a poem by Pushpalata Venugopalan, India

Death! Thou harbinger of grief,
Won’t you tarry a while?
So perpetually at work
To put lives to rest!

Death! Where is thy abode?
In the grey skies above?
A constant vigil from where you maintain,
Gaoler of lives, Fate’s villein!

Death! Do you pick and choose?
Or at random devour,
Your victims to take to
Permanent gaol in your wake?

Death! Do you enter bold of face?
Or glide in silent of pace?
Do you give e’en a moment’s notice?
Or do you of a sudden strike?

Does your presence intimidate?
Or are you more pleasant of face?
Perhaps you wear for children’s sake
A mask on your frightful face!

Do you your victims hunt,
In this wide forest of life?
Then shoot to kill or wound,
Gather the lives as you leave?

Death! You must be blind of eye!
Young and old for you alike;
Know not apart
The sick and the hale;

Nor do you heed
The timeless grief,
Inflicted by you
On your constant sojourn!

Nay Death, do not preen,
Your acts will not remain unseen
By Him who will yet intervene;
Death! You shall die then,

And death will remain
Man’s privilege!

Pushpalata Venugopalan

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