Verse > Anthologies > Alfred H. Miles, ed. > Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century
Alfred H. Miles, ed.  Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century.  1907.
II. The Pauper’s Death-bed
By Caroline (Bowles) Southey (1787–1854)
TREAD softly—bow the head—
  In reverent silence bow—
No passing bell doth toll—
Yet an immortal soul
    Is passing now.        5
Stranger! however great,
  With lowly reverence bow;
There’s one in that poor shed—
One by that paltry bed—
    Greater than thou.        10
Beneath that beggar’s roof,
  Lo! Death doth keep his state:
Enter—no crowds attend—
Enter—no guards defend
    This palace gate.        15
That pavement damp and cold
  No smiling courtiers tread;
One silent woman stands
Lifting with meagre hands
  A dying head.        20
No mingling voices sound—
  An infant wail alone;
A sob suppressed—again
That short deep gasp, and then
    The parting groan.        25
Oh, change! oh, wondrous change!
  Burst are the prison bars:
This moment there, so low,
So agonised, and now
    Beyond the stars!        30
Oh, change! stupendous change!
  There lies the soulless clod;
The Sun eternal breaks—
The new Immortal wakes—
    Wakes with his God!        35

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