by Robert Laurence Binyon
O tyrannous Angel, dreadful God,
Who taught thee thus to wield thy rod?
So jealous of a happy heart,
Thou smot'st our happy souls apart,
And chosest too the weaker prey,
Refusedst the worthier foeman!
I am my Master's minister.
Why ravest? Peace abides with her.
Thou, who wast held in human thrall,
For thee I made the fetters fall;
I loosed thy bonds, I set thee free:
Now, thou regret'st thy liberty!
And why for what is cold repine?
She is no longer aught divine!
Can those chill lips, now purpled, speak?
Is any bloom upon that cheek?
Nay, if thou wilt, an idle kiss
I grant thee; that is all. The Man. Not this,
Not this I ask; but, Angel, give,
Give back the life that let me live!
Or take away this useless breath:
Grant me her consecrated death!
Where she has past, the way is pure,
If anything of good endure.
Fool, dost thou think to raise thy hand
Against the law no passion planned,
Or seek to shake the stars' repose
With crying of thy puny woes?
Turn to thy petty ways, and there,
There learn the wisdom of despair.
O pitiless word! Yet slay me too:
Be kind, O Death! for my soul grew,
Watered and fed by gracious dew,
Till in one hour Love met with thee.
Now, the wide world is misery!
Love, who is Love? I know him not.
Strange things are ye, that learn your lot
So soon, and yet must needs bemoan,
When stricken with the fate foreknown.
Art thou more worthy, Man, to keep
Thine age from the appointed sleep,
Thy strength from the sure--coming hour,
Than the perfection of a flower!
They ask not for their lovely bloom
Exemption from the final doom;
And man, so full of fault and flaw,
Shall he evade the unchanging law?
Let him be wise; and, as the flowers,
With joy fulfil his destined hours,
Live with unanxious ample breath,
And when at last he comes to death,
Compose his heart and calm his eye,
And, proud to have lived, scorn not to die!
Last updated January 14, 2019