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Let mine not be that saddest fate of all
   To live beyond my greater self; to see
   My faculties decaying, as the tree
Stands stark and helpless while its green leaves fall.
Let me hear rather the imperious call,
   Which all men dread, in my glad morning time,
   And follow death ere I have reached my prime,
Or drunk the strengthening cordial of life's gall.
The lightning's stroke or the fierce tempest blast
   Which fells the green tree to the earth to-day
Is kinder than the calm that lets it last,
   Unhappy witness of its own decay.
   May no man ever look on me and say,
"She lives, but all her usefulness is past."

by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

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