The more we live, more brief appear
Our life’s succeeding stages:
A day to childhood seems a year,
And years like passing ages.
The gladsome current of our youth
Ere passion yet disorders,
Steals lingering like a river smooth
Along its grassy borders.
But as the careworn cheek grows wan,
And sorrow’s shafts fly thicker,
Ye Stars, that measure life to man,
Why seem your courses quicker?
When joys have lost their bloom and breath
And life itself is vapid,
Why, as we reach the Falls of Death,
Feel we its tide more rapid?
It may be strange—yet who would change
Time’s course to lower speeding,
When one by one our friends have gone
And left our bosoms bleeding?
Heaven gives our years of fading strength— Thomas Campbell
And those of youth, a seeming length,
Proportion’d to their sweetness.
My friend went to the piano; spun the stool— Stephen Vincent Benet
A little higher; left his pipe to cool;
Picked up a fat green volume from the chest;
And propped it open.
Whitely without rest,
His fingers swept the keys that flashed like swords,
… And to the brute drums of barbarian hordes,
Roaring and thunderous and weapon-bare,
An army stormed the bastions of the air!
Dreadful with banners, fire to slay and parch,
Marching together as the lightning’s march,
And swift as storm-clouds. Brazen helms and cars
Clanged to a fierce resurgence of old wars
Above the screaming horns. In-state, they passed,
Trampling and splendid on and sought the vast —
Rending the darkness like a leaping knife,
The flame, the noble pageant of our life!
The burning seal that stamps man’s high indenture
To vain attempt and most forlorn adventure;
Romance, and purple seas, and toppling towns,
And the wind’s valiance crying o’er the downs;
That nerves the silly hand, the feeble brain,
From the loose net of words to deeds again
And to all courage! Perilous and sharp
The last chord shook me as wind shakes a harp!
… And my friend swung round on his stool, and from gods we were men,
“How pretty!” we said; and went on with our talk again.