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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

Frank T. Marzials b. 1840

Death As the Fool

IN the high turret chamber sat the sage,

Striving to wring its secret from the scroll

Of time;—and hard the task, for roll on roll

Was blurred with blood and tears, or black with age.

So that at last a hunger seized him, a rage

Of richer lore than our poor life can dole,

And loud he called on Death to dower his soul

With the great past’s unrifled heritage.

And lo, a creaking step upon the stair,

A croak of song, a jingle,—and Death came in

Mumming in motley with a merry din

And jangle of bells, and droning this refrain,

“God help the fools who count on death for gain.”

So had the sage death-bell and passing-prayer.