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Famous Poems About Death

See also: Famous Poets Who Write About Death

These famous poems about death, written by classic poets, can help a family, friends, and loved ones deal with grief and sadness. Understand what and how to express yourself at a funeral, eulogy, or memorial service.


Dickinson , Emily

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Because I could not stop for Death

Because I could not stop for Death-- 
He kindly stopped for me-- 
The Carriage held but just Ourselves-- 
And Immortality.
We slowly drove--He knew no haste And I had put away My labor and my leisure too, For His Civility-- We passed the School, where Children strove At Recess--in the Ring-- We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain-- We passed the Setting Sun-- Or rather--He passed us-- The Dews drew quivering and chill-- For only Gossamer, my Gown-- My Tippet--only Tulle-- We paused before a House that seemed A Swelling of the Ground-- The Roof was scarcely visible-- The Cornice--in the Ground-- Since then--'tis Centuries--and yet Feels shorter than the Day I first surmised the Horses' Heads Were toward Eternity--



Browning , Elizabeth Barrett

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How Do I Love Thee?

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of every day's Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right; I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love with a passion put to use In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose With my lost saints, I love thee with the breath, Smiles, tears, of all my life! and, if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death.


Shakespeare , William

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Sonnet 71

No longer mourn for me when I am dead
Then you shall hear the surly sullen bell
Give warning to the world that I am fled
From this vile world, with vilest worms to dwell:
Nay, if you read this line, remember not
The hand that writ it; for I love you so
That I in your sweet thoughts would be forgot
If thinking on me then should make you woe.
O, if, I say, you look upon this verse When I perhaps compounded am with clay, Do not so much as my poor name rehearse.
But let your love even with my life decay, Lest the wise world should look into your moan And mock you with me after I am gone


Baudelaire , Charles

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THE DANCE OF DEATH

 CARRYING bouquet, and handkerchief, and gloves, 
Proud of her height as when she lived, she moves 
With all the careless and high-stepping grace, 
And the extravagant courtesan's thin face.
Was slimmer waist e'er in a ball-room wooed? Her floating robe, in royal amplitude, Falls in deep folds around a dry foot, shod With a bright flower-like shoe that gems the sod.
The swarms that hum about her collar-bones As the lascivious streams caress the stones, Conceal from every scornful jest that flies, Her gloomy beauty; and her fathomless eyes Are made of shade and void; with flowery sprays Her skull is wreathed artistically, and sways, Feeble and weak, on her frail vertebrae.
O charm of nothing decked in folly! they Who laugh and name you a Caricature, They see not, they whom flesh and blood allure, The nameless grace of every bleached, bare bone, That is most dear to me, tall skeleton! Come you to trouble with your potent sneer The feast of Life! or are you driven here, To Pleasure's Sabbath, by dead lusts that stir And goad your moving corpse on with a spur? Or do you hope, when sing the violins, And the pale candle-flame lights up our sins, To drive some mocking nightmare far apart, And cool the flame hell lighted in your heart? Fathomless well of fault and foolishness! Eternal alembic of antique distress! Still o'er the curved, white trellis of your sides The sateless, wandering serpent curls and glides.
And truth to tell, I fear lest you should find, Among us here, no lover to your mind; Which of these hearts beat for the smile you gave? The charms of horror please none but the brave.
Your eyes' black gulf, where awful broodings stir, Brings giddiness; the prudent reveller Sees, while a horror grips him from beneath, The eternal smile of thirty-two white teeth.
For he who has not folded in his arms A skeleton, nor fed on graveyard charms, Recks not of furbelow, or paint, or scent, When Horror comes the way that Beauty went.
O irresistible, with fleshless face, Say to these dancers in their dazzled race: "Proud lovers with the paint above your bones, Ye shall taste death, musk scented skeletons! Withered Antino?s, dandies with plump faces, Ye varnished cadavers, and grey Lovelaces, Ye go to lands unknown and void of breath, Drawn by the rumour of the Dance of Death.
From Seine's cold quays to Ganges' burning stream, The mortal troupes dance onward in a dream; They do not see, within the opened sky, The Angel's sinister trumpet raised on high.
In every clime and under every sun, Death laughs at ye, mad mortals, as ye run; And oft perfumes herself with myrrh, like ye And mingles with your madness, irony!"



Donne , John

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Death Be Not Proud

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee 
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so; 
For those whom thou think'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 art 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 thy stroke; why swell'st thou then? One short sleep past, we wake eternally, And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.


Carver , Raymond

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Happiness

 So early it's still almost dark out.
I'm near the window with coffee, and the usual early morning stuff that passes for thought.
When I see the boy and his friend walking up the road to deliver the newspaper.
They wear caps and sweaters, and one boy has a bag over his shoulder.
They are so happy they aren't saying anything, these boys.
I think if they could, they would take each other's arm.
It's early in the morning, and they are doing this thing together.
They come on, slowly.
The sky is taking on light, though the moon still hangs pale over the water.
Such beauty that for a minute death and ambition, even love, doesn't enter into this.
Happiness.
It comes on unexpectedly.
And goes beyond, really, any early morning talk about it.


Tennyson , Alfred Lord

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Tears Idle Tears

  Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean,
Tears from the depth of some divine despair
Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes,
In looking on the happy Autumn-fields,
And thinking of the days that are no more.
Fresh as the first beam glittering on a sail, That brings our friends up from the underworld, Sad as the last which reddens over one That sinks with all we love below the verge; So sad, so fresh, the days that are no more.
Ah, sad and strange as in dark summer dawns The earliest pipe of half-awakened birds To dying ears, when unto dying eyes The casement slowly grows a glimmering square; So sad, so strange, the days that are no more.
Dear as remembered kisses after death, And sweet as those by hopeless fancy feigned On lips that are for others; deep as love, Deep as first love, and wild with all regret; O Death in Life, the days that are no more!


Cowper , William

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The Castaway

 Obscurest night involv'd the sky,
Th' Atlantic billows roar'd,
When such a destin'd wretch as I,
Wash'd headlong from on board,
Of friends, of hope, of all bereft,
His floating home for ever left.
No braver chief could Albion boast Than he with whom he went, Nor ever ship left Albion's coast, With warmer wishes sent.
He lov'd them both, but both in vain, Nor him beheld, nor her again.
Not long beneath the whelming brine, Expert to swim, he lay; Nor soon he felt his strength decline, Or courage die away; But wag'd with death a lasting strife, Supported by despair of life.
He shouted: nor his friends had fail'd To check the vessel's course, But so the furious blast prevail'd, That, pitiless perforce, They left their outcast mate behind, And scudded still before the wind.
Some succour yet they could afford; And, such as storms allow, The cask, the coop, the floated cord, Delay'd not to bestow.
But he (they knew) nor ship, nor shore, Whate'er they gave, should visit more.
Nor, cruel as it seem'd, could he Their haste himself condemn, Aware that flight, in such a sea, Alone could rescue them; Yet bitter felt it still to die Deserted, and his friends so nigh.
He long survives, who lives an hour In ocean, self-upheld; And so long he, with unspent pow'r, His destiny repell'd; And ever, as the minutes flew, Entreated help, or cried--Adieu! At length, his transient respite past, His comrades, who before Had heard his voice in ev'ry blast, Could catch the sound no more.
For then, by toil subdued, he drank The stifling wave, and then he sank.
No poet wept him: but the page Of narrative sincere; That tells his name, his worth, his age, Is wet with Anson's tear.
And tears by bards or heroes shed Alike immortalize the dead.
I therefore purpose not, or dream, Descanting on his fate, To give the melancholy theme A more enduring date: But misery still delights to trace Its semblance in another's case.
No voice divine the storm allay'd, No light propitious shone; When, snatch'd from all effectual aid, We perish'd, each alone: But I beneath a rougher sea, And whelm'd in deeper gulfs than he.


Carver , Raymond

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Fear

 Fear of seeing a police car pull into the drive.
Fear of falling asleep at night.
Fear of not falling asleep.
Fear of the past rising up.
Fear of the present taking flight.
Fear of the telephone that rings in the dead of night.
Fear of electrical storms.
Fear of the cleaning woman who has a spot on her cheek! Fear of dogs I've been told won't bite.
Fear of anxiety! Fear of having to identify the body of a dead friend.
Fear of running out of money.
Fear of having too much, though people will not believe this.
Fear of psychological profiles.
Fear of being late and fear of arriving before anyone else.
Fear of my children's handwriting on envelopes.
Fear they'll die before I do, and I'll feel guilty.
Fear of having to live with my mother in her old age, and mine.
Fear of confusion.
Fear this day will end on an unhappy note.
Fear of waking up to find you gone.
Fear of not loving and fear of not loving enough.
Fear that what I love will prove lethal to those I love.
Fear of death.
Fear of living too long.
Fear of death.
I've said that.


Sandburg , Carl

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Under the Harvest Moon

 Under the harvest moon,
When the soft silver
Drips shimmering
Over the garden nights,
Death, the gray mocker,
Comes and whispers to you
As a beautiful friend
Who remembers.
Under the summer roses When the flagrant crimson Lurks in the dusk Of the wild red leaves, Love, with little hands, Comes and touches you With a thousand memories, And asks you Beautiful, unanswerable questions.


von Goethe , Johann Wolfgang

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THE DANCE OF DEATH

 THE warder looks down at the mid hour of night,

On the tombs that lie scatter'd below:
The moon fills the place with her silvery light,

And the churchyard like day seems to glow.
When see! first one grave, then another opes wide, And women and men stepping forth are descried, In cerements snow-white and trailing.
In haste for the sport soon their ankles they twitch, And whirl round in dances so gay; The young and the old, and the poor, and the rich, But the cerements stand in their way; And as modesty cannot avail them aught here, They shake themselves all, and the shrouds soon appear Scatter'd over the tombs in confusion.
Now waggles the leg, and now wriggles the thigh, As the troop with strange gestures advance, And a rattle and clatter anon rises high, As of one beating time to the dance.
The sight to the warder seems wondrously queer, When the villainous Tempter speaks thus in his ear: "Seize one of the shrouds that lie yonder!" Quick as thought it was done! and for safety he fled Behind the church-door with all speed; The moon still continues her clear light to shed On the dance that they fearfully lead.
But the dancers at length disappear one by one, And their shrouds, ere they vanish, they carefully don, And under the turf all is quiet.
But one of them stumbles and shuffles there still, And gropes at the graves in despair; Yet 'tis by no comrade he's treated so ill The shroud he soon scents in the air.
So he rattles the door--for the warder 'tis well That 'tis bless'd, and so able the foe to repel, All cover'd with crosses in metal.
The shroud he must have, and no rest will allow, There remains for reflection no time; On the ornaments Gothic the wight seizes now, And from point on to point hastes to climb.
Alas for the warder! his doom is decreed! Like a long-legged spider, with ne'er-changing speed, Advances the dreaded pursuer.
The warder he quakes, and the warder turns pale, The shroud to restore fain had sought; When the end,--now can nothing to save him avail,-- In a tooth formed of iron is caught.
With vanishing lustre the moon's race is run, When the bell thunders loudly a powerful One, And the skeleton fails, crush'd to atoms.
1813.


Xavier , Emanuel

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THE DEATH OF ART

 “Reading well is one of the great pleasures that solitude can afford you.
” -critic Harold Bloom, who first called slam poetry "the death of art.
” I am not a poet.
I want to be rich and buy things for my family.
Besides, I am sort of popular and can honestly say I’ve had a great sex life.
I am not a poet.
Georgia O' Keefe paintings do absolutely nothing for me.
I do not feel oppressed or depressed and no longer have anything to say about the President.
I am not a poet.
I do not like being called an "activist" because it takes away from those that are out on the streets protesting and fighting for our rights.
I am not a poet.
I eat poultry and fish and suck way too much dick to be considered a vegetarian.
I am not a poet.
I would most likely give my ass up in prison before trying to save it with poetry .
.
.
and I’d like it! Heck, I’d probably be inspired.
I am not a poet.
I may value peace but I will not simply use a pen to unleash my anger.
I would fuck somebody up if I had to.
I am not a poet.
I may have been abused and had a difficult life but I don’t want pity.
I believe laughter and love heals.
I am not a poet.
I am not dying.
I write a lot about AIDS and how it has affected my life but, despite the rumors, I am not positive.
Believe it or not, weight loss amongst sexually active gay men could still be a choice.
I am not a poet.
I do not get Kerouac or honestly care much for Bukowski.
I am not a poet.
I don’t spend my weekends reading and writing.
I like to go out and party.
I like to have a few cocktails but I do not have a drinking problem regardless of what borough, city or state I may wake up in.
I am not a poet.
I don’t need drugs to open up my imagination.
I've been a dealer and had a really bad habit but that was long before I started writing.
I am not a poet.
I can seriously only tolerate about half an hour of spoken word before I start tuning out and thinking about my grocery list or what my cats are up to.
I am not a poet.
I only do poetry events if I know there will be cute guys there and I always carry business cards.
I am not a poet according to the scholars and academics and Harold Bloom.
I only write to masturbate my mind.
After all, fucking yourself is one of the great pleasures that solitude can afford you.
I am not a poet.
I am only trying to get attention and convince myself that poetry can save lives when my words simply and proudly contribute to “the death of art.


Bronte , Emily

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To Imagination

 When weary with the long day's care,
And earthly change from pain to pain,
And lost and ready to despair,
Thy kind voice calls me back again:
Oh, my true friend! I am not lone,
While thou canst speak with such a tone! 

So hopeless is the world without;
The world within I doubly prize;
Thy world, where guile, and hate, and doubt,
And cold suspicion never rise;
Where thou, and I, and Liberty,
Have undisputed sovereignty.
What matters it, that, all around, Danger, and guilt, and darkness lie, If but within our bosom's bound We hold a bright, untroubled sky, Warm with ten thousand mingled rays Of suns that know no winter days? Reason, indeed, may oft complain For Nature's sad reality, And tell the suffering heart, how vain Its cherished dreams must always be; And Truth may rudely trample down The flowers of Fancy, newly-blown: But, thou art ever there, to bring The hovering vision back, and breathe New glories o'er the blighted spring, And call a lovelier Life from Death, And whisper, with a voice divine, Of real worlds, as bright as thine.
I trust not to thy phantom bliss, Yet, still, in evening's quiet hour, With never-failing thankfulness, I welcome thee, Benignant Power; Sure solacer of human cares, And sweeter hope, when hope despairs!


Frye , Mary Elizabeth

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Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep

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 diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.


Bukowski , Charles

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Love and Fame and Death

 it sits outside my window now
like and old woman going to market;
it sits and watches me,
it sweats nevously
through wire and fog and dog-bark
until suddenly
I slam the screen with a newspaper
like slapping at a fly
and you could hear the scream
over this plain city,
and then it left.
the way to end a poem like this is to become suddenly quiet.


Hardy , Thomas

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The Darkling Thrush

I leant upon a coppice gate
     When Frost was spectre-gray,
And Winter's dregs made desolate
     The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky Like strings of broken lyres, And all mankind that haunted nigh Had sought their household fires.
The land's sharp features seemed to be The Century's corpse outleant, His crypt the cloudy canopy, The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth Was shrunken hard and dry, And every spirit upon earth Seemed fevourless as I.
At once a voice arose among The bleak twigs overhead In a full-hearted evensong Of joy illimited; An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small, In blast-beruffled plume, Had chosen thus to fling his soul Upon the growing gloom.
So little cause for carolings Of such ecstatic sound Was written on terrestrial things Afar or nigh around, That I could think there trembled through His happy good-night air Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew And I was unaware.


Swift , Jonathan

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A Satirical Elegy on the Death of a Late Famous General

His Grace! impossible! what dead!
Of old age too, and in his bed!
And could that mighty warrior fall?
And so inglorious, after all!
Well, since he's gone, no matter how,
The last loud trump must wake him now:
And, trust me, as the noise grows stronger,
He'd wish to sleep a little longer.
And could he be indeed so old As by the newspapers we're told? Threescore, I think, is pretty high; 'Twas time in conscience he should die.
This world he cumbered long enough; He burnt his candle to the snuff; And that's the reason, some folks think, He left behind so great a s---k.
Behold his funeral appears, Nor widow's sighs, nor orphan's tears, Wont at such times each heart to pierce, Attend the progress of his hearse.
But what of that, his friends may say, He had those honors in his day.
True to his profit and his pride, He made them weep before he died.
Come hither, all ye empty things, Ye bubbles raised by breath of kings; Who float upon the tide of state, Come hither, and behold your fate.
Let pride be taught by this rebuke, How very mean a thing's a Duke; From all his ill-got honors flung, Turned to that dirt from whence he sprung.


O'Hara , Frank

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Death

1

If half of me is skewered
by grey crested birds
in the middle of the vines of my promise
and the very fact that I'm a poet
suffers my eyes
to be filled with vermilion tears 


2

how much greater danger
from occasion and pain is my vitality
yielding like a tree on fire!--
for every day is another view
of the tentative past
grown secure in its foundry of shimmering
that's not even historical;it's just me.
3 And the other half of me where I master the root of my every idiosyncrasy and fit my ribs like a glove 4 is that me who accepts betrayal in the abstract as if it were insight? and draws its knuckles across the much-lined eyes in the most knowing manner of our time? 5 The wind that smiles through the wires isn't vague enough for an assertion of a personal nature it's not for me 6 I'm not dead.
Nothing remains let alone "to be said " except that when I fall backwards I am trying something new and shall succeed as in the past.


Robinson , Mary Darby

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Ode to the Moon

 PALE GODDESS of the witching hour;
Blest Contemplation's placid friend; 
Oft in my solitary bow'r,
I mark thy lucid beam
From thy crystal car descend,
Whitening the spangled heath, and limpid sapphire stream.
And oft, amidst the shades of night I court thy undulating light; When Fairies dance around the verdant ring, Or frisk beside the bubbling spring, When the thoughtless SHEPHERD'S song Echoes thro' the silent air, As he pens his fleecy care, Or plods with saunt'ring gait, the dewy meads along.
CHASTE ORB! as thro' the vaulted sky Feath'ry clouds transparent sail; When thy languid, weeping eye, Sheds its soft tears upon the painted vale; As I ponder o'er the floods, Or tread with listless step, th'embow'ring woods, O, let thy transitory beam, Soothe my sad mind, with FANCY'S aëry dream.
Wrapt in REFLECTION, let me trace O'er the vast ethereal space, Stars, whose twinkling fires illume Dark-brow'd NIGHT'S obtrusive gloom; Where across the concave wide; Flaming METEORS swiftly glide; Or along the milky way, Vapours shoot a silvery ray; And as I mark, thy faint reclining head, Sinking on Ocean's pearly bed; Let REASON tell my soul, thus all things fade.
The Seasons change, the "garish SUN" When Day's burning car hath run Its fiery course, no more we view, While o'er the mountain's golden head, Streak'd with tints of crimson hue, Twilight's filmy curtains spread, Stealing o'er Nature's face, a desolating shade.
Yon musky FLOW'R, that scents the earth; The SOD, that gave its odours birth; The ROCK, that breaks the torrent's force; The VALE, that owns its wand'ring course; The woodlands where the vocal throng Trill the wild melodious song; Thirsty desarts, sands that glow, Mountains, cap'd with flaky snow; Luxuriant groves, enamell'd fields, All, all, prolific Nature yields, Alike shall end; the sensate HEART, With all its passions, all its fire, Touch'd by FATE'S unerring dart, Shall feel its vital strength expire; Those eyes, that beam with FRIENDSHIP'S ray, And glance ineffable delight, Shall shrink from LIFE'S translucid day, And close their fainting orbs, in DEATH'S impervious night.
Then what remains for mortal pow'r; But TIME'S dull journey to beguile; To deck with joy, the winged hour, To meet its sorrows with a patient smile; And when the toilsome pilgrimage shall end, To greet the tyrant, as a welcome friend.


Sexton , Anne

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Suicide Note

 "You speak to me of narcissism but I reply that it is 
a matter of my life" - Artaud

"At this time let me somehow bequeath all the leftovers 
to my daughters and their daughters" - Anonymous

Better, 
despite the worms talking to 
the mare's hoof in the field; 
better, 
despite the season of young girls 
dropping their blood; 
better somehow 
to drop myself quickly 
into an old room.
Better (someone said) not to be born and far better not to be born twice at thirteen where the boardinghouse, each year a bedroom, caught fire.
Dear friend, I will have to sink with hundreds of others on a dumbwaiter into hell.
I will be a light thing.
I will enter death like someone's lost optical lens.
Life is half enlarged.
The fish and owls are fierce today.
Life tilts backward and forward.
Even the wasps cannot find my eyes.
Yes, eyes that were immediate once.
Eyes that have been truly awake, eyes that told the whole story— poor dumb animals.
Eyes that were pierced, little nail heads, light blue gunshots.
And once with a mouth like a cup, clay colored or blood colored, open like the breakwater for the lost ocean and open like the noose for the first head.
Once upon a time my hunger was for Jesus.
O my hunger! My hunger! Before he grew old he rode calmly into Jerusalem in search of death.
This time I certainly do not ask for understanding and yet I hope everyone else will turn their heads when an unrehearsed fish jumps on the surface of Echo Lake; when moonlight, its bass note turned up loud, hurts some building in Boston, when the truly beautiful lie together.
I think of this, surely, and would think of it far longer if I were not… if I were not at that old fire.
I could admit that I am only a coward crying me me me and not mention the little gnats, the moths, forced by circumstance to suck on the electric bulb.
But surely you know that everyone has a death, his own death, waiting for him.
So I will go now without old age or disease, wildly but accurately, knowing my best route, carried by that toy donkey I rode all these years, never asking, “Where are we going?” We were riding (if I'd only known) to this.
Dear friend, please do not think that I visualize guitars playing or my father arching his bone.
I do not even expect my mother's mouth.
I know that I have died before— once in November, once in June.
How strange to choose June again, so concrete with its green breasts and bellies.
Of course guitars will not play! The snakes will certainly not notice.
New York City will not mind.
At night the bats will beat on the trees, knowing it all, seeing what they sensed all day.


Byron , George (Lord)

 | 

The Tear

 When Friendship or Love
Our sympathies move;
When Truth, in a glance, should appear,
The lips may beguile,
With a dimple or smile,
But the test of affection's a Tear:

Too oft is a smile
But the hypocrite's wile,
To mask detestation, or fear;
Give me the soft sigh,
Whilst the soultelling eye
Is dimm'd, for a time, with a Tear:

Mild Charity's glow,
To us mortals below,
Shows the soul from barbarity clear;
Compassion will melt,
Where this virtue is felt,
And its dew is diffused in a Tear:

The man, doom'd to sail
With the blast of the gale,
Through billows Atlantic to steer,
As he bends o'er the wave
Which may soon be his grave,
The green sparkles bright with a Tear;

The Soldier braves death
For a fanciful wreath
In Glory's romantic career;
But he raises the foe
When in battle laid low,
And bathes every wound with a Tear.
If, with high-bounding pride, He return to his bride! Renouncing the gore-crimson'd spear; All his toils are repaid When, embracing the maid, From her eyelid he kisses the Tear.
Sweet scene of my youth! Seat of Friendship and Truth, Where Love chas'd each fast-fleeting year Loth to leave thee, I mourn'd, For a last look I turn'd, But thy spire was scarce seen through a Tear: Though my vows I can pour, To my Mary no more, My Mary, to Love once so dear, In the shade of her bow'r, I remember the hour, She rewarded those vows with a Tear.
By another possest, May she live ever blest! Her name still my heart must revere: With a sigh I resign, What I once thought was mine, And forgive her deceit with a Tear.
Ye friends of my heart, Ere from you I depart, This hope to my breast is most near: If again we shall meet, In this rural retreat, May we meet, as we part, with a Tear.
When my soul wings her flight To the regions of night, And my corse shall recline on its bier; As ye pass by the tomb, Where my ashes consume, Oh! moisten their dust with a Tear.


Eliot , T S (Thomas Stearns)

 | 

Whispers of Immortality

 WEBSTER was much possessed by death
And saw the skull beneath the skin;
And breastless creatures under ground
Leaned backward with a lipless grin.
Daffodil bulbs instead of balls Stared from the sockets of the eyes! He knew that thought clings round dead limbs Tightening its lusts and luxuries.
Donne, I suppose, was such another Who found no substitute for sense, To seize and clutch and penetrate; Expert beyond experience, He knew the anguish of the marrow The ague of the skeleton; No contact possible to flesh Allayed the fever of the bone.
.
.
.
.
.
Grishkin is nice: her Russian eye Is underlined for emphasis; Uncorseted, her friendly bust Gives promise of pneumatic bliss.
The couched Brazilian jaguar Compels the scampering marmoset With subtle effluence of cat; Grishkin has a maisonette; The sleek Brazilian jaguar Does not in its arboreal gloom Distil so rank a feline smell As Grishkin in a drawing-room.
And even the Abstract Entities Circumambulate her charm; But our lot crawls between dry ribs To keep our metaphysics warm.


Wheatley , Phillis

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To a Lady on the Death of Her Husband

Grim monarch! see, depriv'd of vital breath,
A young physician in the dust of death:
Dost thou go on incessant to destroy,
Our griefs to double, and lay waste our joy?
"Enough" thou never yet wast known to say,
Though millions die, the vassals of thy sway:
Nor youth, nor science, nor the ties of love,
Nor aught on earth thy flinty heart can move.
The friend, the spouse from his dire dart to save, In vain we ask the sovereign of the grave.
Fair mourner, there see thy lov'd Leonard laid, And o'er him spread the deep impervious shade; Clos'd are his eyes, and heavy fetters keep His senses bound in never-waking sleep, Till time shall cease, till many a starry world Shall fall from heav'n, in dire confusion hurl'd, Till nature in her final wreck shall lie, And her last groan shall rend the azure sky: Not, not till then his active soul shall claim His body, a divine immortal frame.
But see the softly-stealing tears apace Pursue each other down the mourner's face; But cease thy tears, bid ev'ry sigh depart, And cast the load of anguish from thine heart: From the cold shell of his great soul arise, And look beyond, thou native of the skies; There fix thy view, where fleeter than the wind Thy Leonard mounts, and leaves the earth behind.
Thyself prepare to pass the vale of night To join for ever on the hills of light: To thine embrace his joyful sprit moves To thee, the partner of his earthly loves; He welcomes thee to pleasures more refin'd, And better suited to th' immortal mind.


Dickinson , Emily

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Because that you are going

 Because that you are going
And never coming back
And I, however absolute,
May overlook your Track --

Because that Death is final,
However first it be,
This instant be suspended
Above Mortality --

Significance that each has lived
The other to detect
Discovery not God himself
Could now annihilate

Eternity, Presumption
The instant I perceive
That you, who were Existence
Yourself forgot to live --

The "Life that is" will then have been
A thing I never knew --
As Paradise fictitious
Until the Realm of you --

The "Life that is to be," to me,
A Residence too plain
Unless in my Redeemer's Face
I recognize your own --

Of Immortality who doubts
He may exchange with me
Curtailed by your obscuring Face
Of everything but He --

Of Heaven and Hell I also yield
The Right to reprehend
To whoso would commute this Face
For his less priceless Friend.
If "God is Love" as he admits We think that me must be Because he is a "jealous God" He tells us certainly If "All is possible with" him As he besides concedes He will refund us finally Our confiscated Gods --


Chesterton , G K

 | 

The Skeleton

 Chattering finch and water-fly 
Are not merrier than I; 
Here among the flowers I lie 
Laughing everlastingly.
No; I may not tell the best; Surely, friends, I might have guessed Death was but the good King's jest, It was hid so carefully.