Life or Death

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Voltairine de Cleyre

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Life or Death

By Voltairine de Cleyre.

A Soul, half through the Gate, said unto Life:
"What does thou offer me ?" And Life replied:
"Sorrow, unceasing struggle, disappointment; after these
Darkness and silence." The Soul said unto Death:
"What does thou offer me?" And Death replied:
"In the beginning what Life gives at last."
Turning to Life: "And if I live and struggle?"
"Others shall live and struggle after thee
Counting it easier where thou hast passed."
"And by their struggles?" "Easier place shall be
For others, still to rise to keener pain
Of conquering Agony!" "and what have I
To do with all these others? Who are they?"
"Yourself!" "And all who went before?" "Yourself."
"The darkness and the silence, too, have end?"
"They end in light and sound; peace ends in pain,
Death ends in Me, and thou must glide from Self
To Self, as light to shade and shade to light again.
Choose!" The Soul, sighing, answered: "I will live."

[— Philadelphia, May 1892]

Voltairine de Cleyre, “Life or Death,” The Open Court 6, no. 26 (June 30, 1892): 3302.  

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