Sing, O Muse
Sometimes I fear that I am dead, but how
Could death have taken me without a sign?
The snake of age has poisoned youth and now
Its venom and my heart’s dark blood combine..
The serpent’s coils can slither to entwine
A soul with slime before the action’s known.
Soon ancient reptile scales encrust and line
The vaulted chambers of a heart of stone.
Yet from my pallid lips may not a moan
Escape to tell all innocence one truth?
Death’s not a sudden thing; it’s daily grown,
A quiet cancer that devours youth,
O let us not sigh softly that last breath,
But sing or laugh or rage against slow death.
For death’s chill hold has tightened with each dawn
Since that first day we learned to live with lies.
Both innocence and sense of guilt have gone
And every day brings some fresh compromise.
That we might weep!…the lover often cries,
But we secure in our indifference are.
Our youthful willingness to risk love dies
As each successive failure leaves its scar.
Do deadened nerves and frozen eyes then mar
Our understanding of the day and night?
Young poets paint the night too dark. By far
The greater slaughter’s cloaked in blinding light.
Let our new song of rage against death say
O go not gently into deadly day.
For though the day is fatal as the night
To venomed age an antidote might be
In tears, for only feelings have the might
From death’s unfeeling grasp to set us free.
We first attempt to care too carefully,
But then begin to live again and bring
To life the thousand aches and joys that we
Forgot when we forgot that we could sing.
So seize the bell of life and make it ring
In anger or in sorrow or in love
And give your heart in joy to reborn Spring,
And join me in praising Life above
Sleepwalking. Sing, O Muse, untamed and wild
A song to set a-dancing the New Child.--Edward Lawrence