Go Down, Death

Weep not, weep not,
She is not dead;
She's resting in the bosom of Jesus.
Heart-broken husband--weep no more;
Grief-stricken son--weep no more;
Left-lonesome daughter --weep no more;
She only just gone home.

Day before yesterday morning,
God was looking down from his great, high heaven,
Looking down on all his children,
And his eye fell of Sister Caroline,
Tossing on her bed of pain.
And God's big heart was touched with pity,
With the everlasting pity.

And God sat back on his throne,
And he commanded that tall, bright angel standing at his right hand:
Call me Death!
And that tall, bright angel cried in a voice
That broke like a clap of thunder:
Call Death!--Call Death!
And the echo sounded down the streets of heaven
Till it reached away back to that shadowy place,
Where Death waits with his pale, white horses.

And Death heard the summons,
And he leaped on his fastest horse,
Pale as a sheet in the moonlight.
Up the golden street Death galloped,
And the hooves of his horses struck fire from the gold,
But they didn't make no sound.
Up Death rode to the Great White Throne,
And waited for God's command.

And God said: Go down, Death, go down,
Go down to Savannah, Georgia,
Down in Yamacraw,
And find Sister Caroline.
She's borne the burden and heat of the day,
She's labored long in my vineyard,
And she's tired--
She's weary--
Do down, Death, and bring her to me.

And Death didn't say a word,
But he loosed the reins on his pale, white horse,
And he clamped the spurs to his bloodless sides,
And out and down he rode,
Through heaven's pearly gates,
Past suns and moons and stars;
on Death rode,
Leaving the lightning's flash behind;
Straight down he came.

While we were watching round her bed,
She turned her eyes and looked away,
She saw what we couldn't see;
She saw Old Death.She saw Old Death
Coming like a falling star.
But Death didn't frighten Sister Caroline;
He looked to her like a welcome friend.
And she whispered to us: I'm going home,
And she smiled and closed her eyes.

And Death took her up like a baby,
And she lay in his icy arms,
But she didn't feel no chill.
And death began to ride again--
Up beyond the evening star,
Into the glittering light of glory,
On to the Great White Throne.
And there he laid Sister Caroline
On the loving breast of Jesus.

And Jesus took his own hand and wiped away her tears,
And he smoothed the furrows from her face,
And the angels sang a little song,
And Jesus rocked her in his arms,
And kept a-saying: Take your rest,
Take your rest.

Weep not--weep not,
She is not dead;
She's resting in the bosom of Jesus.

by James Weldon Johnson

Comments (2)

Italian, original text: ''VENTO A TINDARI'' Tindari, mite ti so Fra larghi colli pensile sull’acque Delle isole dolci del dio, oggi m’assali e ti chini in cuore. Salgo vertici aerei precipizi, assorto al vento dei pini, e la brigata che lieve m’accompagna s’allontana nell’aria, onda di suoni e amore, e tu mi prendi da cui male mi trassi e paure d’ombre e di silenzi, rifugi di dolcezze un tempo assidue e morte d’anima. A te ignota è la terra Ove ogni giorno affondo E segrete sillabe nutro: altra luce ti sfoglia sopra i vetri nella veste notturna, e gioia non mia riposa sul tuo grembo. Aspro è l’esilio, e la ricerca che chiudevo in te d’armonia oggi si muta in ansia precoce di morire; e ogni amore è schermo alla tristezza, tacito passo al buio dove mi hai posto amaro pane a rompere. Tindari serena torna; soave amico mi desta che mi sporga nel cielo da una rupe e io fingo timore a chi non sa che vento profondo m’ha cercato.
''Wind at Tindari'' Tindari, I know you mild between broad hills, overhanging the waters of the god’s sweet islands. Today, you confront me and penetrate my heart. I climb airy peaks, precipices, following the wind in the pines, and the crowd of them, lightly accompanying me, fly off into the air, wave of love and sound, and you take me to you, you from whom I wrongly gathered evil, and fear of shadow, silence – refuge of sweetness, once certain – and death of spirit. It is unknown to you, that country where each day I go deep to nourish secret syllables: a different light bares you, behind the windows clothed in night, and another joy than mine rests on your breast. Exile is harsh and the search, for harmony, ending in you, changes today to a precocious anxiousness for death, and every love is a shield against sadness, a silent stair in the gloom, where you station me to break my bitter bread. Return, serene Tindari, stir me, sweet friend, to raise myself to the sky from the rock, so that I might shape fear, for those who do not know what deep wind has searched me. - - Note: Tindari, ancient Tyndaris, lies on a coastal headland in the province of Messina, Italy.