Tag Archives: Death and Dying

When I Am Dead

Because we live in a death denying society those faced with the death of loved ones often feel that they are left facing the inevitable void alone. I have a small copy of the work of Ella Wheeler Wilcox and the page opened at this poem. The truth is that when you talk about death you learn about how to live.

When I am dead, if some chastened one,
Seeing the item, or hearing it said
That my play is over, and my part done,
And I lie asleep in my narrow bed —
If I could know that some soul would say,
Speaking aloud or silently,
In the heat, and burden of the day,
She gave a refreshing draught to me;

Or, when I was lying nigh unto death,
She nursed me to life, and to strength again,
And when I labored and struggled for breath,
She soothed and quieted down my pain;

Or, when I was groping in grief and doubt,
Lost, and turned from the light o’ the day,
Her hand reached me and helped me out,
And led me up to the better way;

Or, when I was hated and shunned by all,
Bowing under my sin and my shame,
She, once, in passing me by, let fall
Words of pity and hope that came
Into my heart, like a blessed calm
Over the waves of the stormy sea,
Words of comfort like oil and balm,
She spake, and the desert blossomed for me;

Better by far, than a marble tomb —
Than a monument towering over my head;
(What shall I care, in my quiet room,
For head board or foot board, when I am dead)
Better than glory, or honors, or fame,
(Though I am striving for those to-day)
To know that some heart will cherish my name,
And think of me kindly, with blessings, alway.

1870.
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Copyright 1873
Hauser & Storey, Milwaukee

Advertisements