Mark Twain

"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great."

- Mark Twain

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Poetry: DEATH, DYING, AND POETRY

DEATH, DYING, AND POETRY





In my youth the growls.
In mine age the owls.
After death the ghouls.
--Alfred, Lord Tennyson

 

Some can gaze and not be sick,
But I could never learn the trick.
There's this to say for blood and breath,
They give a man a taste for death.
--A.E. Housman

 
We said goodbye, you're gone for good,
      And, sadly, we're forsaken;
We buried you 'cause you looked dead . . .
      We hope we weren't mistaken.
--Cap'n Bean (aka, David J. Cyr), East Hartford, CT

 
Within this grave do lie,
Back to back, my wife and I;
When the last trumpet the air shall fill,
If she gets up, I'll just lie still.
--Anonymous
 
"BIBY'S" EPITAPH
Anonymous
A muvver was barfin' 'er biby one night,
The youngest of ten and a tiny young mite,
The muvver was poor and the biby was thin,
Only a skelington covered in skin;
The muvver turned rahnd for the soap off the rack,
She was but a moment, but when she turned back,
The baby was gorn; and in anguish she cried,
"Oh, where is my bibe?"-The angels replied:
"You biby 'as fell dahn the plug-'ole,
Your biby 'as gorn dahn the plug;
The poor little thing was so skinny and thin
'E oughter been barfed in a jug;
Your biby is perfeckly 'appy,
'E won't need a barf any more,
Your biby 'as fell dahn the plug'ole,
Not lorst, but gorn before."







"AH, ARE YOU DIGGING ON MY GRAVE?"
Thomas Hardy
"Ah, are you digging on my grave
      My beloved one?--planting rue?"
--"No: yesterday he went to wed
One of the brightest wealth has bred,
'It cannot hurt her now,' he said,
      'That I should not be true.'"
"Then who is digging on my grave?
      My nearest, dearest kin?"
--"Ah, no: they sit and think, 'What use!
What good will planting flowers produce?
No tendance of her mound can loose
      Her spirit from Death's gin.'"
"But someone digs upon my grave?
      My enemy?--prodding sly?"
--"Nay: when she heard you had passed the Gate
That shuts on all flesh soon or late
She thought you no more worth her hate,
      And cares not where you lie."
"Then, who is digging on my grave?
      Say-since I have not guessed!"
--"O it is I, my mistress dear,
Your little dog, who still lives near,
And much I hope my movements here
      Have not disturbed your rest?"
"Ah, yes!You dig upon my grave....
      Why flashed it not on me
That one true heart was left behind!
What feeling do we ever find
To equal among human kind
      A dog's fidelity!"
"Mistress, I dug upon your grave
      To bury a bone, in case
I should be hungry near this spot
When passing on my daily trot.
I am sorry, but I quite forgot
      It was your resting-place."


A BALLADE OF SUICIDE
G. K. Chesterton
The gallows in my garden, people say,
Is new and neat and adequately tall.
I tie the noose on in a knowing way
As one that knots his necktie for a ball;
But just as all the neighbours -- on the wall --
Are drawing a long breath to shout 'Hurray!'
The strangest whim has seized me . . . After all
I think I will not hang myself today.
Tomorrow is the time I get my pay --
My uncle's sword is hanging in the hall --
I see a little cloud all pink and grey --
Perhaps the Rector's mother will not call --
I fancy that I heard from Mr Gall
That mushrooms could be cooked another way --
I never read the works of Juvenal --
I think I will not hang myself today.
The world will have another washing day;
The decadents decay; the pedants pall;
And H.G. Wells has found that children play,
And Bernard Shaw discovered that they squall;
Rationalists are growing rational --
And through thick woods one finds a stream astray,
So secret that the very sky seems small --
I think I will not hang myself today.
Envoi
Prince, I can hear the trumpet of Germinal,
The tumbrils toiling up the terrible way;
Even today your royal head may fall --
I think I will not hang myself today.




A HINTED WISH
Marcus Valerius Martialis (born A.D. 40 in Spain)
translated by Samuel Johnson

You told me, Maro, whilst you live
You'd not a single penny give,
But that, whene'er you chanced to die,
You'd leave a handsome legacy.
You must be mad beyond redress
If my next wish you cannot guess.


CAT IN AN EMPTY APARTMENT
Wislawa Szymborska
Die—you can't do that to a cat.
Since what can a cat do
in an empty apartment?
Climb the walls?
Rub up against the furniture?
Nothing seems different here,
but nothing is the same.
Nothing has been moved,
but there's more space.
And at nighttime no lamps are lit.
Footsteps on the staircase,
but they're new ones.
The hand that puts fish on the saucer
has changed, too.
Something doesn't start
at its usual time.
Something doesn't happen
as it should.
Someone was always, always here,
then suddenly disappeared
and stubbornly stays disappeared.
Every closet has been examined.
Every shelf has been explored.
Excavations under the carpet turned up nothing.
A commandment was even broken,
papers scattered everywhere.
What remains to be done.
Just sleep and wait.
Just wait till he turns up,
just let him show his face.
Will he ever get a lesson
on what not to do to a cat.
Sidle toward him
as if unwilling
and ever so slow
on visibly offended paws,
and no leaps or squeals at least to start.




CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR
Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892--1950)

I shall die, but that is all that I shall do for Death.
I hear him leading his horse out of the stall; I hear the clatter on the barn floor.
He is in haste; he has business in Cuba, business in the Balkans, many calls to make this morning.
But I will not hold the bridle while he cinches the girth.
And he may mount by himself: I will not give him a leg up.
Though he flick my shoulders with his whip, I will not tell him which way the fox ran.
With his hoof on my breast, I will not tell him where the black boy hides in the swamp.
I shall die, but that is all that I shall do for Death; I am not on his payroll.
I will not tell him the whereabouts of my friends nor of my enemies either.
Though he promises me much, I will not map him the route to any man’s door.
Am I a spy in the land of the living, that I should deliver men to Death?
Brother, the password and the plans of our city are safe with me; never through me
Shall you be overcome.





DEATH BE NOT PROUD
John Donne (1573-1631)
 
Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou thin'st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death; nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be
Much pleasure, then, from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones and soul's delivery.
Thou'rt slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell;
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than they stroke. Why swell'st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And Death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.





DIRGE WITHOUT MUSIC
Edna St. Vincent Millay (1893-1950)

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.
Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains, – but the best is lost.
The answers quick & keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,
They are gone. They have gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.
Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.





DO NOT GO GENTLE INTO THAT GOOD NIGHT
Dylan Thomas (1914-1953) 
 
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.






DO NOT STAND AT MY GRAVE AND WEEP
Mary Elizabeth Frye (1904-2004)

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush
Of beautiful birds in circling flight.
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.
I am in the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there -- I do not die.



Visit do not stand at my grave and weep for the story behind this much-misquoted poem.






EPIGRAM
Robert Hillyer
 
Bring hemlock, black as Cretan cheese,
And mix a sacramental brew;
A worthy drink for Socrates,
Why not for you?



EPITAPH
George Gordon, Lord Byron
 
Posterity will ne'er survey
A nobler grave than this.
Here lie the bones of Castlereagh:
      Stop, traveler, and piss.



EPITAPH FOR A COLUMNIST
Paul Dehn
 
Believing that his hate for queers
Proclaimed his love for God
He now (of all queer things, my dears)
Lies under his first sod.


EPITAPH FOR A POSTAL CLERK
X.J. Kennedy (1929--)
 
Here lies, neatly wrapped in sod,
Henry Hankins c/o God.
On the day of Resurrection,
May be opened for inspection.


EPITAPH FOR A DARLING LADY
Dorothy Parker

All her hours were yellow sands,
Blown in foolish whorls and tassels;
Slipping warmly through her hands;
Patted into little castles.
Shiny day on shiny day
Tumbled in a rainbow clutter,
As she flipped them all away,
Sent them spinning down the gutter.
Leave for her a red young rose,
Go your way, and save your pity;
She is happy, for she knows
That her dust is very pretty.



EPITAPH FOR JAMES SMITH
Robert Burns
 
Lament him, Mauchline husbands a',
      He aften did assist ye;
For had ye staid hale weeks awa',
      Your wives they ne'er had miss'd ye.
Ye Mauchline bairns, as on ye press
      To school in bands thegither,
O tread ye lightly on his grass--
Perhaps he was your father.



FIVE WAYS TO KILL A MAN
Edwin Brock

There are many cumbersome ways to kill a man.
You can make him carry a plank of wood
To the top of a hill and nail him to it.
To do this
Properly you require a crowd of people
Wearing sandals, a cock that crows, a cloak
To dissect, a sponge, some vinegar and one
Man to hammer the nails home.
Or you can take a length of steel,
Shaped and chased in a traditional way,
And attempt to pierce the metal cage he wears.
But for this you need white horses,
English trees, men with bows and arrows,
At least two flags, a prince and a
Castle to hold your banquet in.
Dispensing with nobility, you may, if the wind
Allows, blow gas at him. But then you need
A mile of mud sliced through with ditches,
Not to mention black boots, bomb craters,
More mud, a plague of rats, a dozen songs
And some round hats made of steel.
In an age of aeroplanes, you may fly
Miles above your victim and dispose of him by
Pressing one small switch. All you then
Require is an ocean to separate you, two
Systems of government, a nation's scientists,
Several factories, a psychopath and
Land that no one needs for several years.
These are, as I began, cumbersome ways
To kill a man. Simpler, direct, and much more neat
Is to see that he lives somewhere in the middle
Of the twentieth century, and leave him there.



FOLK SONG
Anonymous

At the boarding house where I live
Things are getting very old.
Long grey hairs are in the butter
And the cheese is green with mold.
When the dog died we had sausage.
When the cat died, catnip tea.
When the landlord died I left it;
Spareribs are too much for me.


FUNERAL BLUES
W.H. Auden

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He is Dead.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.
He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.
The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the woods;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.


IF I SHOULD DIE
Benjamin Franklin King (1857-1894)
 
      If I should die tonight
And you should come to my cold corpse and say,
Weeping and heartsick o'er my lifeless clay--
      If I should die tonight,
And you should come in deepest grief and woe--
And say: "Here's that ten dollars that I owe,"
      I might arise in my large white cravat
      And say, "What's that?"
      If I should die tonight
And you should come to my cold corpse and kneel,
Clasping my bier to show the grief you feel,
      I say, if I should die to-night
And you should come to me, and there and then
Just even hint 'bout payin' me that ten,
      I might arise the while,
      But I'd drop dead again.


INTIMATIONS OF MORTALITY
On being told by the dentist that this will be over soon

Phyllis McGinley (1905-1978)

Indeed, it will soon be over, I shall be done
With the querulous drill, the forceps, the clove-smelling cotton.
I can go forth into fresher air, into sun,
This narrow anguish forgotten.
In twenty minutes or forty or half an hour,
I shall be easy, and proud of my hard-got gold,
But your apple of comfort is eaten by worms, and sour.
Your consolation is cold.
This will not last, and the day will be pleasant after.
I'll dine tonight with a witty and favorite friend.
No doubt tomorrow I shall rinse my mouth with laughter.
And also that will end.
The handful of time that I am charily granted
Will likewise pass, to oblivion duly apprenticed.
Summer will blossom and autumn be faintly enchanted.
Then time for the grave, or the dentist.
Because you are shrewd, my man, and your hand is clever,
You must not believe your words have a charm to spell me.
There was never a half of an hour that lasted forever.
Be quiet. You need not tell me.



LAMENT
Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892--1950)
 
Listen, children:
Your father is dead.
From his old coats
I'll make you little jackets:
I'll make you little trousers
From his old pants.
There'll be in his pockets
Things he used to put there,
Keys and pennies
Covered with tobacco;
Dan shall have the pennies
To save in his bank;
Anne shall have the keys
To make a pretty noise with.
Life must go on,
And the dead be forgotten.
Life Must Go On,
Though good men die;
Anne, eat your breakfast.
Dan, take your medicine;
Life must go on;
I forget just why.



LET EVENING COME
Jane Kenyon

Let the light of late afternoon
shine through chinks in the barn, moving
up the bales as the sun moves down.
Let the cricket take up chafing
as a woman takes up her needles
and her yarn. Let evening come.
Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned
in long grass. Let the stars appear
and the moon disclose her silver horn.
Let the fox go back to its sandy den.
Let the wind die down. let the shed
go black inside. Let evening come.
To the bottle in the ditch, to the scoop
in the oats, to air in the lung
let evening come.
Let it come, as it will, and don't
be afraid. God does not leave us
comfortless, so let evening come.



LET ME DIE A YOUNGMAN'S DEATH
Roger McGough (1937-)

Let me die a youngman's death
not a clean and inbetween
the sheets holywater death
not a famous-last-words
peaceful out of breath death
When I'm 73
and in constant good tumour
may I be mown down at dawn
by a bright red sports car
on my way home
from an allnight party
Or when I'm 91
with silver hair
and sitting in a barber's chair
may rival gangsters
with hamfisted tommyguns burst in
and give me a short back and insides
Or when I'm 104
and banned from the Cavern
may my mistress
catching me in bed with her daughter
and fearing for her son
cut me up into little pieces
and throw away every piece but one
Let me die a youngman's death
not a free from sin tiptoe in
candle wax and waning death
not a curtains drawn by angels borne
'what a nice way to go' death


LITTLE ELEGY
(for a child who skipped rope)

X. J. Kennedy (1929--)

Here lies resting, out of breath,
Out of turns, Elizabeth
Whose quicksilver toes not quite
Cleared the whirring edge of night.
Earth whose circles round us skim
Till they catch the lightest limb,
Shelter now Elizabeth
And for her sake trip up Death.



LONG DISTANCE II
Tony Harrison

Though my mother was already two years dead
Dad kept her slippers warming by the gas,
put hot water bottles her side of the bed
and still went to renew her transport pass.
You couldn't just drop in. You had to phone.
He'd put you off an hour to give him time
to clear away her things and look alone
as though his still raw love were such a crime.
He couldn't risk my blight of disbelief
though sure that very soon he'd hear her key
scrape in the rusted lock and end his grief.
He knew she'd just popped out to get the tea.
I believe life ends with death, and that is all.
You haven't both gone shopping; just the same,
in my new black leather phone book there's your name
and the disconnected number I still call.


MOTHER GOOSE'S GARLAND
Archibald MacLeish (1892--1982)

Around, around the sun we go:
The moon goes round the earth.
We do not die of death:
We die of vertigo.



MUSIC, WHEN SOFT VOICES DIE
Percy Bysshe Shelley
 
Music, when soft voices die,
      Vibrates in the memory.
Odours, when sweet violets sicken,
      Live within the sense they quicken.
Rose leaves, when the rose is dead,
Are heaped for the beloved's bed;
And so thy thoughts, when thou art gone,
Love itself shall slumber on.



NO ESCAPE
Lilith Lorraine
 
If it so happens
 that when I die
I shall discover
that this whole terrestial madhouse
has been a horror story
invented by me,
to escape the boredom
of my older playthings,
shot through with not too subtle
implications
that I, too, was invented
to relieve the boredom
of Someone Else....
it will be no more than I expected.


NOTHING GOLD CAN STAY
Robert Frost (1874--1963)

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.


OLD MEN
Ogden Nash (1902-1971)
 
People expect old men to die,
They do not really mourn old men.
Old men are different. People look
At them with eyes that wonder when...
People watch with unshocked eyes;
But the old men know when an old man dies.


ON GRIZZEL GRIM
Robert Burns
 
Here lies with death auld Grizzel Grim
      Rineluden's ugly witch.
O death how horrid is thy taste,
To lie with such a bitch!


OTHERWISE
Jane Kenyon (1947-1995)

I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
cereal, sweet
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love.
At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together
at a table with silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.


REQUIEM
Robert Louis Stevenson
From: Underwood

 
Under the wide and starry sky
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.
This be the verse you grave for me;
"Here he lies where he longed to be,
Home is the sailor, home from sea,
And the hunter home from the hill."



REQUIESAT
Oscar Wilde (1856-1900)
 
Tread lightly, she is near
      Under the snow,
Speak gently, she can hear
      The daisies grow.
All her bright golden hair
      Tarnished with rust,
She that was young and fair
      Fallen to dust.
Lily-like, white as snow,
      She hardly knew
She was a woman, so
      Sweetly she grew.
Coffin-board, heavy stone,
      Lie on her breast;
I vex my heart alone,
      She is at rest.
Peace, peace; she cannot hear
      Lyre or sonnet;
All my life's buried here.
      Heap earth upon it.



SAGACITY
William Rose Benet

We knew so much, her beautiful eyes could lighten,
Her beautiful laughter follow our phrase;
Or the gaze go hard with pain, the lips tighten,
On the bitterer days.
Oh, ours was all knowing then, all generous displaying.
Such wisdom we had to show:
But now there is merely silence, silence, silence crying
All we did not know.


SHE DWELT AMONG THE UNTRODDEN WAYS
William Wordsworth
 
She dwelt among the untrodden ways
      Beside the springs of Dove;
A maid whom there were none to praise
      And very few to love.
A violet by a mossy stone
      Half-hidden from the eye;
Fair as a star, when only one
      Is shining in the sky.
She lived unknown, and few could know
      When Lucy ceased to be;
But she is in her grave, and oh
      The difference to me!


SIC VITA
Henry King (1592-1669)

Like to the falling of a star,
Or as the flights of eagles are,
Or like the fresh spring’s gaudy hue,
Or silver drops of morning dew,
Or like a wind that chafes the flood,
Or bubbles which on water stood:
Even such is man, whose borrowed light
Is straight called in, and paid to night.
The wind blows out, the bubble dies,
The spring entombed in autumn lies,
The dew dries up, the star is shot,
The flight is past, and man forgot.


SONG
Christina Rossetti

When I am dead, my dearest,
Sing no sad songs for me:
Plant thou no roses at my head,
Nor shady cypress tree:
Be the green grass above me
With showers and dewdrops wet;
And if thou wilt, remember,
And if thou wilt, forget.
I shall not see the shadows,
I shall not feel the rain;
I shall not hear the nightingale
Sing on, as if in pain;
And dreaming through the twilight
That doth not rise nor set,
Haply I may remember,
And haply may forget.


STOPPING BY WOODS ON A SNOWY EVENING
Robert Frost (1874-1963)
 
Whose woods these are I think I know,
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here

To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.


THE AESTHETIC POINT OF VIEW
W.H. Auden

As the poets have mournfully sung,
Death takes the innocent young,
      The rolling-in-money,
      The screamingly funny,
And those who are very well hung.




THE BUTCHERS OF GLASGOW
Matt McGinn (1928-1975)

The butchers of Glasgow have all got their pride
But they’ll tell you that Willie’s the prince
For Willie the butcher he slaughtered his wife
And he sold her for mutton and mince.
It’s a terrible story to have to be telt
And a terrible thing to be done
For what kind of man is it slaughters his wife
And sells her a shilling a pun
For lifting his knife and ending her life
And hanging her high like a sheep
You widnae object but you widnae expect
He wid sell the poor woman so cheap
But the Gallowgate folk were delighted
It didnae cause them any tears
They swore that Willie’s wife Mary
Was the best meat he’d sold them for years.


THE BED
A.D. Hope (1907- )

The doctor loves the patient,
The patient loves his bed;
A fine place to be born in,
The best place to be dead.
The doctor loves the patient
Because he means to die;
The patient loves the patient bed
That shares his agony.
The bed adores the doctor,
His cool and skillful touch
Soon brings another patient
Who loves her just as much.



THE CHESTNUT ROASTERS
Joseph Payne Brennan
 
"The wind has a tongue tonight," he said,
And knocked his pipe against the chair.
Just then a chestnut jumped and split;
When they looked again he wasn't there.


"Guess I'll hitch my chair up," someone said,
And moved in closer toward the fire.
Sitting warm, they watched the chestnuts,
Whose jumped first and whose higher.
The next day when they found him dead,
Each one recalled what he had said.
They knew that night no wind had blown
And wondered what he might have known.
They lay and pondered in the dark
His enigmatic last remark,
And cursed the chestnut's sudden height
That kept them all from just: "Goodnight!"


THE DEAD LOVER
A.E. Housman
 
"Is my team plowing,
      That I used to drive
And hear the harness jingle,
      When I was alive?"
Aye, the horses trample,
      The harness jingles now;
No change though you lie under
      The land you used to plow.
"Is football playing
      Along the river shore,
With lads to chase the leather,
      Now I stand up no more?"
Aye, the ball is flying,
      The lads play heart and soul,
The goal stands up, the keeper
      Stands up to keep the goal.
"Is my girl happy,
      That I thought hard to leave,
And has she tired of weeping
      As she lies down at eve?"
Aye, she lies down lightly,
      She lies not down to weep:
Your girl is well-contented.
      Be still, my lad, and sleep.
"Is my friend hearty,
      Now I am thin and pine;
And has he found to sleep in
      A better bed than mine?"
Aye, lad, I lie easy.
      I lie as lads would choose;
I cheer a dead man's sweetheart.
      Never ask me whose.


THE WATCH
Frances Cornford (1886-1960)

I wakened on my hot, hard bed,
Upon the pillow lay my head;
Beneath the pillow I could hear
My little watch was ticking clear.
I thought the throbbing of it went
Like my continual discontent;
I thought it said in every tick:
I am so sick, so sick, so sick;
O death, come quick, come quick, come quick,
Come quick, come quick, come quick, come quick.


THOUGHT FOR A SUNSHINY MORNING
Dorothy Parker (1893-1967)
 
It costs me never a stab nor squirm
To tread by chance upon a worm.
"Aha, my little dear," I say,
"Your clan will pay me back one day."


TITANIC
David R. Slavitt

Who does not love the Titanic?
If they sold passage tomorrow for that same crossing,
who would not buy?
To go down...We all go down, mostly
alone. But with crowds of people, friends, servants,
well fed, with music, with lights! Ah!
And the world, shocked, mourns, as it ought to do
and almost never does. There will be the books and movies
to remind our grandchildren who we were
and how we died, and give them a good cry.
Not so bad, after all. The cold
water is anaesthetic and very quick.
The cries on all sides must be a comfort.
We all go: only a few, first class.



TO A YOUNG CHILD
Gerald Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)

Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you will weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow's springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.


TWO FRIENDS
David Ignatow (1914- )
 
I have something to tell you.
I'm listening.
I'm dying.
I'm sorry to hear.
I'm growing old.
It's terrible.
It is, I thought you should know.
Of course, and I'm sorry. Keep in touch.
I will and you too.
And let me know what's new.
Certainly, though it can't be much.
And stay well.
And you too.
And go slow.
And you too.



UPHILL
Christina Rossetti

Does the road wind up-hill all the way?
      Yes, to the very end.
Will the day's journey take the whole long day?
      From morn to night, my friend.
But is there for the night a resting-place?
      A roof for when the slow dark hours begin.
May not the darkness hide it from my face?
      You cannot miss that inn.
Shall I meet other wayfarers at night?
      Those who have gone before.
Then must I knock, or call when just in sight?
      They will not keep you standing at that door.
Shall I find comfort, travel-sore and weak?
      Of labour you shall find the sum.
Will there be beds for me and all who seek?
      Yea, beds for all who come.












 Source:   http://littlecalamity.tripod.com/Poetry/Death.html










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