When I was bold, when I was bold-
And that’s a hundred years!-
Oh, never I thought my breast could hold
The terrible weight of tears.
I said: “Now some be dolorous;
I hear them wail and sigh,
And if it be Love that play them thus,
Then never a love will I.”
I said: “I see them rack and rue,
I see them wring and ache,
And little I’ll crack my heart in two
With little the heart can break.”
When I was gay, when I was gay-
It’s ninety years and nine!-
Oh, never I thought that Death could lay
His terrible hand in mine.
I said: “He plies his trade among
The musty and infirm;
A body so hard and bright and young
Could never be meat for worm.”
“I see him dull their eyes,” I said,
“And still their rattling breath.
And how under God could I be dead
That never was meant for Death?”
But Love came by, to quench my sleep,
And here’s my sundered heart;
And bitter’s my woe, and black, and deep,
And little I guessed a part.
Yet this there is to cool my breast,
And this to ease my spell;
Now if I were Love’s, like all the rest,
Then can I be Death’s, as well.
And he shall have me, sworn and bound,
And I’ll be done with Love.
And better I’ll be below the ground
Than ever I’ll be above.