To My Watch

By Hannah Flagg Gould

Say, what busy tenant inhabits thy breast,
Affording thy hands not a moment of rest,
While prompting thy voice to the ceaseless “tick, tick,”
As if thou wert ever repeating “quick, quick,”
And gives thee no time, while thy work thus pursuing,
To tell what so quick must be done, or is doing?
“The same little genius so busy with me
Is he, who is constantly watching by thee;
Whose task was assigned at thine earliest breath,
Thy minutes to count, till he leaves thee in death.
Art thou busy or idle, awake or in slumber,
He still keeps his vigils, still adds to the number.
“I pause not to name thee thy work, it is true,
For I know not the things thou may’st yet have to do,
But the watch-word I give is to make thee take heed
How time ever flies, and how matchless its speed:
Thou may’st read in my face how thy minutes are wasting,
And thou to that bourne, where they end, art still hasting.
“For my diligent hands no repose will I ask:
They, ever employed, just accomplish their task;
Yet, I know they will rest, when to motionless clay
That hand shall be changed that hath wound me to-day;
For my pulse will be stopped, and my voice cease repeating
My one, only word, when thy heart stills its beating.
“When low in the earth my loved mistress shall sleep,
Thy watch will be given to another to keep,
I shall rouse from my slumbers my work to resume,
While, silent and cold, lies thy dust in the tomb,
Far from time and from me, when thy spirit is proving
What here it performed, while my finger was moving.”

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