Verse > Anthologies > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of English Verse
Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. 1919. The Oxford Book of English Verse: 1250–1900.
Caroline Southey. 1787–1854
596. To Death
COME not in terrors clad, to claim 
    An unresisting prey: 
Come like an evening shadow, Death! 
  So stealthily, so silently! 
And shut mine eyes, and steal my breath;         5
  Then willingly, O willingly, 
    With thee I'll go away! 
What need to clutch with iron grasp 
    What gentlest touch may take? 
What need with aspect dark to scare,  10
  So awfully, so terribly, 
The weary soul would hardly care, 
  Call'd quietly, call'd tenderly, 
    From thy dread power to break? 
'Tis not as when thou markest out  15
    The young, the blest, the gay, 
The loved, the loving—they who dream 
  So happily, so hopefully; 
Then harsh thy kindest call may seem, 
  And shrinkingly, reluctantly,  20
    The summon'd may obey. 
But I have drunk enough of life— 
    The cup assign'd to me 
Dash'd with a little sweet at best, 
  So scantily, so scantily—  25
To know full well that all the rest 
  More bitterly, more bitterly, 
    Drugg'd to the last will be. 
And I may live to pain some heart 
    That kindly cares for me:  30
To pain, but not to bless. O Death! 
  Come quietly—come lovingly— 
And shut mine eyes, and steal my breath; 
  Then willingly, O willingly, 
    I'll go away with thee!  35
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