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Sarabande On Attaining The Age Of Seventy-Seven

 The harbingers are come.
See, see their mark; White is their colour; and behold my head.
-- George Herbert Long gone the smoke-and-pepper childhood smell Of the smoldering immolation of the year, Leaf-strewn in scattered grandeur where it fell, Golden and poxed with frost, tarnished and sere.
And I myself have whitened in the weathers Of heaped-up Januaries as they bequeath The annual rings and wrongs that wring my withers, Sober my thoughts, and undermine my teeth.
The dramatis personae of our lives Dwindle and wizen; familiar boyhood shames, The tribulations one somehow survives, Rise smokily from propitiatory flames Of our forgetfulness until we find It becomes strangely easy to forgive Even ourselves with this clouding of the mind, This cinerous blur and smudge in which we live.
A turn, a glide, a quarter turn and bow, The stately dance advances; these are airs Bone-deep and numbing as I should know by now, Diminishing the cast, like musical chairs.

by Anthony Hecht
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