When o'er the aged lion steals
The instinct of approaching death,
Whose numbing grasp he vaguely feels
In trembling limbs and labored breath,
He shuns the garish light of day,
And leaving mate and whelps at play,
In mournful silence creeps away.

From bush to bush, by devious trails,
He drags himself from hill to hill,
And, as his old strength slowly fails,
Drinks long at many a mountain rill,
Until he gains, with stifled moan,
A height, to hated man unknown,
Where he may die, at least alone.

Relaxing now his mighty claws,
He lies, half shrouded by his mane,
His grand head resting on his paws,
And heeding little save his pain,
As o'er his eyes, so sad and deep,
The film of death begins to creep,-
The prelude to eternal sleep.

As Caesar, reeling 'neath the stroke
And dagger-thrust of many a friend,
Drew o'er his face his Roman cloak,
To meet, unseen, his tragic end,
So hath this desert-monarch tried
With noble dignity to hide
From others how and where he died.

And now his spirit is serene;
For here no stranger can intrude
To view this last, pathetic scene,
Or mar its sombre solitude;
Prone on the lonely mountain crest,
Confronting the resplendent west,
The dying lion sinks to rest.

Proud king of beasts! thy death should teach
Mankind the cheapness of display;
More eloquent than human speech,
Thy grand example shows the way
To pass from life, unheard, unseen,
And with composed, majestic mien
Death's awful sacredness to screen.

Nay, more! thou didst select a place
Where, unobserved, thy form could rest,
Till Mother Earth with fond embrace
Should hide it in her ample breast;
Like Moses in lone Nebo's land,
Thou hast been sepulchred in sand,
Unseen by eye, untouched by hand.

No pompous tomb shall ever rise
Above thy lonely, sun-bleached frame;
No epitaph of well-turned lies
Shall be inscribed beneath thy name;
No bells for thee a dirge shall ring,
No choir beside thy grave shall sing,
Yet hast thou perished like a king!