To a Coy Reaper

Had we but world enough, and time,
your coyness, Reaper, were no crime
We’d stroll and think about which ways
to search and pass our long love’s day.
You in the stillness of the dark,
and me searching for my life’s spark
would muse and clash: I’d yearn for light—
eternal sun—but you would fight
this vibrancy of life and grow,
disdainful of the peace, which slows.
A hundred years should go to praise
your eyes and on your forehead gaze;
two hundred to adore each tone,
but your true form is still unknown,
so thirty thousand to the rest;
so we may get to know you best.

But at my back I just now hear,
The weight of seconds loud and clear.
And yonder all before us lie
Finite moments that will tick by.
Your beauty will no more be found
as the black, hollow bell will sound,
if not now, then at some point soon—
the start of a bottomless dune.
And so when I can finally
open my eyes and truly see,
It will already be too late:
Too often had I said “Just wait!”

Now therefore, while the orange hue
rises up with the morning dew,
And while your willing soul transpires
at every hour toward loss and fire,
Just let me leap and run and skip,
and now, like roses and tulips,
grow and welcome each fragrant breath.
For, it is true, I know you, Death,
and you, too, will feel my embrace—
for I’ll accept with love and grace
the tendrils which now flood my last
and final time. I’ll be the past,
a tinted memory some day:
so “Carpe Diem!” I’ll now say.
Thus, though the sun cannot stand still,
I’ll live with purpose ’til then. I will.


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