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Dives, when you and I go down to Hell

Language: English

Dives, when you and I go down to Hell, 
Where scribblers end and millionaires as well, 
We shall be carrying on our separate backs 
Two very large but very different packs ; 
And as you stagger under yours, my friend, 
Down the dull shore where all our journeys end, 
And go before me (as your rank demands) 
Towards the infinite flat underlands, 
And that dear river of forgetfulness 
Charon, a man of exquisite address 
(For, as your wife's progenitors could tell, 
They're very strict on etiquette in Hell), 
Will, since you are a lord, observe, "My lord, 
We cannot take these weighty things aboard!" 
Then down they go, my wretched Dives, down 
The fifteen sorts of boots you kept for town, 
The hat to meet the Devil in; the plain 
But costly ties ; the cases of champagne ; 
The solid watch, and seal, and chain, and charm; 
The working model of a Burning Farm 
(To give the little Belials) ; all the three 
Biscuits for Cerberus; the guarantee 
From Lambeth that the Rich can never burn, 
And even promising a safe return; 
The admirable overcoat, designed 
To cross Cocytus very warmly lined : 
Sweet Dives, you will leave them all behind 
And enter Hell as tattered and as bare 
As was your father when he took the air 
Behind a barrow-load in Leicester Square. 
Then turned to me, and noting one that brings 
With careless step a mist of shadowy things: 
Laughter and memories, and a few regrets, 
Some honour, and a quantity of debts, 
A doubt or two of sorts, a trust in God, 
And (what will seem to you extremely odd) 
His father's granfer's father's father's name, 
Unspoilt, untitled, even spelt the same; 
Charon, who twenty thousand times before 
Has ferried Poets to the ulterior shore, 
Will estimate the weight I bear, and cry 
"Comrade !" (He has himself been known to try 
His hand at Latin and Italian verse, 
Much in the style of Virgil only worse) 
"We let such vain imaginaries pass!" 
Then tell me, Dives, which will look the ass 
You, or myself? Or Charon? Who can tell? 
They order things so damnably in Hell. 


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Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

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Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)


Text added to the website: 2009-01-17T00:00:00.
Last modified: 2014-06-16T10:01:32
Line count: 48
Word count: 361

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