I nearly died, I almost touched the door
That swings between forever and no more;
I think I heard the awful hinges grate,
Hour after hour, while I did weary wait
Death's coming; but alas! 'twas all in vain:
The door half-opened and then closed again.
What were my thoughts? I had but one regret --
That I was doomed to live and linger yet
In this dark valley where the stream of tears
Flows, and, in flowing, deepens thro' the years.
My lips spake not -- my eyes were dull and dim,
But thro' my heart there moved a soundless hymn --
A triumph song of many chords and keys,
Transcending language -- as the summer breeze,
Which, through the forest mystically floats,
Transcends the reach of mortal music's notes.
A song of victory -- a chant of bliss:
Wedded to words, it might have been like this:
"Come, death! but I am fearless,
I shrink not from your frown;
The eyes you close are tearless;
Haste! strike this frail form down.
Come! there is no dissembling
In this last, solemn hour,
But you'll find my heart untrembling
Before your awful power.
My lips grow pale and paler,
My eyes are strangely dim,
I wail not as a wailer,
I sing a victor's hymn.
My limbs grow cold and colder,
My room is all in gloom;
Bold death! -- but I am bolder --
Come! lead me to my tomb!
'Tis cold, and damp, and dreary,
'Tis still, and lone, and deep;
Haste, death! my eyes are weary,
I want to fall asleep.
`Strike quick! Why dost thou tarry?
Of time why such a loss?
Dost fear the sign I carry?
'Tis but a simple cross.
Thou wilt not strike? Then hear me:
Come! strike in any hour,
My heart shall never fear thee
Nor flinch before thy power.
I'll meet thee -- time's dread lictor --
And my wasted lips shall sing:
`Dread death! I am the victor!
Strong death! where is thy sting?'"
Milan, January, 1873.