Verse > Anthologies > Louis Untermeyer, ed. > Modern British Poetry
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Louis Untermeyer, ed. (1885–1977). Modern British Poetry.  1920.
 
William Ernest Henley. 1849–1903
 
10. Before
 
BEHOLD me waiting—waiting for the knife. 
A little while, and at a leap I storm 
The thick sweet mystery of chloroform, 
The drunken dark, the little death-in-life. 
The gods are good to me: I have no wife,         5
No innocent child, to think of as I near 
The fateful minute; nothing all-too dear 
Unmans me for my bout of passive strife. 
  
Yet I am tremulous and a trifle sick, 
And, face to face with chance, I shrink a little:  10
My hopes are strong, my will is something weak. 
Here comes the basket? Thank you. I am ready 
But, gentlemen my porters, life is brittle: 
You carry Cæsar and his fortunes—Steady! 
 
 
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