And There Shall be No More Death

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1 Childhood

One Summer's day, whose shadow none may pass,He lifts a moth from the astonished grassAnd stares perplexed, at loss to understandThe wings that lie unmoving in his hand;

And with a child's vast ignorance of deathHe breathes on it his warm and living breath,Imploring it with unavailing cryTo wake from its strange sleep and, wakened, fly.

But finding protest and persuasion vainTo stir the wings that will not stir again,He weeps in wrath that all his childish mightIs not enough to give one still moth flight.

2 Youth

I saw a starling in the snow,Wings stiff, its slight feet curledAs if to wrest and hold some glowOf warmth from a cold world.

I pitied it but I was youngAnd my impatient skis too fleetTo pause while shallow grief gave tongue.Death could not stay my feet.

Had Earth not other birds to sing?What reason then to catch my breathAt those mute wings or own the stingIn a mere starling's death? .Àæ

Yet, when I dream, I dream of snow,And always through a blinding landI run distracted to and fro,A dead bird in my hand.

3 Age

That which the long scythe whispered to the grassAnd wan leaves falling rumoured in the land;That which bells tolled and whose first portent wasA dead moth in a child's astonished hand;

That which a bird wrote blackly upon snow;That which a spent hare scrawled across my pathIn a dark wood, I read again and knowTheir lesson's far from destined aftermath.

All that they strove to teach me I find true,Their voices reach me with prophetic dinWhere, in this room, I stand and look on youAnd know you dead, yet cannot take death in.

© Gilbert Ruth