And now this: it is what is most feared.
No No Man’s Land, no barbed wire and no mud
Between what is, and what now cannot be withstood,
Not Falstaffed, Hamletted or King Leared,
Now this: the question of how long
In brain grown white will stay the song
In memory, in mind, in stirring blood,
How long the blest, the curst, the good,
And all the rainbow hues of right and wrong;
How long, since vision first appeared
To the last swift solemn setting down
Of mask and doublet, sword and wig and crown,
The play now done, the curtain call too brief,
The march of too few friends through autumn leaf
And rain, and jokes twice told, to where
No thought survives, no cloud in air
Looks down on what, no longer there,
Was once a lustful, struggling man, or beast,
No longer influential in the least.
At seventy, of course, the question comes:
At night, in bed, ere sleep, we do the sums,
We count the days, regrets and worst mistakes,
We do the numbers, till the morning breaks.