Tabb’s Poetry XXVIII

Life’s Ramah

         Day after day,
            The Herod Morn
         Of Dreams doth slay
            The latest-born;
And Love, like Rachel o’er her dead,
   Will not again be comforted. 


The Noonday smiles to hear
   The oft-repeated tale
Of shadows lurking near
   Her sunbeams to assail:

Nor heeds the placid Night
   A prophecy of doom
To drown her stars in light
   As fathomless as gloom. 

Light and Shadow

   “I love you, little maid,”
   Said the Sunbeam to the Shade,
As all day long she shrank away before him;
   But at twilight, ere he died,
   She was weeping at his side;
And he felt her tresses softly trailing o’er him. 


   The epitaph of Night
      The Sunbeams write;
   The epitaph of Day,
      The Shadows gray;
One requiem of Wind & Wave
      Above each grave.

Could Day demand a gift of Night,
   And Night the boon bestow,
’Twould be that heaven of star-delight
   Where Dreams departed go.

Could Night the gift demand, and Day
   The benefit confer,
’Twould be, upon his twilight way
   A lengthened hour with her.

John B. Tabb

For a recitation, click the play button:

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“Life’s Ramah”: Later Lyrics, p. 18; Poetry, p. 74. December 1898. Ramah is the burial place of the Hebrew matriarch Rachel; it is listed as a town of the Tribe of Benjamin in Joshua 18:25. Herod (King Herod the Great) ordered the infamous Massacre of the Innocents (Matthew 2:13-18), trying to eliminate the Christ Child; to this episode, Matthew 2:18 applies the words of the Prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31:15) about the lamentation of Rachel, mother of Joseph (who was thought to have been killed, Genesis 37:31-35) and grandmother of Joseph’s sons Ephraim and Manasseh.

“Security”: Lyrics, p. 67; Poetry, p. 80. January 1896.

“Light and Shadow”: Child Verse, p. 22; Poetry, p. 78. 1899.

“Inscriptions”: Later Poems, p. 85; Poetry, p. 77. May 1906. An epitaph is a memorial inscription, such as on a tombstone. A requiem is a hymn or other composition on behalf of the dead.

“Ideals”: Later Lyrics, p. 11; Poetry, p. 79. December 1897. A boon is a gift or blessing.

A convert to the Catholic faith, Rev. John Banister Tabb (1845-1909) was a priest of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, and Professor of English at St. Charles’ College, Ellicott City, Maryland. Poems selected, arranged, and annotated by E.L. Core.
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