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Living Too Long

From the Evening Star, February 26, 1913.
 By Walt Mason.

 I would not care to live, my dears
 Much more than seven hundred years
     If I should last that long;
 For I would tire of things in time
 And life at last would seem a crime
     And I a public wrong.
 Old Gaffer Goodworth, whom you know
 Was born a hundred years ago
     And states the fact with mirth;
 He’s rather proud that he has hung 
 Around so long while old and young
     Were falling off the earth.
 But when his boastful fit is gone
 A sadness comes his face upon
     That speaks of utter woe;
 He sits and broods and dreams again
 Of vanished days, of long dead men,
     His friends of long ago.
 There is no loneliness so dread
 As that of one who mourns his dead
     In white and wintry age;
 Who when the lights extinguished are
 The other players scattered far
     Still lingers on the stage.
 There is no solitude so deep
 As that of him whose friends, asleep
     Shall visit him no more;
 Shall never ask, “How do you stack,”
 Or slap him gaily on the back
     As in the days of yore.
 I do not wish to draw my breath
 Until the papers say that death
     Has passed me up for keeps;
 When I am tired I want to die
 And in my cozy casket lie
     As one who calmly sleeps.
 When I am tired of dross and gold
 When I am tired of heat and cold
     And happiness has waned,
 I want to show the neighbor folk
 How gracefully a man can croak
     When he’s correctly trained.

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