HIS YOUTH

Dying? I am not dying. Are you mad?
   You think I need to ask for heavenly grace?
I think you are a fiend, who would be glad
   To see me struggle in death's cold embrace.

"But, man you lie! for I am strong--in truth
   Stronger than I have been in years; and soon
I shall feel young again as in my youth,
   My glorious youth--life's one great priceless boon.

"O youth, youth, youth! O God, that golden time,
   When proud and glad I laughed the hours away.
Why, there's no sacrifice (perhaps no crime)
   I'd pause at, could it make me young to-day.

"But I'm not old! I grew--just ill, somehow;
   Grew stiff of limb, and weak, and dim of sight.
It was but sickness. I am better now,
   Oh, vastly better, ever since last night.

"And I could weep warm floods of happy tears
   To think my strength is coming back at last,
For I have dreamed of such an hour for years,
   As I lay thinking of my glorious past.

"You shake your head? Why, man, if you were sane
   I'd strike you to my feet, I would, in truth.
How dare you tell me that my hopes are vain?
   How dare you say I have outlived my youth?

"'In heaven I may regain it?' Oh, be still!
   I want no heaven but what my glad youth gave.
Its long, bright hours, its rapture and its thrill--
   O youth, youth, youth! it is my youth I crave.

"There is no heaven! There's nothing but a deep
   And yawning grave from which I shrink in fear.
I am not sure of even rest or sleep;
   Perhaps we lie and think, as I have here.

"Think, think, think, think, as we lie there and rot,
   And hear the young above us laugh in glee.
How dare you say I'm dying! I am not.
   I would curse God if such a thing could be.

"Why, see me stand! why, hear this strong, full breath--
   Dare you repeat that silly, base untruth?"
A cry--a fall--the silence known as death
   Hushed his wild words. Well, has he found his youth?

Kingdom of love and How Salvator won by Ella Wheeler Wilcox.
Chicago, W.B. Conkey company [1902].


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