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The Dance of Death.

By Rabbi Don Santar, or Santo.

This poet, a Jew by birth, flourished about 1360; his name is not known, but he seems to have received the title of Santo by way of honour.—“Perhaps,” says Sanchez, “for his moral virtues and his learning.” He is supposed to have been a native of Carrion.

“Lo! I am Death; with aim as sure as steady,
All beings that are made, and shall be, I draw near me,
I call thee,—I require thee, man, be ready!
Why build upon this fragile life?—Now hear me­—
Where is the power that does not own me, fear me?
Who can escape me, when I bend my bow?
I pull the string,—thou liest in dust below,
Smitten by the barb my ministering angels bear me.

“Come to the dance of Death; come hither, even
The last, the lowliest,—of all rank and station,
Who will not come, shall be by scourges driven,
I hold no parley with disinclination.
List to yon man who preaches of salvation,
And hie ye to your penitential post,
For who delays,—who lingers,—he is lost,
And handed o’er to hopeless reprobation.

I to my dance—my mortal dance have brought
Two nymphs, all bright in beauty and in bloom;
They listened, fear-struck, to my songs methought;
And, truly, songs like mine are tinged with gloom.
But neither roseate hues nor flowers’ perfume
Will now avail them,—nor the thousand charms
Of worldly vanity;—they fill my arms,
They are my brides,—their bridal-bed the tomb.”

And since ‘tis certain, then, that we must die,
No hope, no chance, no prospect of redress,
Be it our constant aim unswervingly
To tread God’s narrow path of holiness.
For he is the first, and last, O, let us press
Onwards, and when Death’s monitory glance
Shall summon us to join his mortal dance,
Even then shall hope and joy our footsteps bless.

Communicated by Mrs. R. Hyneman.