Tuesday, March 25, 2008

"The Old Men"

By Rudyard Kipling (1902)

This is our lot if we live so long and labour unto the end –
Then we outlive the impatient years

and the much too patient friend:

And because we know we have breath in our mouth

and think we have thoughts enough in our head,

We shall assume that we are alive,

whereas we are really dead.

We shall not acknowledge that old stars fade

or stronger planets arise
(That the sere bush buds or the desert blooms or the ancient well-head dries),
Or any new compass wherewith new men adventure ‘neath new skies.

We shall lift up the ropes that constrained our youth,

to bind on our children’s hands;

We shall call to the waters below the bridges

to return and to replenish our lands;

We shall harness (Death’s own pale horses)

and scholarly plough the sands.

We shall lie down in the eye of the sun

for lack of a light on our way –

We shall rise up when the day is done

and chirrup, “Behold, it is day!”

We shall abide till the battle is won

ere we amble into the fray.

We shall peck out and discuss and dissect,

and evert and extrude to our mind,

The flaccid tissues of long-dead issues

offensive to God and mankind –

(Precisely like vultures over an ox

that the army left behind).

We shall make walk preposterous ghosts

of the glories we once created –

Immodestly smearing from muddled palettes

amazing pigments mismated –

And our friend will weep when we ask them with boasts

if our natural force be abated.

The Lamp of our Youth will be utterly out,

but we shall subsist on the smell of it;

And whatever we do, we shall fold our hands

and suck our gums and think well of it.

Yes, we shall be perfectly pleased with our work,

and that is the Perfectest Hell of it!

This is our lot if we live so long and listen to those who love us –
That we are shunned by the people about and shamed by the Powers above us.
Wherefore be free of your harness betimes; but, being free be assured,
That he who hath not endured to the death, from his birth he hath never endured!


Blue Gal said...

Your recycling is so pretty, dg. Well done. Well done.

WereBear said...

What a parade of shame.

A kaleidescope of shattered glass.

With racial issues being such a hot topic of late, it's quite the rogue's gallery to contemplate.

Proof, if such is needed, that white people have no basis for any claim of inherent superiority.

Anonymous said...

and you wonder when I tell you that I read you every day - or, I should say, check every day to see what you have been saying.
Sarah Deere

Anonymous said...

I bow.

It's yer wow.

US Blues said...


*bows deeply*

Lamb Cannon said...

"Bloodyard" Rudyard never had it so kuhl.

sarik said...

Wow...it's obvious from his photo that Krauthammer had rhinoplasty. And what a hideous job they did.

Anonymous said...

Wow-zaa, Driftglass! Great visual touchstone photos (Good Golly Ms. Molly and the Good Gonzo Doc ... side by side!)

Not being the literary giganta-brain you are, I had never read Kipling's ruminations on "Curse of the Old and Dead."

Thanks for the cuppa Mojo Java.

Archangel Gabrielle said...

Really awesome, Drifty. I loved it.

Anonymous said...

More goosebumps. Thanks for the enlightenment.

I Can't Believe It's Not a Recession said...

Brilliant. Brilliant. Gut wrenching. Brilliant.

Batocchio said...

First-rate, DG.

Anonymoustache said...

Brilliant, yet again.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Spread the word!

Len said...

Have you ever seen eyes Deader than Krauthammer's? Oh yeah, Dick's.

Lovely column

Suzan said...

You the poetryman, your perspicacity would be unique in any world at any time. But we already know that. Wish this would go viral.



The Minstrel Boy said...

road story

Anonymous said...

First-rate. Art is beautiful.

Anonymous said...

hey Driftglass,
I always knew you were a poet at heart, are the daffodils blooming where you are , and are you thinking , its Spring so we get a second chance ? Keep the faith , it is always darkest before the dawn ... slouching towards Denver ......

Distributorcap said...

whoa there DG
that was great

american gothic it aint!