“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?