Sunday, December 8, 2013

December / John Davidson


The heartless, sapless, dying year
     With icy fingers
Clutches the earth in mortal fear;
     And while life lingers

Within his veins that swelled with spring,
     And glowed with summer.
And now are poisoned by the sting
     Of that old-comer.

Who comes to all to end their days,
     Whom men call Death,
He breathes upon the earth's wan face
     His chilly breath,

If it may be to strike her dead
     For company;
To die alone he is afraid;
     And some there be

Of men and flowers as old and frail.
     With blood as sere,
And some both young and sweet, as pale
     As is the year,

Who will be buried in the snow
     With him to sleep;
Their souls came from and now must go
     To the unknown deep.

But those whose lives are dwelling still
     In lively frames
Are full of mirth, and take their fill
     Of works and games:

Make love, make wealth, gain fame, gain power,
     As if for ever.
Forget that life is but an hour,
     A sea-bound river,

And warm with sport laugh at the cold;
     Yet is it true
If they live long they will grow old —
     I mean not you;

Not you, nor me: we only know
     Our blood is fire
Can melt the longest winter's snow,
     And not expire.

John Davidson
from In a Music Hall, and other poems, 1891

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

John Davidson biography

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