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Sure 'tis a serious thing to die!
What a strange moment must it be, when near
Thy journey's end, thou hast the gulph in view!
That awful gulf no mortal e'er repass'd,
To tell what's doing on the other side!
Nature runs back, and shudders at the sight,
And every life-string bleeds at thoughts of parting!
For part they must! body and soul must part!
Fond couple! link'd more close than wedded pair;
This wings its way to its Almighty Source,
The witness of its actions, now its judge ;
That drops into the dark and noisome grave,
Like a disabled pitcher of no use.
If death was nothing, and nought after death;
lf, when men died, at once they ceas'd to be,
Returning to the barren womb of nothing
Whence first they sprang; then might the debauchee
Untrembling mouth the heavens: then might the drunkard
Reel over his full bowl, and when 't is drain'd.
Fill up another to the brim, and laugh
At the poor bug bear death; then might the wretch
That's weary of the world, and tir'd of life,
At once give each inquietude the slip,
By stealing out of being when he pleas'd,
And by what way, whether by hemp or steel ;
Death's thousand doors stand open.
Who could force
The ill-pleas'd guest to sit out his full time,
Or blame him if he goes ? Sure he does well
That helps himself as timely as he can,
When able. But if there is an HEREAFTER,
And that there is, conscience, uninfluenc'd
And suffer'd to speak out, tells ev'ry man,
Then must it be an awful thing to die;
More horrid yet to die by one's own hand.
Self-murder! name it not; onr island's shame;
That makes her the reproach of neighbouring states,
Shall nature, swerving from her earliest dictates,
Self-preservation, fall by her own act?
Forbid it, heaven! let not upon disgust
The shameless hand be foully crimson'd o'er
With blood of its own lord. Dreadful attempt !
Just reeking from self-slaughter, in a rage
To rush into the presence of our Judge!
As if we challeng'd him to do his worst,
And matter'd not his wrath. Unheard of tortures
Must be reserv'd for such: these herd together;
The common damn'd shun their society,
upon themselves as fiends less foul.
Our time is fix'd! and all our days are number'd!
How long, how short, we know not: this we know,
Duty requires we calmıly wait the summons,
Nor dare to stir till Heaven, shall give permission ::
Like centries that must keep their destin'd stand,
And wait th' appointed hour, till they're reliev'd.
Those only are the brave who keep their ground.
And keep it to the last. To run away
Is but a coward's trick: to run away
From this world's ills, that at the very worst
Will soon blow, o'er, thinking to mend ourselves
By boldly vent'ring on a world unknown,
And plunging headlong in the dark! 't is mad:
No frenzy half so desperate as this,
dead! will none of
in pity • To those you left behind disclose the secret?
O! that some courteous ghost would blab, it out,
What 'tis you are, and we must shortly be.
I've heard, that souls departed have sometimes
Forewarn'd men of their death: 'twas kindly done
To knock and give th' alarum. But what means
This stinted charity? 'tis but lame kindness
That does its work by halves. Why might you not
Tell us what 'tis to die? Do the strict laws
Of your society forbid your speaking
Upon a point so nice? I'll ask no' more;
Sullen, like lamps in sepulchres, your shine
Enlightens but yourselves: well.—'tis no matter:
A very little time will clear up all;
And make us learn’d as you are, and as close.
Death's shafts fly thick! Here falls the village swain,
And there his pamper'd lord! The cup goes round,
And who so artful as to put it by?
T is long since death had the majority;
Yet, strange! the living lay it not to heart.
See yonder maker of.the dead man's bed,
The Sexton, hoary-headed chronicle!
Of hard unmeaning face, down which ne'er stole
A gentle tear; with mattock in his hand
Digs thro' whole rows of kindred, and acquaintance
By far his juniors? scarce a scull's cast up,
But well he knew its owner, and can tell
Some passage of his life. Thus hand in hand
The sot has walk'd with death twice twenty years;
And yet ne'er younker on the green laughs louder,
Or clubs a smuttier tale; when drunkards meet,
None sings a merrier catch, or lends a hand
More willing to his cup. Poor wretch! he minds. not,
That soon some trusty brother of the trade
Shall do for him what he has done for thousands.
On this side, and on that, men see their friends
Drop off, like leaves in Autumn ; yet launch out
Into fantastic schemes, which the long livers
In the world's hale and undegen'rate days
Could scarce have leisure for; fools that we are!
Never to think of death and of ourselves
At the same time! As if to learn to die
Were no concern of ours, O more than sottish!
For creatures of a day, in gamesome mood,
To frolic on eternity's dread brink,
Unapprehensive; when, for aught we know,
The very first swoln surge shall sweep us in.
Think we, or think we not, time hurries on
With a resistless, unremitting stream,
Yet treads more soft than c'er did midnight thief,
That slides his hand under the miser's pillow,
And carries off his prize.
What is this world? What but a spacious burial field unwallid, Strew'd with death's spoils, the spoils of animals Savage and tame, and full of dead men's bones? The very turf on which we tread, once liv'd; And we that live must lend our carcases To cover our own offspring in their turns They too must cover theirs. 'Tis here all meet! The shiv'ring Icelander, and sun-burnt Moor ; Men of all climes that never inet before, And of all creeds, the Jew, the Turk, the Christian, Here the proud prince, and favourite yet prouder, His sov'reign's keeper, and the people's scourge, Are hudd!ed out of sight. Here lie abash'd
The great negociators of the earth,
And celebrated masters of the balance,
Deep read in stratagems, and wiles of courts:
Now vain their treaty-skill! Death scorns to treat,
Here the o'erloaded slave flings down his burthen
From his gall'd shoulders; and when the cruel tyrant,
With all his guards and tools of pow'r about him,
Is meditating new unheard-of hardships,
Mocks his short arm, and quick as thought escapes,
Where tyrants vex not, and the weary rest.
Here the warm lover, leaving the cool shade,
The tell-tale echo and the bubbling stream,
Time out of mind the favourite seats of love,
Fast by his gentle mistress lays him down
Unblasted by foul tongue.
Here friends and foes
Lie close, unmindful of their former feuds.
The lawn-rob’d prelate, and plain presbyter,
Ere while that stood aloof, as shy to meet,
Familiar mingle here, like sister streams
That some rude interposing rock had split.
Here is the large-limb'd peasant : here the child
Of a span long, that never saw the sun,
Nor press’d the nipple, strangl’d in life's porch ;
Here is the mother with her sons and daughters;
The barren wife; the long demuring maid
Whose lonely unappropriated sweets
Smild like yon knot of cowslips on the cliff,
Not to be come at by the willing hand.
Here are the prude severe, and gay coquette,
The sober widow, and the young green virgin,
Cropp'd like a rose before 'tis fully blown,
Or half its worth disclos'd. Strange medley here