The Life in Death
Nature brings forth but to consume again:
Each thing has death compounded in its parts.
Why weep ye, then? The rule, ye broken hearts,
Must partly bind her masterpieces, men.
Nor doth it pass the bounds of human ken
How life through death alone full-pulsing starts;
For death removes all blemish, and imparts
A breathing space in this else smothering pen.
This much for clay — man’s body is but clay —
And this for all that lacks the higher mind;
But where this same, God’s noblest work, we find,
Old Death lacks any power to steal away
The fruitage. Then why fill with dark dismay?
In so far death is not for humankind.
William Blocksidge, Songs o’ the South, London: Watts, 1908, p. 52
bound = boundary or limit, especially of an area (usually used as a plural, “bounds”: boundaries, limits); the boundary of a country, province, state, territory, field, estate; a line or area which is a boundary or forms a boundary; something which confines, limits, or restrains (e.g. the bounds of morality)
doth = (archaic) does
ken = knowledge, perception, understanding (also means “know”, particularly as used in Scotland)
ye = (archaic) you (however, still in use in some places, e.g. in Cornwall, Ireland, Newfoundland, and Northern England; it can used as either the singular or plural form of “you”, although the plural form is apparently the more common usage)