7 October 2013

Is This Not Best?

Laurence Housman, "Failure," Green Arras (London: John Lane, at The Bodley Head, 1896), p. 69:
When you are dead, when all you could not do
   Leaves quiet the worn hands, the weary head,
Asking not any service more of you,
   Requiting you with peace when you are dead;

When, like a robe, you lay your body by,
   Unloosed at last, — how worn, and soiled, and frayed! —
Is it not pleasant just to let it lie
   Unused and be moth-eaten in the shade?

Folding earth's silence round you like a shroud,
   Will you just know that what you have is best: —
Thus to have slipt unfamous from the crowd;
   Thus having failed and failed, to be at rest?

O, having, not to know! Yet O, my Dear,
   Since to be quit of self is to be blest;
To cheat the world, and leave no imprint here, —
   Is this not best?