Burial of the Young Love

Weep not,
You who love her.

Place your flowers
Above her
And go your way
Only I shall stay.

After you have gone
With grief in your hearts,
I will remove the flowers
You laid above her.
Yes, I who love her.

Do not weep,
Friends and lovers.

(Oh, the scent of flowers in the air!
Oh, the beauty of her body there!)

Gently now lay your flowers down.
When the last mourner has gone
And I have torn
Each flower;
When the last mourner has gone
And I have tossed
Broken stems and flower heads
To the winds . . . ah! . . .
I will gather withered leaves . . .
I will scatter withered leaves there.

Friends and lovers,
Do not weep.

Gently lay your flowers down . . .
Gently, now, lay your flowers down.

From The Book of American Negro Poetry (Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1922), edited by James Weldon Johnson. This poem is in the public domain.