Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, DEATH, by HORACE SMITH



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DEATH, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Fate! Fortune! Chance! Whose blindness, hostility or kindness
Last Line: Death!
Alternate Author Name(s): Smith, Horatio
Subject(s): Death; Fate; Fortune; Pain; Dead, The; Destiny; Suffering; Misery


FATE! fortune! chance! whose blindness,
Hostility or kindness,
Plays such strange freaks with human destinies,
Contrasting poor and wealthy,
The life-diseased and healthy,
The blessed, the cursed, the witless, and the wise,
Ye have a master -- one
Who mars what ye have done,
Levelling all that move beneath the sun --
Death!

Take courage ye that languish
Beneath the withering anguish
Of open wrong, or tyrannous deceit,
There comes a swift redresser,
To punish your oppressor,
And lay him prostrate -- helpless at your feet.
O champion strong!
Righter of wrong,
Justice -- equality to thee belong --
Death!

Where conquest crowns his quarrel,
And the victor, wreathed with laurel,
While trembling nations bow beneath his rod,
On his guarded throne reposes,
In living apotheosis,
The Lord's anointed, and earth's demigod,
What form of fear
Croaks in his ear,
"The victor's car is but a funeral bier." --
Death!

Who -- spite of guards and yeomen,
Steel phalanx and cross-bowmen,
Leaps at a bound the shuddering castle's moat,
The tyrant's crown down dashes,
His brandished sceptre smashes,
With rattling fingers grasps him by the throat,
His breath out-wrings,
And his corpse down flings
To the dark pit where grave-worms feed on kings? --
Death!

When the murderer's undetected,
When the robber's unsuspected,
And night has veiled his crime from every eye;
When nothing living daunts him,
And no fear of justice haunts him,
Who wakes his conscience-stricken agony?
Who makes him start
With his withering dart,
And wrings the secret from his bursting heart?
Death!

To those who pine in sorrow,
Whose wretchedness can borrow
No moment's ease from any human act,
To the widow comfort-spurning,
To the slave for freedom yearning,
To the diseased with cureless anguish rack'd,
Who brings release
And whispers peace,
And points to realms where pain and sorrow cease? --
Death!





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