CELT document E890000-011

Death, the Magician

Patrick Augustine Sheehan

Whole text


    Death, the Magician

  1. For I do hate thee, O thou spectre Death!
    Pale moonbeams flit between thy naked ribs.
    There is a hollow darkness o'er thy hips,
    And elfin lights gleam from unlustrous eyes,
    What canst thou give me? The brown earth and worms,
    And darkness, and the gloom of narrow graves.
    “Borne on my mother's breast.” Thou mockest me!
    I shall be far as farthest focal sun
    From the warm earth and waving grass and leaf.
    I want the earth and warmth of breathing men.
    And eyes that speak, and hands that clasp, and lips
    That thrill me with a voice and touch of light.
    And lift me out of depths of dull despair
    Into a heaven of hope and happiness.
    I do not want your cold and stately saints.
    Sculptured, and niched, and cold in marble shrouds,
    Nor your angelic far off symphonies,
    That have no motion, light, or breathed form.
    Leave me my earth, O thou dread spectre Death!
    And keep your heaven for cold and icy saints.
    For I do hate thee, thou dread messenger!
    And the white moon that shines between thy bars.
    And makes locked lines and circles on my bed.
  2. Come nearer, nearer, thou dread phantom, Death!
    Thou art not quite so hideous as I deemed.
    Is it a mist of moonbeams that awakes
    Soft lines of light, that wrap thee round, and drape
    The crags and nodes of thy bleak nudity?
    And yet a light breaks through, and swiftly makes
    Facets of crystal, glimmering, and flames
    That glint and gleam in dusky realms of light.
    Lo! and thou smilest. And the vista'ed past
    Of the drear time I've given to the earth
    Vapours and fades into a memory.
    And the dark future, black with bitter fears.
    Leaps into sudden lamps of hope and joy. p.595
    Voices of men grow hoarse and bitter harsh;
    And a dim echo steals upon mine ears
    Of far off slumb'rous notes that dream and dwell
    On the discordant chords of my weak soul,
    And wake responses that in turn grow pale,
    And vanishing in Memory's hidden cells.
    Recall some long-lost melody of heaven.
    Come nearer, thou magician, nearer still.
    I cannot touch thee, spirit as thou art.
    But through the glass of thy transparency
    I see a heaven leaning on the earth,
    A weary earth uplift itself to heaven.
  3. Nearer, and nearer still, thou Angel Death!
    Why, thou art beautiful, as poet's dreams.
    Or the fair forms that sweep into the light
    Where glow the furnaces of genius.
    Thy rounded shape doth palpitate with life,
    And from thy wings new-budded breathes the scent
    Of Paradisial fields, Elysian plains,
    Peopled with spirits fairer than the dawn.
    Oh! earth, dull clod, brown, odourless, effete,
    I hate thee, and thy creeping parasites.
    Lift me, O Death! unloose these weary bands,
    Unlock this prison house and set me free;
    And thou and I will steal from the dark realm,
    Glide through the stately avenues of stars,
    And spurn the enwreathed cloudlets to emerge
    In the pavilion palaces of God.
    O Death! my sister, lift thy lustrous eyes,
    And open wide the impearled ivory gate.
    Lo! the enchanted islands of the blest!
    Lo! the broad azures of eternity!
    Bend down thine ears. In their voluted shells
    Murmur the wavelets of th' eternal sea.
    Kiss me, my sister! seal those burning lids,
    (Gently I pray thee for I am growing faint)
    Till the most High doth break thy signet ring,
    Softly unfolding to my wondering eyes —
    Lest the too sudden joy should paralyze.
    The unimpassioned blisses He has stored, —
    The unimagined marvels He has made.
  4. P. A. SHEEHAN

Document details

The TEI Header

File description

Title statement

Title (uniform): Death, the Magician

Author: Patrick Augustine Sheehan

Responsibility statement

Electronic edition compiled by: Benjamin Hazard

Funded by: School of History, University College, Cork and Private donation

Edition statement

1. First draft

Extent: 1110 words

Publication statement

Publisher: CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts: a project of University College, Cork

Address: College Road, Cork, Ireland — http://www.ucc.ie/celt

Date: 2014

Distributor: CELT online at University College, Cork, Ireland.

CELT document ID: E890000-011

Availability: Available with prior consent of the CELT programme for purposes of academic research and teaching only.

Source description


  • [Details to follow].

Canon Sheehan on the Internet

  • http://www.canonsheehanremembered.com.


  1. Canon P.A. Sheehan, 'Death, the Magician,' The Irish Monthly, 25/281 (November 1896) 594–595.
  2. Canon P.A. Sheehan, 'The Magician, Death,' in Cithara Mea; Poems (Boston 1900) 95–98.


  1. Herman Joseph Heuser, Canon Sheehan of Doneraile: the story of an Irish parish priest as told chiefly by himself in books, personal memoirs, and letters (New York 1917).
  2. Arthur Coussens. P. A. Sheehan, zijn leven en zijn werken (Brugge/Bruges 1923).
  3. Michael P. Linehan, Canon Sheehan of Doneraile: Priest, Novelist, Man of Letters (Dublin 1952).
  4. James O'Brien (ed.), The Collected Letters of Canon Sheehan of Doneraile, 1883–1913 (Wells 2013).
  5. James O'Brien, Canon Sheehan of Doneraile 1852–1913: Outlines for a Literary Biography (Wells 2013). [Bibliographical references 205-11.]

The edition used in the digital edition

‘Death, the Magician’. In: The Irish Monthly: A Magazine of General Literature‍. Ed. by Matthew Russell SJ, pp. 594–595.

You can add this reference to your bibliographic database by copying or downloading the following:

  editor 	 = {},
  title 	 = {Death, the Magician},
  journal 	 = {The Irish Monthly: A Magazine of General Literature},
  editor 	 = {Matthew Russell SJ},
  address 	 = {Dublin},
  publisher 	 = {Irish Jesuit Province},
  date 	 = {November 1896},
  pages 	 = {594–595}


Encoding description

Project description: CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts

Sampling declarations

The electronic text represents the edited version.

Editorial declarations

Correction: Text has been checked and proof-read once.

Normalization: The electronic text represents the edited text.

Quotation: Direct speech is rendered q.

Hyphenation: Soft hyphens are silently removed. When a hyphenated word (hard or soft) crosses a page-break or line-break, the page-break and line-break are marked after the completion of the hyphenated word.

Segmentation: div0 = the poem. Metrical lines, line-breaks and stanzas are marked and numbered.

Standard values: There are no dates.

Interpretation: Names of persons and places are not tagged.

Profile description

Creation: By Patrick Augustine Sheehan (1852–1913)

Date: 1896

Language usage

  • The text is in English. (en)

Keywords: poetry; 19c; religious

Revision description

(Most recent first)

  1. 2014-02-07: File parsed and validated; TEI Header updated, wordcount made; SGML and HTML versions created. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  2. 2014-01-31: Header created; structural mark-up added; file proofed. (ed. Benjamin Hazard)
  3. 2014-01-24: Text scanned. (file capture Benjamin Hazard)

Index to all documents

Standardisation of values

CELT Project Contacts



For details of the markup, see the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI)

page of the print edition

folio of the manuscript

numbered division

 999 line number of the print edition (in grey: interpolated)

underlining: text supplied, added, or expanded editorially

italics: foreign words; corrections (hover to view); document titles

bold: lemmata (hover for readings)

wavy underlining: scribal additions in another hand; hand shifts flagged with (hover to view)

TEI markup for which a representation has not yet been decided is shown in red: comments and suggestions are welcome.

Source document


Search CELT


    2 Carrigside, College Road, Cork