De Profundis By Abram Joseph Ryan

    Ah! days so dark with death’s eclipse!
        Woe are we! woe are we!
     And the nights are ages long!
    From breaking hearts, thro’ pallid lips
        O my God! woe are we!
     Trembleth the mourner’s song;
        A blight is falling on the fair,
        And hope is dying in despair,
        And terror walketh everywhere.

    All the hours are full of tears —
        O my God! woe are we!
     Grief keeps watch in brightest eyes —
    Every heart is strung with fears,
        Woe are we! woe are we!
     All the light hath left the skies,
        And the living awe struck crowds
        See above them only clouds,
        And around them only shrouds.

    Ah! the terrible farewells!
        Woe are they! woe are they!
     When last words sink into moans,
    While life’s trembling vesper bells —
        O my God! woe are we!
     Ring the awful undertones!
        Not a sun in any day!
        In the night-time not a ray,
        And the dying pass away!

    Dark! so dark! above — below —
        O my God! woe are we!
     Cowereth every human life.
    Wild the wailing; to and fro!
        Woe are all! woe are we!
     Death is victor in the strife:
        In the hut and in the hall
        He is writing on the wall
        Dooms for many — fears for all.

    Thro’ the cities burns a breath,
        Woe are they! woe are we!
     Hot with dread and deadly wrath;
    Life and love lock arms in death,
        Woe are they! woe are all!
     Victims strew the spectre’s path;
        Shy-eyed children softly creep
        Where their mothers wail and weep —
        In the grave their fathers sleep.

    Mothers waft their prayers on high,
        O my God! woe are we!
     With their dead child on their breast.
    And the altars ask the sky —
        O my Christ! woe are we!
     “Give the dead, O Father, rest!
        Spare thy people! mercy! spare!”
        Answer will not come to prayer —
        Horror moveth everywhere.

    And the temples miss the priest —
        O my God! woe are we!
     And the cradle mourns the child.
    Husband at your bridal feast —
        Woe are you! woe are you!
     Think how those poor dead eyes smiled;
        They will never smile again —
        Every tie is cut in twain,
        All the strength of love is vain.

    Weep? but tears are weak as foam —
        Woe are ye! woe are we!
     They but break upon the shore
    Winding between here and home —
        Woe are ye! woe are we!
     Wailing never! nevermore!
        Ah! the dead! they are so lone,
        Just a grave, and just a stone,
        And the memory of a moan.

    Pray! yes, pray! for God is sweet —
        O my God! woe are we!
     Tears will trickle into prayers
    When we kneel down at His feet —
        Woe are we! woe are we!
     With our crosses and our cares.
        He will calm the tortured breast,
        He will give the troubled rest —
        And the dead He watcheth best.