To Death


Death, why dost thou hard stare at me, I pray?
Why smilest thou in manner grimly cold?
And what is it hath made thee strangely bold?
O Death, whence comest thou, and why this way?
Why look’st thou so by night, yet not by day?
Why comest not in chains and clammy mould
As from the steeple mourning bells are tolled?
And when thou comest is it aye to stay?
See, there he stands, and, smiling, waits for men
To near him with unwilling gait and slow,
Whether in youth or age, whether as friend or foe.
He knows full well that each is for his gain;
He greets them all and throws the doorway wide
Into the gulf upon the other side!