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Her Immortality

 UPON a noon I pilgrimed through
A pasture, mile by mile,
Unto the place where I last saw
My dead Love's living smile.
And sorrowing I lay me down Upon the heated sod: It seemed as if my body pressed The very ground she trod.
I lay, and thought; and in a trance She came and stood me by-- The same, even to the marvellous ray That used to light her eye.
"You draw me, and I come to you, My faithful one," she said, In voice that had the moving tone It bore in maidenhead.
She said: "'Tis seven years since I died: Few now remember me; My husband clasps another bride; My children mothers she.
My brethren, sisters, and my friends Care not to meet my sprite: Who prized me most I did not know Till I passed down from sight.
" I said: "My days are lonely here; I need thy smile alway: I'll use this night my ball or blade, And join thee ere the day.
" A tremor stirred her tender lips, Which parted to dissuade: "That cannot be, O friend," she cried; "Think, I am but a Shade! "A Shade but in its mindful ones Has immortality; By living, me you keep alive, By dying you slay me.
"In you resides my single power Of sweet continuance here; On your fidelity I count Through many a coming year.
" --I started through me at her plight, So suddenly confessed: Dismissing late distaste for life, I craved its bleak unrest.
"I will not die, my One of all!-- To lengthen out thy days I'll guard me from minutest harms That may invest my ways!" She smiled and went.
Since then she comes Oft when her birth-moon climbs, Or at the seasons' ingresses Or anniversary times; But grows my grief.
When I surcease, Through whom alone lives she, Ceases my Love, her words, her ways, Never again to be!

by Thomas Hardy
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