Death Poems - Poems For Death

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The Midnight Messenger. Or A Sudden Call From An Earthly Glory To The Cold Grave. - Poem by Anonymous British

Death

Thou wealthy man of large possessions here,
Amounting to some thousand pounds a year,
Extorted by oppression from the poor,
The time is come that thou shalt be no more;
Thy house therefore in order set with speed,
And call to mind how you your life do lead.
Let true repentance be thy chiefest care,
And for another world now, NOW prepare.
For notwithstanding all your heaps of gold,
Your lands and lofty buildings manifold,
Take notice you must die this very day;
And therefore kiss your bags and come away.

Rich Man

[He started straight and turned his head aside,
Where seeing pale-faced Death, aloud he cried],
Lean famished slave! why do you threaten so,
Whence come you, pray, and whither must I go?

Death

I come from ranging round the universe,
Through courts and kingdoms far and near I pass,
Where rich and poor, distressed, bond and free,
Fall soon or late a sacrifice to me.
From crowned kings to captives bound in chains
My power reaches, sir; the longest reigns
That ever were, I put a period to;
And now I'm come in fine to conquer you.

Rich Man

I can't nor won't believe that you, pale Death,
Were sent this day to stop my vital breath,
By reason I in perfect health remain,
Free from diseases, sorrow, grief, and pain;
No heavy heart, nor fainting fits have I,
And do you say that I am drawing nigh
The latter minute? sure it cannot be;
Depart, therefore, you are not sent for me!

Death

Yes, yes, I am, for did you never know,
The tender grass and pleasant flowers that grow
Perhaps one minute, are the next cut down?
And so is man, though famed with high renown.
Have you not heard the doleful passing bell
Ring out for those that were alive and well
The other day, in health and pleasure too,
And had as little thoughts of death as you?
For let me tell you, when my warrant's sealed,
The sweetest beauty that the earth doth yield
At my approach shall turn as pale as lead;
'Tis I that lay them on their dying bed.

I kill with dropsy, phthisic, stone, and gout;
But when my raging fevers fly about,
I strike the man, perhaps, but over-night,
Who hardly lives to see the morning light;
I'm sent each hour, like to a nimble page,
To infant, hoary heads, and middle age;
Time after time I sweep the world quite through;
Then it's in vain to think I'll favour you.

Rich Man

Proud Death, you see what awful sway I bear,
For when I frown none of my servants dare
Approach my presence, but in corners hide
Until I am appeased and pacified.
Nay, men of greater rank I keep in awe
Nor did I ever fear the force of law,
But ever did my enemies subdue,
And must I after all submit to you?

Death

'Tis very true, for why thy daring soul,
Which never could endure the least control,
I'll thrust thee from this earthly tenement,
And thou shalt to another world be sent.

Rich Man

What! must I die and leave a vast estate,
Which, with my gold, I purchased but of late?
Besides what I had many years ago? -
What! must my wealth and I be parted so?
If you your darts and arrows must let fly,
Go search the jails, where mourning debtors lie;
Release them from their sorrow, grief, and woe,
For I am rich and therefore loth to go.

Death

I'll search no jails, but the right mark I'll hit;
And though you are unwilling to submit,
Yet die you must, no other friend can do, -
Prepare yourself to go, I'm come for you.
If you had all the world and ten times more,
Yet die you must,- there's millions gone before;
The greatest kings on earth yield and obey,
And at my feet their crowns and sceptres lay:
If crowned heads and right renowned peers
Die in the prime and blossoms of their years,
Can you suppose to gain a longer space?
No! I will send you to another place.

Rich Man

Oh! stay thy hand and be not so severe,
I have a hopeful son and daughter dear,
All that I beg is but to let me live
That I may them in lawful marriage give:
They being young when I am laid in the grave,
I fear they will be wronged of what they have:
Although of me you will no pity take,
Yet spare me for my little infants' sake.

Death

If such a vain excuse as this might do,
It would be long ere mortals would go through
The shades of death; for every man would find
Something to say that he might stay behind.
Yet, if ten thousand arguments they'd use,
The destiny of dying to excuse,
They'll find it is in vain with me to strive,
For why, I part the dearest friends alive;
Poor parents die, and leave their children small
With nothing to support them here withal,
But the kind hand of gracious Providence,
Who is their father, friend, and sole defence.
Though I have held you long in disrepute,
Yet after all here with a sharp salute
I'll put a period to your days and years,
Causing your eyes to flow with dying tears.

Rich Man

[Then with a groan he made this sad complaint]:
My heart is dying, and my spirits faint;
To my close chamber let me be conveyed;
Farewell, false world, for thou hast me betrayed.
Would I had never wronged the fatherless,
Nor mourning widows when in sad distress;
Would I had ne'er been guilty of that sin,
Would I had never known what gold had been;
For by the same my heart was drawn away
To search for gold: but now this very day,
I find it is but like a slender reed,
Which fails me most when most I stand in need;
For, woe is me! the time is come at last,
Now I am on a bed of sorrow cast,
Where in lamenting tears I weeping lie,
Because my sins make me afraid to die:
Oh! Death, be pleased to spare me yet awhile,
That I to God myself may reconcile,
For true repentance some small time allow;
I never feared a future state till now!
My bags of gold and land I'd freely give,
For to obtain the favour here to live,
Until I have a sure foundation laid.
Let me not die before my peace be made!

Death

Thou hast not many minutes here to stay,
Lift up your heart to God without delay,
Implore his pardon now for what is past,
Who knows but He may save your soul at last?

Rich Man

I'll water now with tears my dying bed,
Before the Lord my sad complaint I'll spread,
And if He will vouchsafe to pardon me,
To die and leave this world I could be free.
False world! false world, farewell! farewell! adieu!
I find, I find, there is no trust in you!
For when upon a dying bed we lie,
Your gilded baits are nought but misery.
My youthful son and loving daughter dear,
Take warning by your dying father here;
Let not the world deceive you at this rate,
For fear a sad repentance comes too late.
Sweet babes, I little thought the other day,
I should so suddenly be snatched away
By Death, and leave you weeping here behind;
But life's a most uncertain thing, I find.
When in the grave my head is lain full low,
Pray let not folly prove your overthrow;
Serve ye the Lord, obey his holy will,
That he may have a blessing for you still.
[Having saluted them, he turned aside,
These were the very words before he died]:

A painful life I ready am to leave,
Wherefore, in mercy, Lord, my soul receive.


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