Reference > Anthologies > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library > Verse

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
The Death Agony
By Sully Prudhomme (René François Armand Prudhomme) (1839–1907)
Translation of E. and R. E. Prothero

YE who are watching when my end draws near,
          Speak not, I pray!
’Twill help me most some music faint to hear,
          And pass away.
For song can loosen, link by link, each care        5
          From life’s hard chain.
So gently rock my griefs; but oh, beware!
          To speak were pain.
I’m weary of all words: their wisest speech
          Can naught reveal;        10
Give me the spirit-sounds minds cannot reach,
          But hearts can feel.
Some melody which all my soul shall steep,
          As tranced I lie,
Passing from visions wild to dreamy sleep,—        15
          From sleep to die.
Ye who are watching when my end draws near,
          Speak not, I pray!
Some sounds of music murmuring in my ear
          Will smooth my way.        20
My nurse, poor shepherdess! I’d bid you seek;
          Tell her my whim:
I want her near me, when I’m faint and weak
          On the grave’s brim.
I want to hear her sing, ere I depart,        25
          Just once again.
In simple monotone to touch the heart
          That Old World strain.
You’ll find her still,—the rustic hovel gives
          Calm hopes and fears;        30
But in this world of mine one rarely lives
          Thrice twenty years.
Be sure you leave us with our hearts alone,
          Only us two!
She’ll sing to me in her old trembling tone,        35
          Stroking my brow.
She only to the end will love through all
          My good and ill;
So will the air of those old songs recall
          My first years still.        40
And dreaming thus, I shall not feel at last
          My heart-strings torn,
But all unknowing, the great barriers past,
          Die—as we’re born.
Ye who are watching when my end draws near,        45
          Speak not, I pray!
’Twill help me most some music faint to hear,
          And pass away.

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