If I Should Die To-night

Original Text: 
Burton E. Stevenson, Famous Single Poems And the Controversies Which Have Raged Around Them (London: George G. Harrap, 1924): 129-30. PS 303 S7 1924 Robarts Library
2My friends would look upon my quiet face
3Before they laid it in its resting-place,
4And deem that death had left it almost fair;
5And, laying snow-white flowers against my hair,
6Would smooth it down with tearful tenderness,
7And fold my hands with lingering caress, --
8Poor hands, so empty and so cold to-night!
9If I should die to-night,
10My friends would call to mind with loving thought
11Some kindly deed the icy hands had wrought,
12Some gentle word the frozen lips had said,
13Errands on which the willing feet had sped;
14The memory of my selfishness and pride,
15My hasty words would all be put aside,
16And so I should be loved and mourned to-night.
17If I should die to-night,
18Even hearts estranged would turn once more to me,
19Recalling other days remorsefully;
20The eyes that chill me with averted glance
21Would look upon me as of yore, perchance,
22And soften in the old familiar way,
23For who could war with dumb, unconscious clay?
24So I might rest, forgiven of all to-night.
25Oh, friends! I pray to-night,
26Keep not your kisses for my dead, cold brow:
27The way is lonely, let me feel them now.
28Think gently of me; I am travelworn;
29My faltering feet are pierced with many a thorn.
30Forgive, oh, hearts estranged, forgive, I plead!
31When dreamless rest is mine I shall not need
32The tenderness for which I long to-night.

Notes

1] See also the parody by Ben King. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
1873
Publication Notes: 
Christian Union (June 18, 1873). Xerox University Microfilms
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1998.
Rhyme: