A Dialogue between Death and Youth

Come on, good fellow, make an end,
For you and I must talk.
You may no longer sojourn here,
But hence you must go walk. Youth .

What woeful words, alas,
Be these that I do hear!
Alas, and shall I now forthwith
Forsake my life so dear? Death .

Come on, come on, and linger not;
Ye trifle but the time.
Ye make too much of that, ywis,
Which is but dirt and slime. Youth .

O cursed death, what dost thou mean,
So cruel for to be,
To him that never thought thee harm
Nor once offended thee!

O death, behold: I am but young
And of a pleasant age.
Take thou some old and crooked wight,
And spare me in thy rage.

Behold, my limbs be lively now,
My mind and courage strong,
And by the verdict of all men
Like to continue long;

My beauty like the rose so red,
My hair like glist'ring gold;
And canst thou now of pity then
Transform me into mould?

O gentle death, be not extreme;
Thy mercy here I crave.
It is not for thine honour now
To fetch me to my grave.

But rather let me live a while,
Till youth consumed be.
When crooked age doth me oppress,
Then welcome death to me. Death .

O foolish man, what dost thou mean
To strive against the stream?
Nothing there is that can thee now
Out of my hands redeem.

Thy time is past, thy days are gone,
Thy race is fully run.
Thou must of force now make an end,
As thou hadst once begun.

O fool, why dost thou beg and boast
Of these thy youthful days? —
Which passeth fast and fadeth swift
As flowers fresh decays.

Both youth and age to me be one —
I care not whom I strike:
The child, the man, the father old
Do I reward alike.

The proudest of them all, ywis,
Can not escape my dart:
The lady fair, the lazar foul
Shall both possess a part.

Thou art not now the first, I say,
That I have eared up;
Ne yet shalt be the last, pardie,
That drinketh of my cup.

For he that doth us now behold —
Perusing this our talk —
He knoweth not yet how soon, God wot,
With thee and me to walk!

Dispatch, therefore, and make an end,
For needs you must obey;
And as thou camest into this world,
So shalt thou now away. Youth .

And must I pass out of this world
Indeed, and shall I so?
May no man me restrain a while,
But needs now must I go?

Why, then, farewell my life and lands,
Adieu my pleasures all!
Lo dreadful death doth us depart,
And me away doth call.

My cheerful days be worn away,
My pleasant time is past;
My youthful years are spent and gone,
My life it may not last.

And I (for lack of life and breath)
Whose like hath not been seen,
Shall straight consumed be to dust,
As I had never been.

But though I yield as now to thee,
When nothing can me save,
Yet I am sure that I shall live
When thou thy death shalt have.
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