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POEM OF THE DAY

CREMATION

To Urn, or not to Urn? that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler for our frames to suffer
The shows and follies of outrageous custom,
Or to take fire--against a sea of zealots
And by consuming, end them? To Urn--to keep--
No more: and while we keep, to say we end
Contagion and the thousand graveyard ills
That flesh is heir to--'tis a consume-ation
Devoutly to be wished! To burn--to keep--
To keep! Perchance to lose--aye, there's the rub:
For in the course of things what duns may come,
Or who may shuffle off our Dresden urn,
Must give us pause. There's the respect
That makes inter-i-ment of so long use.
For who would have the pall and plumes of hire,
The tradesman's prize--a proud man's obsequies,
The chaffering for graves, the legal fee,
The cemetery beadle and the rest,
When he himself might his few ashes make
With a mere furnace? Who would tombstones bear,
And lie beneath a lying epitaph,
But that the dread of simmering after death--
That uncongenial furnace from whose burn
No incremate returns--weakens the will,
And makes us rather bear the graves we have
Than fly to ovens that we know not of?
This, Thompson, does make cowards of us all.
And thus the wisdom of incineration
Is thick-laid o'er with the pale ghost of nought,
And incremators of great pith and courage
With this regard their faces turn awry,
And shudder at cremation.

                                            William Sawyer.

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