Lyrics of Life (1909)/After the Paintings by George F. Watts

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For other versions of this work, see After the Paintings by George F. Watts.

AFTER THE PAINTINGS BY
GEORGE F. WATTS

I

LOVE AND DEATH

A moment, Death!—only a moment more!
She is my all; have pity! stay thy hand!
Behold, a fearful suppliant I stand!—
Take not away what thou canst not restore!


At thy approach the birds have ceased to sing,
The roses of my lintel droop and pine,
The genial sun itself doth coldly shine,
And in thy shadow all seems darkening.


That thou art merciless, as men declare,
I'll not believe. Thy look is kind, not stern;
And they who judge thee ill, of me shall learn
To know thee better, Death!—for thou wilt spare!


See, thou art strong! and I am weak—so weak!
All beings that draw breath at last are thine:
Thou wilt not covet this sole joy of mine—
Nor to deprive me of its solace seek?

Yet come no nearer! Shouldst thou pass this door,
My heart that so importunes thee would break.
Go back a little! for compassion's sake,
Go back! and hither—ah, return no more!


In vain, in vain! O awful Majesty!
Thy very breath appalls my fluttering heart.
Invader dread, what strength have I, or art—
What, save my anguish, to oppose 'gainst thee? . . .


Enter! the door is open. Yet this much
Let my submission of thy pity earn:
When through the shaded portal thou return,
On me—me, also, lay thy easeful touch!

II

LOVE AND LIFE

Thy hand I press,
And am not much afraid:
Though danger lie in wait in every glade,
Thou, Love, hast might to comfort and caress
My helplessness.


The way is steep;
But thou wilt soothe its pain;
And when at last the utmost height we gain,
To the soft shelter of thy wings I'll creep,
And sleep—and sleep.


The way is long;
But though I wearied be,
Still gazing upward, I shall gaze on thee;
And thy angelic voice, more sweet than song,
Will make me strong.


Whate'er betide,
I, Love,—who may not know
Whence I have journeyed, nor the way I go,—
Am still content to follow at thy side,
O deathless guide!