I Shall not go to Heaven when I Die



I shall not go to Heaven when I die,
But if they let me be
I think I'll take the road I used to know
That goes by Shere‑na‑garagh and the sea.
And all day breasting me the wind shall blow,
And I’ll hear nothing but the peewits cry
And the waves talking in the sea below.

I think it will be winter when I die
For no one from the North could die in spring –
And all the heather will be dead and grey
And the bog‑cotton will have blown away,
And there will be no yellow on the whin.

But I shall smell the peat,
And when it’s almost dark I’ll set my feet
Where a white track goes glimmering to the hills,
And see far up a light…
Would you think Heaven could be so small a thing
As a lit window on the hills at night?
And come in stumbling from the gloom,
Half-blind, into a fire‑lit room,
Turn, and see you,
And there abide.

If it were true
And if I thought they would let me be
I almost wish it were tonight I died.

The author, Helen Waddell (1899 –1965) was born in Tokyo but spent much of her life in Belfast. She was a distinguished scholar and translator of medieval Latin and an authority on the church in the Middle Ages.



The Poetry of Things

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