Ballad of Dead Friends

by Edwin Arlington Robinson

As we the withered ferns
By the roadway lying,
Time, the jester, spurns
All our prayers and prying --
All our tears and sighing,
Sorrow, change, and woe --
All our where-and-whying
For friends that come and go.

Life awakes and burns,
Age and death defying,
Till at last it learns
All but Love is dying;
Love's the trade we're plying,
God has willed it so;
Shrouds are what we're buying
For friends that come and go.

Man forever yearns
For the thing that's flying.
Everywhere he turns,
Men to dust are drying, --
Dust that wanders, eying
(With eyes that hardly glow)
New faces, dimly spying
For friends that come and go.

ENVOY

And thus we all are nighing
The truth we fear to know:
Death will end our crying
For friends that come and go.

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