A Worldly Death-Bed
Hush! speak in accents soft and low,
And treat with careful stealth
Thro’ that rich curtained room which tells
Of luxury and wealth;
Men of high science and of skill
Stand there with saddened brow,
Exchanging some low whispered words—
What can their art do now?
Follow their gaze to yonder couch
Where moans in fitful pain
The mistress of this splendid home,
With aching heart and brain.
The fever burning in her veins
Tinges with carmine bright
That sunken cheek—alas! she needs
No borrowed bloom to-night.
The masses of her raven hair
Fall down on either side
In tangled richness—it has been
Through life her care and pride;
And those small perfect hands on which
Her gaze complacent fell,
Now, clenched within her pillow’s lace,
Of anguish only tell.
Sad was her restless, fev’rish sleep,
More sad her waking still,
As with wild start she looks around
Her chamber darkened—still;
Its silence and the mournful looks
Of those who stand apart,
Some awful fear seem to suggest
To that poor worldly heart.
“Doctor, I’m better, am I not?”
She gasps with failing breath—
Alas! the answer sternly tells
That she is “ill to death.”
“What! dying!” and her eyes gleam forth
A flashing, fearful ray,
“I, young, rich, lovely, from this earth
To pass so soon away?
“No, no, it must not, cannot be,
Surely your skill can save—
Can stand between me and the gloom,
The horrors, of the grave!”
Breathless she listens, but no word
Breaks that dull pause of grief,—
Her pitying listeners turn away,
They cannot give relief
Tossing aloft, in fierce despair,
Her arms, with frenzied cry,
She gasps forth, “Save me—help, O help!
I must not, will not die.”
But One can grant that wild appeal,
Can stay her failing breath—
Of Him she never thought in life
Nor thinks she now in death.
Without one prayer, one contrite tear,
For past faults to atone—
For wasted talents, misspent life,
She’s gone before God’s throne!
Prying that wilful, wayward heart
That leaned on gods of clay,
For calmer, holier death than hers
With solemn heart we pray.