If, as John Keats desired, I also could
Just cease upon the midnight with no pain,
To me and all my kin that surely would
Though undeserved, be a blessed gain.
Yet when with shining early morning face
And satchel Shakespeare-rich I went to school
I learned that such a beneficent grace
Was the exception to the general rule.
For all the world's a stage on which each man,
According to the Bard, plays many parts.
Required to play each role as best he can
Before the curtain falls and he departs,
His final scene is one of grief and woe,
The failing of both body and of mind,
A travail often arduously slow
Unless the Author of the play prove kind.
So, should the Lord of life in mercy bring
A swift and easeful ending of my days,
The nightingale might be inspired to sing
No requiem, but a hymn of grateful praise.
Charles P. Robshaw (1915-2003)