Edith Nesbit

15 August 1858 – 4 May 1924 / Kennington / Surrey / England

After Death

IF we must part, this parting is the best:
How would you bear to lay
Your head on some warm pillow far away--
Your head, so used to lying on my breast?

But now your pillow is cold;
Your hands have flowers, and not my hands, to hold;
Upon our bed the worn bride-linen lies.
I have put the death-money upon your eyes,
So that you should not wake up in the night.
I have bound your face with white;
I have washed you, yes, with water and not with tears,--
Those arms wherein I have slept so many years,
Those feet that hastened when they came to me,
And all your body that belonged to me.
I have smoothed your dear dull hair,
And there is nothing left to say for you
And nothing left to fear or pray for you;
And I have got the rest of life to bear:
Thank God it is you, not I, who are lying there.

If I had died
And you had stood beside
This still white bed
Where the white, scented, horrible flowers are spread,--
I know the thing it is,
And I thank God that He has spared you this.
If one must bear it, thank God it was I
Who had to live and bear to see you die,
Who have to live, and bear to see you dead.

You will have nothing of it all to bear:
You will not even know that in your bed
You lie alone. You will not miss my head
Beside you on the pillow: you will rest
So soft in the grave you will not miss my breast.
But I--but I--Your pillow and your place--
And only the darkness laid against my face,
And only my anguish pressed against my side--
Thank God, thank God, that it was you who died!
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