Anthology of Modern Slavonic Literature in Prose and Verse/The Last Guest
2. THE LAST GUEST.
Midnight is long since past. Not a soul still left in the tavern,
Save for the agèd host, who, close to the fireside cowering,
Fingers a bulky book. Without there is deadly stillness,
And delicate drizzle of rain, and heavy darkness lowering.
Then a rapping begins. To the tavern swiftly approaches
An uncanny guest: on his lips a smile of horrible presage:
His eyes with the hollow sockets stare round with an empty chillness.
He bears a scythe in his hands. It is Death with his icy message.
Clutching the bulky book, the host is in peaceful slumber,
When Death draws near to him softly, and peacefully near him lingers.
And he takes in his hands a pen from the grimy tavern table
And he sets his signature down with a twist of his lifeless fingers.
Then he turns to the corner; and out of the thin half-darkness
Horribly grins; with its fangs tempest clumsily catches
And shakes at the darkened windows, and the heavy oaken portals
And shrieks through the empty tavern in gloomy and horrible snatches.