Donald Hall | |
To grow old is to lose everything.
Aging, everybody knows it.
Even when we are young,
we glimpse it sometimes, and nod our heads
when a grandfather dies.
Then we row for years on the midsummer
pond, ignorant and content.
But a marriage,
that began without harm, scatters
into debris on the shore,
and a friend from school drops
cold on a rocky strand.
If a new love carries us
past middle age, our wife will die
at her strongest and most beautiful.
New women come and go.
The pretty lover who announces
that she is temporary
The bold woman,
middle-aged against our old age,
sinks under an anxiety she cannot withstand.
Another friend of decades estranges himself
in words that pollute thirty years.
Let us stifle under mud at the pond's edge
and affirm that it is fitting
and delicious to lose everything.
Philip Levine | |
Along the strand stones,
busted shells, wood scraps,
bottle tops, dimpled
and stainless beer cans.
Something began here
a century ago,
a nameless disaster,
perhaps a voyage
to the lost continent
where I was born.
Now the cold winds
of March dimple
the gray, incoming
on the wet earth
looking for a sign,
maybe an old coin,
and find my face
blackened in a pool
of oil and water.
My grandfather crossed
this sea in '04
and never returned,
so I've come alone
to thank creation
as he would never
for bringing him home
to work, defeat,
and death, those three
faithful to the end.
I bless your laughter
thrown in the wind's face,
your gall, your rages,
your abiding love
for women and money
and all that money
for what the sea taught
you and you taught me:
that the waves go out
and nothing comes back.
Edgar Lee Masters | |
"What will you do when you come to die,
If all your life long you have rejected Jesus,
And know as you lie there, He is not your friend?"
Over and over I said, I, the revivalist.
Ah, yes! but there are friends and friends.
And blessed are you, say I, who know all now,
You who have lost, ere you pass,
A father or mother, or old grandfather or mother
Some beautiful soul that lived life strongly,
And knew you all through, and loved you ever,
Who would not fail to speak for you,
And give God an intimate view of your soul,
As only one of your flesh could do it.
That is the hand your hand will reach for,
To lead you along the corridor
To the court where you are a stranger!
Robert William Service | |
As home from church we two did plod,
"Grandpa," said Rosy, "What is God?"
Seeking an answer to her mind,
This is the best that I could find.
God is the Iz-ness of our Cosmic Biz;
The high, the low, the near, the far,
The atom and the evening star;
The lark, the shark, the cloud, the clod,
The whole darned Universe - that's God.
Some deem that others there be,
And to them humbly bend the knee;
To Mumbo Jumbo and to Joss,
To Bud and Allah - but the Boss
Is mine .
While there are suns and seas
MY timeless God shall dwell in these.
In every glowing leaf He lives;
When roses die His life he gives;
God is not outside and apart
From Nature, but her very heart;
No Architect (as I of verse)
He is Himself the Universe.
Said Rosy-kins: "Grandpa, how odd
Is your imagining of God.
To me he's always just appeared
A huge Grandfather with a beard.
Robert William Service | |
In all the pubs from Troon to Ayr
Grandfather's father would repair
With Bobby Burns, a drouthy pair,
The glass to clink;
And oftenwhiles, when not too "fou,"
They'd roar a bawdy stave or two,
From midnight muk to morning dew,
And drink and drink.
And Grandfather, with eye aglow
And proper pride, would often show
An old armchair where long ago
The Bard would sit;
Reciting there with pawky glee
"The Lass that Made the Bed for Me;"
Or whiles a rhyme about the flea
That ne'er was writ.
Then I would seek the Poet's chair
And plant my kilted buttocks there,
And read with joy the Bard of Ayr
In my own tongue;
The Diel, the Daisy and the Louse
The Hare, the Haggis and the Mouse,
(What fornication and carouse!)
When I was young.
Though Kipling, Hardy, Stevenson
Have each my admiration won,
Today, my rhyme-race almost run,
My fancy turns
To him who did Pegasus prod
For me, Bard of my native sod,
The sinner best-loved of God -
Rare Robbie Burns.
Robert William Service | |
Great Grandfather was ninety-nine
And so it was our one dread,
That though his health was superfine
He'd fail to make the hundred.
Though he was not a rolling stone
No moss he seemed to gather:
A patriarch of brawn and bone
Was Great Grandfather.
He should have been senile and frail
Instead of hale and hearty;
But no, he loved a mug of ale,
A boisterous old party.
'As frisky as a cold,' said he,
'A man's allotted span
I've lived but now I plan to be
Then one night when I called on him
Oh what a change I saw!
His head was bowed, his eye was dim,
Down-fallen was his jaw.
Said he: 'Leave me to die, I pray;
I'm no more bloody use .
For in my mouth I found today--
A tooth that's loose.
Chris Tusa | |
My grandmother’s teeth stare at her
from a mason jar on the nightstand.
The radio turns itself on,
sunlight crawls through the window,
and she thinks she feels her bright blue eyes
rolling out her head.
She’s certain her blood has turned to dirt,
that beetles haunt the dark hollow of her bones.
The clock on the kitchen wall is missing its big hand.
The potatoes in the sink are growing eyes.
She stares at my grandfather standing in the doorway,
his smile flickering like the side of an axe.
Outside, in the yard, a chicken hops
through the tall grass, looking for its head.
Hilaire Belloc | |
Who was frightened by a Passing Motor, and was brought to Reason
"Oh murder! What was that, Papa!"
"My child, It was a Motor-Car,
A most Ingenious Toy!
Designed to Captivate and Charm
Much rather than to rouse Alarm
In any English Boy.
"What would your Great Grandfather who
Was Aide-de-Camp to General Brue,
And lost a leg at Waterloo,
And Quatre-Bras and Ligny too!
And died at Trafalgar!-
What would he have remarked to hear
His Young Descendant shriek with fear,
Because he happened to be near
A Harmless Motor-Car!
But do not fret about it! Come!
We'll off to Town
And purchase some!"
Emily Dickinson | |
The Mountain sat upon the Plain
In his tremendous Chair --
His observation omnifold,
His inquest, everywhere --
The Seasons played around his knees
Like Children round a sire --
Grandfather of the Days is He
Of Dawn, the Ancestor --
Aleksandr Blok | |
We waited commonly for sleep or even death.
The instances were wearisome as ages.
But suddenly the wind's refreshing breath
Touched through the window the Holy Bible's pages:
An old man goes there - who's now all white-haired -
With rapid steps and merry eyes, alone,
He smiles to us, and often calls with hand,
And leaves us with a gait, that is well-known.
And suddenly we all, who watched the old man's track,
Well recognized just him who now lay before us,
And turning in a sudden rapture back,
Beheld a corpse with eyes forever closed .
And it was good for us the soul's way to trace,
And, in the leaving one, to find the glee it's forming.
The time had come.
Recall and love in grace,
And celebrate another house-warming!
Robert Desnos | |
be the father of the bride
of the blacksmith who forged the iron for the axe
with which the woodsman hacked down the oak
from which the bed was carved
in which was conceived the great-grandfather
of the man who was driving the carriage
in which your mother met your father.
Russell Edson | |
We bought an electric monkey, experimenting rather
recklessly with funds carefully gathered since
grandfather's time for the purchase of a steam monkey.
We had either, by this time, the choice of an electric
or gas monkey.
The steam monkey is no longer being made, said the monkey
But the family always planned on a steam monkey.
Well, said the monkey merchant, just as the wind-up monkey
gave way to the steam monkey, the steam monkey has given way
to the gas and electric monkeys.
Is that like the grandfather clock being replaced by the
Sort of, said the monkey merchant.
So we bought the electric monkey, and plugged its umbilical
cord into the wall.
The smoke coming out of its fur told us something was wrong.
We had electrocuted the family monkey.