Monday, 17 April 2017


Thomas Cole The Journey of Life (1842) National Gallery


Oh, how they tell you,
There are reasons to be cheerful,
And oh, how you reply “I know”.
Yet windswept youth has a smiling agenda
The ocean which they sail upon,
Still unpolluted by life’s detritus,
Has distant horizons and lucky landfalls
Over which I have already walked.
But we in the long shadow
Of our greyness will nod and smile
Stumbling sages in the pot-holed landscape
Of the inevitable country,
For here the past is long,
The future short.
Here we face the pending mystery,
Reality’s cajoling fingers caress our necks,
Like anonymous lovers
Drawing us towards the great unknown.
What lies in wait there?
A new sunrise? A re-union
With loved ones gone before?
Will there be another childhood?
Are these the reasons to be cheerful,
Or palliatives to this arthritic fading being
Were heartbeats falter and
Exhausted muscles seize the dregs
Of energy and wrap the mind in sackcloth.

Oh, lighten up old man, they say,
Never throw away the dimming spark
Of life until the gift expires.

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