Treasure Island

Anne Killigrew

(1660- 16 June 1685 / London)

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On Death

Tell me thou safest End of all our Woe,
Why wreched Mortals do avoid thee so:
Thou gentle drier o'th' afflicteds Tears,
Thou noble ender of the Cowards Fears;
Thou sweet Repose to Lovers sad dispaire,
Thou Calm t'Ambitions rough Tempestuous Care.
If in regard of Bliss thou wert a Curse,
And then the Joys of Paradise art worse;
Yet after Man from his first Station fell,
And God from Eden Adam did expel,
Thou wert no more an Evil, but Relief;
The Balm and Cure to ev'ry Humane Grief:
Through thee (what Man had forfeited before)
He now enjoys, and ne'r can loose it more.

No subtile Serpents in the Grave betray,
Worms on the Body there, not Soul do prey;
No Vice there Tempts, no Terrors there afright,
No Coz'ning Sin affords a false delight:
No vain Contentions do that Peace annoy,
No feirce Alarms break the lasting Joy.

Ah since from thee so many Blessings flow,
Such real Good as Life can never know;
Come when thou wilt, in thy afrighting'st Dress,
Thy Shape shall never make thy Welcome less.
Thou mayst to Joy, but ne'er to Fear give Birth,
Thou Best, as well as Certain'st thing on Earth.
Fly thee? May Travellers then fly their Rest,
And hungry Infants fly the profer'd Brest.
No, those that faint and tremble at thy Name,
Fly from their Good on a mistaken Fame.
Thus Childish fear did Israel of old
From Plenty and the Promis'd Land with-hold;
They fancy'd Giants, and refus'd to go,
When Canaan did with Milk and Honey flow.

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002
Edited: Tuesday, September 25, 2012

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  • Terry Craddock (9/25/2014 6:24:00 PM)

    Too many wonderful images to reference individually unless writing an essay on this brilliant poem. A theme I will use as a metaphor to describe this poem is; if life is a ship, a ship built in a womb, launched on maiden voyage at birth, to grow in travels, rewarded in journeys, unexpected sights, experiences ranging from calm joy to tempest fear; then ultimately if we survive all our experiences with skill in setting the right courses, taking shelter as needed, adjusting expectations to the weather reality we must endure, then death is the eventual safe port at the natural conclusion of our lives, death is a comfort for wasted timber and weary bones if we have faced and achieved our desired life goals. Just a thought. Thus because of the depth and suggested implications of this poem it is a 10+ for me. (Report) Reply

  • Manohar Bhatia (9/25/2013 8:56:00 AM)

    When Satan tempted Adam to bite the apple in the garden of Eden, little did Satan know, Adam's death will be glorified by the future human race. A great poem, in Shakespearian style and I enjoyed reading it in this present time.Ah! Thanks Anne Killigrew, whereever you are up there!
    Manohar Bhatia. (Report) Reply

  • Alfred Barna (9/25/2013 12:45:00 AM)

    Beautiful. Satan in his long desire to be loved, cursed the very salvation of Him aboved. Satan in his tweisted need, garnered, forcing man to bow to him and be honored. He kissed us with death, and we cried; for Satan killed the very love he denied. (Report) Reply

  • Simon Aindongo (9/25/2012 7:52:00 PM)

    this is beautiful, pure genius, ive always loved Shakespearean English but this is beyond amazing! (Report) Reply

  • Carlos Echeverria (9/25/2012 11:06:00 AM)

    What would death be to someone without woe;
    who never shed a tear;
    who never held fear,
    or felt despair?
    I'm grateful not to know. (Report) Reply

  • Kevin Straw (9/25/2012 9:49:00 AM)

    This is a suicide note - not literally - but it expresses the desire of the suicide to be quit of the world - to find relief in death. Yet that is the suicide's false hope - for death ends us and relieves us of nothing but ourselves. We do not lie in the grave glad that all our woes are over. (Report) Reply

  • Ramesh T A (9/25/2011 3:33:00 PM)

    There is nothing to fear about death because death is just another opportunity to a better life! Also, all born people are bound to die one day and that is why man has no chance of having any fear about death! Man only seeks time to finish unfinished business he has started here and fears death only before he completes his mission! For him peace and satisfaction are important and that comes of his mission well completed before death! (Report) Reply

  • Pranab K Chakraborty (9/25/2011 1:51:00 AM)

    Nice the choice of the day....

    No feirce Alarms break the lasting Joy.
    Such real Good as Life can never know;

    If I delet the punctuation mark beside the lines and if I get liberty to omit the word from the second line I quote 'such'...what more the philosophers and religious ring-leaders have showered on us...what more till today when political-social-natural disorders threatening us everyday to wind up our camps from the surface...what more....Thanks to PH for such sending. Nice and unique the choice. (Report) Reply

  • Ravi A (9/25/2009 2:05:00 PM)

    Yes. Man in his inner of inner heart is never afraid of death and the poem is the best example for that. Man knows sub-consciously that he is immortal, the spirit divine. Only at the conscious level that he rejects the idea. Man often takes adventurous steps fully knowing that one faulty step would take away his life. What does this show? He is not actually afraid of death. He knows that he is immortal bliss. Even a man committing suicide thinks that death is a better proposition than this life. Here too he is not actually afraid of death. Only the chosen way differs. That is all. A good work. Good diction. (Report) Reply

  • Michael Pruchnicki (9/25/2008 4:46:00 PM)

    Almost an echo of John Donne's 'Death Be Not Proud' Anne Killigrew's poem opens with a question that must have occurred to most of us at one time or another - Why do we fear Death? As Donne responded, after all is said and done, Death offers a release from mortal pain and fear. As the poet declaims in lines 11-12, death is a relief from our earthly ailments, physical, moral and psychological, a release from all the discontents and fears that we mortals are subject to.

    When we are dead and buried, none of the temptations that plague human life have any effect whatsoever! It seems to me a wise and perceptive reading of what the end of life means to most serious people. We who have survived the rigors of life on a mortal plane may enjoy in the afterlife the milk and honey we were denied through no fault of our own in the world of fleshly pleasure. Those who fear death and flee from its comforts are like the Israelites who fell short of reaching the promised land! Those who imagine monsters and giants in the afterlife will not reach the shores of Canaan! (Report) Reply

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