The Churchyard

HOW slowly creeps the hand of Time
 On the old clock’s green-mantled face!
Yea, slowly as those ivies climb,
 The hours roll round with patient pace;
The drowsy rooks caw on the tower,
 The tame doves hover round and round;
Below, the slow grass hour by hour
 Makes green God’s sleeping-ground.
 
All moves, but nothing here is swift;
 The grass grows deep, the green boughs shoot;
From east to west the shadows drift;
 The earth feels heavenward underfoot;
The slow stream through the bridge doth stray
 With water-lilies on its marge,
And slowly, pil’d with scented hay,
 Creeps by the silent barge.
 
All stirs, but nothing here is loud:
 The cushat broods, the cuckoo cries;
Faint, far up, under a white cloud,
 The lark trills soft to earth and skies;
And underneath the green graves rest;
 And through the place, with slow footfalls,
With snowy cambric on his breast,
 The old gray Vicar crawls.
 
And close at hand, to see him come,
 Clustering at the playground gate,
The urchins of the schoolhouse, dumb
 And bashful, hang the head and wait;
The little maidens curtsey deep,
 The boys their forelocks touch meanwhile,
The Vicar sees them, half asleep,
 And smiles a sleepy smile.
 
Slow as the hand on the clock’s face,
 Slow as the white cloud in the sky,
He cometh now with tottering pace
 To the old vicarage hard by:
Smother’d it stands in ivy leaves,
 Laurels and yews make dark the ground;
The swifts that build beneath the eaves
 Wheel in still circles round.
 
And from the portal, green and dark,
 He glances at the church-clock old—
Gray soul! why seek his eyes to mark
 The creeping of that finger cold?
He cannot see, but still as stone
 He pauses, listening for the chime,
And hears from that green tower intone
 The eternal voice of Time.

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"The Churchyard" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 8 Dec. 2019. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/39769/the-churchyard>.

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