Paul Laurence Dunbar, "The Right to Die" (1899)
That makes us masters of our destinies,
And not our lives, to hold or give them up
As will directs; I cannot, will not think
That men, the subtle worms, who plot and plan
And scheme and calculate with such shrewd wit,
Are such great blund'ring fools as not to know
When they have lived enough.
Men court not death
When there are sweets still left in life to taste.
Nor will a brave man choose to live when he,
Full deeply drunk of life, has reached the dregs,
And knows that now but bitterness remains.
He is the coward who, outfaced in this,
Fears the false goblins of another life.
I honor him who being much harassed
Drinks of sweet courage until drunk of it,--
Then seizing Death, reluctant, by the hand,
Leaps with him, fearless, to eternal peace!
Published in Lyrics of the Hearthside (1899)
Also published in Opportunity, June 1924