Death, The Magician

For I do hate thee, O thou spectre Death!
Pale moonbeams flit between thy naked ribs.
There is a hollow darkness o'er thy hips,
And elfin lights gleam from unlustrous eyes,
What canst thou give me? The brown earth and worms,
And darkness, and the gloom of narrow graves.
‘Borne on my mother's breast.' Thou mockest me!
I shall be far as farthest focal sun
From the warm earth and waving grass and leaf.
I want the earth and warmth of breathing men.
And eyes that speak, and hands that clasp, and lips
That thrill me with a voice and touch of light.
And lift me out of depths of dull despair
Into a heaven of hope and happiness.
I do not want your cold and stately saints.
Sculptured, and niched, and cold in marble shrouds,
Nor your angelic far off symphonies,
That have no motion, light, or breathed form.
Leave me my earth, O thou dread spectre Death!
And keep your heaven for cold and icy saints.
For I do hate thee, thou dread messenger!
And the white moon that shines between thy bars.
And makes locked lines and circles on my bed.

Come nearer, nearer, thou dread phantom, Death!
Thou art not quite so hideous as I deemed.
Is it a mist of moonbeams that awakes
Soft lines of light, that wrap thee round, and drape
The crags and nodes of thy bleak nudity?
And yet a light breaks through, and swiftly makes
Facets of crystal, glimmering, and flames
That glint and gleam in dusky realms of light.
Lo! and thou smilest. And the vista'ed past
Of the drear time I've given to the earth
Vapours and fades into a memory.
And the dark future, black with bitter fears.
Leaps into sudden lamps of hope and joy.
Voices of men grow hoarse and bitter harsh;
And a dim echo steals upon mine ears
Of far off slumb'rous notes that dream and dwell
On the discordant chords of my weak soul,
And wake responses that in turn grow pale,
And vanishing in Memory's hidden cells.
Recall some long-lost melody of heaven.
Come nearer, thou magician, nearer still.
I cannot touch thee, spirit as thou art.
But through the glass of thy transparency
I see a heaven leaning on the earth,
A weary earth uplift itself to heaven.

Nearer, and nearer still, thou Angel Death!
Why, thou art beautiful, as poet's dreams.
Or the fair forms that sweep into the light
Where glow the furnaces of genius.
Thy rounded shape doth palpitate with life,
And from thy wings new-budded breathes the scent
Of Paradisial fields, Elysian plains,
Peopled with spirits fairer than the dawn.
Oh! earth, dull clod, brown, odourless, effete,
I hate thee, and thy creeping parasites.
Lift me, O Death! unloose these weary bands,
Unlock this prison house and set me free;
And thou and I will steal from the dark realm,
Glide through the stately avenues of stars,
And spurn the enwreathed cloudlets to emerge
In the pavilion palaces of God.
O Death! my sister, lift thy lustrous eyes,
And open wide the impearled ivory gate.
Lo! the enchanted islands of the blest!
Lo! the broad azures of eternity!
Bend down thine ears. In their voluted shells
Murmur the wavelets of th' eternal sea.
Kiss me, my sister! seal those burning lids,
(Gently I pray thee for I am growing faint)
Till the most High doth break thy signet ring,
Softly unfolding to my wondering eyes —
Lest the too sudden joy should paralyze.
The unimpassioned blisses He has stored, —
The unimagined marvels He has made.

by Sheehan Patrick Augustine

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