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Death

Written by: James Henry Leigh Hunt | Biography
 | Quotes (11) |
 My body, eh? Friend Death, how now? 
Why all this tedious pomp of writ? 
Thou hast reclaimed it sure and slow 
For half a century bit by bit.

In faith thou knowest more to-day 
Than I do, where it can be found! 
This shrivelled lump of suffering clay, 
To which I am now chained and bound,

Has not of kith or kin a trace 
To the good body once I bore; 
Look at this shrunken, ghastly face: 
Didst ever see that face before?

Ah, well, friend Death, good friend thou art; 
Thy only fault thy lagging gait, 
Mistaken pity in thy heart 
For timorous ones that bid thee wait.

Do quickly all thou hast to do, 
Nor I nor mine will hindrance make; 
I shall be free when thou art through; 
I grudge thee nought that thou must take!

Stay! I have lied; I grudge thee one, 
Yes, two I grudge thee at this last,-- 
Two members which have faithful done 
My will and bidding in the past.

I grudge thee this right hand of mine; 
I grudge thee this quick-beating heart; 
They never gave me coward sign, 
Nor played me once the traitor's part.

I see now why in olden days 
Men in barbaric love or hate 
Nailed enemies' hands at wild crossways, 
Shrined leaders' hearts in costly state:

The symbol, sign and instrument 
Of each soul's purpose, passion, strife, 
Of fires in which are poured and spent 
Their all of love, their all of life.

O feeble, mighty human hand! 
O fragile, dauntless human heart! 
The universe holds nothing planned 
With such sublime, transcendent art!

Yes, Death, I own I grudge thee mine 
Poor little hand, so feeble now; 
Its wrinkled palm, its altered line, 
Its veins so pallid and so slow --

Ah, well, friend Death, good friend thou art; 
I shall be free when thou art through. 
Take all there is -- take hand and heart; 
There must be somewhere work to do.



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