Ella Wheeler Wilcox

His Youth

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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 hink, 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?

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Ella Wheeler Wilcox