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Death, the Magician

Author: Patrick Augustine Sheehan

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Electronic edition compiled by Benjamin Hazard

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

1. First draft

Extent of text: 1110 words


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Text ID Number: E890000-011

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  1. [Details to follow].
    Canon Sheehan on the Internet
  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
  1. , Death, the Magician in The Irish Monthly: A Magazine of General Literature, Ed. Matthew Russell SJ. , Dublin, Irish Jesuit Province (November 1896) page 594–595


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CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts

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The electronic text represents the edited version.

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The electronic text represents the edited text.


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Created: By Patrick Augustine Sheehan (1852–1913) (1896)

Use of language

Language: [EN] The text is in English.

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Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition: E890000-011

Death, the Magician: Author: Patrick Augustine Sheehan


  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.


    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