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Death

by
 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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