At Last


Paul Hamilton Hayne

In youth, when blood was warm and fancy high,

I mocked at death. How many a quaint conceit

I wove about his veiled head and feet,

Vaunting aloud, Why need we dread to die?

But now, enthralled by deep solemnity,

Death's pale phantasmal shade I darkly greet:

Ghostlike it haunts the hearth, it haunts the street,

Or drearier makes drear midnight's mystery.

Ah, soul-perplexing vision! oft I deem

That antique myth is true which pictured death

A masked and hideous form all shrank to see;

But at the last slow ebb of mortal breath,

Death, his mask melting like a nightmare dream,

Smiled,—heaven's high-priest of Immortality!

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