Anthology of Modern Slavonic Literature in Prose and Verse/The Last Guest

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Midnight is long since past. Not a soul still left in the tavern,
Save for the agèd host, who, close to the fireside cowering,
Fingers a bulky book. Without there is deadly stillness,
And delicate drizzle of rain, and heavy darkness lowering.

Then a rapping begins. To the tavern swiftly approaches
An uncanny guest: on his lips a smile of horrible presage:
His eyes with the hollow sockets stare round with an empty chillness.
He bears a scythe in his hands. It is Death with his icy message.

Clutching the bulky book, the host is in peaceful slumber,
When Death draws near to him softly, and peacefully near him lingers.
And he takes in his hands a pen from the grimy tavern table
And he sets his signature down with a twist of his lifeless fingers.

Then he turns to the corner; and out of the thin half-darkness
Horribly grins; with its fangs tempest clumsily catches
And shakes at the darkened windows, and the heavy oaken portals
And shrieks through the empty tavern in gloomy and horrible snatches.

Copyright.svg PD-icon.svg This work is a translation and has a separate copyright status to the applicable copyright protections of the original content.

This work was published before January 1, 1924, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1924.

The author died in 1970, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 30 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.