Two Poems on Death by William H. Stoddard

by William H. Stoddard

"That Obscure Object of Desire"

I care no more for mortal company:
I wish instead to make a friend of death,
Whom all the poets loved and won at last.
Their power is the shaping of the breath,

And every breath is subject to her claim
Enforced when breath at last is fallen still.
I hear their sorrow voicing their desire
And something answers them within my will,

So that I wish to resonate the sound
Of treasured, fading breath with my own voice.
Having been shown her loveliness by them
I grow to love her now of my own choice.

For Allison, Who Writes Her Songs

Death is your lady, so you like to say,
Seeing a blessing in mortality.
You think she chastely waits the nuptial day
At which you'll lose your last virginity.

Yours, but not hers. Death is the oldest whore,
Who's had so many lovers she's forgotten
Even what species each one's body wore
Before she drained its life and left it rotten.

Oh, not from her you'll gain inheritance
Of children or estates or words repeated.
When she grants you the pleasure of a dance
You'll get your pocket picked before you're seated.