Guest poem sent in by Suresh Ramasubramanian
(Poem #1103) Prospice
Fear death? -- to feel the fog in my throat, The mist in my face, When the snows begin, and the blasts denote I am nearing the place, The power of the night, the press of the storm, The post of the foe; Where he stands, the Arch Fear in a visible form, Yet the strong man must go: For the journey is done and the summit attained, And the barriers fall. Tho' a battle's to fight ere the guerdon be gained, The reward of it all. I was ever a fighter, so -- one fight more, The best and the last! I would hate that death bandaged my eyes, and forebore, And bade me creep past. No! let me taste the whole of it, fare like my peers The heroes of old, Bear the brunt, in a minute pay glad life's arrears Of pain, darkness and cold. For sudden the worst turns the best to the brave, The black minute's at end, And the elements' rage, the friend-voices that rave, Shall dwindle, shall blend, Shall change, shall become first a peace out of pain, Then a light, then thy breast, O thou soul of my soul! I shall clasp thee again, And with God be the rest.
"Prospice" (pro~spik'e~) means "Look Forward". Browning wrote this shortly after Elizabeth Barrett Browning's death in 1861. The "soul of my soul" in the last two lines is Elizabeth Barrett Browning in fact ... This poem ranks with William Ernest Henley's "Invictus" and Tennyson's "Crossing the Bar" as one of my favorite poems about men facing death with sheer courage. "I was ever a fighter, so -- one fight more, The best and the last! " A fight he knows he cannot win, and doesn't care, eagerly looking forward to death. -suresh