The heartless, sapless, dying year
With icy fingers
Clutches the earth in mortal fear;
And while life lingers
Within his veins that swelled with spring,
And glowed with summer.
And now are poisoned by the sting
Of that old-comer.
Who comes to all to end their days,
Whom men call Death,
He breathes upon the earth's wan face
His chilly breath,
If it may be to strike her dead
To die alone he is afraid;
And some there be
Of men and flowers as old and frail.
With blood as sere,
And some both young and sweet, as pale
As is the year,
Who will be buried in the snow
With him to sleep;
Their souls came from and now must go
To the unknown deep.
But those whose lives are dwelling still
In lively frames
Are full of mirth, and take their fill
Of works and games:
Make love, make wealth, gain fame, gain power,
As if for ever.
Forget that life is but an hour,
A sea-bound river,
And warm with sport laugh at the cold;
Yet is it true
If they live long they will grow old —
I mean not you;
Not you, nor me: we only know
Our blood is fire
Can melt the longest winter's snow,
And not expire.
from In a Music Hall, and other poems, 1891
[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]
John Davidson biography