Lines on the Same Occasion

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Lines on the Same Occasion
written by John Masefield
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In the dark night I saw Death drawing near
To make me go from here;
In all my sin, with all my work undone,
Leaving behind my son
With no more stay nor path
Than what the wild horse hath.

I saw the souls of all my earthly friends
Laid bare, their aims and ends;
How some might love him, many help, but none
Be wisdom to my son.
Wisdom that is a road
Where no track showed,
A dawn, when no lamp glowed.

Thus in the night I heard Death come, I heard
The mouse shriek at the bird;
My sins came huddled to my bed, the bell
Dead hours did tell:
There was no light: only the tick of time
Life, strangling in the slime.

Then in the multitude of souls I saw
A bright soul, without flaw,
Wearing a star upon her brow like heaven
In the green light of even.
However black (I knew) the night might turn
That star would burn.

She reached her hand to me and cried: "Death calls,
Time strikes, the hour falls,
And like a flight of birds the souls prepare
To whirl into the air,
To bring to be what none may understand.
I shall but light the hand . . .

Lo, here, the light upon my brow shall lead
Thy son until he bleed;
Until he fail, and falter, and despair.
Even in his blackest night I shall be there;
My star will be his guidance: he will know
What light is, from its glow."


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