At the beginning of the month, I posted a poem by Christina Rossetti ("Life and Death") that contains the lines: "Life is not sweet. One day it will be sweet/To shut our eyes and die." Because of her religious faith, Rossetti was probably able to view this prospect with equanimity. Others (Philip Larkin, for instance) look upon death with horror since, for them, it means extinction:
. . . no sight, no sound,
No touch or taste or smell, nothing to think with,
Nothing to love or link with,
The anaesthetic from which none come round.
Philip Larkin, from "Aubade," Collected Poems (Faber and Faber 1988).
In the following untitled poem, Mary Coleridge looks at things differently: she sees neither peaceful sleep nor horrific extinction ahead, but something else entirely. The prospect she offers is intriguing: interstellar travel. In any event, time will tell for each of us, won't it? (Not that we will be able to report back, of course.)
Are the dead as calm as those
They leave behind them, friends or foes?
However a man may love or fight
Calm he falls asleep at night!
Fast the living sleeps and well;
But the spirits -- who can tell?
Are they as a rushing flame
For the Sun from whence it came,
Driven on from star to star,
Where the other dead men are?
Theresa Whistler, The Collected Poems of Mary Coleridge (Rupert Hart-Davis 1954).