From The City Of The Living To The City Of The Dead

By Martha Lavinia Hoffman

‘Tis the tramp of mighty nations
Borne across the surging sea,
‘Tis the tread of martialed armies
Echoed through immensity;
Tramp, tramp, tramp, tramp,
Hark! I hear their heavy tread,
From the city of the living
To the city of the dead.

‘Tis the tolling bell’s low dirges,
Borne aloft on every breeze,
Rolling on in solemn surges
Over mountains, plains, and seas,
Tolling, tolling, softly tolling
While the short, swift years have fled,
From the city of the living
To the city of the dead.

From old ocean’s rock-ribbed islands,
From Sahara’s parching floors,
From fair Scotia’s health-clad highlands,
Or from Iceland’s frozen shores,
Rolls that march in solemn measure
While the hosts of earth are led
From the city of the living
To the city of the dead.

Over Egypt’s tombs and temples,
Over ashen Indian braves,
Over England’s ivied abbeys,
Over old Peruvian graves,
Rolls the dirge that sadly follows
Each unto his silent bed
From the city of the living
To the city of the dead.

Not a day but hears its sadness
Not a home but knows its sound,
Not a town aglow with gladness
With no graveyard’s sacred ground,
Life enwrapt with brightest promise,
Hush! the last decree is said
From the city of the living
To the city of the dead.

When shall life’s long march be over,
When shall death’s grim victors halt,
When shall requiems roll no longer
O’er cold urn or chiseled vault,
When shall falling clods be silent,
When the last sad rite be read,
From the city of the living
To the city of the dead?

Not till all these streets are lonely,
Not till vacant temples stand,
Not till homes and shops are empty
Over every clime and land,
Not till none are left to sorrow,
Listening to the ceaseless tread
From the city of the living
To the city of the dead.

Traveling to that silent city,
One by one to be forgot,
Would we not lost heart and courage,
Hope and purpose- were it not
For our Father’s loving mercy,
Like the golden sunshine shed
On the city of the living
And the city of the dead?

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