Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, HOW HANK DIED, by BENJAMIN FRANKLIN KING

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HOW HANK DIED, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Mother, the shadows are gatherin'
Last Line: His white hand dropped. That's how hank died.
Alternate Author Name(s): King, Ben
Subject(s): Death; Dead, The

"MOTHER, the shadows are gatherin' in,
Shadows o' sunshine and shadows o' sin,
Shadows o' sorrow and shadows o' gloom,
All of 'em gatherin' now in my room.
See over there near the mantel-place wall
Is the darkest shadow. What's that -- a call?
Oh, let in the light, keep that shadow away,
The one with the sickle that cuts to-day,
And far over there in the sunlands' West
I'll work in the pastur' after I rest.

"Oh, to get out o' this valley o' sin
Up in the cool o' the hillside agin!
Where are the boys? All away? Where's M'liss?
Who's holdin' my hand, an' whose arm is this?
Oh, here comes the shadow that beckons -- what pain!
It must not come near me! Hear that? That rain
On the windows? See, down by the foot-board, where
The curtain moves! A shadow is there,
Comin' on tiptoe! It's after the light.
Oh, don't give it welcome, that shadow of night!
"Don't leave me waitin' here now in the dark
The shadows are entering. What -- music? Hark!
Can that be the soft winds of summer that send
Their sighs o'er the fields for the loss of a friend?
So cold? I am getting so cold, so cold.
Oh, why are the shadows so bold, so bold?
Here comes the grim shadow, the shadow of Death;
The cavern-eyed shadow that asks for my breath."
* * * * *
"Good-bye," said the toiler; "good-bye every one."
Then somebody whispered: "The reaper is done."
His head fell back, and down by his side
His white hand dropped. That's how Hank died.

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