On the Death of an Uncle


(In memory of John Jabez Quirk)

Ah! He is gone, whom we shall sadly miss.
His voice no longer at the hearth will sound:
But he has gained a higher purer bliss
No man alive has found.

Each Christmastime without a fail he came
From country home to take his favourite seat.
Without his presence it is not the same,
The flavour not so sweet.

His frame, once active, was for some time bent,
But to him in the garden came the call
To take above that great and calm content –
And working there, did fall.

He used to bring for our childish delight
Small toys and boxes fretted out of wood;
And o’er his features came a heavenly light
When we pronounced them good.

He sat with wrinkled face and shining head
Bowed over twisted hands, and smiled at us;
His body ever twitching; now, he’s dead
And gone where there’s no fuss.

He liked to listen to our careless fun;
Would cock an ear to take the latest news;
And two brown teeth would show when jokes were spun
And laughter was let loose.

I wonder now if he is straight once more
And if his soul is free as any bird;
I wonder if he hears sweet music for
On earth it went unheard.

I wonder if among the angels he doth ply
His busy tasks, and needs not seek for rest;
And if he comes to join us from the sky,
An unseen Christmas guest?