Until death (Botta)

For works with similar titles, see Until death.

           Make me no vows of constancy, dear friend,
           To love me, though I die, thy whole life long,
           And love no other till thy days shall end;
           Nay, it were rash and wrong.

           If thou canst love another, be it so;
           I would not reach out of my quiet grave
           To bind thy heart, if it should choose to go:
           Love should not be a slave.

           My placid ghost, I trust, will walk serene
           In clearer light than gilds these earthly morns,
           Above the jealousies and envies keen
           Which sow this life with thorns.

           Thou wouldst not feel my shadowy caress,
           If after death my soul should linger here;
           Men's hearts crave tangible, close tenderness,
           Love's presence, warm and near.

           It would not make me sleep more peacefully
           That thou wert wasting all thy life in woe
           For my poor sake; what love thou hast for me
           Bestow it ere I go.

           Carve not upon a stone when I am dead
           The praises which remorseful mourners give
           To women's graces,---a tardy recompense,---
           But speak thou while I live.

           Heap not the heavy marble on my head
           To shut away the sunshine and the dew;
           Let small blooms grow there and let grasses wave,
           And raindrops filter through.

           Thou wilt meet many fairer and more gay
           Than I; but, trust me, thou canst never find
           One who will love and serve thee night and day
           With a more single mind.

           Forget me when I die!---the violets
           Above my rest will blossom just as blue,
           Nor miss thy tears: e'en Nature's self forgets;---
           But while I live, be true!

This work was published before January 1, 1925, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.