Down, you mongrel, Death! Back into your kennel! I have stolen breath In a stalk of fennel! You shall scratch and you shall whine Many a night, and you shall worry Many a bone, before you bury One sweet bone of mine!
When shall I be dead? When my flesh is withered, And above my head Yellow pollen gathered All the empty afternoon? When sweet lovers pause and wonder Whom am I that lie thereunder, Hidden from the moon?
This my personal death?— That my lungs be failing To inhale the breath Others are exhaling? This my subtle spirit's end?— Ah, when the thawed winter splashes Over these chance dust and ashes, Weep not me, my friend!
Me, by no means dead In that hour, but surely When this book, unread, Rots to earth obscurely, And no more to any breast, Close against the clamorous swelling Of the thing there is no telling, Are these pages pressed!
When this book is mould, And a book of many Waiting to be sold For a casual penny, In a little open case, In a street unclean and cluttered, Where a heavy mud is spattered From the passing drays,
Stranger, pause and look; From the dust of ages Lift this little book, Turn the tattered pages, Read me, do not let me die! Search the fading letters, finding Steadfast in the broken binding All that once was I!
When these veins are weeds, When these hollowed sockets Watch the rooty seeds Bursting down like rockets, And surmise the spring again, Or, remote in that black cupboard, Watch the pink worms writhing upward At the smell of rain,
Boys and girls that lie Whispering in the hedges, Do not let me die, Mix me with your pledges; Boys and girls that slowly walk In the woods, and weep, and quarrel, Staring past the pink wild laurel, Mix me with your talk,
Do not let me die! Farmers at your raking, When the sun is high, While the hay is making, When, along the stubble strewn, Withering on their stalks uneaten, Strawberries turn dark and sweeten In the lapse of noon;
Shepherds on the hills, In the pastures, drowsing To the tinkling bells Of the brown sheep browsing; Sailors cying through the storm; Scholars at your study; hunters Lost amid the whirling winter's Whiteness uniform;
Men that long to sleep; Men that wake and revel;— If an old song leap To your senses' level At such moments, may it be Sometimes, though a moment only, Some forgotten, quaint and homely Vehicle of me?
Women at your toil, Women at your leisure, Till the kettle boil, Snatch of me your pleasure, Where the broom-straw marks the leaf; Women quiet with your weeping Lest you wake a workman sleeping, Mix me with your grief.
Boys and girls that steal From the shocking laughter Of the old, to kneel By a dripping rafter Under the discoloured eaves, Out of trunks with hingeless covers Lifting tales of saints and lovers, Travellers, goblins, theives,
Suns that shine by night, Mountains made from valleys,— Bear me to the light, Flat upon your bellies By the webby window lie, Where the little flies are crawling, Read me, margin me with scrawling, Do no let me die!
Sexton, ply your trade! In a shower of gravel Stamp upon your spade! Many a rose shall ravel, Many a metal wreath shall rust In the rain, and I go singing Through the lots where you are flinging Yellow clay on dust!