HIS MEDITATION UPON DEATH.
by Robert Herrick
BE those few hours, which I have yet to spend,
Blest with the meditation of my end :
Though they be few in number, I'm content :
If otherwise, I stand indifferent.
Nor makes it matter Nestor's years to tell,
If man lives long, and if he live not well.
A multitude of days still heaped on,
Seldom brings order, but confusion.
Might I make choice, long life should be withstood ;
Nor would I care how short it were, if good :
Which to effect, let ev'ry passing-bell
Possess my thoughts, next comes my doleful knell ;
And when the night persuades me to my bed,
I'll think I'm going to be buried.
So shall the blankets which come over me
Present those turfs which once must cover me :
And with as firm behaviour I will meet
The sheet I sleep in as my winding-sheet.
When sleep shall bathe his body in mine eyes,
I will believe that then my body dies :
And if I chance to wake and rise thereon,
I'll have in mind my resurrection
Which must produce me to that General Doom,
To which the peasant, so the prince, must come,
To hear the Judge give sentence on the throne,
Without the least hope of affection.
Tears, at that day, shall make but weak defence,
When hell and horror fright the conscience.
Let me, though late, yet at the last, begin
To shun the least temptation to a sin ;
Though to be tempted be no sin, until
Man to th' alluring object gives his will.
Such let my life assure me, when my breath
Goes thieving from me, I am safe in death ;
Which is the height of comfort : when I fall,
I rise triumphant in my funeral.
Herrick, Robert. Works of Robert Herrick. vol II.
Alfred Pollard, ed.
London, Lawrence & Bullen, 1891. 241-242.