Though I am feeble, yet, dear Death,
Awhile let me remain!
'Old man--thy locks are white as snow--
Still thou art loth with me to go:
But come--thy pray'r is vain!'
I am in manhood's prime--wouldst thou
Then break my staff to-day?--
'The tall pine on the mountain's side,
By lightning struck, falls in its pride,
My call thou must obey!'
I am a maiden--beauteous, young,
Wouldst hide me in the tomb?
'Thou, for this world, art all too fair,
The bright rose never withers where
Thou soon again shalt bloom!'
So soon, a hero canst thou snatch
From glory's high career?
'I come, clad as a warrior proud--
What wouldst thou? 'neath my mailed shroud
No fleshless bones appear.'
Extinguish not--oh yet--dear Death!
Love's fire--that burns so bright!
'Oh! I can hold in close embrace,
And though my mouth no warm lips grace,
Behold--my teeth are white!'
Wouldst tear me from my golden hoard
With merciless commands?
'Follow! beneath the earth's black mould
Gold never rusts--and thy dear gold
Shall shine in others' hands!'
What! from his country's councils drag
The statesman proud? away!--
'I call thee to a court more high,
Where angel-forms, above the sky,
Throng round God's throne alway!
Against my ancient 'scutcheon--ha!--
To raise thy scythe dar'st thou?
'Adam--the noblest of thy race--
Was made to bow before my face,
Thy farce is ended now.'
Thy vengeance wreck not thou on me.
Behold--this brow a crown adorns!
'Vain is thy claim--thy power is o'er--
Death on the cross God's own Son bore;
Think on His crown of thorns!'
We are so little--us at least
From the dark grave--oh, spare!
'Does not your Heav'nly Father love
Young children? Ye shall sport above
With winged cherubs there.'
Call not the anxious mother hence
From those her cares employ!
'Come--at Heaven's window thou shalt stand
And gaze on the beloved band,
And thou shalt weep with joy!
'For though my form is frightful--I
Am less your foe than friend,
I bring ye all but transient woe;
Your souls my scythe may never mow,
These shall to God ascend!'