Love willed that Death should occupy the house —
Not hostilely — but like a generous foe
Who, guest perforce, inflicts no needless throe,
And scorns to jest, and gibe, and hold carouse.
And when the leaves were tender on the boughs,
And white the maytree shone, and thick like snow,
Death entered softly where Love bade him go,
Obedient to the suzerain of his vows.
And unto one whom worldly strife perplexed,
Whom sickness grieved and care made tremulous,
The foeman pitying, brought the boon of peace.
"Or e'er these things his soul have greatly vexed,"
(Death spake, benign, compassionating us,)
"The Master hath ordained that they shall cease."
White lilac, sweetest may, exotics white,
(Gifts of dear hearts) made beautiful the gloom,
And breathed of blessedness to us on whom
Had fallen regret and longing infinite.
Yet still we weep. Till one arrayed in light,
Magnifical, more sweet than may in bloom,
More white than lilies, filled the darkened room,
And, through our tears, beamed glorious on our sight.
"My liegeman, Death, I sent to take him home,
For Death is kind, and life laborious,
The way is difficult, the travail sore.
"Now Death and he are gone, but I am come,"
(Love spake, benign, compassionating us,)
"And, lo, with you am I forevermore."