Verse > Anthologies > J. C. Squire, ed. > A Book of Women’s Verse
J. C. Squire, ed.  A Book of Women’s Verse.  1921.
To Death
By Caroline Southey (1786–1854)
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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