David William Paley
We lived for music and the dance
As if our youth would not encounter
The sober realms of age;
But the songs of life have played
And, now, are merely echoes
That fall more softly than the snow;
Our days consigned to waste,
Our years the loot of time,
Our lives in forfeit to the air
Where bells, no longer, chime.
We walked the verdant paths
For one, brief, happy moment
That should have lasted all our lives
But was thrown upon a heap
And love was cast aside.
Memories of that blinkered daze
Fill the void of winter
Where leafy wood and flowered glade
Waved their summer blossoms
That, now, no longer, can parade.
The rolling valleys in the dales
Have led to steeper mountains
Than those we found, before:
Uplands, barren of trees,
Slopes, devoid of grass,
The land spread out
Beneath the sun
That throws no light
Upon an empty soul
Or warms a frozen heart.
The dawn we knew in far off skies
Rose with radiant smile
But, now, the red of evening clouds
Sinks below a distant sea
That greets the blazing shrouds.
There, I touch within my slumber
Those who slipped away
And live, again, my dream
Until I wake to one more sigh
At the loss of that enticing gleam.
Where are those winds of spring
That blew with fragrant promise?
Where are those friends of old
Whom age would never ravage?
Does that tender bloom
Still live forever and a day?
Can I seek those former climes
And find a love to ease my fate?
Can the quest be undertaken
When left until so late?
The world rolled by
As I threaded through
A labyrinth of change
In pursuit of glistering gold
In a land beyond my ivory tower.
I found my treasure steeped with cold
That gripped my hand with freezing power
And kept me from the comrades lost
Whom I had known in days of yore
Before I felt the biting frost.
The cord that joined me to my former self,
Broke apart when I tugged it tight,
A severed link that forbade return
To the place from whence I came
With no escape from ceaseless blight.
Thus, has all become revealed:
Time will not refund my past
Or reimburse my squandered life;
My soul is pierced by an iron rod,
My heart is stabbed by a dastard knife.
Like the snow with pristine grace
That hid the earth below its mantle,
Our selfish lives have lain upon
A reality more substantial.
Now, conceit has melted with the thaw
But no fresh youth will see the sun.
We face the truth, when more mature,
Exposed to all the wind and rain
And, no longer, can ignore
What we had chosen to disdain.