With lessening strain and fainter breath, Life slowly easing into death--
When on tired eyes and heavy head
The weight of sleep begins to fall
Before the couch is spread,
Full ready to lie down, and glad
When comes the messenger we call
Azrael--is it sad?
No more the rugged paths of youth
The feet grow tired, the ways grow smooth,
The valley lieth green below;
The heart is grown in love with peace,
The sharpness gone from woe. Time with the old deals tenderly
Making the joy of living cease,
That death-pain may not be.
What is it that we name delight?
Youth with tortures exquisite,
Called joys a double edged sword,
A sword whose blunter side is grief--
Youth heart moved by a word--
Its broken sunshine, ripple-swayed;
Of loveliest things, of cloud and leaf
Its flitting shadows made?
Youth, with dreams that ne'er come true;
Its great impossibles to do,
Its little possibles undone;
Its blossoms falling fruitlessly,
Its faithless April sun?
Ah, overfull and restless heart!
Time soothes; ere quietness can be
Must losses do their part.
That sap should fail and leaves should drop
And half the living pulses stop
Ere the tree falls, is sad, you say?
Nay now--one learns to be content
With slower living; day
So softly, sweetly going down
That none can say, the light is spent
Till night puts on her crown.