that would decide: Again—the terrors of dark crime and sin Furtively felt with frenzied fingers thin: The fierce craze and the fervent rage to be The man who lives of the extremity Of his own fear: And then, too, doubt immense and wild affright. And madness, with its eyes of marble white, These all are here. His head a prey to the dull knell's sound, In terror the grave-digger turns the ground With strokes of the spade, and doth ceaseless cast The dried-up earth upon his past. The slain days, and the present, he doth see, Quelling each quivering thrill of life to be. And drop by drop, through fists whose fingers start. Pressing the future blood of his red heart; Chewing with teeth that grind and crush, each part Of that his future's body, limb by limb, Till there is but a carcase left to him; And shewing him, in coffins prisoned, Or ever they be born, his longings dead. The grave-digger yonder doth hear the knell, More heavy yet, of the passing bell. That up through the mourning horizons doth swell What if the bells, with their haunting swing, Would stop on a day that heart-breaking ring! And the endless procession of corse after corse. Choke the highways no more of his long remorse But the biers, with the prayers and the tears, Immensely yet follow the biers; They halt by crucifix now, and by shrine, Then take up once more their mournful line; On the backs of men, upon trestles borne. They follow their uniform march forlorn; Skirting each field and each garden-wall. Passing beneath the sign-posts tall, Skirting along by the vast Unknown, Where terror points horns from the corner-stone. The old man, broken and propless quite. Watches them still from the infinite Coming towards him—and hath beside Nothing to do, but in earth to hide His multiple death, thus bit by bit, And, with fingers irresolute, plant on it Crosses so hastily, day by day, Since what long times—he cannot say. ...

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