The following poem, Death of Death, was written at age 16 as well.
He stared into the mirror now
Too old for vanity
Twas age that he was scowling at
And Death, his destiny.
It shall not be so! he cried aloud
I cannot—must not—die!
Yet still, reflected age was there.
He turned away with a sigh.
I was born to death, he mused again
Each day it takes new hold.
But when it comes for final grip
The story shall be told:
He wrestled Death! They fought and fought
From night ’til dewy morn
Until with Death’s own sickle sharp
The age old fear was scorned.
And he lives to tell the tale of how Death at last, is dead!
So thus planned the old man
As his aging years went by
Determined to someday conquer Death
and live immortal life.
What comfort can you give a man
Who has that in his mind?
What sympathy can you offer him,
What solace might be kind?
He wants no pity, can’t you see—
He thinks he’ll never die
There are no words to make him accept
A good and thoughtful life.
The people thought that age had made
him just a little looney
And children stayed away from him
Who muttered low and moody,
I’ll live to tell my tale of how Death at last is dead!
Then one night after many years
When he was old and sickly
Guess who crept in after dark
With long, black robe and sickle?
The bitter old man now lay abed
Trembling with such fright.
But still he rose to take his part
In the much awaited fight.
And as he grappled in the dark
With the strong, black form who crept in
He felt the menace and the strength
Of the one who’d come to take him.
They wrestled long; the Living and Death
They wrestled through the night
The determined old man and black robed Death
With glowing eyes so bright.
Oh, would he live to tell his tale of how Death at last is dead?
Then suddenly Death lunged and the old man fell
His groping hand found the sickle
A mighty swing—and Death was dead!
The old man was the victor!
He stood in triumph for a moment
Bloody sickle in his hand.
Taking a deep breath, he stood up straight
A new, and living man!
Then he turned away and glimpsed the glass
In the cold, dim morning light
And the horror within him made him gasp
And pause to gaze at the sight.
He saw his image reflected there
And a grown came deep from his soul:
His robe was black, his sickle bloody
And his eyes were glowing coal!
For though he lived, he was now the Death of Death.