QUESTIONING

TO MY LOVED AND LOST FRIEND JANE CRAMER, AGED 20.

Where have you been, through all these months, my dear one,
   Since you went forth alone that Autumn day?
Through what great unknown vastness have you wandered?
   And were you never lonely on the way?
Sometimes you seem so near, so near, to me,
And then I say, "Ah no, it cannot be.
She does not dwell on any distant shore,
But lives, and moves beside me ever more."

What have you seen in all this time, my loved one,
   With those young eyes, so tender, calm, and clear.
Immortal lands of undulating beauty--
   Jehovah throned, and all his angels near?
Was such the heaven that burst upon your sight,
And were your eyes so dazzled by the light,
You have not once looked back on earth to see,
How goes the battle of this life with me?

What have you done through all the days, my brave one?
   An idle hour on earth you never knew.
And all the joys of heaven could not content you,
   Unless your hands had some good work to do.
You would grow weary even there of rest.
Some round of labors ever pleased you best.
What are they now, which all your days employ
And give you constant and eternal joy?

What is the form you wear in heaven, my fair one?
   That queenly shape--that large and beauteous eye,
The long bright hair that swept about your shoulders,
   Were not these reproduced again on high?
Or were they left down in the grave with death,
And what remains--intangible as breath?
Or did you take some other shape, more fair?
And what name do they call you, over there?

Oh answer me, my loved one, and my lost one!
   Why, once I could not ask you anything,
But you replied in words of gracious sweetness--
   Now you are deaf to all my questioning.
O my dead friend make answer I implore!
As days go by, I miss you more and more.
The place you held, no other friend can fill.
Lean down and whisper that you love me still.

Maurine by Ella Wheeler
Milwaukee: Cramer, Aikens & Cramer, 1876.


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