Prayer Before Death (after Louis MacNeice' 'Prayer Before Birth')

photograph of the late great genius poet Louis MacNeice.


I am not dead, O fear me.
Now fear me as the spider spins its utmost, buttmost web,
O fear, fear the spinning of my head.

I am not yet dead, dissolve me.
Come dissolve the man I am that night may shear away my span,
that the darkness might persuade the devils I have made;
O, dissolve, come dissolve the man I am.

I am not yet dead; destroy me.
Destroy me in the way the lovers do, in the manner and the kind
of the unrequited grind; come, crush me, burn me, entirely unmake me,
that I, devolved to darkness, might repine.

I am not yet dead; console me.
Console me with apples, comfort me with your tears; come, console me
with the leastmost dream you own, with the leastmost dream you have;
console me that others may not die; console, comfort, endure me,
make a pillow from my eyes, make the agony there lie down at last;
come console me with your plea.

I am not yet dead; enhearse me.
Enhearse me in the parts that the actors cannot play nor watch nor own;
as the actor speaks, let your sadness spume, let the curtain rise and rise;
enhearse me in the spotlight that shines in the flytowers forever,
nor ever the mania in the green-rooms, the mania that sings and wails;
enhearse me in the old ways, in the damage done to present existence;
come, enhearse me, as you will, as you condone.

I am not yet dead; O fear me,
let not the madness of my life contest the pretty words you rhyme,
nor those pretty words come near me.

I am not yet dead; O kill me.
Kill me now with the strength that comes to cherish love's decree;
let now no fear depose you, no word ignite you, no insult dissuade you;
come kill me with your passion, your beauty and your love; let nobody
sway you from the place you tread, from the streets you walk, nor
even from the lover you choose to hold; O, kill me, kill and kill again;
as much as you are lovely, let your wonder strike me cold; allow,
as much you allowed my dreams, this light in my heart to end;
and if not kill me, then do not perturb the death within me,
and if not kill me, then do disturb the dying that becomes me.
Let no man tell you that you should not kill me;
come kill me, end me, or else adore me.

copyright jdb 1998.