La Neige, Charles-François Daubigny (1873)
The snow’s cold whiteness creeps up to my door
While the melancholy sun bids farewell
Mystically crows swarm more than five score
There is an urgent message they must tell
Raising my shovel they will not scatter
With great fear I hold my quivering breath
It’s easy to understand their banter
These darkened creatures sing their song of death
Where summer they’d quietly steal my corn
Autumn barren fields provide easy prey
Not here to repay my gun’s bitter scorn
No they’re just here to say this is my day
Would prefer a single singing angel
Rather than this rowdy crowd of babel
Death and the woodcutter, Jean-Francois Millet (1859)
Can you not see that I am unready?
Need opportunity to say good-bye
Have you no pity, hear my anxious plea
Least this collected bundle let me tie
If day of death be our choice to delay
Is it possible to plan for that day
Or would be bargain to extend our stay
Time consumed by seeking another way
There be no guarantee of our lifespan
Knowing that death would come when life began
When taking a voyage do we not plan
Avoiding mishaps the best that we can
It be best to live life without denial
So when you exit there will be a smile
Old History, Alexander Jakesch, (1892)
In the slender box it is dark as coal
No longer the touch of a loving kiss
All that remains is a wondering soul
Of a body who some surely to miss
Why intense sadness in your beating hearts
Bringing some to their shaking weakened knees
Is it special forgiveness it imparts
Or support for your self-indulgent pleas
When I’m finally gone please do not mourn
Just know that I have loved ever dearly
Let your weeping heart not be deeply torn
My request is that you take it boldly
Let there be great joy that our lives did cross
Think my life a treasure, not as a loss
Image manipulated by author
Blood, sweat and dust mixes upon my head
Now at the demonic place of the skull
Soiled and tattered robe swiftly made to shed
Knocked to the hardened ground, there is a lull
The rope around my wrist and tree is tight
Is readying me for what is to pass
Point joggled and pressed between bones till right
With swift arc, action sounds like broken glass
Adrenaline rush due to the unknown
Then my scream from excruciating pain
For every heart beat comes a wincing groan
As my precious blood falls upon the plain
Father in Heaven Your will, will be done
Three days now I wait for the morning sun
Sovekammer, Vilhelm Hammershøi (1890)
The Empty Chair, Robert A Sieczkiewicz
Why is there an empty chair by the bed?
Is there more than what’s already been said,
Of some awful thought which most surely dread,
The fact that someone is really dead.
Does not matter big or small, short or tall,
But sooner or later we all must fall.
Each will wear once the paltry saintly pall,
While the lofty choir sings a pastoral.
None should be eager for that final day,
But live life in the best possible way.
Dividing your time between love and play,
Yet never praying forever to stay.
Best that we can ask if our lives are good,
Lives are temporary is understood.
Winter Scene with a Stream, Carl Frederik Aagaard (n.d.)
Allegory of a Tree, Robert A Sieczkiewicz
Is this to be the year of my demise?
If to be asked would have it otherwise.
Gravity pulls hard but yet to capsize.
Not ready to say my final goodbyes.
Was not so long ago stood straight and tall.
Decades of buffeting, withstood it all.
Even angry attacks by vicious maul.
Through it all encountered refused to fall.
Who will be the judge to decide my fate?
Be aware that yet to be deadweight.
Coming of spring leaves I will generate.
Think it best if we just sit still and wait.
To make a judgement by a single view,
It does not really speak well of you.