if i should die tonight

April 06, 2002 Saturday - 11:16

If I should die tonight,
My friends would look upon my quiet face,
Before they laid it in its resting place,

And deem that death had left it almost fair,
And laying snow-white flowers against my hair,
Would smooth it down with tearful tenderness,
And fold my hands with lingering caress-
Poor hands, so empty and so cold tonight!

If I should die tonight,
My friends would call to mind with loving thought
Some kindly deed the icy hand had wrought;
Some gentle word the frozen lips had said;
Errands on which the willing feet had sped.
The memory of my selfishness and pride,
My hasty words, would all be put aside,
And so I should be loved and mourned tonight.

If I should die tonight,
Even hearts estranged would turn once more to me,
Recalling other days remorsefully.
The eyes that chill me with averted glance
Would look upon me as of yore, perchance
Would soften in the old familiar way;
For who would war with dumb, unconscious clay?
So I might rest, forgiven of all tonight.

Oh friends, I pray tonight
Keep not your kisses for my dead, cold brow;
The way is lonely, let me feel them now.
Think gently of me; I am travel worn;
My faltering feet are pierced with many a thorn.
Forgive, O hearts estranged, forgive, I plead!
When dreamless rest is mine I shall not need
The tenderness for which I long tonight.

- Arabella Eugenia Smith, 'If I Should Die Tonight'

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