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I ask'd the laughing bright-haired boy,
As he bounded on his innocent joy;--
His eye with accustomed lustre shone,
To him it was a word unknown.


I asked the fair as she flew along
The mazy dance, to the sound of song;
She paused not on her giddy way,
She answered not, but turned away.


I asked the man of silvery hairs,
As he tottered on with years and cares;
He shook his head and was eager yet
To bear that load and Death forget.


The toiling fool, as he passed by
With hurried step and anxious eye,
I asked next, and heard a groan
From his hoarded heaps, but of answer, none.


I bent me o'er the bed of death,
And asked as I watched the passing breath;--
But by the foe that heart was crushed,
The voice of reply was forever hushed.


I searched amid the place of tombs,
And fearfully asked of its silent glooms:
Surely, surely, ye can tell,
None are so drear, none know so well.


O, tell me sepulchres! I said,
And Echo answered from the dead;
I only heard among the trees
By the hollow graves, the moaning breeze.


In tears I sought the Bible then,
And saw, writ by Jehovah's pen;
To the wicked 'tis undying pain,
To the righteous, 'tis eternal gain.