Verse > Anthologies > Alfred H. Miles, ed. > Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century
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CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
Alfred H. Miles, ed.  Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century.  1907.
 
Selected Poems (1900)
VI. Death and Life
By Annie Matheson (1853–1924)
 
O DEATH! when all my tasks are done,
  And Life has yielded up
The hidden joys that, one by one,
  Make sweet his bitter cup,
Then only, at the set of sun,        5
  Come thou with me to sup.
 
Thou art but Life in brief disguise,
  And, ere we sup, wilt lay
Thy domino of sombre dyes
  Within my tomb away,        10
Then flash on my delighted eyes
  As Life, in Life’s array.
 
That night put no new jewels on
  But wear thy time-worn dress,
No kindlier garment canst thou don,        15
  Nor shall I love thee less—
The hurried air will then be gone
  That mars thy loveliness:
 
Despite the mystery and pain
  That blend with love and bliss,        20
For life hereafter we are fain,
  Not wholly unlike this,—
But life more vital, to regain
  What we, through weakness, miss.
 
O Death! I called thee once a friend        25
  Of whom I had no fear:
(Stern Life, on me his brows would bend,
  Nor seemed his bidding clear),—
But when I saw thee hither wend,
  I knew that Life was dear.        30
 
When nearer drew the shrouded face,
  (Day’s work unfinished still),
A terror shadowed all the place,
  A prayer possessed my will;
“A little longer grant me grace        35
  While I my day fulfil!”
 
I heard a hand unlatch my door,
  More solemn grew my dread;
No death-like phantom crossed my floor,
  But Life himself instead,        40
His mocking smile, unseen before,
  With shamefast eyes I read.
 
He smiled: “I did but masquerade
  A moment in thy sight,
And wast thou then so sore afraid        45
  Of thy friend, Death, to-night?—
Go, finish what thy labour made,
  Nor waste the waning light.”
 
And He at last in Whom I trust,
  When death does frown on me,        50
Will throw the mask into the dust
  That I true Life may see,
His garb of joy from moth and rust
  Eternally set free.
 
Familiar Life, but fairer far        55
  Than shone his earthly grace,
Which care and grief and hurry mar
  And bonds of time and space;
Life always where earth’s loved ones are,
  Before Love’s unveiled face.        60
 
 
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