Life and Death
The world is built upon two mighty pow’rs —
Sweet Love, that maketh Heaven to live with dust,
And that foul pimp of Hell’s, self-perjured Lust —
And ’lone we prove if Heaven or Hell be ours.
Hard, hard it were to choose, since each devours
That love we bear the other, till it must
Lie conquered: thus fair peace or foul disgust
We ever know — pure wine or sweat that sours.
Love, oft through seeming Hell, discovers Heaven;
But Lust, through seeming Heaven, with every breath
Pants after Hell; and soon the meed is given.
If Love with heavenly peace so quickeneth,
While Lust in painful Hell must e’er be shriven,
What can they be, these powers, but Life and Death?
William Blocksidge, Songs o’ the South, London: Watts, 1908, p. 39
e’er = (vernacular) an archaic contraction of “ever”
’lone = (vernacular) alone
maketh = (archaic) makes
meed = a fitting recompense
oft = (archaic) often
pow’r = (vernacular) power
quickeneth = (archaic) quicken
shriven = past tense of shrive: to free someone from guilt; (the action of a priest) to hear someone’s confession, impose a penance, and give absolution; to confess one’s guilt or sins and receive absolution